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Managing Your Mischievious Toddler

Whether you have a screamer, a runner, a nudist, a biter, a disappearing act, or a gets-into-everything type of toddler, mischievous toddlers are difficult to manage.  They have this uncanny ability to innocently get under your skin as they go about their task of exploring life to the fullest. Rather than squash that innate curiosity like an annoying bug, it’s time to learn how to manage your mischievous toddler so that you can preserve what’s left of your sanity.

The biggest tool you have is your ability to out-think your toddler. After all, most toddlers aren’t mischievous because they plan to be. It just happens. Active toddlers never actually know what they are going to do next until they think of it. Life is like one big arena of possibilities to a toddler tempting him or her with the newness of each experience.

Do you remember the five W’s that your teacher taught you in school – who, what, when, where, and why? For a toddler, the exploration begins with WHO or WHAT is this and continues with WHY is it here, WHEN did it get here, and WHERE can I make it go. To answer all of those questions, a mischievous toddler is going to pick it up, take it apart, move it, shake it, bang it, or take it somewhere else. You know that it’s true. If it isn’t tied down or hidden behind locked doors, your toddler is bound to find it as the result of his curiosity.

Fortunately for you, the familiarity of your home and the places you visit are going to be your saving grace. For me, dealing with my “mischievous one,” the last in a line of four darlings, involved being as quick on my feet as I was with my mind, the purchase of a few handy devices, and an awareness that I wasn’t dealing with an average toddler. He had the advantage of watching three older siblings, giving rise to his ability to walk and run by the age of nine months. First lesson learned – ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

If you have a wanderer, purchase portable door alarms that could also be attached to windows and put them up high so your toddler can’t take the batteries out. Purchase cabinet locks for everything and store dangerous items in high places, even if they are behind locked doors. Never allow your toddler to self-entertain unless you are POSITIVE that it won’t involve something like coating his sister with a tub of margarine. If none of that works, get down on the floor and look around the room to see what might attract your mischievous toddler, and then hide it!

What’s the craziest thing your mischievous toddler has gotten into?

For more on managing your toddler, visit Terrible Two’s How To’s.


How to Maintain Friendships when Baby Arrives

A new baby in the family! Amazing isn’t it how such a tiny life disrupt yours so completely that you don’t even know whether you’re coming or going? The baby routine is so easy to get caught up in – feed the baby, burp the baby, change the diaper, bathe the baby, and then do it all over again and again…and again. In no time at all, you feel as though you have no time to do anything except take care of the baby and maybe attempt a cat nap, that is, until your spouse comes home and wants to know where dinner is!  With everything going on, how can a new mommy/daddy even think about maintaining friendships once that little bundle of joy has taken over the household?

You may not feel as though you have the time or energy, but seriously, you have to try or you won’t have any friends once that little one goes off to school (plus, you might need to work on your vocabulary and/or communication skills since the baby arrived).  Just as most of us discovered who our true friends were once high school came around, the same idea goes for welcoming a baby into the world.  The friendships that you work to keep after your baby arrives are more than likely friends that you will have for a lifetime, so keep your friends close and your best friends closer.

Plan group functions as frequently as you can. The more friends that you include, the fewer of these you need to arrange. I know that the last thing you want to do is get out of those comfy sweatpants and forgo one of those precious catnaps, but if you don’t, the number of friends you have will dwindle.

Communicate, and often.  I adore my friends.  They keep me grounded and are always there for me when I need a laugh or a listening ear.  Make time to pick up the phone, Skype, send out a Facebook message, or email your friends to keep the lines of communication open.

Be understanding. I had a girlfriend who was in my life for umpteen years, but whenever she accepted an invite, she was rude and spiteful. She was still waiting for her happily ever after. I stopped inviting her because I didn’t want to listen to her mean-spirited comments about my baby. You guessed it; she’s no longer in the picture. Had I been more understanding of her feelings, I might have gotten a sitter and planned our get-together’s elsewhere. It’s true though, friends can grow apart, which is why working on them is so important.

If the kids are tagging along, find child-friendly venues where everyone can meet on equal footing. It’s nice not to have to worry about cleaning the house, preparing food, or someone else’s child breaking your little one’s toys/spilling grape juice all over the carpet.

Include your spouse. This gives you an extra pair of hands and someone else to do the driving sometimes. Take the catnap that you’ve wanted on the drive over (if you’re so lucky!) and enjoy the evening.  Plus, you both need to socialize with others to stay happy and sane.

Though there is seemingly no time in the day, maintaining your friendships is crucial to your overall happiness.  The added effort is worth it!

What other tips do you have for maintaining friendships once baby comes into the picture?

Sticking to a Budget with Kids

Children are one of life’s greatest gifts, but all great things come at a cost.  The price of raising a child now is astronomical.  For most of us, sticking to a budget is important, but when kids come into the picture, sticking to a budget is crucial.  The problem is, it’s easier creating a budget than sticking to it, especially when kids are involved. Kids… kids have a way of tugging at your heartstrings, especially when their little faces crumple up as you say that less-than-magical word, “No.” It’s the first instance of the quivering lower lip that always gets me. It makes me feel so helpless and guilty.

I remember Sunday mornings deciding between the newspaper and a couple of gingerbread man cookies from the bakery for my two-year old daughter. I wanted the coupons so I could save money at the supermarket, and of course, she wanted the treats. Money was so tight that it really made a difference, but we compromised, and every other week my daughter got her treats. She began to learn what compromising is all about, perhaps a bit too soon in life, but perhaps just at the right time to teach her how valuable the art of compromising can be.

This is what budgeting is all about – compromising and deciding what you can live with and what you cannot. If you take away all of the pleasures in life, your budget is going to begin to feel like a noose around your neck, slowing choking the fun out of living. So, you should start by making a list that you are probably going to check more than twice. Sit down with your significant other and compile a list.  Make three columns – and label them needs, wants, and do without. Why not just use two columns? Go through the list and truly be honest with yourself.  Can you afford it?  Is there enough money in the bank for emergencies?  If you set honest limitations on your budget, you will be more likely to stick to it.

If your kids are old enough to understand, get them involved too. Kids are often wiser than we give them credit for. If they feel invested in the budgetary process from the beginning, they will be more likely to accept the compromising that follows. Make sure that at least one of the “wants” makes it into the final budget for everyone in the family. Put a monetary limit on each item of the budget, and when you are shopping, you need to make sure that you don’t go over the limit.

Another option is to give each child an allowance to spend as they want on their own purchases. Teach your children to save up for what they want. They’ll get a math lesson, and you’ll find it easier to stay on a budget with the kids!

If you’re shopping for baby products on a budget, be sure to read about our GaGa Deals offered every weekday.  What other helpful tips do you have for staying on budget?