The infamous terrible two’s, an age that we, as new parents fear from all of the stories we’ve heard.  So once my son got through the two’s without a hitch, I thought I’d hit the lottery.  But then he turned 3, his 2.5 hour naps ended, he decided NO was his new favorite word and my life got a whole lot more difficult.  My child had always slept.  I could always work during his nap, cook and clean, and I felt like I had this parenting thing down.  But 3 rocked my world.  I constantly feel like I’m failing now, because my 3 year old won’t listen to me and is impossible to control. 3’s are the new 2’s.  At least they are in my house…

Here are some of the most challenging things you have to look forward to with a THREENAGER:

-Naps:  Consistent nap times are gone.  When they’re two, they need a nap no question about it.  You put them down, they don’t argue, they might fight their sleep but eventually they pass out.  3 year olds think they know what they need and they nap some days, and others they don’t.  For us, most days my child just won’t nap.  The positive side is he’s in bed by 7pm if he doesn’t, but the negative side is sometimes he’ll hit a wall and crash at 5pm for a little power nap and then he’s up super late.

-Potty Training:  I feel like I spend half my day making sure my child goes to the potty in time.  And even still, almost every day I’m scrubbing the floors from accidents because he doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing to go potty.  It’s so much extra work, I could cry thinking about it! I never thought I’d miss diapers, but I do, so much!! Also, they love to just sit on the potty for long periods of time because you have nothing better to do but sit there waiting for your kid to pee or poop for 20 mins at a wack.

-Tantrums and epic meltdowns: They are bigger, stronger and louder so the battle is far worse than it ever was at two.  When my son has a meltdown and lets his body go limp, he’s 40lbs and it’s almost impossible for me to get him off the ground.  He also screams loud and high pitched, and there is no reasoning with them at this age.  I swear it was easier to bribe him at 2 than it ever has been at 3.  He owns me and he knows it!

-Verbal skills: at 2 they are just learning to talk and form sentences.  At 3 they have full opinions on everything and they don’t ever stop talking… All day long… Bossing you around… telling you what you’re going to do, what they want to eat, what they don’t want to eat, what they don’t want to wear, what they don’t want you to do… Sometimes I wish there was a mute button.  Is that mean?

-Drama: The drama is through the roof, his food is always too hot or too cold.  He’s mad that his pants are wet because he peed, and blames me for it.  Everything is my fault, and I sometimes I cry because I feel helpless and that he’s so hard on me and I do everything for him. But they are 3, and they are learning to manage their emotions and communicate so we as parents just need to take it easy on them and stay calm. Or at least try… It’s not always easy.  Sometimes I hide…

-Punching Bag: Hitting, hitting me, hitting his dad, hitting his friends, hitting strangers, hitting cats, hitting trees, hitting himself, nothing is off limits.  And the more you ask them stop, the more they do it.  Having the patience to handle these situations calmly deserves an Olympic gold medal as far as I’m concerned.

It’s a tough age, but this is where we as parents are tested more than ever.  I find myself trying to control my emotions, and to stay positive and reassuring myself that I’m still doing great. I’m doing the same things I’ve always done, he’s just changing and he’s just testing his limits and figuring things out.  It’s not me, it’s him…. Really though! So next time you see a parent with a toddler flipping out maybe don’t be so quick to judge.  Offer a hand, or just simply tell them you’re doing great it’s a tough age and lighten the mood.  We don’t need judgement we’re already trying to not beat ourselves up over this phase and figure out how to get through it without getting gray hairs!

Today, my child is headed to the kids gym with his uncle and Grandmother and he said to me as he was leaving “Mama! I’m going to hurt the kids, make them cry and be REALLY nice and give hugs”.  This is 3. It’s complicated.