help! my toddler is driving me crazy!

It starts before the day has even gotten started. She calls out, “Mamamamamamamamam!” I go in. She’s standing, paci in her mouth and lamb in her arms. We smile at each other. I ask if she wants me to pick her up. She nods and grins. I reach for her. She drops to her bottom and lunges away, laughing. “I’ll just go sit in the chair until you’re ready to come out.” The moment I sit- “MAMA, ALLDONE! UP! PEAS!” “You want to get out now? You’re not going to squirm away? You’re going to let me pick you up, so I can change your diaper and we can go downstairs for milk?” “Yah,” she says seriously. I get up and go to her, my arms about to reach for her. She throws herself onto her pillow, giggling maniacally. Rinse and repeat at least two more times.

“Please don’t put Lamby down there, I just put Butt Paste on you.” She smiles as she does. I throw lamby into the hamper along with her pajamas. “You’ll get him back tonight.”

At the top of the stairs, she whines for me to pick her up, as if she doesn’t know how to get down them herself. She laughs as we bounce down the stairs.

“If you want to help feed the dogs you have to actually give them their bowls. Look how patiently they are waiting. 3…2…1. Alright, let Mommy have the bowl, please. I need to give them their breakfast. Thank you. Here you go, puppy.” She throws herself on the floor, shrieking and kicking. Eventually she gets up to rattle the crate doors, which starts her laughing again.

“Please don’t climb on top of the dishwasher. It’s not safe, and you could break the door. Please don’t grab the glasses. You can get all of your plates. No! Not the knives. Here- you put this pot away. Thank you!” A minute later, I trip over three colanders she pulled out while putting her pot away.

“If you push your wagon/train/vacuum into them, I’ll have to take it away. We don’t hurt our dogs. This is your only warning.” She pushes it into one or both of the dogs (or into my china cabinet), while looking over her shoulder at me smiling. “I’m putting this into the closet now. We don’t hurt our dogs. You can try again tomorrow.”

I sit down to take my first sip of coffee, and she is instantly at her high chair, pointing to her tongue. “UP! PEAS!” Of course, she’s hungry. I’ll just get up and get her a banana. And oatmeal. And cereal. And then I’ll wipe up the remainder of whichever item she decides to chuck onto the floor. My coffee is now cold.

[Insert at least three tantrums here over any combination of the following: chasing the dogs, me not paying attention to her, getting hurt, getting into trouble for banging on the china cabinet, not being allowed to wash her hands, not wanting to lay down for a new diaper that she told me she needs, not being allowed to drink my coffee, climbing on the back of the couch, being told not to put her foot into the dogs water dish, being asked not to throw _______.]

After a nice lunch, she intentionally smears her hands, covered in cottage cheese, into her hair and looks straight into my eyes. “I don’t think you needed that product, but if you think you did then fine. Let’s go upstairs for nap.”

She screams at the bottom of the stairs, because she can’t close the gate on her own/I won’t carry her/she can’t climb as fast as I walk.

Naptime. Bliss. A meal in peace. Chores without help. A reboot. Silence. “MAMA!”

A rainy day is like a painful repeat of our morning, but a sunny day? A chance to escape the confines of our walls. I get to really see my beautiful, happy, playful child. She’s curious. She’s silly. She’s agile. She’s social. She’s fun.

And then we go home. She throws the bowl of kibble onto the kitchen floor, because I’ve asked her to bring it to the dog. She cries huge crocodile tears, while holding onto my legs, as I heat up her dinner.

She picks and chooses whatever strikes her fancy off of the plate, her health and nutrition clearly not high on her list of priorities. She throws every black bean/green pea/noodle onto the floor, laughing and taunting the dogs to fetch it, which they undoubtedly do after she’s delivered nearly an entire plate of food to the floor. This leads to me sending them out, which leads to the dog jumping the fence while I’m wiping her hand. I throw open the ripped screen door (Lily has run straight through it, again), shouting- HUDSON RIVER WILHELM, YOU COME!- to the scores of happy families grilling on their back patios. It echoes. I cringe.

We go upstairs for a bath. She tosses her toys out, simultaneously splashing and hitting me with each one. “If you throw it out, you don’t get it back.” She leans back and! my toddler is driving me crazy!She performs a perfect death roll, as I attempt to wrangle a diaper and pajamas onto her damp body. She’s out of my lap before I’ve gotten two pages into I Am A Bunny. She hides behind the chair. She runs down the hall and into my room, squealing. I don’t chase her. She grabs Lamby from the laundry basket on her way back in and puts her paci into her mouth. I pick her up and rock her, singing her lullaby. She listens for the first verse and puts her finger up my nose during the second. I kiss her once from Mommy and once from Daddy.

I shut her door thinking, “Tomorrow will definitely be better.”

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So am I crazy? Or is she?


  1. Nicole Gumtow says

    Sounds familiar. Except you mentioned something called a nap. What is that? Warmer weather cannot come soon enough!!!

    • No nap!? For a long stretch of time Madeline was floundering with a 40 minute nap. It was the WORST. Since daylight savings she has been napping for at least an hour and a half every day and it is making all the difference in both of our abilities to make it through each day! I really feel for you, Nicole!!! Bring on the sun!

  2. haha! I told Steve I must be insane, because each day I wake up thinking that this day will be awesome. And while some are, the majority of them are HARD. It took every ounce of adult in me not to flip out this morning after Sam somehow launched his cereal bowl upside down underneath the table (seriously, I still don’t know how he managed to do that) before I had even brewed my coffee. I try to remember, one moment of patience will save me 100 moments of regret. Oy. And yes, I’m insane. And usually impatient.

  3. Hi Allison, it’s Tara Nick from GCCCNS. Love your blog…’s post reminded me of your sense of fun & tremendous patience with all the little ones at the nursery school; we loved having you visit the classroom! It is a LOT harder for moms to be patient with their own children as our lives are so intertwined and the job is 24/7. Adorable Maddie is simply doing what toddlers do and you are responding with care and love by protecting her from hurting herself and correcting her behavior as needed. Great mothering! Your instinct to get out and play/explore is correct….housework will always wait, at least until you are out of clean laundry…..

    • Talk about a total pick-me-up! Thank you so much for your kind words, Tara! And when out of clean laundry, my motto is to buy more until the piles of dirty clothes spill into the hallway…

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