Once your baby starts showing off her personality and becoming a true-blue toddler, you have a whole new set of worries. It's hard to ignore all the bumps, bruises, binkies and bottles around every corner of your toddler's second year. Since you can't please everyone, the trick is to make choices that you, your partner and your testy toddler can agree on. Here are a few ways to banish guilt and rest assured that you're doing your best.
- Boil it down. When a well-meaning relatives question your choices, consider their standpoint but take heed. Perhaps your relative is from a generation that raised kids differently, or perhaps she doesn't see the whole picture. When you understand the history behind a remark, it's easier to use it constructively and move on without feeling guilty.
- Do what you can. Other moms might have time to cook food from scratch and take their toddlers to daily activities, but those who work are probably on a tighter schedule. Instead of stressing over areas you're lacking, focus on what you can do. Maybe you don't go to music class, but you can crank up the tunes and have a dance party in your living room. So you don't cook all-organic meals—you can still prepare healthy and delicious meals.
- Get some perspective. Maybe you feel guilty because you allowed your toddler to watch a little extra TV while you showered and got some work done. So what? While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two shouldn't watch too much TV, an extra 30 minutes in front of the tube isn't going to scar her. In fact, it might give you the energy to recharge and be a better mom for the rest of the day, so thanks, Dora!
- Leave dissenters in the dust. When your toddler is feeling active, head to playgrounds and let her interact with other kids her age. But maybe the mommy cliques out there are getting on your last nerves. Fiercely competitive parents can make you feel guilty about your choices, so ditch the dissenters by finding a playground with parents who have parenting styles more akin to your own.
- Realign your purposes. What is the goal of of your parenting choices? To raise a happy, healthy toddler. Clinical psychologist and life coach, Elizabeth R. Lombardo, points out that "As mothers, we 'should' ourselves. 'I should do this' and 'I should do that.' This one word is what causes guilt." The motivation to be good mothers is positive, but don't let guilt get in your way.
Hey, no mom is perfect. Even those that spend every waking hour with their toddlers and feed them perfect diets have their doubts. Instead of wasting time feeling guilty, spend it with your toddler!