It's happened, we've entered the "terrible twos." I use that phrase hesitantly, because my mama bear instincts roar to life at the thought of anyone calling my son "terrible," even if it's just in jest. My sweet, sensitive, imaginative little boy is my greatest joy . . . but holy cow. One minute my son Gabe is happy playing peekaboo, and the next he's in full-on code red meltdown mode. It's not so much that the twos are terrible, it's that they give you whiplash. For every tantrum and mess there is another sweet hug or giggle. But I try to remind myself that this is how he learns and grows and I'm just along for the ride. I've figured out that being properly prepared allows me to anticipate every situation and makes a tantrum or mess waaay less stressful. So if you're embarking on your own toddler journey, here's what I suggest you pack.
Is there anything quite as taxing as mealtime with a toddler? Will they eat it, or will they throw it? One will never know. With Gabe, it's usually the bigger the mess, the more he's enjoyed his dinner. Being the grandson of an Italian immigrant, he enjoys nothing more thoroughly than spaghetti night. And while we have made great strides in teaching him the proper twirl technique with his toddler-proof fork, he usually resorts to his hands at some point. As you can imagine, it can get pretty messy. I've learned three things: use plates that can suction to the table, keep a pack of my Pampers Sensitive Wipes in the kitchen at all times, and don't sweat the stains. A silicone plate helps minimize messes, while the wipes make clean up easy. Gabe loves to pull his wipes out of the pack to wipe his own face, and knowing I have a quick method for clean up makes it possible for me to sit back and enjoy mealtime without worry. And if he get's sauce on his shirt? Well, that's what bleach pens are for!
As with mealtime, car rides can also be a hit or miss with Gabe. On the one hand, he LOVES cars and basically could sit and watch traffic all day. On the other, he's not a huge fan of being strapped down for any extended period of time. For long car rides, we try to plan around nap time to avoid any colossal meltdowns, but sometimes they can't be totally avoided. We keep what we call "nuclear" options in the car for this exact reason. He has small trucks that stay in his car seat cup holder for some quiet play and a stash of interactive books in the car door for an easy distraction. We also keep water bottles and a box of cereal in the car for an emergency snack time. And most importantly, diapers. If I've learned anything, it's never leave home without a diaper. It only took one ill-timed blowout in his car seat to teach me this valuable lesson, and I'm determined to pass it on to every parent I know. Whenever Gabe goes up a size in diapers, we're sure to replace our emergency stash of Pampers Swaddlers in the backseat. Their amazing absorbency and comfort make them our go-tos.
Trucks, trucks, and more trucks. I swear, I'm not trying to perpetuate gender norms, my kid is just obsessed with anything that goes "vroom." That's why we allow him to pack one truck whenever we leave the house. We make a big production of allowing him to pick out which one he wants to bring with him and I think the fact that it was his choice helps avoid a potential fit. We also try to anticipate what types of activities we're going to be doing throughout the day, and think of ways to get him involved. For instance, if I know I'm going to be meeting a friend for coffee in the park, I'll pack his special thermos so he can say "cheers" with us. It seems silly, but those small acts help to keep him engaged, and give me 10 to 15 extra minutes of peace.