As our toddlers learn to work with liquids and make their own food, messes are inevitable. But just because messes will happen doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands in defeat and keep our eyes closed until water is being poured perfectly and a crumb never touches the floor (my mum would still have shut-eyes, haha).
As a parent, regardless of having twins or not, I have a full plate and toddler messes are no fun and, at times, rather stressful–which are normal feelings to have after your floor looks like a thunderstorm took place indoors. So how did we come to a point that makes our journey to independence more enjoyable? Timing! Well, timing and limits.
Some may be able to do, and enjoy, multiple outfit changes and deep cleaning every day–but I’m not one of them. Currently, the water dispenser is only available at certain times and with limited water. Once the container is empty, its remains so until the following day. This prevents the overfilling of their “sink” (or rather their bin) and helps teach the girls that there is a limited supply. And once they are done with the water, we clean up, together. (Their water dispenser is only available at certain times due to needing supervision until it’s better situated in a more permanent location.)
I’m rarely the only one cleaning up nowadays. There is pointing out materials that need to be placed, “V, I notice you are done reading that book. Could you please put it back in the bookcase so we know where to find it next time we want to read it?” There are invitations to help, “E, the floor is wet from washing the dishes. Would you like to grab a cloth and help me clean it up?” And there assisting from me, “E and V, I see that you have finished working with the circle puzzle, can you please put it back on the shelf?” and when the puzzle is ignored, “I see that you may need some assistance, let me help you pick up the pieces so that we may return this puzzle to its spot on the shelf.”
Nothing is perfect as there is still a lot of learning going on. If they are assisting in folding the laundry, I don’t undo their work and then redo it. To do so would undermined their hard work and be disrespectful. I can’t imagine how my confidence would be if someone did that to me. They will correct themselves in time, watching what I do and with practice. At 18 months-old, I don’t expect them to fold a dish towel perfectly, nor does it need to be. It’s a towel, not a cashmere sweater–by reminding myself of that, it’s easier to relax and let them them do their thing.
With the encouragement of developing toddler independence, I practice lots of grace towards myself, we all should. The house may not be picture perfect–there may be a wet spot that’s been missed from spilt water from cleaning their cups, activities that aren’t put back 100% perfect, and having work taken from me because they can do it. But it’s all embraced with a deep breath and a thankful heart for little ones who enjoy learning and doing.
Is there anything special you do to encourage your toddler’s developing independence while practicing grace towards yourself?