Toddler Life Lessons

This post was originally published August 2018.


Toddlers are too young to understand deep, philosophical lessons. They are too young to understand moral quandaries. They are too young to really grasp right from wrong.

As parents, we know that just because they can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught. I feel like this is a “no, duh” moment many parents are saying to themselves right now.

Yet an issue I run into as I parent Jai with Ash is knowing what lessons to teach and how best to teach them. Questions I ask myself on a daily basis: is this something worth correcting Jai on? How do I correct him, with a warning or straight to time out? Should I follow the mainstream recommendation or go with my instinct?

A mentor once told me years ago, well before I met Ash, that you are never truly prepared to have a child. So if you want to have one, you have to just jump in and learn as you go. It won’t be easy, but the payoff will be worth it in the end when you have a functioning, well-adjusted adult that wants to have a relationship with you after they’ve moved out of the house.

But in order to achieve this, I have to begin training Jai to be polite, thoughtful, a good listener, able to share, and comfortable with adults as a toddler. The list is a bit longer than that, but those are the main concerns I have on a daily basis with a toddler.

As I am training Jai, I have to be mindful of several things: I’m an adult, what battles to pick and being humble throughout the whole experience.

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The Inevitable: Waking up in the Middle of the Night

This is the first week in a 3-week series on parenting observations. Week one is based on gentle parenting, week two is about parenting with compassion, and week three is about parenting with a disability.

These posts are based on my personal experiences as a parent and are not meant in any way to judge other parenting styles or decisions. I am offering my personal research and conclusions as possible suggestions for others out there, therefore these posts will be as objective as possible. When it comes to parenting: provided the method isn’t abusive, there really isn’t a wrong way to parent your child. Be secure and do what works best for you and your family and ignore outside judgement.


It’s one in the morning and your little one wakes up.

It seemed like everything was going well: they were sleeping through the night and now they are walking up almost nightly, for seemingly no reason.

There are plenty of posts out there on how to cope with the wake up. Tips and tricks on trying to get them back into bed and to sleep. That’s not what this post is about.

This post is for you, the caretaker, and how you manage your feelings when you’ve only had 3 hours of sleep and facing multiple hours of wakefulness while waiting for your little one to go back to sleep. How do you keep it together without getting frustrated? How do you show empathy when all you want is sleep and they won’t stop crying?

What is Gentle Parenting & Bedtime Routines?

This post is related to my week about gentle parenting. If you are just dropping in, check out my previous posts about gentle parenting and bedtime routines for more information.

Why Little Ones Wake Up

There are a variety of reasons why your little one wakes up: overtired, hungry, nightmare, or learning a new developmental skill. It’s important to identify the reason why they are waking up before going any further. Understanding what is waking a child up makes it easier to figure out how to handle the situation in your sleep-deprived stupor.

Below are some of the top reasons why a child wakes up in the middle of the night:

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Mother nursing her toddler in a rocker

Gentle Parenting and the Bedtime Routine

This is the first week in a 3-week series on parenting observations. Week one is based on gentle parenting, week two is about parenting with compassion, and week three is about parenting with a disability.

These posts are based on my personal experiences as a parent and are not meant in any way to judge other parenting styles or decisions. I am offering my personal research and conclusions as possible suggestions for others out there, therefore these posts will be as objective as possible. When it comes to parenting: provided the method isn’t abusive, there really isn’t a wrong way to parent your child. Be secure and do what works best for you and your family and ignore outside judgement.


A few days ago, I was in a text conversation with some other mothers about bedtime. What was bedtime like? How young is too young to start a routine? Why should I start a routine?

Scrolling through the conversation, there were a lot of great tips and insights shared surrounding the nature of each child’s bedtime routine and when they started having one. A common thread in the discussion: the adaptability and consistency to each routine made for an easier transition from waking to sleep.

As I was explaining Jai’s routine, I realized how important it was to his overall happiness and demeanor. I don’t pay attention to my own bedtime routine or even give myself a quality one to begin with, but Ash and I make sure that we are consistent with Jai to help him fall asleep with minimal fuss. When Jai wakes up in the morning he is chipper, refreshed, and ready to start the day.

By incorporating some gentle parenting techniques, it will create a calm atmosphere filled with mutual respect and listening by both parent and child to minimize stress and frustration by both parties.

This isn’t meant as the correct way of doing things, but merely information I’ve compiled from my own research and experience. It will hopefully provide some suggestions or ideas to build off for your own parenting experiences.

If you are dropping into this post from elsewhere, click here for more information about gentle parenting.

Creating a Consistent Bedtime Routine

There are two important aspects to the bedtime routine: the time in which the child goes to bed and the process that gets them there. Unfortunately, life gets busy and maintaining a consistent bedtime isn’t always realistic. You get home late from work, there’s a late dinner date with some friends, or time just slips by: all of these are reasons why it can be hard to maintain a consistent bedtime.

There is a lot of back and forth out there about whether there should be a consistent bedtime, and like with everything else, only you know when it is best to put your little one to bed.

There are ways to maintain a consistent routine despite changing bedtimes from day-to-day. Make sure that you have a routine that is the same every night no matter what time you start the process. What will help is if you have two similar routines that differ in length depending on how much time you can take putting the little one to bed. Jump down to “Our Personal Routine” for more information.

What does bedtime have to do with gentle parenting?

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