Bye Bye Bad Dreams

My three-year-old started waking up in the middle of the night claiming pink monsters were going to attack, his dinosaur bopped him on the head, and some other creature under his bed was determined to take him down. It’s normal for the imagination to kick in and warp the blissful reality of dreamland, but when it started to impact everyone’s sleep, something needed to be done.

The other night, our son was inconsolable. He abruptly busted into our room sobbing crocodile sized tears. He was so upset and unable to formulate his thoughts and tell us what was wrong. My husband took him back to his room and eventually fell asleep on the floor holding his hand. Yes, it was a sweet moment between father and son, but we didn’t want to establish this as the norm.

As parents we have the power to embellish – transform any household object into a magical token or make bold claims like vegetables give us super powers. Just like our children, so much is possible when it comes to the imagination. When the nightmares started to plague his dreams, my imagination took over. Here is the story about a little boy – the bad dream buster.

Before he lays his head to sleep, the little boy grabs his green magic stone (i.e. flattened marble his mom found when cleaning out her jewelry box). He gives it a kiss and whispers the word “lucky” into the stone. He gently places the stone in a mystical container (also known as a pill box) and carefully places it under his pillow. The fluffy bunny that occupies his bed, watches over the magic stone as the little boy goes to sleep.

He then grabs his magic elixir (one cup of warm water mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil in a spray bottle) known to many toddlers as “monster spray.” He lightly sprays his bed, royal subjects (i.e. stuffed animals), and royal throws (blankets) with the magic potion. If a monster catches one whiff of the elixir he is banished from the kingdom FOREVER! The little boy was very generous in his distribution of the “monster spray.” He likes to cover his bases.

Finally, the little boy seeks out the keeper of light (also known as his Miffy night light). She turns even the darkest corners of the kingdom bright with his warm glow. With the flick of a switch, she casts a beam of light around his room, ridding it of any monsters who may be lurking.

Once the little boy feels that he has successfully demolished all the baddies, he softly closes his eyes and enters dreamland. Legend states, he starts to dream of adventures on board the Octopod with Captain Barnacle and the rest of the Octonauts (*cue dramatic music).

What a story, would you believe me if I said it was true, minus some of the colorful additions? This may seem like an entire production, but it works, for right now. He has full ownership of his nighttime routine, which I believe helps eliminate some of those pre-bedtime anxieties.

What are some tricks you use to help your kids go to sleep? Let me know in the comments below.

Sweet dreams!

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Parenting Through Disney Songs

Fun fact about me, I have never met a Disney movie I didn’t like. What’s even stronger than my love for animated magic is the fantastic songs that accompany each featured filmed. You will often catch me singing along with the Disney Spotify channel at the top of my lungs while driving in the car, cooking in the kitchen, or working from my desk. Lucky for me, my oldest son is just as obsessed.

As we were belting our best rendition of You’re Welcome from Moana, it hit me, most Disney songs have a lyric(s) that reflect the life of a parent. Here are 10 Disney lyrics that capture what it’s really like to be a parent.

  1. Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas) – You think you own whatever land you land on. I think it’s a known fact that toddlers think they own everything. We are just here for their enjoyment and to be at their beck and call. In response to their incessant sass I say, if you listen to me You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.
  2. Un Poco Loco (Coco) – I’ll count it as a blessing that I’m only un poco loco. You know the moment when your kids flip from acting the fool to becoming the sweetest children on the planet? You look into their cherub-like faces and think “thank goodness you’re cute and only make me a little crazy (un poco loco).”
  3. I’ll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan) – Heed my every order and you might survive. This one is for all the boy moms out there [represent]. Boys may be less drama than girls, but it’s harder to keep them alive. When it looks like your son is about to fling his body off the swing set or headbutt his sibling, repeat the wise words of Li Shang.
  4. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King (Lion King) – I think it’s time that you and I arrange a heart to heart. When your kids are on the verge of going to time out, but you want to play nice cop, so you take a note from Zazu’s playbook. It’s either a heart to heart or the time out chair my friend.
  5. Almost There (The Princess and the Frog) – There’s been trials and tribulations. You know I’ve had my share. But I’ve climbed the mountain, I’ve crossed the river, and I’m almost there. When you’re talking to your parent friends about potty training. If you’ve ever seen a war movie and the main character is hobbling out of the trenches, that’s what potty training looks like for a parent. We’ve seen things we can’t come back from.
  6. Let it Go (Frozen) – Let it go (go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go). When my kids are having a “moment,” I often meet and exceed their volume with Queen Elsa’s anthem. Not only does it mute their complaints, it redirects their feelings and puts them into a state of confusion – they are confused as to why mom is actin’ the fool. I’m willing to assume that role if it stops the craziness.
  7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Toy Story) – You got troubles, and I got them too. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you. We stick together, we can see it through, ‘cause you’ve got a friend in me. As baby brother bites his leg, I keep reminding my oldest he will be your best friend one day. You are born into a friendship with your siblings, but it’s one that will last a lifetime.
  8. You’ll Be in my Heart (Tarzan) – For one so small, you seem so strong. My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm. This bond between us can’t be broken. I mean…this song just violently yanks at the heartstrings. I think the moment I became a mom and held my son in my arms, life truly began. There is something so special between a mother and a son. My boys are my world.
  9. Be Prepared (Lion King) – Yes, our teeth and ambitions are bared. Be prepared! This applies to both parent and child during one of the most excruciating moments in their life…teething. Have you seen the YouTube video where they time lapse a child’s teeth coming in? Search it; it’s absolutely horrifying. As you frantically search for the perfect solution to ease your child’s achy gums, maintain determination and prepare to get through it together, because neither of you will be sleeping.
  10. What’s This? (The Nightmare Before Christmas) – What’s this? What’s this? There’s something very wrong. What’s this? The age-old question of is it chocolate or is it poop can be summed up with the simple phrase – what’s this? Dare you even try to figure it out. Only the bravest of souls try to crack the mystery. Are you one of those people?

With hundreds of whimsical songs, there is bound to be one that fits every moment of parenthood. What song would you use to define your current state of parenting? Let me know in the comments below.

Mom Review: Now Say This – The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma

Parenting [par·ent·ing]: the raising of a child by its parents (Merriam Webster). A simple enough definition, but a loaded word on its own. I don’t know about you, but I am an active consumer of the “parenting book.” What is the best way to raise my child? How should I discipline my child? Should I even discipline my child? These are all questions I ask myself daily.

I have been fortunate enough to have two kids who are innately good, but I can honestly say that my cherub babes have their “moments.” Like many parents understand, those occasional “toddler moments” often leave us wondering if we communicated appropriately and whether we could have diffused the situation in a healthier way.

When I got my hands on a copy of Now Say This – The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma, I had no idea the world of difference it would make in my life. As a mom who is continuously growing as a parent while trying to raise two functioning (hopefully) human beings, this book serves as an excellent tool in my parenting artillery.

Co-authors, Heather Turgeon, MFT and Julie Wright, MFT, clearly understand the brain capacity of a parent with small children. Many parenting tip and technique books set an expectation that mom and dad can and should retain 50 + (give or take) steps on how mold the perfect child. Yeah, right! There is no way I can remember a laundry list of steps, let alone what I did five-minutes ago, but Turgeon and Wright make it easy with their three-step approach.

The ALP or the Attune, Limit Set, and Problem Solve approach, creates a space of kindness and accountability for both the parent and the child.

  1. Attune: watch, listen, and understand
  2. Limit set: state and hold reasonable limits or state a reality
  3. Problem solve: engage your child in creating solutions

I found this method to be immensely impactful with both my three-year-old and my one-year-old. Even though they are close in age, their ability to communicate is vastly different; however, this approach makes easy to connect with them, in their own way, at their level.

This book not only covers the ALP approach, it also provides proactive tools and application examples to ensure family balance. With a wide-range of presented real-life scenarios, I can tackle many a toddler mishap in a healthy and effective manner. Together my kids and I can find a way to resolve the situation.

If you’re a parent, parent-to-be, teacher, or anyone who works with kids, I strongly encourage you to absorb this insightful information. Within a week, the way my kids and I communicated completely transformed. Rather than feeling frustrated, we were able to walk through the situation(s) together. No more tears from either kid or parent. Just a mom, dad, and two toddlers laughing, smiling, and in complete harmony. Thank you, Turgeon and Wright; you are the true rock stars in my new scope of successful communication.

To learn more about this book and to get your copy of Now Say This – The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma, go to Penguin Random House.

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DK Book Wish List + Giveaway

Reading together and sharing stories is a necessity in my household. My nearly three-year-old will not go bed unless we read three stories. I know what you’re thinking, “three stories?!” Yes! I truly cherish my one-on-one time with my toddler. With an 8-month-old it can be difficult to give him all of the attention he wants, but our nighttime routine is OUR time, so I’m OK with three bedtime stories.

The majority of our bedtime reads come from our good friends over at DK Publishing. From touch-and-feel books to encyclopedias all the way to flashcards and experiments, DK publishing has all of the books you need to keep a well-stocked bookshelf for you and your kids.

We want to share with you four of our favorite and most anticipated DK publications (even though our list could go on and on).

Pop-Up Peekaboo! Farm

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Finding a book my toddler and my baby both love has proven to be a serious task in the past, but with the Pop-Up Peekaboo! Farm book, we can all sit down and enjoy a book together. Under each individual flap is a pop-up surprise guaranteed to create lots of laughs and giggles. My oldest son loves to point out all of the animals to his baby brother (insert a collective “aww” sound). The baby loves his bog brother and gives him is full attention during Pop-Up Peekaboo Farm time!

Dinosaur A to Z

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Now, I’ve talked about this book in the past, and well, it’s still a favorite for all us. Folks, we read the entire, YES, the entire Dinosaur A to Z book every.single.night. My toddler probably knows more about dinosaurs than the most well-known and well-educated archeologist in the world (no joke). He thoroughly enjoys seeing the beautiful artistic adaptations, and every turn of the page is like seeing the book again for the first time. If your child loves dinosaurs, I strongly recommend you get your claws on this book (see what I did there?).

My First Animals – Touch and Feel Picture Cards

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My toddler is at the phase in life where he likes to learn new things, because he loves the praise that comes along with learning something new. The My First Animals – Touch and Feel Picture Cards is the perfect addition to our daily routine. Within this compact display are 16 colorful early learning cards your toddler will LOVE! Who doesn’t get excited when they see kittens and puppies?

How to be a Scientist – GIVEAWAY

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I grew up in a household with a dad who has his doctorate in analytical chemistry and I had no desire to learn science. The idea of going to my biology or chemistry class gave me an upset stomach. When we got our hands on Steve Mould’s How to Be Scientist book, I got excited about science. Oh how I wish they had this book when I was going through science classes. No matter how old your kids are, teaching them the importance of the sciences is essential. Who was Marie Curie? How do you make a compass? What is energy? These are all things you can learn in this gorgeous and educational book.

We love this book so much we wanted to give away a signed copy of Steve Mould’s How to be a Scientist.

Here’s how to enter:

Option 1

Follow us on Instagram @makingmillmama
Tag a friend in the comments section
For an extra entry, share the post in the your Instagram story

Option 2

Follow us on Twitter @makingmillmama
Like and Retweet
 

If you do both option 1 and option 2, you will have double the entries. This giveaway is not affiliated with DK Publishing, Instagram, or Twitter. The giveaway will run from Thursday, December 21, 2017 to Sunday, December 31, 2017 8:00 PM EST. The winner will be direct messaged if they are the winner and the book will ship following the New Year holiday. This giveaway is open to both US and International. Good luck!

What are your favorite DK Publishing books? Will you get your hands on these awesome books? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Address the Loss of a Loved One with Your Toddler

Losing a loved one is never easy. I lost my best friends when I was in college and my Nana, also known as THE Nana in my family, last year. To say they were/are two of the most important people in my life would be an understatement.

I still mourn the loss of my loved ones, but as an adult I am able to process my emotions and understand what it means to lose someone that I love so much.

My Nana was a fighter; she battled through four, yes four, types of cancer. She is quite possibly the strongest person I know. I was able to spend the last minutes of her life with her and watched her battle until the very end. She never gave up! Her strength, hardworking attitude, and commitment to her loved ones are attributes I want my boys to have as they grow and develop into young men.

Wedding Day with Nana and Papa

My oldest was one and a half when my Nana passed away, but she had a very active part in his life and I was able to tell her that I was pregnant with my second son. I am so lucky that my oldest son was able to spend time with her, even if it was for a short period of time.

The girls and Rorie

When she passed away, I thought to myself, how am I going to explain this to my toddler? He has no understanding of death and what it means to have a loved one pass away. Here are four things I learned during this process:

  1. Speak in simple words – get as basic as you can, terms that well, a toddler would understand.
  2. Keep their memory present – Photos of my Nana are all over my house and my son will often go over to the pictures and point to her and say “That’s Nana!” She also gave him a number of books and stuffed animals. He knows that Nana gave them to him and he cherishes them deeply.
  3. Share all the love – Kids are so aware of our emotions. When we are sad, they will often become sad as well. When I was/am feeling sad, I go in for the hugs, kisses, and extra snuggles. It comforts both of us, not to mention, it’s one of my favorite things to do.
  4. Take care of yourself – We can’t support or little one(s), if we are not taking care of ourselves. Self-care is the most important thing you can do!

If you have lost someone special in your life, please know I am sending all of my love, hugs, and positive thoughts in your direction.

How have you explained this life process to your kids? Let me know in the comments below.

Toddler Time – Good Night, Baby Moon

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know how important the bedtime routine is in my house, in particular, the books we read together as a family at night. My toddler will mull over the books in his bookshelf and carefully select each literary masterpiece we read.

He is known is to pick the same books, even when he sits there and stares for five or more minutes at his collection. We can all admit, it’s easier to default to what we know and feel comfortable with, but I often encourage my toddler to step outside of his comfort zone and pick a book that is fun and exciting, but is also packed with educational opportunities.

DK Publishing’s Good Night, Baby Moon is the interactive, educational, and charming book, both child and parent will love. What’s cuter than a family of curious rabbits who have rhythm? Not much in my opinion! In this special book, your little one can follow this family of furry critters as they examine and learn about the various phases of the moon.

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We’ve recently been talking to our son about the sun, the moon, the stars, and the clouds floating by in the sky.  He’s finally at the age where he is excited to learn! Good Night, Baby Moon, provides the perfect opportunity for us to go outside and point at the moon and compare it to the journey of the little bunny family as they learn about the various phases of mother moon.

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Did I mention the front cover of this book lights up?! My son is so eager to press the button and see the moon behind the rabbits shine bright. I caught him the other night flicking the light on and off in the baby monitor. That’s right! He loves his copy of Good Night, Baby Moon so much, he insists on taking it to bed with him at night. Who needs a stuffed animal when you have DK Publishing’s Good Night, Baby Moon?

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Do you want to stroll through the woods with the rabbit family too? Well, your wait will be over soon. On September 5, 2017, you can get your hands of this perfect bedtime read. Mark your calendars, so you can make bedtime even more fun!

“Watching the moon helped the rabbits to learn, that when it goes away, it will always return.”

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Toddler Time – Monster Marshmallows

Growing up in a household with one parent in the medical field and one parent in the field of science, we were encouraged to do activities that expanded our minds and increased our curiosity. I never went to your “typical summer camp” where you lived in a bunk house and participated in kayaking and archery. My parents put me in marine biology, chemistry, and physic camps. It’s not what you would envision an elementary schooler participating in, but it was the best thing they could have done for me. My desire to learn more, I believe, encouraged me to participate in different courses and electives throughout my school career. I was excited about learning!

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I say this because it is never too early to get your kids excited about STEMS. When we got our hands on DK Publishing’s Maker Lab book of 28 kid-safe projects and crafts, it became the perfect introduction to the world of science for my toddler.

This wonderfully delightful book has step-by-step experiments, ranked from easy to hard, designed for 8 to 12 year olds. Even though this is designed for older kids, there are plenty of options for a mom and her toddler to get their science game on!

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I am constantly looking for ways to engage my son outside of his iPad on the weekends. When I came across the Monster Marshmallow experiment I knew I had found the perfect experiment for my two and half year old. What toddler doesn’t love delicious, gooey, and sticky marshmallows? I, myself, could go for a s’more right now!

All you need for this yummy experiment is a marshmallow(s), microwave safe plate, microwave, and an appetite.

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I had my son pick out his marshmallow and place it on the plate. Together we moved the plate with marshmallow to the microwave. I punched in 30 seconds and he hit the start button. About 15 seconds into the cook time, we saw our marshmallow expand and grow! He was in awe and learning about how “air heats up, and the pressure it exerts increases and the pockets grow bigger!”

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This wasn’t just a 30 seconds experiment for us, we did it over and over and over again. If you’re looking for a way to let your kids have fun and learn at the same time, DK Publishing’s Maker Lab is the book for you. I know we will be cracking this book open again very soon!

Get your copy of Makers Lab here >> https://www.dk.com/us/9781465451354-maker-lab/ << and let me know what experiments you try with your kids in the comments below.

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The Five Minute Rule – Parent Style

Have you ever been the middle of doing five million things at once? I’m constantly prepping for the next day, cooking dinner, answering work emails, and trying to stay sane – on any given day. This is my norm and I’m use to it, but I must add, in addition to all of these moving pieces, there is a small toddler standing behind me screaming at the top of his lungs “MOMMY!!!!”

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Listen, I love my little one, but he sounds like a broken record when he says my name.

Insert Family Guy meme of Stewie screaming Mummy on a continuous loop at Lois

I want to share every moment with my kids, but sometimes as parent, we have to get things done, so that we can have more time to play. To a two-year-old that means nothing. Your attention as a parent is demanded and expected to be given at the drop of a hat

I have learned since my oldest became a toddler and stepped into his role of “emotional tiny human” to use what I like to call the “five-minute rule.” When he demands my attention with pleas of “up mommy, peas,” “mommy more cwackers,” or “again, again!” I ask him to give me five minutes.

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Folks, it’s amazing! Giving my child a timestamp has turned into my personal sanity saver! Now, he doesn’t fully understand the concept of time, but does accept the fact that I will be there, present and accounted for, when I am able to complete my tasks at hand.

Have I abused the five-minute rule in the past? I wouldn’t say abuse per se, but I have extended the five minutes to ten from time to time. With this said, I am always ready to leap into mommy action whether it’s five or ten minutes later. I have never neglected my children’s needs. Time is going by too fast and I want to be there for everything, but sometimes I need a moment to gather my thoughts and finish my work, so I can be there, fully present for my kiddos.

Have you tried the five-minute rule? Do you think you’ll give it a try? Let me know if it works for you!

3 Simple Ways to Ease Teething Pain

Someone please explain to me as to why both of my children started teething right at three months? Am I wrong in saying that teething usually starts later? It’s not just one or two teeth, it’s five or more at one time (insert OMG face).

My little one is handling his six, yes SIX, erupting teeth like a champ! He truly is one of the happiest babies around (knock on wood he stays that way). You wouldn’t know that he’s teething except for the fact that his fist is halfway down his throat.

As a parent, the last thing I want to see is my children in pain. I’ve tried many remedies and here are three simple ways I sooth my three-month old’s aching gums.

Massage baby’s gums – After washing my hands, I will take the tip of my index finger and gentle massage along my baby’s gum line. The slight pressure eases the throbbing pain, but encourages the baby fangs to make their appearance. Most of the pain comes from the buildup of the teeth attempting to break through, so this helps speed up the process.

Nuby Teething Bib – Oh how I love the Nuby Teething Bib! This BPA Free bib is perfect for the teething babe. The tip of the bib is equipped with a teething corner that my little one likes gnaw on with pure delight. Additionally, the bib is designed to collect all of the drool that streams down the little one’s face during this troublesome time.

Get your Nuby Teething Bib >> HERE<<

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Cold wash cloth – When the baby’s mouth is so little, frozen teethers can be too big and awkward to fit in the mouth, in return it is unable to fix the pain. By cooling off a wash cloth and rubbing it across their gums or allowing them to bite down can help take away some of the pain. Also, I don’t know about you, but I have an obscene amount of baby washcloths, so there are plenty to go around in my household.

If these suggestions don’t make a difference and the pain persists, always refer to your healthcare provider for additional input and potential solutions.

Now that I’ve said teeth, teething, teether, and gums an absurd amount of times, I want to know, what do you do to make it feel better to ease teething pains?

Storytime: A Toddler in Ikea

Am I the only one who fantasizes about living in an Ikea? I would float from room to room chowing down on Swedish meatballs and lingonberry spread without a care in the world. No. I’m the only one? OK, no problem!

As an adult, there is something truly magical about Ikea. The countless opportunities of different things you can do with your home is what dreams are made of. I work from home about 80% of the week, so having a workspace that is just mine and not that of my kitchen table, is extremely important. With this said, we went on a mission; a mission called “Project Get Hannah a Desk.”

I packed the diaper bag full of snacks, bottles, and juice. We loaded the ninos into the car and made the drive to the mega store also known as my future homestead.

PSA – Do not attempt to take two small children to Ikea by yourself. I am so lucky my husband was there to help.

When we arrived to Ikea, my toddler’s attitude changed right before my eyes. He went from a happy kid to that of an emotional mess. He lost his mind when we attempted to put him in the shopping cart. As he clung to my body, I made the decision to hold him throughout the store for as long as my arms could carry. As a parent, I have to pick my battles, and this was not a battle I was willing to take on.

Rorie at Ikea

About thirty minutes into the trek, he decided he was a big boy and would sit in the cart. The following 10 minutes were great and then he demanded his freedom from the metal entrapment. Listen, I don’t want to be that parent who let’s their kid run free throughout a store, so we kept him very close and of course, he hated it! What mother would I be if I didn’t frustrate my child at some point in his life?

So, we made it through the display floor of Ikea (applauds self), but it was the warehouse where everything really went South. My toddler sat on the furniture push cart as we maneuvered through the aisles grabbing the furniture we would take home to build.

Spacing on the cart was limited, and we had to take him off of the cart to load my new desk, but we were going to put him right back on. Well folks that’s when it happened – the meltdown to rule all meltdowns. He was inconsolable. The fact that we had put something on the chart threw him over the edge. We tried to reason with him, but the yells of frustration just got louder and louder, until finally I threw him over my shoulder and took him out to the car.

Every patron watched and stared as I marched out the front door into 95-degree weather, with a screaming toddler and sleeping baby in the stroller. You want to know something, I didn’t care. Of course this was a frustrating moment as a parent, but I did my best to remove us from the situation and tackle the problem while in the car. Of course, he calmed down once we got into the car and was sad he had to leave Ikea. We talked about why we had to leave and if he wanted to go back what he needed to do. He was as receptive as a two-and-a-half-year-old could be. I’ll take it as a small victory during the battle of tantrums.

Oh the mood swings of small child. You never know which way they are going to go! The lessons here folks are to first, reevaluate if you should take your small children to Ikea and two, keep you cool and help your kid process through all of the crazy emotions raging through their bodies.

Where were you the last time your toddler lost his/her mind? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.