The Golden Age of 18 Months: How to Savor the Fun and Limit the Frustration


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I wish I could stop time right now because this is my favorite age so far of my son – 18 months. He and I are in this groove where our days are flying by and we’re having a blast together. He’s saying new words every day, learning how to run fast and jump, and keeping me on my toes by testing every boundary. He’s still the snuggliest, sweetest guy, especially when he’s tired, but he also likes to hold my hand and march around like a big boy. There are meltdowns here and there, and we both get frustrated at times, but overall, we’re really enjoying each other’s company these days.

Now that my son’s a bit older, it feels less like I’m caring for a baby and more like I’m building a relationship with another (tiny) human.

Sometimes when we’re playing together he’ll stop and look at me, and we’ll share a smile, a giggle, a silly face, or a knowing look, and it’ll hit me how well we know each other. I know that he is learning lots from me, as well as soaking up information from his surroundings and experimenting through play, but I am learning even more from him. Through our daily interactions and routines I am slowly finding my voice as a mother, and figuring out the type of parent I aspire to be.

I can’t believe that in just six months I’ll have a two-year-old. Yikes! Are the “terrible twos” really as rough as people claim? And what’s this about “threenagers” being even tougher than two-year-olds? I get overwhelmed just thinking about it! This is why I just want to stop, savor the moment, and shout to the rooftops how much I love this age, 18 months. I know that with each new phase of a child’s development there are exciting changes and new challenges, but I’m not ready for this phase to end anytime soon.

I definitely don’t have it all figured out and doubt I will at any age, but I want to share a few things I’ve learned recently about parenting a toddler versus a baby that I believe have made our lives run a bit smoother. If you have any other tips or ideas that have made the toddler years easier and more enjoyable share them in the comments below!

Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need for EVERYTHING!

Transitions in and out of the stroller or car seat never go well for us when I’m feeling rushed, so I’ve started planning an extra fifteen minutes or so to explain what we’re doing, get all our things ready and then go. Transitions are still not seamless by any means, but power struggles have decreased and I lose my patience a lot less.

Get outside every day!

Sometimes when we’re having a rough day, my initial inclination is to stay home because the thought of a public meltdown sounds like more than I can handle. The crazy thing is that something magical happens when we do head outside and our energy completely changes. My son finds a stick or handful of rocks that look fascinating, and he’s suddenly no longer interested in whining and clinging to my leg. I feel the sun on my face, take some breaths of fresh air, and feel my patience slowly return. Even if we only stay outside for ten minutes because it’s super windy, or we walk a lap around our apartment complex on an “adventure” to get the mail, we both usually return in a more positive mood. I’ve learned that the days when it feels toughest to get out the door are usually the days we need restorative outside time the most!

Stick to a predictable schedule.

I thrive on structure and routine, so this has been an important lesson for me, too. I struggled with the unpredictable nature of the newborn stage and always felt overtired after trying to pack in fun activities when my son still took two naps. Now that he’s down to one nap, we typically go on one outing in the morning, and one in the afternoon. We have a few go-to parks that we go to every week, and we try to meet up with friends as often as possible. There is something boring, but also comforting, about our schedule. We definitely shake things up from time to time, like last week when we skipped our MyGym class to go to the Color Factory (which I highly recommend!), but I’ve noticed that days feel more manageable and enjoyable when we keep things simple and relatively close to home during the week.

Any tips you would add to this list? Can’t wait to hear your ideas and favorite age so far in the comments!

the golden age of 18 months

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Kate grew up in sunny San Diego and is a beach girl at heart. She moved to the Bay Area to attend Cal (Go Bears!), where she studied Sociology and met her husband Zack. She has a Masters in Education from UC Santa Cruz and taught middle school in Santa Rosa and Austin, Texas before her son Henry was born in 2016. The family of three moved to San Francisco in February 2017 and miss good barbeque, but enjoy exploring the city together. Kate loves spending time outdoors with Henry, usually hiking or hanging out at the playground. When Henry is sleeping, you can find her cooking, curled up on the couch with a new book or working on her headstand in a yoga class.


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