• Catherine Joy

Toddler Takeaways: 10 Things I've Learned From My 22 Month-Old Nephew




My sister had her second child this week, making me an aunt again to a beautiful niece. And I'm now calling myself "BAE" (Best Aunt Ever) because to help my sister out while she and her husband were in the hospital for the delivery and recovery, I babysat their almost two-year-old boy for three days. I love my nephew to pieces, but being a full-time “sit-in-mom,” is no easy feat (diaper changes, tantrums, bedtime routines, cleaning up after a toddler, etc.) Thankfully, we both survived, and I can even say I’ve learned a few things from the experience. Here’s my list of lessons my 22 month-old nephew has taught me over the past few days:

  1. Communicating feelings can be hard, and it’s okay to cry it out sometimes. My nephew is in the so-called “terrible-two” stage, which apparently means tantrums and crying fits are a common occurrence. While there were a couple of tantrums thrown over the past few days (yes, by my nephew - not me!), most of the time he just had to cry it out for a minute, and then find something else to distract himself. I can’t blame him, though, because sometimes I - as an adult - even struggle with communicating my problems and feelings; I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for a person who isn’t even old enough to talk it out and explain his feelings yet!

  2. If you’re in a bad mood, you should probably try taking a nap or eating a snack. I swear that sometimes I only have two modes: sleepy or hangry. 9 times out of 10, if I’m in a crabby mood, I either need food or sleep (or both) - just like a toddler! Most of those tantrums he threw were resolved with a snack or going down for his afternoon nap.

  3. It’s okay to get messy - just remember to clean up after yourself. Whether you’re crafting, cooking, or playing a messy game, the memories you’re making and fun you’re having is worth every minute you spend cleaning up, washing, or organizing afterwards!

  4. Learn how to say “no” to things you don’t like or don’t want. I definitely heard the word, “no” way too many times over the past few days, but a lot of people - myself included - need to get better at saying “no” to things we don’t want or need. If it’s not going to grow you as a person - don’t settle for it!

  5. Appreciate the outdoors. Being outside is my nephew’s (and my) favorite place to be. We went outside a lot when I was with him this week! We would explore, search for bugs, play with bubbles, draw with sidewalk-chalk, etc. We never get bored outside, so we were definitely feeling that “cabin fever” on the days when the weather was too stormy to go out.

  6. Keep yourself busy. When we couldn’t go outside, we kept busy by playing games, crafting, cooking, reading books, or dancing together. Staying busy and not just sitting around watching TV or something like that made the days go by fast - and we had more fun that way!

  7. Belly laughs are good for your soul...and your abs. My nephew’s laugh is so contagious! Even when he’s doing something naughty and I’m trying to scold him for it, all he has to do is start laughing and I can’t help but to laugh too! These past few days he has definitely gotten out of some trouble just by laughing, but at least I got my ab workouts in!

  8. Don’t be afraid to dance like a fool. My nephew loves a good living room dance party, and we had plenty of them over the past few days. He especially loves to rock out with his Aunt Catherine to Miley’s “Party in the U.S.A.”

  9. Smile at and say hello to strangers - it might make their day! While visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and new niece at the hospital, my nephew smiled and waved at strangers in the hallways/elevators, and it definitely cracked a few smiles! Always remember to smile and be kind to others - you never know who could use a friendly gesture.

  10. Appreciate the time you spend with ones you love. I am so thankful that I got to spend this time with my nephew. I find myself in a better mood whenever I’m around him, and he brings such a great amount of joy to my life! ♡

I’m definitely fighting to stay awake as I write this post - it’s been a long, exhausting few days with my energetic nephew! I can truly say that I have the utmost respect for all the mothers, fathers, guardians, etc. out there who are providing the love, losing the sleep (and probably sanity), and are making the sacrifices every day for their children to have wonderful, love-filled lives. Thank you to my siblings for bringing such precious nieces and nephews into my life. And congratulations to my sister, Kim, and brother-in-law, Kyle, on their beautiful new daughter! My heart is full this week!

Thanks for reading!


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Wisconsin, USA

CATHERINE'S JOY

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