5 things I do to avoid toddler meltdowns

Toddler meltdowns suck. They’re frustrating and embarrassing, but in this phase of motherhood they are inevitable. It happens to all of us BUT here are some things I do to avoid it!

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We are on the go A LOT and at some point my 2-year-old or 4-year-old is going to get tired, hungry, frustrated, hot, cold, feelings hurt, etc… and a meltdown will happen. I have found that the more prepared I am with these five things the less likely a meltdown is.

FOOD. This is a no brainer and I’m sure most mamas carry snacks, but I take it a step beyond just throwing a granola bar in my purse and pretty much every morning when we leave the house I have lunches packed, ice waters, and a clear pouch full of snacks (and always emergency suckers). I do this if we’re going to the park, to a playdate, running errands… I even do this on vacation and a lot of the time even when we’re going to a restaurant! To me it is way more worth it to have a guaranteed food they will like and eat than waste my money and struggle through the wait for food, and I have never been asked to leave a restaurant because my toddler is eating food I packed.

3-Compartment Lunchboxes • Kids Contigo cups (the ONLY kids cup we use!)

Cooler Tote (I like one that looks more like a purse so it’s not super obvious I am carrying a cooler) • Clear Zipper Pouches

MUSIC/PODCASTS. I have realized how much power I have to set the mood for my kids. If I am rushed and frustrated, my kids pick up on that and everything goes downhill. Sometimes I have to just reset, put on a happy face, and do my best to change the tone. The more available I am to my kids the happier they are, if we’re driving and I try to tune them out, it usually goes badly, they love when I whole-heartedly listen to them, answer their questions, etc… But if I just CAN NOT engage a second longer I do have a couple tricks that help fill their love tanks without me having to be “on”. The two tricks are music they like (Amazon Prime Music has a bunch of great content for kids including Daniel Tiger and Curious George, toddler playlists, etc…) and podcasts (Wow in the World and Story Pirates are two favs).

Amazon Music • Wow in the World podcast • Story Pirates podcast

BOOKS. We keep a bin in the car with books. I do continually have to work on the kids asking politely for the specific book they want so it’s not just them constantly demanding things. I don’t switch the books out very often, my kids actually do better looking at the same books over and over again. Our favorites for the car are Usborne’s “Big Book of…” series (we have animals and machines) and Richard Scarry books, we love those ones because there is SO much for them to look at and study.

Usborne “Big Book of…” series • Richard Scarry books on Amazon

INCLUDE THEM. Whether I’m at home or on-the-go it can be frustrating trying to keep tiny humans happy when I have a to-do list. But 100% of the time things go WAY better if I include them. For a day of errands that means talking to my kids about what we’re doing, what our stops are, what is on our list. Sometimes it means breaking up the errands with something fun for the kids, even if it’s just cookies from McDonalds or letting them pick something out at Dollar Tree. When I’m at home with a long to-do list I can’t always include the kids but when I can it’s amazing. I just started having them help me clean the house and I couldn’t believe how much fun they had, how helpful they were and how clean we got the house! Yesterday I decided spur-of-the-moment to run errands and made it fun by having the kids pick out a silly hat out of the dress-up bin to wear, they loved it!

SLEEP. Kind of a no brainer but since so many are still surprised at what time I put my kids to bed and that they still nap regularly it is worth mentioning. We put our kids to bed between 6:30 and 7:30pm and have done that FOREVER. Simon is a major early bird but since it doesn’t matter if we put him to bed at 7pm, 8pm or 9pm we might as well put him to bed around 7pm and give him the rest he needs! We also try to nap them at least every other day. If the kids are tired I will absolutely rearrange my schedule to help them get the rest they need. I have definitely felt judged like “my kids are in charge” for this but seriously. Who wants to take an overtired toddler out and about?! Nope, not me. On the flip side, if they’re really rested and I need some time in the afternoon to get things done it is absolutely in my best interest to take them somewhere and WEAR THEM OUT in the morning!

Some things that help us in the sleep department: Sound Machine • Blackout Curtains

Those are the five strategies that I use just about every single day. I also like to keep little activities on hand for extra long car rides, waiting in doctors offices, stroller time while mama shops, going out to eat, etc… but those situations don’t come up every day. What tricks do you have? Share them in the comments!


6 thoughts on “5 things I do to avoid toddler meltdowns”

  1. Rachel Sharpe

    This is such a great reminder of things to do to keep kids happy! Especially with my 20 month old who has started her terrible two’s early! I need to get those lunch food containers you have-I think I would use them a lot with my kids.

    1. tinainreallife

      They work so well for us, we always travel with them and use them almost every single day at home!!!

  2. You make some great points, particularly when you say that you have power in setting your kids’ moods. I forget this sometimes, but when I put on a happy/silly/excited face, my kids react to that and approach what we’re doing with an expectation of enjoyment.

    1. tinainreallife

      It’s so hard, but it’s so true! I was talking to my friend Amber one day about how I was yelling at my kids a lot and felt terrible about it and was just at my wits end and she spoke so much truth into me about the power we have as mamas to set the tone for our families. It is a daily struggle but it is freeing to know that I can have a really big impact on everyone’s mood through my own.

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