Time to toddler-proof your home
Dear Dr. Missy: Due to a change in my job situation, I’m now a stay-at-home father and my partner is working. Our crawling baby is walking. He runs around like a wild child and gets into almost everything. At times I feel frustrated. On some days, I want to take a nap, but my toddler won’t take a nap. We have fun together when we go to the park or play in the backyard, but I have to grocery shop, cook dinner, and clean the house, too. My concern is safety around the house for an energetic toddler. What can I do differently?
Dear Despairing Dad: I hear your frustration. Things have changed. You are in the daddy zone at home. And your baby has changed and is heading into another developmental stage. Change is scary, but necessary.
I want you to know that you and your son are in an adjustment phase. It will take time for both of you to adapt to the new situation—but it will happen. When a daily routine is established, you’ll both feel more secure. A toddler needs structure in his day, along with unstructured play and exploration.
Outside play and park activities help to dispel his energy. Have you tried a toddler sing and dance video from U Tube? This is an inside energy-burner activity. Before you try naptime again, try a toddler yoga video or a routine with the same picture book.
Back to your concern. I suggest that you stoop down to toddler level and scrutinize what’s on the floors, the walls, and examine all the interesting objects. It’s time to toddler-proof your entire house. Try to see the world at a lower level just like your toddler sees it. Are outlet covers on sockets? Are cords rolled up and secured? What objects can be removed and stored away until he is older? Go through every room in your house (on your knees) and look for hotspots. Toddlers like to reach up and grab. What needs to be moved?
Visit www.parents.com and inspect all the new child-proofing gadgets. Peruse the Internet and educate yourself on taboo toddler territories and potential danger zones.
By nature, toddlers are curious creatures. He is not being malicious when he pushes any button in sight for the umpteenth time. I suggest you make a small area in the living room just for him and some toys. Put books and toys on low shelves and add a small comfy chair. He may have a lavish playroom down the hall, but younger children want to be in the presence of adults.
When he’s older, he’ll love spending time alone in the playroom.
Take time to enjoy the days of toddler-land, because the time zooms by before you know it.
Baby Safe: The Practical Guide for Preventing Infant & Toddler Injuries (2012) by Mark Brandenburg, author and editor.
Safety Tips: Information from safety experts for kids of any age. www.safekids.org/safetytips.
Explore top stay-at-home dad blogs and websites.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, and Behavioral Health Consultant. Email your questions to the Scioto County Candor at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Dr. Missy” in the subject line.
Ask Dr. Missy is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.