The Art of the Pivot in Toddler Parenting

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The art of the pivot

As our girls move out of the baby phase and into full-blown toddlers, kids even, we are embracing the changes and trying new things. We’re saying yes more often, or even just maybe because we are learning the art of the pivot in toddler parenting.

Last month we attempted an outdoor festival with my family. It was about an hour away and we had never been. As a mom, and especially as a mom of multiple two-year-olds, this had potential to up the stress and cue the anxiety. I had no idea what I’d need to bring, how they’d react, what they’d do, what they’d eat, etc. But we said yes. We also agreed beforehand (an important distinction) that we’d say no if we needed to. We had nothing riding on this event, if it wasn’t working, we’d pivot and leave.

The festival was in an open field. There had been record-breaking amounts of rain the week before and everything was either dusty or muddy. Many of the kid-related events had been canceled because of the mud. After about an hour and two meltdowns, my husband and I looked at each other and collectively agreed, “NOPE.”  

As we packed up the car I had a twinge of sadness…or guilt maybe? We had worked hard to get the girls ready, the car packed, the snack bag full to the brim. We drove an hour and the timing wasn’t right to take advantage of the inevitable nap for the hour-long drive home. I was glad we said no. I knew it wasn’t going to end well if we stayed, but it felt like a waste. 

So we pivoted. We were in Madison! Surely there was something else we could do? I heard about the Madison Children’s Museum and wondered when I’d ever make it there during the week with two kids by myself. It turned out we were two miles away! We used the art of the pivot and popped over to the museum, again, agreeing that if it wasn’t working at any time we could pivot again and head home.

The museum was a total hit. With an entire area dedicated to kids five and under, there were a ton of activities our girls were interested in, entertained by, and engaged with. They ran around, fed pretend baby cows, pet real baby chicks, played with modeling clay, and were so freaking happy for two full hours.

We chased them around, let them explore, and basically just spent the two hours BEAMING at our decision to be Fun Mom & Dad. The art of the pivot worked in our favor.

Y’all, let me tell you. The Fun Mom experience is a slippery slope. At this point we were well beyond our typical nap time, the girls had eaten but we were hungry and we were a mere half mile walk away from all of the restaurants and people watching of State Street. What did we do? We popped those kids in a stroller and walked.

It was a gorgeous day, we got in a great walk, they were able to rest and we all enjoyed a great meal together. If you had asked me that morning if I wanted to eat a meal on State Street with my kids, I would have told you, “Sure, I’ll see you in 2025 when that’s less of a nightmare.”

As we walked back to the car, my husband said to me, “Wasn’t it nice to be around people?” We hadn’t really engaged with that many other people, but instead of tailoring our weekend to only kid-friendly activities and actively avoiding the chaos of new things, we gave our kids a chance to show us they can do new and different adventures.

They’re changing so much every day and it was such a solid reminder to just say yes. Try it! Or at least give it a maybe with a promise of accepting that the art of the pivot is always at your disposal. 

Photography by Talia Laird Photography

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