When Jack turned 2, a lot changed. Suddenly he was talking up a storm and learning new things so quickly that The Dad and I were struggling to keep up! A few days ago I was talking to a friend about the things we can’t currently live without that have made our lives with an independent toddler so much easier.
By 2 and a half Jack was wanting to do things that he was still to small to do. I don’t necessarily mean too young, but physically small. The hard part is that we have to practice patience as parents and wait a half hour for them to finally figure things out so that they grow up to be assertive young people with ambition and that never give up. (At least, that’s what I’m hoping happens every time I sit through a half hour of Jack trying to fasten his own seat belt)
I’m going to provide you with a list of items that have saved our sanity and have made raising an independent two year old much easier on us.
Bathroom Independence was very important to us because it helped Jack immensely during potty training and has helped him transition into a “big kid” easily and almost effortlessly with few struggles.
1.Faucet Extender – This has been one of our biggest helpers. When Jack turned 2 we started potty training and part of feeling independent was the ability to wash his own hands without us lifting him up so he could reach the water.
2. Step Stool – The step stool has also helped with independence in a very positive way. Jack is a little guy and between the step stool and the faucet extender he can pretty much do the whole toilet thing alone save for when he poops. A transitioning one like this one is helpful because it takes them longer to outgrow.
3. EZ Undeez – Part of toilet training for us meant that we would help Jack be as independent as possible since he’d be going to school 3 days a week and he’d most likely be escorting himself to the bathroom because of his personality type. EZ Undeez have little hooks on the side so they are super easy to pull down and pull up!
Bedroom Independence has been slow going. Mostly because we have two stories and only until recently have I started sending Jack upstairs to play alone in his room. Providing him with as much independence as possible in his room really helps both of us and fills him with pride.
4. Toddler Light Switch Extension – making it easy for your kiddo to reach the light can be really helpful for a lot of reasons. You can teach them to turn on the light at night if they’re scared instead of calling you for the 15th time. It also makes their room their domain and a safe place.
Our most challenging teaching moment has been to get Jack to play independently. He wants nothing more than for me or The Dad to be his playmates but sometimes we have work to do or I need to clean up so providing him with easy access to his toys and with several invitations to play is often times helpful. These also apply to bedroom independence and the ability to have options available wherever you want your child to be.
5. Toy Storage Organizer – This has been the best purchase I’ve ever made. Using this system Jack can easily pick out what he wants to play with then return it when he’s done. For a two year old he puts toys back at least 80% of the time and I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve been working at this since he was less than a year or if it’s part of his personality but it has been very helpful in keeping our living room clean. Toy Storage Organizer
6. Low Shelf with Storage – Another great option is having a shelving unit that’s low to the ground and easy open bins with toys and games inside. mDesign kids makes some pretty great clear storage bins with dividers that make sorting and putting away toys easy while allowing for your toddler to easily access them.
7. Book Rack – The Dad used to work in a Montessori school here in Austin and when I’d go visit they had this adorable corner with a little book rack that the kids could go to, pick a book, then rest on a little rug and “read.” I always loved this as we’re avid readers in our family. I know there are a ton of hacks for wall shelves that are super cute but a small book rack in our living room and then in Jack’s bedroom has been perfect for him and has helped a lot with toddler independence.
8. Kitchen Helper – We bought this about a year ago and oh my goodness it has brought on so much family fun in the kitchen. Jack calls it his castle and he can easily climb in and out of it so if he gets bored with cooking with me in the kitchen he hops off and runs into the living room to play. It’s pretty pricey but can easily last 5 years since you can lower the setting. There are also hacks for this too and more affordable options, I’m just adding the one we have at home now.
9. Child Safe Kitchen Knives – I know what you’re thinking but when you have a toddler next to you that can slice through a banana and eat it while you’re cooking – well it gives a lot of great feelings off for both of you. Curious Chef has a specific set for kids to help them learn to clean and prepare fruits and veggies. It’s a great way to teach them about healthier foods and kids are more likely to eat food they help prepare themselves. Try it and see if you’re toddler won’t at least try a food he’s never had before.
Best Toddler Safe Toy
10. Lastly I want to add a toy that has become Jack’s favorite and that has provided countless hours of living room and patio fun without supervision! The Piki Piki bike is made by folks here in Austin and it is by far the most superior toddler ride on toy. No other bike compares. We’ve rented out several from toybrary and when they aren’t too advanced for Jack, then they’re more for babies between a year and 18 months. So there isn’t a happy in between space for toddlers to safely enjoy a ride on toy that still helps them practice stability and balance like the Piki Piki bike. It’s made of plastic so it’s durable and won’t hurt your kiddo is he falls with it and comes in a variety of colors for both boys and girls. I highly recommend owning or gifting this toy.
I hope that you all find this list helpful and that it guides you through two and three with ease! It has definitely helped our family and if anything is a good list to give out around birthdays when you don’t have any idea what to ask for.