Toddler Tips: A Survival Guide

We are not toddler experts. Mr. Not so crafty didn’t have much child experience at all before our daughter was born and while I have a lot of experience caring for other peoples children in an educational setting, I have also encountered a lot of surprises on my own parenting journey. As our daughter has settled into the toddler stage, we have noticed a lot of wonderful changes in her personality, but there have also been a few struggles that were not there in the infant stage. It can get frustrating at times. We would like to share a few tips and tricks we have that we hope will help you (and us) survive the toddler years.

baby blur boy child
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Evaluate Your Expectations

Toddlers are still getting used to the world. They will cry and they will scream. Try not to stress everyone involved out by expecting behaviors or skills that are not age appropriate. Every child develops differently, so just because the three year old down the street has an advanced skill, do not get upset if your three year old can not do the same thing.


Provide Your Toddler a Lot of Exercise

This will not surprise you in any way, but small children have a lot of energy. In order to keep everyone sane, help the little person in your life get the exercise they need to burn off that energy. We try to go away to a park or a museum to let that energy burn several days a week, but on days that is not possible, a fenced in yard or a toddler proofed play room can be a big help too!


Remember, Messes Will Happen

 It does not matter how good of a house keeper you are, your toddler will make messes. They are learning so many new skills and unfortunately, messes and mistakes will happen before those skills are perfected. In our house, we do not scold or punish accidental messes. We do try to discourage food throwing, but do not acknowledge food messes that are made in the process of working towards using silverware proficiently.


Try not to Rush

Toddlers move on a whole different time table than adults do. They do not yet have the concept of time. You may find that you save yourself some frustration by leaving extra time in your schedule. Our daughter loves to help get herself dressed and sometimes even try to put on her own shoes. These are important skills we can not encourage if we are in a big hurry to leave the house.


 Be Flexible

We are all perfect parents, but then we actually become parents, and real children can be a lot more difficult than hypothetical children. We each enter parenthood with ideas of what our parenting style will be like, but sometimes that style does not match up with our children’s personality and ability level. Do not be afraid to change things around a little bit.

child wearing blue and red stripes polo shirt sticking out tongue
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We hope this brief guide will help make the toddler stage just a tiny bit easier. We also suggest you consider checking out these tips for a happy toddler by Simply Sweet Momma and these parenting strategies from The Professional Mom Project. As always, we would love to hear from you! Do you have a great toddler tip or would you like to share a struggle you have with your toddler? Please leave it below!

Easy Paper Plate Turtle

Today it was way too hot to play outside, so it was the perfect day for crafting! This turtle is ridiculously easy for little ones to make. It is perfect for kids four and under!

Materials Needed

  • Paper Plate
  • Green Construction Paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Googly Eyes


The prep work on this one is super easy! Just cut out a head, four legs, and a little tail. After that, cut the rest of the paper into little squares.



Turn the plate over so the “bump” is facing your child and let them glue on the green squares. We used liquid glue, but if your child enjoys glue and you want to extend the time this takes by about 15 minutes, you can use stick glue and have your child the glue on each piece before putting it on the plate.


After that dries for a little bit, flip it over and let your little one glue on the head, legs, and tail.



To finish this little turtle, just flip it back over and help your little one put on the googly eyes! If you do not have googly eyes, then you can just have your little one draw on a face if they’d like.



If you’d like more paper plate fun, check out our Paper Plate Dog and our Paper Plate Flamingo.


Paper Plate Duck

We really dove into our love for animals this past week. We visited the zoo and a farm owned by the local park system. This paper plate duck is a fun activity to do after a trip to see animals or just anytime you are looking for something cute and simple to keep your child busy for a little bit!

Materials Needed

Paper Plate

Yellow Paint

Yellow Construction paper

Orange Construction Paper



Googly Eye

Large Plastic Sandwich Bag (This is optional, you can paint with a paintbrush, hands, sponge, ect.)


I started by cutting a paper plate in half and putting it and some yellow paint in the large sandwich bag. This is how we paint on days when I do not feel like cleaning up a big mess. If Mr. Not So Crafty is home, we usually embrace the messy art, but when he’s not, sometimes we will use this easy to clean up method!


After the paper plate is painted, we left it to dry while we played for awhile. After it dried, I cut out a head, two feet, and a beak for the duck. If your child is over four, try drawing the shapes and let them do the cutting! Cutting is great fine motor skill practice.


I flipped the paper plate over and let my little one glue on the duck parts where she wanted them.


After the glue dried a bit, I flipped it back over and helped my daughter add the eye. If your little ones like this, also check out our Paper Plate Flamingo and our Paper Plate Pig.


Book Review: Oopsie-do

Last night, we read the book Oopsie-do written by Tim Kubart and illustrated by Lori Richmond. The following review contains affiliate links. We may get a small commission at no additional cost to you from any link shared. We are not being paid for our review of the book nor were we asked to give the review!

Oopsie-Do! is an adorable children’s book that teaches children that it is ok to make mistakes and that sometimes messes happen.

Kubart’s text is really simple and fun to read. It takes us through a day with a little girl who makes many messes and mistakes but does not let it ruin her day. She simply says “Oopsie-do” and cleans up the mess! This is a great book for bedtime because it ends with the little girl going to bed as well. We highly recommend this as part of your home library if you have little ones.

Toy Sorting Activity

We have been working on color recognition with our toddler recently. Earlier this week, I did a Color Sorting Activity with magazine clippings and the activity we did today also requires very few materials. All you need for this one is construction paper and toys!


After picking three colors of construction paper, we gathered toys of those colors. I took an extra step and laminated the construction paper, but that is completely optional. Mr. Not so Crafty and I went over each color with our daughter again and encouraged her to match the toys with the same color construction paper.



Toddlers learn through play, so quick activities like this might not look overly educational to adults, but they are very helpful when teaching early skills.


Color Sorting Activity

This color sorting activity uses materials most people have on hand to encourage color recognition, language skills, and cognitive skills. We did this activity with our almost 20 month daughter, but she needed a lot of assistance, so we recommend this one for little ones between the ages of two and five.

Materials Needed

  • Magazine clippings of items that represent colors
  • A piece of white printer paper
  • A colored pencil
  • Glue


This activity has a little more prep work than most of the things we post, but it is a great way to help your little ones with color. After I gathered several magazine clippings representing each color we wanted to work on, I wrote the colors on the top of the white paper and drew lines to separate it.


Once the prep work was done, I sat down the little one and we started going over the colors. I held each item up and said the color name. She was only able to repeat “red” but did work hard to mimic the sounds of the other colors as well. I helped her find where each color should go. The closer your child is to reading, the less help they will need.





To expand the activity, you can go over the colors again after its done. If you have access to a laminator, you can laminate it and save it for later. When Mr. Not So Crafty got home from work, we sat down as a family and used the laminated version to go over colors again.

Tips For Raising Bilingual Kids

We are a bilingual English/Spanish household. If you had told us that five years ago, we likely would have laughed. Both adults in our house failed our high school Spanish classes. However, when we became a family via adoption, we knew we wanted our tiny human to speak Spanish in addition to English. Today we want to share a few tips we have picked up over the past almost 20 months.


**This post may contain affiliate links. We may get a small commission at no cost to you for links we post here. The opinions expressed are all ours**

It is never too early, or too late, to start introducing a new language! A child will learn better if they are exposed to two languages from a young age, but if you make the decision to raise a bilingual child later on in their lives, that is okay as well!

Do not compare your bilingual child to children who speak only one language. This one is so hard as a parent! Our daughter speaks the required eight to ten words for her age, but not much beyond that. She does have a wonderful understanding of the words she uses. We can ask her to say hello to someone and instead we get an “hola”. It doesn’t matter if we say “come here” or “ven aqui”, she will come running. Well, if she is in the mood that is! If you have any concerns about your child’s speech patterns, please consult a physician just in case!

Your second language skills do not have to be perfect to raise bilingual children. Every person in our house is learning together. We do a lot of YouTube learning during nap time. We also try to do half of our limited media time in Spanish. We are far from fluent, but can now have a basic conversation. As our daughter gets older, our skills get better.

Use bilingual children’s books as a tool! Our daughter  loves to be read to in Spanish. Sometimes its a bit painful on momma’s part, but the books we use also have English text, which helps us all learn! Here are some suggestions.


It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. There have been times in this journey where we considered giving it up. People in our lives have expressed concern about us possibly confusing our child. None of that mattered the first time our daughter said a word in Spanish. Her first Spanish word was “Aqui”. We were so proud, but more importantly, she was very proud of her little self.


There are many great bilingual momma’s with blogs out there! Check out a few of them below!

By Cluadya

Hispana Global

De Su Mama



We hope that sharing this little part of our language journey will help you with yours. Please feel free to comment below with tips or stories you have about your bilingual families!




“Magic” Toddler Water Activity


Yesterday, we felt like we wanted to do something different while enjoying some outdoor time. This “magic” water pour can be done with items you have laying around and only takes a few minutes!


What You Need

  • A plastic cup
  • A bowl
  • Water
  • Food Coloring


We put water in the cup and a few drops of food coloring in the bowl.


After that, we simply let our little one pour in the water and watch it change colors. She had a blast. This simple activity probably will not entertain older kids, but for kids under three, it will sure to be a favorite!




Book Review: Feminist Baby

During a target run, one of our toddler’s grandmas saw Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz and we had to check it out. Once we saw it perfectly described our daughter, it had to come home with us. Her grandparents were nice enough to purchase the book for us and it will be a new favorite in our home.

**This post may contain affiliate links. We may get a small commission, at no cost to you, for any purchases made through the links. We use this to keep the blog going. We are not receiving payment for our opinion about the book, nor were we asked to give the review.**

This is a well illustrated and really funny board book. Feminist Baby has an incredibly positive message for little girls (and boys too). The book takes on issues like gender stereotyping in silly way that children will enjoy.

The concept of introducing serious concepts to little ones in books like Loryn Brantz’s Feminist Baby is wonderful and offers little ones an introduction to vocabulary and concepts that they can build on as they grow.


Shape Truck Activity

Our toddler enjoys all things girl, but she also loves things that “go, go, go”. This shape truck is not only cute, but its a great way to work on shapes and colors. Never underestimate the educational value of art time!

Materials Needed

  • White Paper
  • Construction Paper of various colors
  • Glue
  • Scissors


We started by cutting out a few shapes. If your child is small, that is all you will need. If your child is in preschool or elementary school, you may want to provide a larger selection of shapes for them to pick from. If you have a lot of time, you may also want to just draw the shapes for older children and let them do the cutting.



Next, we went over each shape and color. For toddlers, you can just say  things like “This is a black circle.” or “Would you like the pink square or the brown square?”.  For older children, have them pick the shapes then describe each one. After we went over the shapes and our little one decided which ones she wanted, we just helped her glue them on.






Activities like this help hands on learners really soak in the information they are presented with. What is your favorite way to teach young children shapes and colors?