When you are pregnant the amount of advice and stories that get thrown at you and your growing bump from every direction can be a tad overwhelming at times. The same goes for baby’s first year and toddlerhood too, people are not shy about coming forward with what it is like raising a small person and will gladly tell you aaall about it if you ask (sometimes you don’t even have to ask!). The advice, insights and anecdotes start to slow down when your child hits 3, I don’t know if it is because others think you should probably know what you’re doing by now or what but I have definitely noticed I am regularly finding myself staring at Leo in confusion and thinking ‘WTF?’. If you have a little one whose barrelling towards their third birthday and want to know, for research, what it is really like living with a 3 year old then here are 19 things I wish I had known before my Leo teetered over the edge of toddlerdom and became a fully fledged little boy.
19 things you should know before your child turns 3
- They want to know everything – I mean EVERYTHING. They want to know every friggin little thing in the whole world and if you don’t have the answer then they will just ask you why you don’t know for about a million years.
- They say why a lot – By a lot I mean at least five thousand times a day.
- Growing independence is amazing – Feeding themselves, dressing themselves (kind of) and entertaining themselves are all skills that your little one is pretty much mastering by age 3. You can finally eat your own meal in peace while your little one eats almost like a human beside you and now able to build mega blocks without your assistance you can grab 5 minutes for a cuppa – hurray!
- Growing independence is a nightmare – While it is brilliant that your child can now do all sorts of different things, they are now at an age where if they don’t want to do it then you have to pretty much be a master of negotiation to get them to do it. The terrible twos were undeniably hard, but attempting to get a 3 year old to put their shoes on when they just want to stay in and watch Paw Patrol can result in the mother of all tantrums.
- They start to make proper friends – While two toddlers may sit and play next to each and occasionally do something adorable together, you wouldn’t really class them as proper friends. Since turning 3 and going to pre school Leo has started to make lots of friends, he talks about them lots and always gets excited when he is going to see them. Leo’s friendships are a million miles away from the relationships his little brother has with his own ‘baby friends’.
- They can say hurtful things – So I wasn’t quite prepared for my son to drop the ‘H’ bomb at just age 3 but it happens. It was not nice to hear my boy say he hates me, I may have cried about it once he was in bed, but 3 year olds are still learning to deal with all their emotions but, unlike adults, they don’t mind saying exactly how they feel.
- They can say adorable things – ‘You’re my best friend’ , ‘ You look beautiful Mummy’, ‘I love you so much, you are my sweetheart.’ Heart. Is. Melted.
- They are fast – A baby learning to walk is hilarious but you don’t really need to be a pro athlete to keep up with them. Being the parent of a toddler who can run does require a certain amount of stamina, granted, but keeping up with a 3 year old? Those little legs aren’t so little any more and now they have figured out how not to run into walls or trip over their own feet these kids can zoom off as quick as the wind if you look away for a second too long.
- Toilet talk is the best thing ever – Poo, farts, wee, bums, willies and everything else toilet related becomes the best thing to talk about over dinner. Not a day goes by where I don’t have to have an in depth discussion about poo with my son.
- They dream – I’m not a sleep expert but I am pretty sure babies and toddlers dream too but children of around 3 seem to kind of grasp the concept of dreams and wow are some of Leo’s dreams crazy. Most mornings he climbs into bed and I get the low down of what’s been happening in his head while he was asleep, sometimes he even wakes up grumpy over something he dreamt about.
- Imagination games are everything – Our living room rug is a pirate ship, the carpet is the ocean and we have invisible swords for getting all the baddies – this was our game from the weekend. While toys are still the best, leave a 3 year old alone with their imagination and they can create hours of fun.
- Nothing is secret anymore – I don’t mean you have no privacy anymore as, let’s be honest, you haven’t been able to go to the bathroom alone for the past 3 years – personal space and privacy are a distant memory. If you do something though that you don’t want the husband/someone else to know about you can guarantee your 3 year old will land you in it, even after accepting your keep quiet bribe of biscuits and extra screen time.
- They are loud – A baby’s cry has nothing on a 3 year old shrieking because he is not ready to leave soft play yet. Toddler tantrums are noisy but with growing lungs comes even more noise. Not just crying either: singing, constant talking and shouting just for the fun of it – do yourself a favour and treat yourself to some ear plugs as a present to yourself on your child’s birthday.
- They get obsessed with stuff – When Leo was 2 he loved Thomas the Tank and, at the time, I would have said he was obsessed with it ; Leo’s love for the little blue engine pales in comparison to how this boy feels about Moana. For some it might be Frozen, others it might be Minions (that was us for a while) but kids of this age really can get obsessed over fictional stories and characters. I swear Leo must wake up every day and repeat ‘Moana is life’ about 10 times, we listen to the soundtrack countless times a day and we watch the film most days too. The obsessions don’t last too long though but while they are around they become all consuming.
- The ‘threenager’ is a real thing – I have been on the receiving end of countless eye rolls and exasperated sighs, there’s been sulking and foot stamping and mood swings galore. In fact, there are so many similarities between 3 year olds and teenagers I managed to write a whole blog post on the matter.
- They remember everything – Do not tell your child if they stop playing up in the supermarket they can have a chocolate biscuit when you get home if you do not actually have any biscuits at home. Unlike a toddler who can be distracted by maybe a yogurt or a breadstick, a 3 year old will remember your promise and will not let you live it down if you don’t deliver. Empty bribes are a thing of the past.
- They are bossy – It may be the product of too much exposure to Peppa Pig but Leo is so bossy now! He is always telling me what I can and can’t do, sometimes he makes me feel like I am the child! He will quite often shout ‘I am the boss!’ at me and his Dad, let’s hope he grows out of this phase soon.
- They have no filter – If Leo thinks something then he says it. If he thinks the man in the silent doctors surgery is a bit on the heavy side then he has absolutely no problem telling me at the top of his voice – ‘LOOK MUMMY! THAT MAN HAS A FAT TUMMY!’.
- They love HARD – Just as a newborn cuddle is completely precious and sloppy toddler kisses are adorable, hearing the words ‘I love you Mummy’ from your child who understands what they actually mean is one of the best feelings ever. When he tells me he loves me, Leo says it with so much emotion and feeling I can’t help but feel my heart swell.
Do you have a three year old? Is there anything you would add to this list? Like all ages, 3 definitely has it’s ups and downs but I am really enjoying this stage with Leo and I can’t actually believe in just 3 months he will be 4!
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