The toddler and preschool years are a period of tremendous change. You may feel both excited and amazed by all the things your child is learning to do and stressed and exhausted by the ever-changing nature of the job description of "mom."
"Just when you think you've got everything figured out, your child walks into a new stage -- literally," says Andrea O'Reilly, founding president and director of the Association for Research on Mothering at York University.
This is also the stage when mothers can start to get a lot of mixed messages about mothering. "Mothers face stresses about whether to return to work, how much to work, and how much of their time to spend with their children," explains Miriam Peskowitz, author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother? (Seal Press, 2005).
"They have some people telling them that ‘good mothers' stay at home and they hear others telling them that ‘good mothers' go to work. It's hard to sort through these competing messages about what a good mother does."
Figuring out how your mothering style is going to play out in the real world is another challenging aspect of raising a toddler or preschooler, adds Bonnie Elgie, a Calgary, Alberta, mother of a two-year-old.
"Disciplining is by far the most challenging and difficult thing for me as a parent. I constantly second-guess my decisions and responses. I don't want to be too strict and over-react to situations, but, at the same time, I want to teach my son appropriate boundaries and manners. Every situation is unique and calls for a wise response. Some days I just don't know how to react."
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