For our inaugural Eizzy Parent feature, we sat down with Child Development Specialist, Preschool Teacher, and Motherhood Coach, Cathy Wojcik, to find out what inspires her journey through motherhood to share her tips for successful parenting, nurturing, and development.
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Cathy and I am a coach for Moms who want to support their toddler’s in thriving developmentally. I am a Preschool Teacher and live in New Jersey. I have a background in Early Childhood Development, Psychology, and have worked supporting young children’s development for over 10 years!
2. Has motherhood changed your perspective on the world in any way?
Oh my Gosh, yes! I think about my children's safety and health when making every decision. When they were both born it was what I put in my body when nursing and now make sure what I put in their bodies is healthy and sets them up for good eating habits. Can you tell I love food? I talk about it often.
The world is a big place full of good and not so good things, you know? I strive every day to teach them kindness, compassion, and mindfulness. All between snacks.
3. What’s the best thing about being a mom?
EVERYTHING. Literally. Except cleaning and picking up the same things you just picked up 5 minutes ago, all day. I love feeling loved, I love the hugs and kisses, I love to see them learn and grow, I love that it has made me feel more empowered and confident than ever in my life.
4. Who’s the cheekiest in your family?
My boy, for sure. He just turned 15 months and that boy can climb things that I didn’t even think were climbable. And he is QUICK.
5. What are the most used items in your household?
Self-operating vacuum, my mop, my coffee cup, and the toddler dishes. Oh, and Lysol and Clorox wipes.
6. How does Eizzy Baby make "mom life" eizzy-ier for you?
I love our Eizzy Baby snack cup because I can collapse it to fit inside my tote bag before filling it! I literally throw it in my bag with a mandarin that I can peel later and off I go for the day. Also, my mornings have gotten easier where I can throw some cheerios in there before breakfast to finish my coffee!
7. What are your children's' favorite snacks?
Mandarins, blueberries, goldfish, cheerios, watermelon, cheese sticks, apple slices, grapes (I cut them in halves), dried cranberries, and raisins. These are just a few, LOL.
8. Would you rather have a self-cleaning house or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep?
I can run on 4 hours of sleep and be totally fine. PLEASE hook me up with a self-cleaning house, that would be a DREAM COME TRUE.
9. What's the best piece of best parenting advice you'd like to share with us?
Well, my BEST parenting advice is just to enjoy your kiddos, because they grow so freakishly fast. BUT if I must share some things that stand out, these are some of my favorite tips to share with parents.
Cathy Wojcik's 10 Toddler Tips
- Tantrums are a normal part of development- they will happen, often. The best way to handle tantrums when they are already happening is to stay calm, listen to your toddler, walk them through their feelings, and follow through with your limit. That’s it! Sounds simple enough, right? Trust me, they won’t like it at first, but will catch on and thank you for it later. And you will thank yourself.
- Focus on the positive. It is so easy to see what our toddlers are doing wrong and without thinking, point it out. But try pointing out the great things your toddler is doing! Comment on the way they stacked their blocks! Use specific words such as “Wow! I love the colors you used in your tower!”
- Connection is key. If you want to be heard, listen to them first. It is so easy to get caught up on our phones, staring at our screens and scroll while our toddlers are crying for our attention. Your toddler calls “Mama” over and over and then you look up to that face you love so much and have already missed their excitement of wanting to connect with you! Put away that phone, shut the TV off, and just chill out with your kiddo. They are more willing to listen when THEY feel heard too.
- All feelings and emotions are OK. Acknowledge your toddlers feelings and emotions EVEN while you are stopping and correcting behaviors. Make sure you are giving ALL the hugs, all the kisses and all the cuddles even when they are at their worst. And it is OK for your toddler to see you upset too! Feelings and emotions are all natural. When your toddler doesn’t want to share during a play date, they have a right to be upset about it!
- Play is the most important work - Play, play and MORE play! Toddlers love for you to play WITH them. If they are cooking in the kitchen, taste their pretend food! Drink from the empty cup! Tell them it tastes delicious! Count the foods they used! Talk about the different colors of the dishes. Label the foods! Take about different tastes! You just taught a whole lesson right there, all while you are playing engaging, connecting.
- Help them follow directions. Lead the way, Momma! Show then how to go get something, bring it to you, go find something, put it on the shelf. Pretend you can’t find their other shoe, where did it go? I have your toothbrush, what else do we need? Take them by the hand, help them follow through. Start with one step commands like “Give me” if they are having a hard time and then move on to more challenging directions.
- Talk about everything. I know it feels silly sometimes, or you might even feel like you have nothing to say. But how will you get these little ones talking if you don’t talk to them? From the moment they wake up, you can start talking about the sky, the weather, how they slept, what they will wear, what diaper you’re using, what they will use to brush their teeth, where they will go to eat breakfast, what they will eat for breakfast, what they will use to eat their breakfast….You get the picture. Talk, talk talk…
- Read everything. You don’t think that a story at bedtime is enough, do you? But what else is there to read, right? It is never too early for reading. Read books, labels on any box, containers, store signs, street signs and Titles. You can read the messages on your toddler’s clothing, the names of movies, read people’s names etc. Make it fun! Have your munchkin point letters and words out! I love to write my toddler’s name everywhere and point it out.
- Pretend Play is the best time for language development. You can just sit back and listen to them. See where they’re going with the play. Let them lead the way here. Join in, imitate them, give them words when they need them. Be the horse for them to ride on if you need to. Dress up with them. Let the creativity free. You don’t always have to play according to the “directions” on the box. Have you ever seen your toddler enter their own little words for a bit and get lost in their play? I love hearing them “talk” to themselves while they are pretending to be someone or something different. Use this time to really focus on supporting their language here.
- Give them the power of CHOICE. It doesn’t always have to be YOUR way. It actually shouldn’t be. Toddlers need to feel like they have some power and control over their surroundings. Give them choices where you can. Which fruit do you want, an apple or a banana? Do you want to wear blue socks or green socks? Can you pick a book from that shelf tonight? Those are just a few ways you can ask a question that opens the door for your toddler to decide. Watch the tantrums decrease once your little one feels like they have more control and are able to make some decisions for themselves. And you will get to learn more and more about what your toddler likes, will have the opportunity to teach them to label things and get more words out. It’s a win-win!