How to Treat Yourself Like a Toddler

As I write this, I am cranky. My head has been pounding all day for no real reason (odd, considering I was in bed at 10:30pm and got a full nine hours of sleep), and I just left a babysitting job where a toddler’s terrible twos were out in full force. The weather appears to have been dictated by dementors; I’m cold, my feet are wet and an L driver drove right past me on the platform, despite my pleading “Hey! I’m right here!” wave.

At times like these, I call upon lessons I’ve learned in my umpteen years as a professional babysitter: I treat myself like a toddler. I pretend that I am a two-year-old I’m babysitting, and whatever I think would soothe a two-year-old, I practice for myself. So, I ask myself the following questions:

Am I Hungry?

As my boyfriend, family and probably anyone who has been around me for longer than two hours can attest, I get incredibly cranky when I’m hungry, even panicked, like I might never eat again. Yes, hanger is a real thing.


Therefore, the quickest fix if I feel myself beginning to think completely illogically (for example, starting to cry because someone put my laundry on top of the dryer) is to eat a snack that will get my blood sugar back to normal. Of course, something healthy is preferable, but if push comes to shove, anything that’s within arm’s reach will do. After all, you’re not you when you’re hungry.

Am I Thirsty?

Similarly, being dehydrated can cause irritability, anger and mood swings. When the temper tantrums start to set in, ask yourself how much water you’ve had to drink today (the plain kind, not the kind you use to make your coffee). Try drinking a full glass and seeing if that makes your outlook a little rosier.

Am I Tired?

Did you too find yourself staying up late last night binge-watching The Leftovers? Lack of sleep leads to more than just dark circles under your eyes. When people are sleep-deprived, they feel short-tempered and hostile. Not exactly a joy to be around, right?

If you have a schedule where you can fit in a nap, by all means, lay down for a while. Experts recommend keeping a power nap to no more than 30 minutes so you don’t feel overly groggy when you wake up and you’re able to go to sleep at a normal time that night.

On the other hand, if a nap isn’t in the cards, try the opposite: 30 minutes of exercise. It doesn’t have to be a full-on boot camp workout; yoga works, as does a quick walk on your lunch break (bonus points for getting in some Vitamin D). As Elle Woods continues to remind us, exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t lash out at their loved ones for no reason. They just don’t! (I’m paraphrasing here.)

Finally, make sure to turn in early that night. Set an alarm to remind yourself to start your bedtime routine, and turn off all electronics a full thirty minutes before crawling into bed. We’ve got more on how to get your best night of sleep right here.

What Can I Do to Give Myself an Easy Win?

Toddlers love to clap for themselves. One little girl I babysit claps for herself every time she takes a forkful of food, which is very dope of her. Along the same lines, whenever I’m feeling grumpy, I ask myself: what’s the smallest thing I can do that will make me feel proud of myself? Sometimes it’s cleaning out a random t-shirt drawer, making myself a healthy dinner instead of ordering out, or complimenting a stranger on a great outfit. Other times it’s as small and selfish as remembering to wash my face with that luxury cleanser I spent way too much money on. Give yourself credit for doing the little things (applauding yourself not required, but highly recommended).

Do I Need to Change My Diaper?

JUST KIDDING … but, having a sense of humor about your no good, awful, terrible, very bad day does help. Take a second to recognize just how ridiculous you are being; remind yourself that things will be better tomorrow. Watch or read something uplifting that gives you a few mental giggles if you can’t muster up an actual LOL.


How else do you take care of yourself when you’re feeling like a walking rain cloud?

Let us know!

Mindfulness Think & Feel

About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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