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Since 2012, author Bunmi Laditan has been making her fellow parents laugh — using satire and a healthy dose of reality to poke fun at the stressful parts of parenting, both on social media and in her written works.
But in her latest work, a children's book titled "The Big Bed," the mom-of-three is putting herself in the shoes of a toddler who refuses to sleep anywhere other than her mother's bed, giving parents a glimpse into what their child really may be thinking during the nightly bedtime struggle.
Before the book becomes available for purchase on February 6, Laditan talked with TODAY Parents.
TODAY: Through "Honest Toddler" and on your own social media channels, you present parenting in a very real and honest way. What made you want to be a voice that presents the good, the bad and the ugly parts of raising kids?
LADITAN: Just a desire to be honest about the experience. At the time, what I was seeing was a lot of the more glossed-over versions of parenting where only the good parts were talked about. There was this pressure people had to present an Instagram-worthy or Instagram-filtered version of their experience, and I wanted to make people who were living real life — which is everyone — feel like they weren't alone.
TODAY: In "The Big Bed," you're seeing things from a toddler's perspective, much like you do on "Honest Toddler." What made you begin to look at situations through your kids' eyes?
LADITAN: I started doing it with my second-born. She was going through the terrible twos — moving from the baby stage to the toddler stage — and she was so difficult. Everything was a fight and everything was a long conversation. She was very unlike my first, who was an easy child. She lived in time out and, while she's past it mostly now at age eight, she's still a spirited kid.
It was such a trying time back then, and humor was the only way to deal with it. Stepping back and looking at things through her eyes really did help — thinking about how she saw different situations changed how I approached them and changed my mindset. It's very easy to get into the whole, "I'm the parent and this is how it's going to be," thing, but you have this human being who is younger than most of your shoes, doesn't have a lot of experience and is getting their first taste of power. It's difficult for them, too, so seeing it their way does make a difference.
TODAY: Your new book is all about the bedtime struggle. What advice would you give?
LADITAN: I've been parenting for almost 12 years, and what I've learned is you have to be super firm. It's so difficult because every kid is different — you have to know your kid and know when they've had a really hard day and are struggling or when there's nothing at all wrong and they've had a great day and are just messing with you. Sometimes you just know your kid is testing and pushing boundaries.
All these years later, there are still some times at bedtime when I am sitting in the hallways thinking, "What is going on right now?" It's very rare that there are issues with my kids at night now, but overall it comes down to trying to be in tune with your child, but still being firm.
Also, just have a glass of wine ready for those difficult nights when you know it's not going well.
TODAY: We're asking TODAY Parenting Team members for 2018 parenting resolutions. What's yours?
LADITAN: One thing I've been trying to do more is to do less and have my kids do more. My daughter is 11 and one night she was asking for hot chocolate after I had cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen, put everything away and was tired. I said, "You can make it yourself." It hadn't occurred to me before that she's old enough to do these things.
There are so many things I do for my kids that they can actually do — even if it's something as simple as going into the basement and getting their own socks out of the dryer when I'm upstairs. Their first instinct is always to ask me, and I'm really trying to increase their skill set because I'm doing way too much for them.
I'm realizing that if I don't start giving them some skills soon, one, I'm going to go nuts trying to do everything all of the time and, two, what about when they get into college? Are they going to know how to do a load of laundry? Are they going to have experience putting dishes away?
I'm not their butler, so that's my resolution this year — to empower them to do more things for themselves.