As a mom of five little ones (the oldest being 10 and not technically little, but he will always be my little baby whether he likes it or not) I feel somewhat qualified to share what I have learned in Surviving Toddlerhood. Rest assured, this advice is not meant to replace advice from professionals who went to big fancy schools to learn about toddlers.
Never throw away random pieces/parts you find around your home. Those pieces/parts belong to something important and you will most assuredly need them in the future. Your toddler will never tell you where these things came from but it’s a safe bet to say they are responsible for the relocation. It is in your best interest to set aside a drawer or basket for these things.
If you are earth conscious and globally minded and do all that you can to preserve and safeguard the planet you may need to start allowing yourself a little leeway on things like: plastic bags, disposable diapers, paper towels, and not flushing the toilet when it’s yellow (let it mellow?). Sanity is sometimes more important than your carbon footprint during toddler years.
Always always always clean up spilled Rice Crispies Cereal. Just trust me on this.*
Beware of the Toddler Jump. Just as soon as your sweet cherub learns to walk he will start practicing his jumping. (probably in the privacy of his crib while you assume he is peacefully sleeping, better to keep you unaware) And you, being an ever-doting, loving, and affectionate parent will take every opportunity to lean in and kiss your baby’s head trying to relish those perfect curls and still-almost-a-baby smell. Right as you are leaning in, your toddler will choose that moment to jump up with all of their might and slam their head into your mouth/chin/nose causing you to momentarily black out from the excruciating pain. Your toddler thinks this is a fun game and will start crawling over you.
You will soon develop an involuntary twitch when going for head kisses as a defense mechanism.
The best advice I ever got for kids? “You can’t make a happy kid happier.” Toddlers will collapse into naps anywhere and in the strangest positions. If they are not in a life-threatening situation DO NOT move them, even if you think they will be more comfortable somewhere else. But always take a picture or video. #blackmail
Never ever cry over spilled water. This is literally the best possible scenario when spilling is involved. After you have cleaned it up you will realize that you have been meaning to clean the floors for 3 months and now your floor is clean which will cause you to smile when your MIL stops over unexpectedly and sees that not only can you manage taking care of a toddler but you can also make time for menial housework. Hi-five your kid next time she spills water.
When your precious angel spills milk (when not if) be sure to look in a 15-foot radius of said spill. Your sweet darling clearly has remarkable dexterity for one so small and was able to launch drops of milk behind dishes, in the cupboards, in the space between the fridge and wall, under cabinets and on top of the light fixture. Old, dried, spilled milk will smell and drive you insane. You’ve been warned.
You will call your mom and cry and apologize for what you can only assume was similar behavior by you when you were that age.
In time, you will be able to accurately distinguish a my-nose-was-itchy-sneeze and a I-just-sneezed-up-a-paper-towels-worth-of-snot-and-it-is-dangling-precariously-from-my-nose sneeze. Your new powers of audible interpretation are second to none.
If your child has sneezed even the tiniest of small sneezes on any given day, be on alert. There is now a high potential for more sneezes. Avoid feeding them cheerios, cereal, granola bars, all crackers or any food that you do not want to be sprayed over a 10-foot radius of your home. On the day that your child develops a sneeze, they will also have developed a desire to be like squirrels and will have stored food in their mouth. This will all come flying out at even the smallest sneeze. Be extra cautious in public. Better yet, do not venture into public on my-child-may-potentially-sneeze days.
You need to start parking directly next to the cart corral at the grocery store. Again, just trust me.
Whenever putting on a toddlers shoes, make sure THEY sit down first. If you sit down and call them to you, they will sit down too far away from you and you will start crawling over to them and this will delight them and they with think it’s a game and start crawling away from you and you will crawl over a Lego and curse out loud and your toddler will start saying said curse word over and over again loudly and especially when grandma or your pastor is visiting.
Pro-parenting tip: Toddlers will not be able to match their shoes or get them on their feet correctly until they are at least 5. Set your expectations low.
Invest in Band-Aid. Do it. Do it right now.
When you tell a toddler to clean up a mess that they made, they will not clean up the mess they made. You can both pretend for awhile if it makes you feel better, but they will only ever do one of two things:
- Not clean up mess
- Make mess worse
You will have a moment of clarity and realize what a big fat jerk-face you were before you had kids. All those times you judged parents at the grocery store and whispered accusingly and not-so-quietly at restaurants when kids were crying. You judged the crap out of people and it’s coming back ten-fold as you sit on the floor in your kitchen wondering how your treasured child found permanent markers, your driver’s license, and a scissors in the 37 seconds it took you to pee.
You are now a reformed jerk-face. Go forth and judge not. Better yet, smile and be kind to any parent with a toddler. Wine and disposable wipes are always excellent gifts.
*Just in case you do not trust me which is understandable since you became the parent of a toddler and you now trust no one especially your toddler: when allowed to dry for at least 24 hours Rice Krispy cereal will dry into a cement-like monstrosity that will remove paint, varnish, and glaze coating from tiles when you try to chisel away at it. It will destroy manicures, break nails, bend knives, and reduce kitchen sponges to shreds of mangled thread. Sometimes it is better to sand it down with a fine sandpaper.