How to Live With Toddlers
Living with two children aged 4 and under, I can now say I know what it is like to live with miniature assholes. (It’s okay to say that you know. I don’t actually refer to my children as assholes…well at least not to their face). 2-4 year olds are the absolute worst. Sure they can be cute, and loving, and awesome, but they literally can do NOTHING on their own. They need help with everything and sometimes they give up trying all together. There is nothing worse than trying to dress your 2 year old when they have gone all “limp noodle” on you. They also spend most of their day in tears or causing others to be. And the screaming, my gosh the screaming. My kids scream for everything-food, toys, just because. It is the closest I’ll ever be to living in an insane asylum. Now I know I can’t be the only one who hides in the pantry to get away from their toddlers, so I have thought of some ways to make life a tad bit easier. You’re welcome.
1) Toddler snacks are really your snacks. When I am hiding in my pantry I sometimes like to eat my toddler’s snacks. I feel so much better just sitting on my step stool and slamming a Bear Paw. It’s almost like a little payback or “I’ll get back at you for that tantrum. We shall see how funny it is when all your animal crackers are gone.” Try it. Completely liberating. Plus who are we kidding? I totally buy Teddy Grahams for myself to eat when the kids go to bed.
2) Stop cleaning. Seriously. I have found Kraft Dinner is much easier to pick up off the floor when it has dried. Those Cheerios scattered all over your floor will get eaten eventually. Secretly just throw your kids shitty McDonald’s toys/half crayons/any toy that has annoying music, in the trash when they go to bed. They’ll never know. You will get so used to the fingerprints all over your windows that you won’t remember a time when they weren’t there. Embrace the aisles of scattered Legos and Hot Wheels in your living room. It’s good exercise to try and squat and lunge around those death machines so you don’t kill yourself stepping on them.
3) Enforce naptime like your life depends on it. Both my boys nap right after lunch whether they want to or not. No negotiation. No, “but I’m not tired”. My response is always the same, “lie down and pretend you are.” Those 2 hours are what gets me through life at this point. Don’t try and clean or even shower. No one likes a martyr. Lie on the couch and sleep or watch TV. They invented Febreeze and deodorant for moms with young children.
4) Stop worrying about mealtime. Realize now that your toddlers will most likely only eat bread, so just tell yourself that they are getting all their fruits and veggies at daycare and your job is simply to get through a meal without it being thrown on the floor. Throw in those Flintstones vitamins and you’re golden. Cereal, popsicles, and yogurt tubes are also great fillers to keep your kids entertained while you cry your way through your salad.
5) Life is not a fashion show. Little kids, especially boys, only like sweatpants and shirts with cartoon characters on them. Stop trying to dress them in suspenders and bow ties like they are off to a photo shoot. Velcro shoes, sweats, and ratty t-shirts are a toddler’s uniform. They shouldn’t even make jeans for children under 5. Well except for baby jeans; those are cute.
6) Divide and conquer. If you have more than one child it’s important to let your partner know that no matter what, if you leave the house, for any reason, you are to take one child with you. My boys are a thousand times more work when they are together (you know the lack of sharing, arguing, “it’s not fair” complaints, etc.). So separating them is not only ideal, but necessary. Going to get an oil change? Take a kid. Visiting a friend? Take a kid. Going golfing? Unless you are playing in The Masters, you are taking a kid. My husband and I don’t have a lot of rules for each other, but this is one of them and if I cry enough my husband will give in and take both kids. Just proves that he will do just about anything to get out of cleaning bathrooms (which I only clean because, well, husband, boys, urine…you get it).
7) Embrace cartoons. Accept them as part of your daily circuit. Cartoons are the ONLY reason I can shower and even then I usually have to yell something like, “I am still in here! Just wait until I get out. You better not be the one making your brother cry, but I know that you are.” You get the picture. I have certain shows PVR’d for emergency purposes and I’m not afraid to admit that Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood was how I potty trained my oldest (seriously You Tube the potty episode…you won’t be sorry). Child having a meltdown? Cartoons. Need to make dinner? Cartoons. Need to sleep off a hangover? Cartoons in the form of a movie. Bless you, Walt Disney. Bless you.
8) The word “no”. You will say it all day and so will your toddler. My youngest uses the word so much he now uses it as a response to most things. “Good Morning!” = “No”. “Let’s put away all your cars and go to the park”= “No” (but he means yes). “You are the cutest little thing!”= “No”. “Want a fruit snack?”= “No”….wait for it…”Yes please yes”. I think he co-wrote that Meghan Trainor song “No” as his name is in fact, no. He also screams the word as if he is on fire. I have tried to stop saying the word myself, but in panic mode to prevent a disaster, it just comes out. Except I usually throw in a few other choice words like “For the love of everything NO!!”, “What the hell? NO!!!”, or “FML…NO!!!” I guess he comes by it honestly.
9) Car Rides. My advice would be to not even attempt a long trip (and by long anything over an hour and a half). Have that wedding to attend this summer a 10 hour car ride away? Unless you leave your kids with someone else, you are not going. Until sedatives are legal for toddlers I am really not interested. If there is no way around it and you absolutely HAVE to go you should probably have the following on hand: Road snacks (a higher level up from regular snacks. So instead of dry Cheerios in a cup they get Froot Loops, instead of no name crackers they get Oreos, you get the idea), an assortment of cartoons (pull out the big guns here…Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, stay away from Arthur or that show that looks like they used graph paper to animate it), books, crayons, headphones (for both child and parent), and a triple dose of anti-depressants. You will most likely have to stop at a McDonald’s play place. Embrace it. Get that Big Mac…you’ve earned it. Whatever you do, don’t resort to putting in a cd of children’s music. Nothing will make you lose the will to live more than listening to “Wheels on the Bus” 47 times. Stay strong and remember that nothing lasts forever (well the memories might but I hear hypnotherapy works wonders).
10) Being in Public. Going anywhere with young children (even that quick trip to the grocery store) can turn disastrous almost instantly. Honestly, there is nothing worse than being in a crowded store with 2 screaming children. Even though accidents happen (poop explosion ’16 happened in a grocery cart) or misfortunate events (my son threw up in the middle of a crowded swimming pool) it is still not easy to handle with complete strangers watching (some of them with pity, others with looks of shock and horror). I do have certain rules for certain places. The grocery store: one treat per child that will be given out at the check-out lane while I spend most of the shopping trip threatening to take the treat away. Restaurants: will only go if there will be a grandparent in attendance. Toys R Us: hahahaha as if. Shopping malls: One has to be in a stroller and the other one on dad’s shoulders for a maximum time of 30 minutes. Make every attempt to avoid the foot court at all costs. Movie/Play/Concert: If you can’t sit in a seat for at least 20 minutes without crying/screaming/trying to escape, then you are not going. Doctor’s office: Well this is a must so I usually bring the I-pad and let my kids watch videos or they can bug all of the other patients in the office and destroy all the pamphlets in the waiting room. People find that adorable.
The good news is most people understand how unpredictable and sometimes volatile toddlers can be. I understand those feelings of never wanting to leave the house because it very well could end up being a disaster. But you must. You must take off your couch pants and slippers and enter the outside world with those precious little assholes of yours. And while you are home with them don’t forget how much eating a sleeve of Oreos or drinking wine out of a box can ease your pain. Take solace in the fact that toddlers are so cute for a reason. Well at least that is what people tell me.