It’s their aim in life to challenge us.
They’re learning about themselves and their sense of self in this big little world. It’s totally their right to test the boundaries to keep on learning, right?
Unfortunately it is us parents that just happen to be the brunt of all of this, because, unconditional love and all. Joy!
It’s somewhat brilliant…but “Oh wait what, why are you crying?! Ok, I’m sorry the toy remote keeps playing the wrong song, but I don’t know which is right, darling” …my god it can be so exasperatingly hard!
I often read features about “how to appropriately parent”, but they leave me feeling a tad rubbish about myself and my shortcomings as the not-so mother I always thought I’d be. This post is therefore for all those parents out there that make homemade hummus one day, then subsist on Paw Patrol parenting and deep breathing the next…because no two days are the same. Or easy.
If it regularly takes over 15 minutes to entice, wrestle and strap your toddler in their pram…
If a 10 minute stroll to the shops regularly takes over a tear-inducing hour…
If you often consider visiting your neighbours to explain that the screams of torture they just heard were simply the daily bath-time ritual, not you ACTUALLY torturing your child…
If your toddler regularly empties your drawers and cupboards while you’re momentarily distracted by selfish tasks like showering, brushing your teeth, and preparing meals…
If you constantly feel like you’re surrounded by ‘holier than thou’ parents, and even worse…those perfect parents that just don’t happen to have children yet…
And if you adore being a parent, but often think to yourself “I JUST CANT DO THIS ANY MORE!”…
Then this post is for you, my exasperated friend!
Here are a few little tricks I have learnt (and in some circumstances, accepted) along the way with my adorable, yet naturally challenging, tot!
#1 – Bath Time Torture
(Trick: Let them bath some toys themself)
I’m going to be honest, bath time has always been my husband’s forte. But since he is currently over 7,000 miles away, it’s been mine for the past five weeks (along with everything else, gah!) Now, my son ADORES his “diggas” (toy cars, tractors and yes, diggers), so as a way to give him more control and understanding over bath time, I let him select some “diggas” that he can bath too. It has worked wonders (even to the extent that he escaped upstairs last week to run a bath himself when I erroneously left the stair gate unlocked – the horror!) and has, in general, made this period of the day was less exasperatingly hideous.
*A small caveat that your toddler may decide it’s fun to get their toys as dirty as humanly possible with a multitude of household resources (including but not limited to: yoghurt, soil, flaked salmon) to make sure a bath is most definitely needed!
Proud parenting moment!! (And when I say proud, I don't mean of my son – though I obviously am – no, I mean about myself…for once!) Daddy has gone back to Dubai while we stay in the UK for a few weeks more…I have been a little nervous to lose my wingman to say the least, especially relating to bath time with our little guy (which let's just say has the tendency to cause meltdowns on both sides). This morning, however, I tried the "patient" approach to help coax my son into getting clean. He absolutely adores his "diggas" (cars and trucks)…so I had the bright idea of asking him to "clean" his diggas while Mummy cleaned him. My god guys, it worked!! Did I have a shower with three yellow toy trucks, one toy Ferrari and one bubbly toddler? Yes I did! Will I do it again? Um… *prays prays prays the novelty of washing diggas doesn't wear off until at least August**
#2 – Clothing Chaos
(Trick: Give them a choice of clothes)
Ok, so I am not a fan of getting my little guy dressed either. He HATES it, except on the rare occasion when it’s absolutely fine (so random!) Now, this is not a groundbreaking trick…in fact it’s probably pretty obvious to everyone else, but I recently started to give my son a choice over the clothes he wears. I’ll select 2-3 outfits, lay them out, and mix and match as per his approval. It’s also been helpful to show excitement over particular items of clothing i.e. a cartoon crocodile on a t-shirt, “wow! snap snap crocodile, baby!” and other silly but fun ways to entice them over and (hopefully) in!
*Yes, it’s a process, but it generally works. But god help you in you’ve not done the laundry and only have a white onesie to offer!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(We chose “Mr turtle shirt” today. Oh and, yes, iPad, oops…refer to #5 below!)
#3 – Early Morning Mombie Zombie
(Trick: Acquire a cardboard box)
I’m an early bird, but some days I just shouldn’t be awake. And back to the fact that my husband is over 7,000 miles away, I really have very little choice in the matter at the moment. This method of entertainment is therefore so simple that it’s almost genius. Basically, toddlers are very much like cats in that THEY LOVE BOXES. I mean, who didn’t love a good cardboard box to sit in when they were a kid?! So next time you’re woken at the crack of dawn, simply plonk a bottle, some snacks, and some toys in a big cardboard box, followed by your toddler…and go pop on the kettle for yourself. You’re guaranteed around 10-15 minutes peace!
*Please be aware that at some point, your toddler will likely make you play in the box too. Be prompt with that coffee, ok?
Parenting tip! If you're craving a short break from your adorable, but equally hyper toddler (especially first thing on a Sunday morning) – simply acquire a large cardboard box, plonk it in the living room (or bedroom), pop in a bottle of milk, some toy cars (or teddies or whatever) followed by your toddler, and hey presto! You might be granted 5 minutes of peace to sip your cuppa! (That is until you're forced to crawl in the box and play with cars too – vrrroooooooommmm!)
#4 – Pram Bribery
(Trick: Chocolate. Enough said)
If like me you have a toddler with a somewhat ambivalent attitude to their pram and all the wonders and ease it brings, then this trick might be for you. It’s called ‘suck it up and bribe them with chocolate’. And my friend, let me tell you, it truly, honestly works with such wonders that you’ll question who on earth that version of you was that tried to entice them in by simply asking nicely (begging), before reluctantly bringing out the force.
*This trick is AMAZING for your sanity if you have ever previously forgone the pram to avoid tantrums and tears. It is, however, not that brilliant for your conscience. Stop listening to your conscience – it’s better for them to be full of chocolate strapped in a pram than trying to run away in the middle of town, the supermarket, (*insert any other public and potentially hazardous place here). Just try to make sure your chocolate stash remains…um, un-melted. Disaster!
#5 – Just Sod It And Bring Out The iPad!
(Trick: No tricks here, just a bit of exasperated parent logic)
So one of your Mum-friends keeps posting about the horrors of screen-time and its making you feel a bit rubbish… Well, pah! If it works for you, if it keeps you sane, if it makes your tot happy, and most importantly, if it gives you all some downtime after a long day of actually being a good parent playing with them, engaging them and spending quality time together, then this is a good thing. DON’T FEEL BAD! We cannot be “on” all the time, we just can’t. Luckily, the iPad can when our batteries are out.
*You’ll likely become a little excessively excited at finding an undiscovered Peppa Pig episode, but here’s a secret…you’re not the only one 😉
Are you an exasperated parent with a few funny, genius or even questionable tricks up your sleeve? I would love to hear them so please do feel free to share.