Tag Archives: toddlers

Reasons Why Parenting Teenagers and Toddlers is Exactly the Same Thing

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If you are currently parenting toddlers, you probably tell yourself daily (over a glass of wine or six) that it’s just a phase.  The assertion of independence, the tantrums, the sleep deprivation…I could go on.  But as someone who is currently parenting at both ends of this spectrum I have to tell you to buckle up butter cup. That light at the end of the tunnel is really, really far away.

You will, after the toddler years, hit this wonderful twilight zone of time where your darlings suddenly seem to understand the importance of wearing pants, and you might actually get out the door without losing your mind and even make it to places on time. I know!!!! It’s crazy talk!  But wait, there’s more.  You will suddenly feel somewhat rested and in control of your life.  You might even make the brave and noble decision to purchase new furniture or, and yes this is really hard to imagine I know, make dinners that your children will eat!  It’s like a dream really.  A beautiful parenting paradise.  And you will think to yourself, “I’ve got this.  I am a parenting pro. ”  And then, suddenly and without warning, your little darling or darlings become pre-teens.  Pre-teens and teens are really in same category here because the only difference is that the teens are taller and can drive, otherwise, the same. And suddenly, you will no longer have any control over your life, punctuality will again become a joke, you will be stocking the pantry with boxes of wine (because braces are expensive and you can only afford the cheap stuff now),  and that new furniture, let’s just say party food is always full of artificial colour.  All of a sudden you will be entering the world of parenting giant toddlers….And here are the reasons why nothing really changes:

1.) Bedtime:  Babies and especially toddlers are notoriously good at avoiding sleep.  The never ending trips out of bed because apparently bedtime is a cause for extreme thirst (drinks of water) and hunger (but I’m STARVING), and monsters, and missing stuffies, and one more story and one more hug etc etc.  It can literally drive a person to the edge of sanity.  If you are one of the lucky ones, your children will at some point learn to go to sleep a little more easily and actually stay asleep, thus the parenting paradise I mentioned earlier.  Once the pre-teens/teens hit, you will again have children that refuse to go to sleep.  Also appearing to have constant and spontaneous needs for drink and food, only now you will also be battling the television or the all consuming cell phone.  “So just go to bed” you may be thinking, but no.  Toddlers may be awake because they can’t explain why they can’t sleep, but pre-teens/teens are often awake because they won’t explain why they can’t sleep.  So, now my dear parents, you will lay awake in your own bed all night worrying yourself into a frenzy about what could be wrong.  Is it school?  Is it a friend?  Have they joined a cult? Did they start an underground smuggling ring of snacks filled with artificial colour? Worry, worry, and no sleep.  And we have officially returned to the land of total exhaustion.

2.)  Morning Routines:  Yes, toddlers are typically early risers, but that doesn’t mean they care what your agenda is.  They just happen to be up early.  The fact that you want them to be ready to go somewhere on time is irrelevant.  Guess what?  pre-teens/teens also don’t care.  Even when the agenda is their own!!!! Early morning sports or other extra-curriculars that they love during waking hours? Meh. School? Super meh.  Have you ever tried to wake up a pre-teen/teen? It will challenge you to the very core of your being.  The very core….I don’t want to compare the experience to climbing Everest but….there will be screaming, crying, begging, pleading, bribery, threats, the sudden and inexplicable inability to locate a left shoe….sound familiar yet?  And guess what?  There goes that precious punctuality you had come to cherish.

3.)  Food:  Toddlers will eat boogers, bugs, dirt and other assorted delicacies, but the mere appearance of a vegetable or a new food on their plate will send them running like you have just tried to feed them rat poison.  You constantly worry about whether or not they are getting enough to eat and the proper nutrients.  Guess what?  Food issues all return in the pre-teen/teen years. Pre-teens/teens will eat literally anything that has artificial color, saturated fats, artificial flavor and essentially anything that comes out of a vending machine.  They have their own money and often access to a local corner store or school cafeteria and you can no longer monitor and police everything that they put in their mouths.  So we are back to constant worry about nutrition and fights over healthy meals.  I will admit that pre-teens/teens bring a whole new food issue.  Cost of groceries….seriously, I can walk into my house and leave $400 worth of groceries on the kitchen floor while I run to go pee and come back out to find it all mysteriously gone.  Except of course the broccoli.  They are kind enough to leave that behind.  See, this is another reason why you will now be drinking wine from a box.  Silent, ravenous ninjas.

4.)  Music and Television:  Toddler years are filled with music and television that no one understands.  “Teletubbies”, “The Wiggles”, and the always awesome and rage inducing “Caillou.” Your road trips will be filled with the sounds of whatever kid friendly music they love at that moment.  Today, I had to hit repeat on Bing Crosby’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” more than thirty times because it is my two and a half year old’s current favorite.  I used to like it….Fast forward to the pre-teen/teen years….I could seriously live my entire life as a parent with Youtube.  If my pre-teen tries one more of those godforsaken Youtube challenges, or explains to me again that everything will be ok because he is going to be a famous Youtuber one day and make tons of money being, as far as I can tell, a jackass, there will not be enough boxed wine on this planet to keep my sanity intact.  And music? Music?  I shudder….have you leaned how to “dab” yet?  Or “juju on that beat”? You will….oh yes….you will.  See? Music and television that no one understands.

5.)  Clothing:  Toddlers usually have very specific clothing preferences. My four year old only wore shirts with dinosaurs on them.  My two and a half year old wants to wear a princess dress every single day.  It’s white.  I guess I should be happy that she stopped insisting on dressing as a unicorn every single day.  That costume is also white.  So is my favorite wine, but I digress….even though toddlers may insist on wearing a certain theme or color, you can usually force them to leave the house looking presentable and relatively clean with faces washed and teeth brushed. You know, on a good day.  Pre-teens/teens also have very specific ideas and demands regarding their attire.  The problem is that they are much bigger than toddlers, and angrier, and supposedly capable of washing their own faces and brushing their own teeth.  But they don’t…they just don’t.  Oh, and if you think taking a pre-teen/teen shopping for clothing would be easier than taking your toddler shopping for clothing, you are in for a world of hurt in a few years.  A world of hurt my friend.

6.) Tantrums:  Oh the toddler tantrums.  The screaming and crying for usually unknown reasons or unrealistic and often impossible demands. They are asserting their independence you tell yourself.  They are trying to communicate their emotions…fast forward to the pre-teen/teen years.  Exactly the same scenario, for also usually unknown reasons, as well as unrealistic and often impossible demands.  Only now they are quite possibly taller than you. Toddlers trying to express intense emotion and pre-teen/teens dealing with hormone overload cause exactly the same response in the human brain.  Ok, I don’t actually know that for sure but I would be willing to put money on it.

So there you have it.  Enjoy those years between toddlerhood and the pre-teens because you will need those times sustain you and keep you strong.  Good luck my fellow parents.  Pass the wine.

mom-drinking

 

People I Have Encountered as a Parent That I’d Like to High Five in the Face…

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Since becoming a mom, I have encountered a number of people that really need a high five in the face….sounds a bit violent?  Well perhaps once you see my reasons you will understand.  Here they are:

1.)  Time Management “Experts”

First of all, these people never have kids.  Seriously, if I only needed to manage my own time I would be a Time Management Expert as well.  Nothing is more frustrating than a perky, beautifully put together, recent college grad telling you how to better organize your day.   When I had my first two children I worked full time, and commuted to get to the office.  This meant that everyone had to be out the door on time, but also with all the gear for the day in tow as well as looking presentable.  My employer at the time liked to have the occasional seminar for us where a Time Management Expert would come and talk to us about how to be on time, organize our day etc. etc….She would tell us things like, “Try leaving the house fifteen minutes earlier than you have to, to create a buffer for yourself if you start to run behind.”  Lady,  I could leave the house an hour before I am supposed to, since I probably haven’t been to bed, but these things are still going to happen:  First, the toddler will get fully undressed while I am buckling the baby into his seat.  Then, while I am dealing with redressing the toddler, the baby will either spit up or have a diaper explosion which will require me to remove him from the seat to change him.  While I am doing this, the toddler will undress again, this time losing one of her shoes in the process.  Then, the baby will decide he does not want to go back into the seat and will refuse to sit, thus causing a wrestling match that will go on for several minutes while the toddler tosses the shoe I just spent fifteen minutes locating out of the vehicle.  I won’t notice this until I arrive at daycare, and will then have to go back and retrieve the shoe.  So, take your fifteen minute buffer and stick it.

Then she would tell us about how to allow ourselves time to get ready and look professional when we arrive at work.  My favorite tip was to lay our clothes out the night before for the next day….really?  First of all, anything I lay out the night before is going to go missing since my toddler likes to hide things in the toy box, laundry hamper, any available drawer, under the bed.  I was late for this seminar because my car keys and cell phone were stashed in the caboose of a sit and ride train toy…Second of all, I could lay my outfit out a month before I have to be at work, it isn’t going to stop the baby from spitting up all over me, the very second I cross the threshold into daycare….

If you want a working mom to take a Time Management Expert seriously, hire another mom…have secret underground meetings about tips no one tells you about.  How to hog tie, and bribe with Smarties….just a suggestion.

 

2.)  Grocery Store Eye Rollers:

Oh I’m sorry, are you not enjoying my child’s tantrum?  Strange, because I love it!  In fact we rehearse this before we leave the house because it makes running a bunch of errands sooooooo much easier.  If you aren’t going to get off your high horse and help me carry this stuff to my car while I desperately cling to this writhing, screaming child, then at least keep your eye rolls to yourself.  Thank you.

3.)  Doctors that Don’t Listen:

There is not a team of scientists on this planet that can rival a mom with a sick child and access to Google.  We will do anything to help our children, so don’t treat us like we are overreacting when we show up in your office.  We don’t get paid to worry this much, you do.

4.)  Parenting “Experts” with No Children:

NOTHING and I mean NOTHING is more infuriating than someone without children telling you how to parent your children.  How on earth can you even call yourself an expert in something you have never actually done?  Do you need some engine work done on your car?  Well I just read a book about it so why don’t you tell me all about what a terrible parent I am while I tear your car engine apart for you?  I also took a course recently online about the importance of cardiovascular health.  Why don’t you hand me a scalpel and I’ll take care of that blocked artery for you while you tell me why I shouldn’t bed share? Seriously, stop it.  If you don’t have children, don’t tell me how to raise mine.

How to Speak Toddler….a Basic Translation Guide

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Toddlers are pretty amazing little people, because they are in fact, little people.  All of a sudden they are no longer squishy little babies who are content to simply sit or lay down all day while you put them wherever you want to put them or take them wherever you decide to go.  Suddenly they have their own ideas about what they want and when they want it, and they are incredibly dedicated to their own little whims.  If you have ever had the opportunity to care for a toddler you will know that this is putting it extremely mildly…..a toddler who wants something that you either don’t understand, or are not able to provide or allow is very much like a tornado, and you my friend are a trailer park.

Heading into the land of toddler myself for the fourth time, I thought that a translation guide of sorts might be helpful.  So here you go:

1.)  “No!”  Or “I not!”

Remember in College when you were insanely dedicated to a cause and decided that you would join your fellow  protesters in a sit in?  Nothing, and I mean nothing was going to deter you from making sure your message was heard and that change was implemented.  This is now your toddler…..if you plan on accomplishing anything on the day that these words are uttered, clear your schedule and make some calls, because you are not going anywhere anytime soon.  These words are usually used when it is time to leave the house and socks, shoes, or possibly pants are required.  These words are also very popular when trying to buckle a toddler into a car seat when they will suddenly decide to “plank” and use their super human toddler strength to prevent you from doing up the buckle.  These words are almost always used when you have to get to work, or you have an appointment which you are likely already running late for.

2.)  “I try it.”

These words will be used during mealtimes.  They mean that your toddler is now going to abandon their own plate, which contains the exact same food that you are desperately trying to eat yourself, and will now proceed to eat every scrap of food on your plate.  For some reason, toddler logic dictates that your food is better than theirs, even though it is exactly the same…it’s best to just develop a taste for cold, tiny bites of food because unless you hide in the kitchen to eat, you may be trading plates for awhile.

3.)  “I no did it.”

These words will often be uttered when you have been out of the room for a few minutes.  It absolutely means that they did something….the trick is what is it?  Sometimes it will be obvious because there will be a puddle of something or the writing will literally be on the wall.  However, if it is not obvious, do not assume that nothing has happened.  Search high and low until you figure it out because this is one of those times when weeks from now you will be wondering what on earth that smell is, only to discover half a banana crammed into the back of the toy garbage truck….

4.)  “No worry mommy.  I clean it.”

This is also usually uttered when you have been out if the room.  This one is a bit more alarming.  It’s nice that they have taken ownership over whatever havoc they have caused, however they have also attempted to clean it up.  So, what was the mess?  And what exactly did they “clean” it up with?  This often involves a defective sippy cup and a throw cushion from your couch, or, worst case scenario, a diaper and an afghan…probably knitted by great grandma and irreplaceable.

5.)  “I big helper.”

This is a tough one because it is so darn cute…but it’s a trick.  Do not be fooled by the big innocent eyes or angelic smile….this does not meant they are going to help you.  This statement means they are going to, under the guise of helping you, do absolutely everything in their power to prevent you from getting the activity done.  If you give in to this request, as I foolishly do at least once day, pour yourself a coffee and just abandon all hope of getting anything accomplished.  Oh, and make sure you allow for time to clean up whatever messes will now be caused by your “big helper.”

6.)  “I hungry.”

Brace yourself….you are about to be told no to every single option of a snack that you provide and even though the toddler could actually be hungry, there will not be a single food item in this world that will be acceptable.  If there are older children in the home, your toddler will also be aware that you have cookies….so you know that sit in from College?  You are about to meet the sit in King or Queen.

7.)  “Mine.”

Toddlers are only capable of understanding their own needs.  So this statement could refer to a toy, a toilet brush or even your left shoe.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  In fact it often doesn’t.  Just assume that everything they see, touch, hear or smell belongs to them in their little world and roll with it.

8.) “It so pretty.”

This rarely means that you will find whatever is happening “pretty”.  It could mean that those paints and crayons you thought you had hidden have been located and in the time it took you to pee, your little artist has provided you with a custom made mural in your living room.  This mural will likely include walls and your couch.  It could mean that somehow your toddler has found a pair of scissors (even safety ones will cut hair) and given themselves a “pretty” new haircut.  Or, it could refer to the fact that your toddler located a tube of lipstick in your purse and has given themselves a “pretty” new makeover.  It could also refer to the fact that you have thirty seconds to get out the door for an appointment and your toddler has removed every scrap of clothing you put on them and opted for a diaper and a tutu, a pair of your underwear on their head and one glove instead….they may combine this with the lipstick make over….

I will be happy to provide more translations for common toddler lingo as they arise….now if someone out there could provide me with some translations of pre-teen language…that would be great.

 

Exercise and raising small children….also known as “Mission Impossible”

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If you have small children, you likely spend a great deal of your day outside, which is wonderful.  Unless of course, it is Winter and you are experiencing some of the coldest temperatures on record since the last ice age.  For so much of this Winter I simply have not been able to get outside with the littlest members of our crew.  This has led to me question why we did not have a wine cellar built in the basement instead of a laundry room, and also desperately feeling in need of some exercise.  Now, exercise and small children seem like they should go hand in hand….but they don’t.  Not actual, real exercise.  Have you ever gone for a “walk” with a toddler?  Earlier this week the temperature finally crept high enough that with the sun shining away I was able to bundle up the two and a half year old, pile blankets on the one year old in the stroller and GO OUTSIDE!!!! Oh glorious day!!!! I would finally be able to stretch my legs and save my sanity.  I suggested to my little man that we go for a walk….we made it to the neighbor’s driveway….at that point he made a lovely snow angel for the neighbors on their front lawn, returned their recycling bin to their garage (even though ours are apparently just fine to leave in our ditch until next recycling day) and then the garbage truck came.  Oh, and a plane flew over.  This all took nearly an hour, at which point we needed to make the strenuous hike back home, one driveway over, to go inside and warm up.  Sigh…..

Rather than suggesting to a toddler that you should go for a walk, some more appropriate suggestions would be the following:

1.) Let’s go sit on the side of the road and look at a rock you find fascinating.

2.)  Let’s go draw masterpieces in the dirt with sticks and then spend an hour arguing with me over why I won’t let you run with those sticks.

3.)  Let’s go sit on the side of the road and wave at cars.

4.)  Let’s go outside and point at birds.

5.)  Let’s go outside, walk about five doors down thus giving mommy false hope, and then throw yourself on the ground having a massive tantrum because I won’t let you put a caterpillar in your pocket.

And there are always those folks that will very helpfully suggest that you simply make junior ride in the stroller…..um ya, thanks.  I hadn’t thought of that.  That may work occasionally, but once your little darling finds their feet and realizes they can use those amazing things to “gasp” RUN, good luck convincing them to sit, and ride in something resembling their car seat….which they also hate.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love seeing the world through the eyes of my children.  Having the opportunity to experience nature as magical and awe inspiring again, is truly beautiful.  However, sometimes mama wants to work on her muffin top!!!!!!

So, I devised a plan.  My wonderful mother in law gave me her elliptical machine and my wonderful husband hauled it into our basement.  I was on a mission.  I would hop on it and work out for about four minutes at least three times a day.  Four minutes was the amount of time I felt I could safely leave the munchkins to play.  Sounds doable right?  At first I used the dryer timer….since there is usually laundry in it that needs to be fluffed, it made sense.  But staring at the heat ducts and listening to the dryer going was really boring so I upgraded my fancy home gym to allow for the use of my cell phone and whichever song I could find on You Tube that I felt would rev me up…Unfortunately, if listening to music, it is hard to discern which sounds from the floor above are bad sounds or good sounds…are the kids playing or staging a coup?  Is it fun, sing along time or Lord of the Flies? Also, have you ever tried to leave the room to do ANYTHING for longer than 30 seconds without disaster striking?  Or this lovely chorus following you?  “Mommy!!! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! Mom? Mommy where are you?  I come?  Mommy I come?  I help? Mommy I come help?  Mommy I come help you? MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! I hungry.”  Put this little ditty on repeat and I don’t care what song you are trying to listen to, it is not going to drown it out, and after less than two minutes your increased stress level is doing battle with whatever health benefits you might be achieving from your increased heart rate.

So, I have decided to cut myself some slack….running up and down the basement stairs to retrieve laundry is technically cardio, driving dinky cars around the floor is basically yoga, and bathing multiple children in a day is now classified as water aerobics….the muffin top will have to be dealt with when they are all in University.