The first rule of having a toddler is that they are your boss.
You cannot control a toddler, a toddler controls you.
The sooner you realise that, the better.
A toddler does not care whether you like to have a tidy kitchen, or snot-free clothes.
A toddler cares only for their own desires, which are mostly to mess up your kitchen and rub snot on your jeans.
There is some wiggle room: you might occasionally be able to encourage a toddler to your way of thinking, but you must choose your battles wisely.
It’s your job to keep the boss fed, healthy and happy, however these three things do not necessarily go together very well. Especially if the toddler wants to eat a diet of pure biscuits whilst drawing on your walls.
With a toddler in your life, you must accept that there are certain things you no longer control. Such as whether you get any sleep (no), whether you get places on time (no) and whether your toddler likes to share (no). Instead of fighting these unavoidable truths, simply embrace them.
You will be happier for it. Here are 10 things you have to make your peace with when you have a toddler:
#1: Food On The Floor
Carpet, what carpet? From the moment your baby hit solid food, you’ve been scraping food from your dining room floor. And your kitchen floor. And your bedroom floor, actually. You live in hope that it will get easier, but it won’t.
The food floor will be a constant in your life until after the toddler stage. You can try putting down floor protectors, but toddlers are smart and can actually throw pretty far. You can confine feeding time to a certain room (with wipe down floor) but toddlers are devious and will still somehow sneak food into the room with cream carpets. It will be pasta. Covered in tomato sauce. Enjoy scrubbing that stain out.
#2: Public Humiliation
Toddlers are really good at this. There’s a lot of information online about why you shouldn’t publicly shame your kids, but very little about why they shouldn’t shame you. Perhaps it’s because toddlers can’t read and don’t spend much time surfing the web, who knows.
Toddlers haven’t yet grasped the idea of boundaries, and will use this to humiliate you at every turn. They’ll tell your in-laws about your pubic hair, tell the postman when you’re having a poop, and tell everyone at nursery about your tampons.
#3: Snot Caterpillars
Face it, that snot caterpillar is pretty much a part of your family now. It’s made it onto every family photo for the last six months, greets you with a kiss every morning, and stares at you from across the dinner table at every meal. You can try to fight it. You can wipe that nose every few seconds for the entire day, but the snot caterpillar will still be there. Sometimes, you’ll think you have it only for it to reappear moments later.
Just accept it as your toddler’s best friend and move on.
#4: 5am Starts
Toddlers love to hit the ground running in the morning. Sorry, hit your crotch jumping, that should say. Throughout toddlerhood, your child will wake you by jumping on your face, breast or crotch. It will hurt. It will hurt even more when you realise it’s 5am and there is no way of convincing the toddler to go back to sleep.
Toddlers love to get up early. You should expect to be exhausted the whole time you have a toddler in your house. Even the odd lie in can’t help you once you’ve amassed a sleep debt totaling two whole years.
#5: Being Late For Everything
Remember when you had a newborn, and you couldn’t get anywhere on time? Get ready for phase two of that phenomenon. Unlike an older baby who can be easily transported between locations, a toddler likes to walk by himself. All the way. Even if that takes 15 years, which it definitely will when you factor in time to stop and stare at every single stone and insect you pass on the way.
#6: Reading The Same Story Over And Over Again
Toddlers love repetition. They want to play the same games and read the same stories over and over again. Nothing makes them happier than knowing exactly what is going to happen next. Your child will choose a favourite book early in toddlerhood, and you will be forced to read it three times a day until the end of time.
Oh, and it won’t be a good book. It will almost certainly be the worst book you have in the house. The really boring one with the uninspiring illustrations. Yep, you’ll be reading that book forever.
You can try to avoid tantrums, really you can. Perhaps for a short while you’ll manage it, and you’ll get to be one of the smug parents explaining that tantrums are really cultural and totally avoidable. And you’ll love being that parent, right until it all comes crashing down around your massively smug head.
That day when you need to leave the park in a hurry, or don’t want to buy another Frozen toy from the supermarket, or (if you’re having a particularly crap parenting week) the day you incorrectly guess what colour cup your toddler would like to drink from. That’s the day you will rue the day you ever thought you’d escaped the terrible twos. You haven’t.
#8: Pockets Filled With Sticks And Stones
Toddlers love to collect things. Especially things off the floor that you’d probably rather they didn’t touch. These things will be picked up, analysed, examined, loved and then handed to you for safe keeping.
You should expect to arrive home weighing at least six pounds more than when you left thanks to the sticks, stones and boulders filling your pockets. And don’t think you can just empty out your pockets when your toddler isn’t looking. You can’t. He’ll know. It’s not worth the risk.
Dirt is another of the toddler’s favourite things. He can find it anywhere, even in places you didn’t know it existed. If you leave your toddler alone in a spotless dirt-free room for three seconds, it is pretty much guaranteed that you’ll walk back in to find your toddler, naked, covered from head to toe in dirt. The walls will be smeared with dirt and the floor will be covered in footprints made entirely of dirt, but you’ll never work out where the dirt comes from.
#10: Looking Like An Idiot
Toddlers love anything that makes grown ups look like idiots. They like it when you pretend to fall over and hurt yourself, especially if you’re in a busy shopping centre. They love when you sing loudly on the bus. And make animal noises in a restaurant. And do a silly dance at the park.
Basically, if it makes you feel like a complete and utter fool, he wants you to do it over and over again. They can smell embarrassment.
You might try to control these things for awhile. You might try to be ready, mop in hand. But the sooner you make peace with these unavoidable toddler truths, the sooner you’ll find peace. And not to worry, you can pay them back during the teen years with plenty of unintentional (okay, maybe a little intentional) parental embarrassment.