Trying to get toddlers to do anything is pretty much impossible.
Even a big cat tamer would struggle to wrestle them into compliance.
Toddlers can sense your desperation and then, of course, they put their chubby feet down and refuse to do what you want.
Unfortunately, there is no tried and tested way to get toddlers to do what you want.
10 Things Toddlers Do When You’re Trying To Leave The House
You’ll just have to travel the same route as every parent before you. You might attempt a mix of gentle encouragement, desperate bribery and empty threats until you eventually accept the truth: the toddler is the one wearing the trousers in your relationship.
Unless you actually want him to put his trousers on – in which case he definitely won’t be wearing the trousers.
He’ll probably be wearing his swimming trunks and a pair of your high-heeled shoes.
Thinking of going out? You’re about to find out how impossible that really is.
Here are 10 things toddlers do when you’re trying to leave the house:
That clingy toddler who spends most of the day attached to you will suddenly discover his independence and disappear when you announce it’s time to leave the house.
Need to make a cup of tea? You will have to do this with a toddler attached to your leg. Want to eat a chocolate biscuit in peace? You can’t escape the watchful eyes of the toddler who refuses to leave your side. Need a poop? Good luck managing that while you’re carrying a toddler.
Want to take your toddler out of the house? Behold, the amazing vanishing toddler who is nowhere to be seen.
#2: Take Their Shoes Off
It takes a long time to put shoes on toddlers’ feet. First, you have to get them to sit still. Then you have to stop them from wriggling their legs around at speed.
You’ll have trouble convincing them to keep each little foot in a normal foot shape long enough for you to put the shoe on. You know how they randomly stick their toes out mid shoe-entry and make the whole thing more complicated. And then you have to fasten the shoe before those little feet have run off again.
Once the shoes are on, don’t think you’re in the safe zone – there’s no such thing. According to a very scientific study I undertook in my house, it takes five minutes for a parent to put shoes on a toddler and then it takes minus three seconds for the toddler to take them off again.
#3: Lose A Sock
When the shoes are off, the fun can really begin. This is when toddlers immediately whip off their socks.
Don’t worry, one will be somewhere obvious and you will find it easily. The other will be in one of the following places:
- Hidden between two dirty plates in the dishwasher
- Inexplicably stuffed under the sofa cushion
- Lost forever
Now you have to get your toddler back into his shoes and you need to search for the missing sock.
When you realise it is lost forever, you will have to search for a new pair, which sounds a lot easier than it is because the drawer will be full of solo socks but no matching pairs.
When you eventually track down a matching pair (hooray), your toddler will refuse to part with his original sock and will insist on wearing mismatched socks. By this time, you have lost the will to live, let alone the ability to argue over sock choices.
#4: Take Advantage Of Your Weakened State
Toddlers can sense weakness in the same way dogs can sense fear. If you give in over the socks, you’re done for. Your toddler has your number and you are going down.
You think you’ve won the battle. Your toddler is wearing socks and has shoes on and you’re about to leave the house together. Suddenly, he will reappear, wearing not only the mismatched socks, but also one of your handbags and a pair of novelty glasses.
He will give you a look that tells you there is zero chance of getting him out of those clothes, and any attempt to do so will make you even later than you are already.
#5: Put Their Foot Down
Toddlers love to do this, don’t they? If it’s one of your favourite hobbies as well, you’re likely to spend the toddler years locked in an ongoing power struggle.
The key is to pick your battles and pick them wisely. After all, you’ll probably lock heads at some point during the day; you just need to make sure it’s over something important.
When your toddler reappears wearing a winter coat, scarf and gloves on the hottest day of the year, just go with it. And when he insists on suncream and a straw hat in mid-winter, you need to decide which is more important – dressing appropriately for the weather or actually managing to leave the house.
#6: Decide It’s A Good Time For A Poop
Your toddler is fully dressed in wellies, parasol and novelty tartan hat, and you are moments away from whisking him out of the door when he suddenly decides it’s the perfect time for a poop.
You were close, so close, but now leaving the house is nothing but a distant dream. And don’t think this poop will be short and sweet, the kind of rabbit droppings you can deposit in moments and still make it to the bus on time.
Oh no, it’s going to take quite a time and make quite a mess. Enjoy.
#7: Empty The Snack Bag
Oh dear, did you really leave the snack bag unattended during all the poop-related commotion? Rookie error.
While you were busy tidying up the bathroom after the poop from hell, the toddler opened up the snack bag and tipped out all of the food you lovingly packed for your day out.
By the time you realise it, he is half way through the packet of rice cakes, with peanut butter sandwich smeared in his hair and a half eaten chocolate bar clutched tightly in his hand.
#8: Hide Your Keys
Don’t worry, a quick trip to the kitchen later and that bag can be restocked. A quick baby wipe to the head and your toddler will be free from peanut butter, and you’ll be ready to leave the house at last.
This is the moment you discover your keys are missing. You could’ve sworn they were in the door just moments ago but now they are nowhere to be seen.
Oh, yes, he did. He took them and he played with them and he lost them and he won’t tell you where. You’ll have to bring out the big bribery guns for this one if you ever want to see those keys (and the outside world) again.
#9: Spill Water All Over Themselves
You eventually retrace your toddler’s steps well enough to work out where the keys have gone and then you gather up your handbag, ready to leave. Suddenly you hear an “Oh no” coming from behind you.
Taking deep breaths to stay calm, because by now you are well and truly late for whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing, you turn at the sound of water splashing on the ground. Your toddler, for some reason, has tipped an entire cup of water on himself and his clothes and will now need a complete change of outfit.
#10: Bring All The Toys
Outfit changed, all cups moved far out of reach, keys firmly in your hand, snack bag hidden in a secure place, bowels well and truly empty, you are feeling positive about leaving the house this time.
With a huge smile fixed firmly to your exhausted face, you tell your toddler it’s time to leave. That’s the cue for him to walk off in the wrong direction, and reappear a moment later carrying his favourite teddy, a football, a small plastic cup and a doll.
You now have two options. You can agree to let him take them all, knowing you’ll be carrying them as soon as he gets past the garden gate.
Or you can try to talk him out of it and risk a tantrum so huge you’re forced to go through steps 1 to 10 again before you finally make it past the door.
Your choice. Good luck!