Congratulations. If you are here, then you have survived the first year of your child’s life. You have shed your title of Non-Parent (NP) and joyfully embraced the title of Beginner Parent (BP). Common place and, dare we say, normal are the experiences described in our Infant Edition. You are now ready to continue your Professional Parent training at our state-of-the-art facility.
By this time, if you have closely followed our plan, you have stopped listening to your parents and other friends with babies (FWBs). Everyone believes that they can guide, teach, and discipline your children better than you can.
Those glares at storytime? That father hovering near the slide? Those un-cut grapes given to your child by grandpa? That’s the village you heard would help you raise your children. What no one told you was that the village is mostly judgmental bystanders waiting to eviscerate your parenting on a local social media chat group.
Alas, we here at Professional Parent empathize. We are here to help. As we have said before, for your dive into the unfathomable abyss of parenting, we are your floaties.
Let us waste no more time. Professional Parent training will now detail three important concepts you will soon embrace as the parent of a toddler or preschooler.
Goldfish, Cheerios, bananas, fruit snacks, Goldfish, granola bars, bagels, cookies, Goldfish, muffins, Goldfish. No, that’s not an exhaustive list of snacks. That’s what you’ll need to pack for a morning trip to the grocery store and library.
No matter the size of the meal your child just consumed, your child will always have room for snacks. Snacks are more important to a toddler than air.
Snacks prevent meltdowns. Snacks provide peace and quiet. Snacks are life.
Spending a day at the zoo or a farm festival? Imagine the amount of food a platoon of soldiers would need for a three-week mission, then double it. That’s how many snacks you should bring for a day-trip with a toddler.
If you see a sale on plastic containers and reusable water bottles, then buy, buy, buy. You always need more. Why? Because it is easier to purchase new snack packs than to find the used containers your kids have thrown under the seats of your car. When the day comes and you decide to clean the floor of your minivan, not only will you find dozens of snack containers, but you’ll also find enough crumbs to fill them.
2. Hoarding and Hiding
Remember when the only thing you had to worry about misplacing was your keys or your wallet? And remember when they were just in your coat pocket anyway?
Enter life with a preschooler. When it comes to misplaced items like the remote or your phone, consider every possible hiding place, and you’ll still be surprised by where your valuables turn up. Did you check inside your son’s plastic garbage truck? Or how about inside your daughter’s puppets? How about the cup where you keep the paint brushes? Or the box of puzzles in the cabinet?
The best part is that your kids know exactly where they put your stuff. You just never think to ask them because why would a kid know where your keys are or where your watch is?
Remember those quiet five minutes you got drinking an afternoon iced coffee? That was when your stuff was hidden behind the bookshelf or in the box of Legos. Just ask your kids where an item is. Chances are, they know EXACTLY where it is.
Do not underestimate your child’s ability to house items in his or her bed. When was the last time you looked under your child’s pillow or blanket? Perhaps you didn’t notice that the toy cars were slowly disappearing from the playroom. Or maybe you didn’t notice how few Bristle Blocks were in their designated storage box. Go check your child’s bed. You’ll soon wonder if they actually touch the mattress at night or whether they slept on a layer of plastic and books.
Lastly, observe your child’s ability to hoard in public. The library may have two dozen bins of toys, enough for each kid to have something, but your toddler will want EVERYTHING. Your child’s lap may seem tiny, but you’ll be amazed at how many plastic zoo animals she can pile and hoard to keep from the others. If the make-believe kitchen at the play cafe is emptied of all plastic food, utensils, and cookware, then check inside the plastic tunnel near the slide. You will find your child with the stockpile.
We here at Professional Parent celebrate the routines our graduates create at home. An efficient bedtime routine consists of a bath, brushing teeth, a book, and a kiss goodnight. A predictable morning is five minutes at the calendar, a bowl of cereal, coloring and puzzles, and then a trip out for errands.
But these aren’t the routines we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the meticulously irrational routines our toddlers create. Soon enough, bedtime will look like this:
First sit in Mommy’s lap. Then get rid of the bath towel and dance naked a while. Then get pajamas on. Then say goodnight to brother with a kiss, a hug, a high five, a fist bump, a “stick shift,” and a “go to bed,” in that order. Then sit on Mommy’s lap in the glider with a pillow, stuffed raccoon, and blanket. Then a sip of water. Then a kiss and hug from Dad. Then more snuggles with Mommy. Then bed with a doll in the corner, looking at her, with no hairs covering the dolls face or a freak out ensues. Then music box. Then another kiss and hug.
There will come a day when the bedtime routine (or the getting-in-the-car routine, or the leaving-a-store routine, or the after-swim-lessons-but-before-dinner routine, or the…) returns to normal. Until then, embrace the madness. Resistance is futile. Sit back, follow along, and try not to cry.