12 things no one tells you about having a toddler
You talk about poo constantly
Not so surprising when you consider in these days of potty training, you have potties in virtually every room of the house, hoping to convince your stubborn almost pre-schooler that it's really much better to poo in that cool contraption than in his nappy.
He'll use his nappy anyway and you and your spouse will argue about whose turn it is to change him. Other times, you will stand in the middle of K Mart and shamelessly say, 'If you come with me to the potty and do a poo right now, Mummy will buy you any toy in this shop,' and you will talk for hours with other mums about your kid who 'poops but doesn’t pee' in the potty and how to change it.
Your 20-year-old self would be appalled (as are all the child-less strangers around you)
Bigger kids will break your heart
The more your kids grow, the more social they get, and eventually - at the park, at a birthday party, on a playdate - they’re going to run into a mean big kid.
When your daughter curtsies and introduces herself as 'Princess Ariel,' this big kid will laugh at her and say, 'You’re not a princess and that’s not a wand - that’s just a dirty twig.'
It will feel like a stab in the heart and you’ll run over and want to deck that miserable, horrible 8-year-old. But the reality is, your daughter won’t be phased in the slightest and it will just be you left wounded by the words of a kid from year 9. (And you’ll be so proud of your kid for not caring.)
You’ll indulge ridiculous requests and rituals to get them to do what you
File this one under 'pick your battles': Sometimes, just about any request is worth it if it means dinner eaten, nap taken or tantrum cut short. Toddlers love routine, but it can all go over the top very quickly.
My daughter has no fewer than four special blankets carefully arranged around her when she sleeps. And they all have to be there, with the green one on her left cheek, the pink one on her right and the other two wrapped around her body - and if something is amiss, mummy can kiss watching Project Runway after bedtime goodbye.
Another child we know refuses to leave the house unless he has a Matchbox car in each hand and an array of cars from the Disney Pixar movie fanned over his pillow when he sleeps.
You may spend many nights 'sleeping' on your kids floor
Transitioning from the cot to the big bed may not always go smoothly. And sometimes 'sleep' may mean 'curled up on your toddler’s floor with your eyes closed.'
'My son went through a stage where he refused to sleep in his toddler bed after adjusting perfectly to it. I didn’t want him in our bed, so I started passing out on his bedroom floor when he showed up in our room at 3am. Not the most comfortable, but we all got some sleep,' says Mareesa, 35
Make new friends
Remember when you chose your friends simply because you actually liked them? Yeah, those days are over. Oh, those people from your past may continue to be peripheral pals, but you’ll find yourself spending the bulk of your free time (which frequently will consist of five-minute bursts on the playground) with the mums of those children your child picks as playmates.
Likewise, that pre-school mum you met and instantly clicked with and were hoping to foster a friendship with? Don’t be surprised if her kid is a complete nightmare who you can’t stand to be around (or an otherwise lovely kid who, for some reason, your child wants nothing to do with).
The 'I want daddy!' phase
All of a sudden this sweet little being who wanted to be on your lap when she ate, in your arms in the park and in your bed when she slept wants nothing to do with you. It hurts like hell, but try not to take it personally.
Around 3 or 4, kids go through an Elektra/Oedipal phase where they become obsessed with the parent of the opposite sex. Be psyched for your spouse, who is finally getting a taste of the sugar, and know that it’s all temporary. But it hurts while it's happening!
'My daughter just started requesting that my husband give her a nightly bath,' says Lauren. 'She said, ‘No, mummy, I-want-Daddy-wash-my-hair.' I thought it was a phase that would be over in a day or so, but not so much. It’s been months. Well, one night I peeked into the bathroom and saw that the two were engaged in an epic game of ‘mermaid and battleship.’
Remember, you’re living with a parrot
It can be funny at first, but it turns not-so-cute pretty quickly (like when your two-year-old drops her cup and screams, 'Damn it!').
And every toddler mum has a horrible radio moment where her music-loving kid sings a lyric that shouldn’t be coming out of a toddler’s mouth.
'Every now and then, I have to listen to an adult radio station instead of a bubbly kids CD in an attempt to keep my sanity. Well, now my two-year-old belts out, 'Sex on the beach, laying underneath a palm tree,' via Katy Perry’s California Gurls.
You’ll say 'because I said so' when nobody is looking
We know you swore you wouldn’t, because you have very vivid memories of your own mum thwarting you with this mother-of-all lame comebacks. But until you have a toddler of your own, you can’t fully grasp the meaning of the word grilling.
'Mummy, can I play on the roof?”' Absolutely not. 'Why?' Because it’s dangerous. 'Why?' Because you could fall off. 'Why?' Because of a thing called gravity.
'But Sally’s mummy lets her play on the roof.' Well, Sally’s mummy is nicer than me - and maybe a tiny bit deranged. 'Why?' Because I said so, okay? It’s fine - you’re the mum now. Sometimes because you said so is all the reason they really need.
The world is much more dangerous now that he’s mobile
You got giddy when he rolled over, and you were standing by with the video camera when he moved from rocking on all fours to actually crawling.
But above all else, you genuinely, wholeheartedly couldn’t wait for him to walk. Now that he’s mobile, you realise how much easier it was to be responsible for the life and limbs of a child who really can’t get into all that much mischief. Suddenly, coffee table corners are steel-edged knives; stairs are jagged, mountainous cliffs; and ordinary old nightstands are precariously perched anvils waiting to topple over on top of your toddler.
You’ll wonder: When did the world turn into such a dangerous place, and how will your child ever survive it? Relax. Look around at all of the adults walking around who clearly made it through this perilous period. Sure, he’ll suffer a few bumps and bruises, but this, too, shall pass.
Tantrums are part of a toddler’s job
One mother we know regales us with this story: 'A friend came to visit right after my oldest daughter turned two and had taken to throwing these monster tantrums.
'I was at my wit’s end. When my friend - who has older children - saw my exasperation, she commented nonchalantly, "She acts like she’s two."
'It was a light bulb moment for me - and a good reminder that sometimes, when my daughter is driving me crazy, she’s doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.'
Indeed, a toddler’s job is to push every button you have and test every boundary; that’s how she figures out the world and her place in it. Your job, Mum, is to set those boundaries with firm but loving discipline and consistent consequences. It’s exhausting and frequently thankless, but when your toddler grows into a respectful, well-behaved tween/teen/adult, you’ll be glad you put in the time.
You will see the value of vague responses
What happens when you die? Why does Timmy have two dads? Why are those dogs dancing like that? You were familiar with the expression 'out of the mouths of babes,' but truth be told, you had no idea what you were in for.
As tempting as it may be to avoid the tough or embarrassing questions, parenting pros point out that - at least for the time being - a simple, vague reply that contains at least a nugget of truth usually will suffice.
For instance, being asked 'Mummy, when I was in your tummy, how did I get there?' does not necessarily call for an in-depth lesson in human anatomy and reproduction. 'Daddy helped put you there,' is a fine reply. (When she follows up with 'Did Daddy help get me out,' feel free to be brutally honest. 'Yeah, not so much.')
So-sweet moments happen at the drop of a hat
The twos and threes are full of meltdowns for sure, but they’re also full of incredibly sweet moments - and they happen when you least expect them.
'One minute my son is sitting on the floor with me doing a puzzle. I slip a piece in to move the game along and he FREAKS OUT, yelling, ‘No-I-do-it-myself, bad-Mummy!’ red-faced.
His hands curl into fists. So, I take the piece out and hand it to him and he says, ‘Thanks, Mummy, that better,' in a soft, pipsqueak voice. Then he kisses my nose.
Next Up: 10 tips to make parenting cheaper
With the cost of raising a family at an all-time high, it pays to find ways to keep costs down.
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