Ain’t nothing like waking up to this face at the foot of my bed.
Most of the time I have no freaking clue when it comes to parenting. I don’t know if anyone does, really. We are all just bumbling along, shell-shocked, exhausted and bewildered. I only have one and a half children, which hardly makes me an expert. But I have gathered some good tips and little things that help when I’m in the trenches with an empty fridge and cranky toddler.
Most of the time, kids are capable of more than you think. On a good day, Archie brings his high chair over to the bench at dinner time, gets his plate and bib from the drawer and carries his water bottle over and puts it on his high chair. He hoovers his dinner, mostly without help from me, then hands me his bowl when he is finished. I give him a cloth and he wipes his face and hands (I help a bit with this) this wipes the high chair. If he has been really messy we wipe the floor together, while he usually eats the crumbs off the floor (lovely). He puts his bowl and spoon in the dishwasher, and we’re done. While it’s obviously great for his own independence and confidence that we have taught him to do all that, the best part is LESS WORK FOR ME. Kid doing more = mum doing less. Win win.
Television is your friend. Archie watches Play School religiously at 4.30pm everyday. This is when I either a) get dinner ready, b) do washing or c) sit on the couch with him and mindlessly scroll through Facebook and Instagram. Do not be afraid of the television. It is also a great way to distract them so you can do stuff like cut their nails or secretly eat cake in the pantry.
Toys are overrated. Archie’s favourite things to play with include an old vitamin container with a screw-on lid, an old nappy box turned into a car, three big empty buckets and a soup ladle. He spends ages in the bath trying to screw on the vitamin lid, makes a huge show of saying bye to everyone before getting in the cardboard car and going for a drive, can literally spend hours putting dirt and water and leaves into the buckets and rides the soup ladle like a hobby horse. I try to rotate through his proper toys pretty regularly and pack away the ones he isn’t interested in, so he doesn’t get overwhelmed with several million options. Less is more, my friends.
Chillax about food. I swing between freaking out about how much Archie eats and trying all sorts of things to get him to eat more veggies and less cheese, and just offering him normal food and leaving it at that. Believe me when I say that the latter is easier, more effective and less stressful. Kids are weird. They can go a whole day on a cheesestick and one Cruskit, then eat like a freaking 6-foot teenage boy the next.
When a kid is sick, just do what you’ve got to do. Watch TV all afternoon while lying on the couch together and drinking juice. Drive around for two hours so the sick kid can sleep in the car. Have really really long, hot, steamy showers together to melt the snot away. Co-sleep. Just do what needs to be done.
Step away from Dr Google. I really need to remember this when the new baby arrives. When Archie was teeny, I would lay awake at 3am frantically reading the entire internet looking for that once piece of advice that would magically make the baby sleep, slow down my ridiculous milk supply, clean my house and allow my just half an hour to not be needed by anyone. This benefits no one. If you need advice, ask someone who is either a) a qualified medical professional who you trust and like, or b) a fellow mother who you trust and like. Do not take parenting advice from anyone with a name like mommylyfe1042 on an internet forum. Actually, don’t take parenting advice from anyone on an internet forum.
Get all the help. I honestly reckon that the whole ‘it takes a village’ thing is spot on. Children are not just the property of the mother and father, but belong to a whole community. The parents owe it to the community to share the kid around, and in turn the community helps out. I really struggled with asking for help (and still do), both emotional help and actual can-you-pick-up-some-dinner-on-your-way-over help, but trying to do everything on your own is a recipe for a meltdown, and at worst, PND-town.