I’ve read a lot of parenting books over the years. With 4 kids under 6 years old, I’ve had to. But there’s a lot of stuff they don’t put in the books, which I’ve had to figure out along the way.
Let’s just say there’s been some HARD lessons. So if I was ever going to write a parenting book, this is what I’d put in it:
1. Taking 5 minutes for yourself is always going to be a long shot
There’ll be times when you try to set your kids up with sleep, food or activities to keep them quiet for a few minutes so you can eat your lunch in one go, or answer a few emails. But as soon as you lift that food to your mouth, I guarantee that someone will need something. A drink. A cuddle. A poo.
2. The poo emergency
Speaking of number twos, when you’re out with your children, one of them will always want a poo. Not only that, but they’ll announce it really loudly and you’ll also be in the least convenient situation possible. Like in the supermarket, with a full trolley. Or ten minutes into whatever you had planned, having JUST LEFT THE PARENTS’ ROOM, where you thought you’d be clever and get the toilet thing out of the way.
3. When you need to go
Still on the subject of toilets, I hope you’re good at holding on. Because if you’re out and about with a pram and/or children, you’ll soon find how difficult it is to get to a toilet for yourself. Personally, I’ve held on to the point of hobbling, just because it’s easier than trying to get us all into a public bathroom.
4. Beware the splash-back
One last toileting thing. Be very wary when you empty the potty or a dirty nappy into the toilet. If executed at a certain angle, you will encounter ‘splashback’. Of the poo variety. It happens to the best of us.
5. Kids are dirty
They’re filthy little creatures. If you’re not sure about your own, give them the iPad to play with for half an hour and look at the screen when you get it back. I dare you to touch it and try to figure out what it is.
6. Bath-times do double duty
Kids are not able to keep bathwater in the bath. Don’t waste your breath trying to tell them the ‘rules for bath-time’ here. Just see it as a bonus floor clean for the bathroom when it gets covered in soapy water.
7. Balloons suck
You may spend the early years of your child’s life loving the joy that a balloon can bring. You may relish getting those free balloons on sticks from shopping centres. Me, I’m over them. These days, if anyone attempts to give my children balloons on sticks, I may attempt to poke them in the face with the pointy end. I also hate the balloon twisters who give out the balloons shapes at parties, which last about 5 seconds. They either burst on the grass, get lost, or deflate before the end of the party, causing floods of grieving tears for our drive-home.
8. I want to bring something
When you’re getting ready to leave the house with the kids, they will always want to ‘bring something’. You will quickly learn that it’s easier to say yes than to go through the whole reasoning and arguing thing, followed by the tantrum fall-out. Your child will leave the house merrily with a toy. But this toy will be in your handbag within 10 minutes of being out and about. Either that or you’ll anxiously check them constantly while you’re out to make sure they haven’t left it somewhere.
9. Band-aids are magic
It took me a while to get this. I’ve told my threenager that band aids aren’t for bruises or old scabs. Or for her face. That they should be kept for when we need them and not wasted. But then I realised that band aids possess a magical power that can sort out most crises a threenager comes across. Which means one little person making much less noise in our house. She has her own little box of band aids in the medicine cupboard, which I dish out as required. It’s a no-brainer.
10. Sometimes no means yes
Woops, one more toileting bit. If you’re toilet-training your child and they say they don’t need to go, they’re probably lying. What they mean is, they don’t want to go. Take them anyway. Again, I’ve learned this the HARD way.
11. Craft time = danger
If you let your preschooler use textas in the house without supervision, they will colour their face in. Even if you do supervise, they will still somehow cover their hands in ink. Maybe other stuff too.
12. Trying to stay awake
Not you, the kids. The more tired small children become, the louder and faster they get. So when you get to the hardest part of the day (i.e. dinner/baths/bed), the kids will suddenly start misbehaving and carrying on. My theory is it’s their way of trying to stay awake, because if they sit still, they might nod off. The only advice I have for this situation comes in two words: Early Dinner. Yes, even if it’s 4pm.
What about you? Do you have anything you can add? Just share it in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!