Having a toddler is like having a mini wrecking ball. They’re loud, naughty and utterly adorable. As a first-time mum at 40, I’m not sure if the newborn days or the toddler days are the most difficult – I guess they’re difficult in equal measure but different ways. Here’s 10 things to know if your adorable baby is transforming into a tiny tearaway.
You need the patience of a very patient saint.
Toddlers are demanding, and quite frankly, pretty unreasonable. Their mood shifts from ecstatic to incredible hulk rage in a nanosecond – for no reason. Sonny flings his soother across the room and then wails because it’s no longer in his mouth. He flings his half full yoghurt pot across the kitchen, splattering the cupboards and screams because he wasn’t finished with it. He will point emphatically at what you think he wants and screech when you don’t get it right. I long for the day when he can tell me what he wants… or do I??
You can forget about being house proud.
Ahhh, gone are the days when I’d treat myself to candles and succulents, wine glasses, cushions and photo frames – or tat as my husband calls it. Still, they made me feel at home. Since Sonny arrived, I’ve resigned myself to finding MegaBloks in the washing machine, nappy bags and wet wipes strewn all over the floor, baby socks… everywhere. Your home becomes a playground, and aside from a few nice vases and mirrors that eclipse his grubby little hands, our house permanently looks like we’ve been burgled.
You get used to operating on a tight budget.
Babies are expensive. Not even mentioning the kit you need, there’s clothes, nappies, toys, outings, birthday and Christmas presents. If you’re lucky you may be able to indulge on the very odd ASOS purchase but when you have a baby, you automatically put yourself second. Your little one’s needs trump your own.
Your household chores get more difficult.
Extra everything. Dishes, laundry, tidying, cleaning. It doesn’t help much when my darling boy pulls clean clothes off the clothes horse – a permanent fixture in our living room – and discards them around the floor. He also takes it upon himself to put items that don’t meet his approval in the household waste. I am the dishwasher and there’s a a constant flow of dishes. Our two wrecked laundry baskets bulge and spill their contents onto the ‘floordrobe’. The floor constantly needs wiped from spillages and other matter I do not care to investigate.
You must acclimatise to very loud noises.
There is a lot of screeching and wailing. I joked to my husband that it’s akin to the sickener on SAS: Who Dares Wins. Damn, toddlers are loud. They definitely don’t mix with hangovers. So, you should take it easy on the mummy medicine, because they sound a whole lot louder if you’ve had a few rare tipples with a friend or even more rarer – a night out. So unless you invest in a pair of noise-reducing headphones – which probably would be frowned upon – you better suck it up.
Toddlers have an insatiable appetite for knowledge.
At 20 months, Sonny favours books over toys. He’ll choose a book every morning to bring downstairs. While he falls over his feet (a lot), you can see that he is picking so much up and he’s learning how to push my buttons. His new favourite thing is to climb up onto the kitchen table, where my computer is set up and proceed to kick the monitor. Despite my protestations and admonishments, his big blue eyes glisten with glee, his gorgeous grin large – and utterly adorable. It’s very difficult for me to keep a straight face.
Coffee shops and restaurants are out.
Sorry, this is a tough one. Coffee shops were a daily haunt when Sonny was tiny, but now, coffee shops with a toddler are insanity. Toddlers do not stay still, get aggravated very quickly and your ideas of ‘relaxing’ are, well, pretty far-fetched. The same goes for restaurants. Fine if you don’t mind your food going cold while you chase an excited toddler around a restaurant several times and restrain him or her from climbing the knee of an unimpressed diner.
You gravitate toward the baby and toddler aisle at the supermarket.
Ordinarily, I might glide into the clothes aisle for a nice pair of slippers but now every time I do the usual supermarket run, I start off scouring the toddler clothes sale section or meander around the snack section. As an impulsive buyer, I need to exercise caution or I’ll spend money we don’t have on cute outfits.
Nights off become a luxury
Before becoming a mum, nights out were a necessity, a way to wash away your cares. Now, while still a necessity, they’re an absolute luxury. Having an evening away from your (dear beloved) is bliss. Being able to offload about mum-life is blissful… and so necessary.
You fall in love more and more every single day.
No-one will tell you that parenting is easy. But, there are rewards, no matter how fleeting. Those moments when my chubby-cheeked toddler grins at me displaying his tiny, cute teeth in all their glory, when he runs to me arms outstretched, when he plumps his perfect head on my chest when he is tired or needing comfort, or the best thing ever – watching him peacefully sleep, warm and content. It’s the best thing ever. Honest.