Life in babyland changes quickly. Even though I often felt as though things were going to be like this forever, they never were. This is good when you are going through a difficult phase, because you can remind yourself that ‘this too shall pass’. It’s less reassuring when you’re going through a good phase, feeling on top of things, like you and your baby have finally gotten into a good rhythm, because as soon as you feel like that, it will all change again.
Toby and I felt like that. We were starting to get the hang of having a baby. It still felt strange of course, and new a lot of the time, but we were just getting used to it.
And then it seemed like one day we woke up and instead of a baby we now had a toddler.
Wait! We’re not ready for a toddler! We screamed. There was no reply, just distant memories of a baby who lay on the floor without moving and just needed to eat and sleep. Ah, remember that?
So here we are, with a toddler. Here is what that means for us, so far.
Mess. So much mess. It’s a losing battle trying to keep any sense of order in the house. You find weird things in weird places, like yesterday when I found a Playstation controller in Emma’s dirty nappy bucket. My phone cover is missing, and I’m kind of annoyed, but also intrigued as to where it might turn up.
Dirt. So much dirt. My clothes stay clean a fraction of the day, as do Emma’s. The floor is a kaleidoscope of squashed sultanas, strawberry stains, toast crumbs, dabs of cottage cheese and peanut butter. There is always sand on the floor of Emma’s bedroom, transferred from the sandpit via shoes.
Playgrounds. This is an awesome part of having a toddler. She loves swings, slippery dips, anything that spins or bounces. You don’t have to try and entertain a toddler in a playground, and it forces you to get outside which as a natural lounge-room dweller I need in my life. They also have a nice community feel to them, as long as the ratty high school kids stay away.
Lessons. We do swimming and gymbaroo. This is a luxury people with money and just the one kid can afford, and I am really grateful we’re able to do this for her. Even if the swimming isn’t going all that well (she’s getting bored) and I find the gymbaroo trainers a little on the judgey side, I’m glad we can introduce her to lots of different things.
One nap a day. I wasn’t ready for this, and at first I resented having to be at home at lunchtimes, but now I love it. We do something in the morning and something in the afternoon, and in the middle of the day we get a break. Usually around two hours, sometimes three. That’s a lot of cleaning/TV/blogging/procrastinating time.
Tantrums. We’re not getting proper ones yet but she does like to cry and make a fuss when I do something terrible like go into the kitchen without her, or not let her play with knives, or not let her eat the banana she just dropped in the sandpit. Not all the time, just sometimes.
Learning. She waves and says a little “bye bye” as soon as she thinks someone is going somewhere. She knows the sign language for “finished” which she sometimes uses in the correct context (sometimes not). She can go and get her shoes when we’re going out, and likes to try and put the dog’s harness on for walks. She knows socks go on feet and hats go on heads.
Mysterious viruses. Emma’s not in childcare yet so we haven’t had too many, but we’ve had a couple of bouts of gastro and also an odd one that included sleepiness, vomiting, high temperatures and a rash of hives that disappeared overnight. Google is both a parent’s best friend and worst nightmare, and you have to be careful not to tumble down the rabbit hole of desperate diagnoses.
Sultanas & Band-Aids. If there’s two things toddlers do lots of, it’s snacking and falling over. It behooves parents and carers to keep a well-stocked stash of Band-Aids and snack items. Sultanas are the obvious, timeless winner for toddlers, finding their way into the cracks of everything a toddler touches, but other popular choices include cheese sticks, fruit bars and rice crackers. You mustn’t leave the house without at least one item. With the falling over thing, you just have to cross your fingers and say “oopsy daisy” a lot. I took Emma to Coles the other day when she had a black eye (which did not happen on my watch, I hasten to add). I didn’t feel judged at all by the concerned check-out dude. Not at all.
For my part I love watching her figure the world out, running off to explore, turning the pages of books and pointing to the pictures, babbling quietly to herself. I also love being more independent from each other – she can spend whole days with other people and we’re fully weaned now so my body is my own again, which is great. I love that she knows her people, her village. The other day I watched her being carried to the car by her uncle and she just waved at me over his shoulder, completely trusting and relaxed, looking forward to an adventure with someone other than her parents. Our time together is also more enjoyable, now that it’s not 24/7 and we’re doing things other than non-stop feeds.The baby stage was lovely in many ways, but this is much more fun.