“What’s it like being a mother of two?” ask my friends and acquaintances.
Here’s how you bake things: Put the mixing bowl and all the ingredients on the floor, with the baby in the babybouncer thing. It’s the toddler’s job to put the dummy back in the baby’s mouth when he spits/pulls it out. Toddler likes watching the ingredients go in the bowl. Let her taste the dry ingredients because she’ll only do it once. Soon she’ll get bored, but that’s fine, because you’re already sitting on the floor so she can’t tug on your pants, and all baking equipment will be readily available to you without having to stand up because her favourite game is “pull out all the baking gear and strew it on the floor.” Don’t worry if the floor isn’t clean; most germs die at 200 degrees.
Here’s how you clean things: Wait until you really have to. Remember: if you clean the loungeroom today and tomorrow, you will have cleaned it twice as many times as if you just cleaned it tomorrow, and the loungeroom will be no cleaner (not noticeably) tomorrow. Tell your toddler to pull all the toys out of her toybox so that she will put all her toys back into her toybox instead, or just tell her to go give things to Dad. It could be an old peanut you found under the couch or a dirty cup. This removes the toddler from the room, and automatically makes whatever she’s delivering into His Problem. Keep in mind there are only three categories of things on any given floor: things that will fit in the vacuum cleaner, things that won’t fit in the vacuum cleaner, and furniture/people. Sort accordingly.
Here’s how you keep your toddler happy while you collapse from exhaustion (at a responsible supervision proximity): Remember all the things that were too precious for your toddler to play with before baby came along? Hint: not anymore, but watch how quickly your toddler bores of them. Passport? More like a three part series called “Mummy Book, Daddy Book, and Elsie Book” and then “Boring Books”. Fancy face cream = “Elsie cream” = “yucky, Elsie wipe!”. The screen for the baby monitor = “Elsie phone” = “Boring phone”. It turns out, you spent a lot of time keeping supposedly special things away from your toddler, and she didn’t even like them in the end anyway. Which is really a good way to describe the feeling of parenting a toddler in general.
Meal time: Don’t ask questions. Especially don’t ask if something is yummy. The answer is always “nej” and will make your toddler realise how much she actually hates whatever she was plowing into and you’ll end up wiping smears of whatever delicious treat your toddler has just slung across the room off the walls, your clothes, and the baby. Introducing new foods is best done by quietly and undramatically putting a little bit of them on your toddler’s plate and then pretending you can’t see your toddler or the food. She will sneak a taste while you’re not looking, and – if you’re very lucky – she might even not spit it into her nappy. Anything your toddler sees and wants, but you don’t want her to have is “spicy”. This is the only thing in life that always works.
Including your toddler in baby time: Make sure your toddler feels loved and included by letting her “help” with the baby. Encourage her to narrate whatever is happening. “Otto poop,” “Otto farty farty,” “Otto burp,” “Otto hungry,” “Otto yucky,” keeps everybody on the same page, and the household running smoothly. “Go tell Dad,” is the best response in all scenarios.
It’s fun, really. And when it’s not, here are some simple coping mechanisms I like to use:
- Imagine there are twice as many toddlers and babies and half as many adults, half the number of hours slept by everyone, and twice the number of dirty dishes in the kitchen.
- Facetime someone who loves you unconditionally, and let them try to entertain your toddler while your baby screams at you because you are trying to feed him.
- Take a toilet break. Sit on the toilet for a few seconds even after you’ve finished “going”. Make sure a responsible adult is with your children.
- Screen time.