Babies are often cute no matter what they are doing, but toddlers can often get on our nerves doing the exact same things we used to think were cute. Here are three habits I used to encourage in my child, that I now wish I hadn’t.
When your child was first starting to communicate, raspberries were cute. It was even cute when they blew mushed up peas out with their raspberry. Times have changed, and it’s not cute anymore. Raspberries are now reserved for being disrespectful to mom and end with spit trickling down your little one’s chin. They have become gross and a reason for time out.
Prefolds have been around for quite some time. Before prefolds, flat diapers—squares of cotton that were folded and pinned onto baby—were the most common way of diapering in Europe and the United States. However, one issue with flats was the time needed to fold them into the proper shape and thickness for baby. Folding one flat is fast. Having to fold six to a dozen flats or more a day, every single day, for every diaper change for a year or more, easily tired out families who were already swamped with cooking every meal from scratch and hand washing the laundry.
In the 1950s, the prefold was invented when someone had the bright idea to pre-fold and sew together a flat diaper. The prefold still had to be pinned into place, but the more time-consuming part of folding all the layers together was no longer an issue. Although cloth diapers have gone through many more innovations in the last sixty-five years, prefolds are still extremely popular. Part of the reason is that they are still fairly cheap compared to other cloth diapers—really, only flat diapers are generally less expensive than cotton prefolds—and the traditional cotton prefold tends to last forever. Ok, not really forever, since cotton is a natural material that breaks down organically, but they tend to last far beyond their uses as diapers.
We never really had a “theme” for either of our kids’ rooms—mostly because neither of them have ever had their own room. However, after my daughter turned 3 I caught her hammering a push pin into the wall with her toy hammer so she could hang up a photo of a tiger we took at the zoo. I realized that she was starting to want to express herself on her walls—who doesn’t?—but none of the mass-produced wall art at our local stores seemed to catch her attention. So we turned to some far less orthodox, but really fun, ways to decorate her side of the room.
Their Own Art
The tiger picture that started it all…and a heart she made in preschool.
Ok, I really forget why my daughter suddenly decided she needed wings. Not just any wings would do, either—they had to be bat wings. I reached under the bed for the plastic bin that serves as our very lame dress-up costume repository, only to discover that we had no wings at all. I’ll pick up a bunch of costumes at Goodwill for cheap after Halloween, I had thought but never actually followed through on. So instead we made some.
Are you in my exact same situation? Never fear! Whip up some animal wings at home really quickly, and you get the bonus of your child helping out, as well.
- Poster board
- Decorative materials
Costco is good for cheap treats. Also, the kids never finish them so I get to munch on the leftovers during their naptimes. Score. Also we only go to Costco like twice a month so don’t think they live on a diet of churros and ice cream every day. Sometimes they have pizza too.
I used to like grocery shopping. I would spend more time than I should wandering the aisles, thinking up dozens of fancy, tasty plates to make for the week’s dinners and what new fancy coffee my husband and I should try for our special Saturday breakfasts.
Now, with two young, mobile children, going to the grocery store is basically the very last thing I ever want to do with kids in tow. However, and this is NOT to brag, I’ve had multiple people come up to me and congratulate me on how well-behaved my children are in the grocery store. This befuddles me every time, because these compliments usually come at the rare moments between the kids screaming to get down, or get up, or for juice or cookies, or “ICE CREAM NOW MOMMY NOW WAHHHH” and I’m always like, “Did you seriously not hear my kids five seconds ago, because I’m sure they could be heard in the next town over?” After some thought, I do realize that while I wouldn’t say every grocery trip comes smoothly, we’ve gotten to the point where I don’t feel like picking up a keg on the way out to self-medicate from the trauma. Here are a few tips that have worked for us.
I mean, not to brag or anything, but my daughter used to eat everything.
And do I mean EVERYTHING. Pickles? Steak? Mango? Yes. She’d eat half a bag of steamed green beans for dinner. Her favorite food for the longest time was pickled ginger, something that even me with my Asian taste buds could only eat in tiny bites, but she scarfed it down by the spoonful. I was super proud of my amazing kid. Chicken nuggets and French fries never saw the inside of our kitchen.
And then one day—she didn’t eat everything. It was like the universe knew how smug I secretly felt about my Kid Who Ate Everything, and overnight turned her into the pickiest eater on earth. Mealtimes started becoming battles, and I didn’t want to be battling with my toddler over food.
Enter: The snack tray.
Ok, we live in the Pacific Northwest. There are a lot of rainy days, and granted, our area has an amazing amount of toddler-friendly gyms, museums, and other indoor play places we often take advantage of. But sometimes we (ok, I) don’t feel like loading up the kids and trekking out. Sometimes it feels nice to have an in-home day where we can all lounge around with no shoes and sometimes no pants on…but the kids still want to play with water, maybe even channel summertime a bit. And it’s easy to do this with ice cube boats, and even better, you may even have all the supplies to do this already!
- Bendy straws
- Small, freezable cups
Fill your small, freezable cups with water. Disposable plastic or paper cups should work—we had actually just made cupcakes and I still had all my silicone cupcake cups out, so we used those! Cram the bendy straw into place. I had to trim mine a bit to make it fit.
Go down the swaddle aisle at any baby store, and there are countless styles and patterns to choose from—enough for stores to justify dedicating a whole aisle to swaddles. You never know what your baby will tolerate before they are born, and some kids love certain swaddles and totally hate others. After trying nearly everything on the market between my two kids, I came to the conclusion that the good ol’ fashioned simple square-piece-of-fabric swaddle is the most versatile and easiest to care for. Learning to swaddle the old fashioned way can be a bit tricky at first, especially when you are sleep deprived at 3am, but with a little practice you will be a swaddling pro in no time.
This swaddle is so big I couldn’t get it in the whole camera frame without becoming Spider-Woman and sticking myself to the ceiling. Just trust me that it’s diamond-shaped.
I defy stereotypes because I hate shoe shopping.
To be fair, I have good reason. How many other 5-foot-4-inch tall people do you know have a US size 11 wide foot? Women AND men a good 6 or more inches taller than me often have smaller feet. I live in the Pacific Northwest so I suppose there’s the potential for some literal Bigfoot genes floating around somewhere. Anyway, it’s a pain finding shoes that fit and are comfortable, and even harder to find shoes that are also somewhat stylish (come on, I’m still in my 20s, I don’t need ten slightly different pairs of loafers!). Basically, I’ve hated shoe shopping since I was about 14 years old.
And then I had kids, and after they started walking, I suddenly found myself needing to go shoe shopping for them. No more cute little stretchy booties or soft-soled leather moccasins. And I was annoyed.
At first I tried to make it easy on myself and picked up kid’s shoes at consignment and thrift stores. I figured they’d just grow out of the shoes quickly, so why pay full price? Sometimes I do find good deals, but some mornings I wake up and the $1.99 Goodwill Stride Rites that fit my kid just fine yesterday are suddenly two sizes too small, and of course the size I now need isn’t to be found at any secondhand store in a 50 mile radius.
My daughter wore these size 5 shoes for about two weeks before she grew out of them. I saved them for my son, who never wore them because he went straight from a size 4 to a 6.5. Of course.
Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.
How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?