Because if I’ve learned anything from my Mother it’s that nothing makes someone happier than a bunch of unsolicited advice. Now get over here and let me wipe that dirt off your cheek with my spit.
1. Keep a toilet in your car.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hey Princess Kate Middleton – when did you start writing this blog?” Yes – a toilet in a car is a little I have this great possum recipe-ish. Yes – as people get in your car they’ll say, “Hey, is that a toilet in your car?” and never send you another job lead.
But the toddler toilet in our car is the best little trick I accidentally ever happened upon. I was on a road trip with the girls to my sister’s house and I don’t know where I thought the 44oz soda I drank in eleven seconds was going to go, but it might surprise you to know it went straight to my bladder. I had to pee so bad I could only inhale in small and strategically timed increments and I was running through different scenarios in my head of how to quietly kill myself because all three kids were sound asleep in the back and I’ll be damned if I was going to wake them up to go into a gas station.
I called my sister to try to distract my angry bladder and she suggested I just go in the princess potty I had packed for Lila for the weekend. At first I was all, “No! Gross!” but then she pointed out that our Grandma always carries one with her because she has a bladder problem and also she drinks a gallon of vodka a day and suddenly all the mysteries of the universe made sense and I was watching people pump gas as my eyes rolled back in my head while I happily peed five feet away from them under cover of tinted windows. I got out, dumped the pee in the trash, wished them good day, and kept on driving as my kids continued to sleep.
Oh, and it comes in handy for the kids, too.
2. Forget walking and talking – teach them skills to make your life easier.
This is sort of a multi-pronger, but stay with me. The quicker you teach a baby how to hold his own bottle, the quicker you can pee without balancing a baby on your knees while you hold a bottle with one hand and wipe with the other. The quicker you teach a baby how to feed himself with his own little fingers, the quicker you can eat a hot meal before 9pm.
By the time I had my third baby, I was literally putting her hands on the sides of her bottle from day 1. She is now 17 months old and almost mastered putting on her coat and shoes. Next week we’re moving on to how to load a DVD and light her own cigarette.
3. Make their ‘Lovey’ microscopic.
With our eldest, she took to a particular blanket that I put in her crib that happens to shed like a woolly mammoth. We have swiffered up enough pieces of Blankie that every time we clean it looks like a Blankie family reunion. Yet still it remains fluffy and huge. When you’re packing for a trip and you have to pack three Lovies, it’s definitely a space saver if they’re no bigger than a tissue.
The only drawback to a small Lovie is that they’re a little harder to track down, so I’d suggest adding flashing lights and a Clapper. That will help you when you realize they are no longer holding it as you’re pushing the cart through the Wal-Mart parking lot.
4. Put a piece of toilet paper over the automatic flusher.
There’s a lot of things you learn when you potty train a child. For instance, by the time you realize it’s too quiet in there it’s too late – they’re already pooping in your closet. Also, diaper bags eat underwear. You’ll know for a fact that you put a spare pair in there (with a hare, if you dare) but when you’re at your daughter’s school picnic about 200 miles from the nearest kids underwear store and notice your other daughter staring at you while pee runs down your leg they are nowhere to be found. I think my diaper bag is in cahoots with our dryer.
Anyhoo, I never realized how loud and scary those dang automatic flushers are. It’s hard enough to get a little one to pee in a strange and unfamiliar bathroom, but if they have a fear that some terrifying toilet monster is going to jump out of the water and chomp them on the butt cheek the minute they move a millimeter on the toilet seat it’s near impossible. Take a couple squares of toilet paper and cover the eye sensor.
Then tell your kids the monster isn’t in the toilet anymore, it’s under their bed and will come out if they’re bad.
5. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right.
With my first daughter I beat myself up because I had to have a C-section. I beat myself up because I couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. I questioned why other kids were hitting milestones first and maybe it was because I was only feeding her four, not the recommended five, ounces of green leafy vegetables a day.
By the time I had my third I was so overwhelmed that I gave myself a pat on the back for just remembering to get her out of the cart at the grocery store. And she seems pretty normal. I now realize that nothing really matters except making them smile and etching their laugh into your ears.
You’ve heard it a million times a million different ways before, but really… you’re doing a good job. They’re fine. If you ever doubt it, take your family to Six Flags. You’ll see there are so many parents that suck way worse than you.
As my brother-in-law says, “You don’t have to be first… you just can’t be last.”