It's a very sorry and wine-filled day when you come to the realisation that you'll need to remove your child from the maximum-security prison of their cot and into the minimum-security (read: escapable) prison of a toddler or single bed.
There are several signs, other than you ripping your hair out, that indicate it may be time to make the dreaded switch …
1. Despite your best efforts to keep them caged, your child has developed the height, muscle mass and psychological wits to climb out of their cot. Like a spider monkey or Cirque Du Soleil performer, they clear their cot high-bar with the execution of an Olympic Russian gymnast. Sleeping bag? Doesn't matter. Footed onesie? No problem. Straightjacket? Just a speed bump, not a stop sign, in their eyes.
Here's how it happens. You'll be smugly nestled on the couch, watching an organic farming documentary (okay, Farmer Wants a Wife), and you'll turn around to see your toddler standing in the lounge-room doorway staring at you. Your half Tim-Tam falls in slow motion to the floor.
After you silently scream "f*#k" to yourself several times, you'll realise that once they have mastered the art of climbing out, it's no longer safe to keep them in.
Toddler: 1 Mummy: 0.
2. You are expecting another child. One who, despite a complete lack of motor skills and dexterity, will require the confines of a cot to keep them safe. For many of us who are not Donald Trump or Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales, spending hard-earned cash on additional short term bedding instead of wine (or, okay, more baby stuff) is a bitter pill to swallow. The thought of another cot for the sake of a few months seems wasteful.
Here's how it happens. You realise that a whole new cot set up is going to cost a few hundred dollars. You weigh up the return on investment and (foolishly) conclude that a few nights of adjustment are worth putting up with, if you can save that money. You're pregnant, you're hormonal and you haven't had a wine in months due to pregnancy. You're not thinking clearly. I understand – because I was you.
And now I'm writing to you from the other side, and I'll let you know: it's not a few nights. It's months of adjustment. You'll not sleep soundly again for a very long time. But it's okay. Hug your non-alcoholic wine.
Toddler: 1 Mummy: 1 (you score points for the wine).
3. The piece de resistance: the poo painting Picasso. Either because they're toilet training, they're attention seeking or just because they're hoping to avoid bedtime altogether.
Here's how it happens. You think your toddler is sleeping. There is no audible noise coming from the closed door of their bedroom. You smugly nestle into your couch to watch an African wildlife documentary (all right, "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here!") when you hear "Mummy! Mummy! I did poo poos!"
Displaying the Russian gymnast skills that clearly run in your family, you vault into the hallway and sprint to their bedroom, desperate to minimise what awaits when you arrive. Sure enough, the nappy is off. The poo is artfully spread from pillar to post and covering the walls. No surface is spared. It's a massacre. Peppa Pig, teddy bear, Lulu the rabbit – your toddler has taken no prisoners.
Let us take a moment to mourn those who perished in the great poo massacre of 2015:
You decide that if they want to remove their nappy, they must be ready to toilet train. If they're ready to toilet train, they need to be able to take themselves to the bathroom at night. You know, because, POO.
Wrong. Once the attention-seeking tactic is a success, nappy off in the cot just becomes nappy off in the hallway. This problem, while surely a sign of the end-times, is easily solved with a roll of tape and a back to front onesie:
Mummy: 2 Toddler: 2 Game over.
For us, while all three signs were present, it was the 2.00am art exhibition of 2015 that prompted the purchase of our toddler's big-person bed. And with that transition comes a whole new set of challenges and rewards.