Milin turned two last week, so he's had ages to get this whole ‘being a toddler’ business sorted. The days of me being able to call him a baby are well and truly behind us; instead, I have a high-energy little friend who talks non-stop and keeps me constantly on my toes.
He's made me realise, though, that I really wasn't prepared for life with a toddler. These are the things I’m working out as we go.
When you have a toddler, you are never alone
Going to the toilet, taking a shower, trying to hide and eat biscuits in secret … these precious moments of being on your own are a thing of the past. Your faithful toddler will always be by your side, providing a running commentary. It's probably better that way though – it's safer than them being out of your sight.
When you have a toddler, you better watch what you say
Yes, it's adorable when your child starts talking. Yes, it's amazing to hear their language develop and words become clearer. No, it's not ideal to hear your son curse loudly and repeat that four letter word you used when you dropped the laundry basket on your foot. And no, it's not great when he says it loudly at the supermarket. It's also not brilliant when he looks at a waiter in a cafe and says "me have wine".
When you have a toddler, you’ll discover a new kind of logic
There’s no logic like toddler logic. If your toddler loves toast with Vegemite one day, they will hate it the next. If your toddler wants to wear their winter hat on the hottest day, they won't want to wear it when it's freezing. You’ll learn never to question the logic, and to not argue; it's not worth trying to understand it, and it's often not worth trying to fight it. There's nothing wrong with wearing gumboots every day anyway.
When you have a toddler, you come to fear silence
If you can't see or hear your toddler, prepare to find them writing on the walls, sitting on their baby sibling, climbing the step ladder you meant to put away, or about to cause a major calamity. Don't think they'll not notice if you pop into the other room for a minute –they will. And they'll be getting ready to do that thing you just told them not to do.
When you have a toddler, you better know all the answers
Get prepared to answer the "why?" question 300 times a day. Every day. Or is that every hour?
When you have a toddler, you’ll learn the meaning of tantrum
You'll learn to detect the warning signs. Sometimes you'll only get a few minutes’ notice, sometimes the tantrum will be building all day, and sometimes it will come out of the blue. If you're lucky, you'll be able to distract and defuse. If you're unlucky you'll be in the middle of a supermarket with a trolley full of shopping. You'll watch your child kick, punch, scratch, flail and wail, and after what will seem like an eternity, it will pass. Just hang on to that: it will pass.
When you have a toddler, you will no longer care what other people think
You'll give up worrying about being judged for giving in. You'll stop obsessing about the amount of screen time that has crept into your lives. You'll feed your child Weetbix for dinner when you've both had a bad day, and you'll put Peppa Pig on repeat. Sometimes it's just easier to give in.
When you have a toddler, your negotiating skills could get you a job at the UN
Everything, you’ll discover, is up for negotiation. On some days, your bribes will be biscuits. In better parenting moments they might be promises to go to the park. Whatever the carrot is, life will become a series of conversations where you offer up something desirable in return for getting dressed/getting into the pram/finishing dinner. And repeat.
When you have a toddler, you’ll find your own way of coping
It might be exercise, it might be a girl's night out, it might be calling in a babysitter just so you can relax in the bath. Or it might be wine.
When you have a toddler, you’ll fall in love again every day
When they hurt themselves and hold out their arms for you to pick them up. When they wake up in the morning and demand "wake up mummy!" at the top of their voice. When they bring you the same book you’ve read them 17 times already that day. When they ask you why. When they throw their arms around you and decide you’re worthy of their slobbery kisses. When they snuggle up to you like they will to no one else. When they look into your eyes and smile. A million times a day, you will fall in love again.