If you ever wanted to have your very own tornado, have a kid. If you ever wanted to live in complete chaos, have a couple. If you ever wanted to say good-bye to your sanity, have 3 or more.
Reflecting on the relationship I was in while raising my 3 girls, I can understand why I felt like a lone parent. Though he loves his kids, he is not a parent. Things that were a priority were having fun, having more fun, and baths– which are fun.
I was the discipliner. I cared about strange things like homework, food, doing chores, learning responsibility, and art. I didn’t have anyone to guide me and I had never spent ANY time around little kids before. When registering for my oldest’s baby shower, I wondered around Babies R Us for 3 hours and ended up convincing an employee to do it for me. Looking back on what I’ve learned, I am hoping to help out other people with tornadoes who might just need a couple hacks.
The Contingency Plan
Anyone who has ever had a computer always remember that one friend who would say all the time, “Make sure to back-up your shit.” I used to think, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Let me say: BACK-UP YOUR SHIT!
I’m not talking in a computer sense (although if you’re a parent who let’s your kid play with the phone or tablet, you’re going to want to BACK-UP YOUR SHIT!), I mean: Make sure you have double everything.
I went to Vegas with my family when we only had 1 child. I packed brilliantly and had a contingency plan for every possible scenario. Except the possibility of us losing her favorite stuffed animal: Classic Pooh. It was like 12″ and she dragged that thing around with her everywhere. But of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in while in downtown Vegas. While walking around the Strip, it disappeared. I walked back over every inch of Vegas looking for that thing, no luck. To top it off, it was too late to head to Target and get a replacement.
She didn’t sleep all night because of the crying.
If you notice your kid starting to become attached to something GO BUY A BACK-UP!
Dog Collars and Knob Covers
I like to think of myself as a more vintage type of parent. I didn’t go out and get corner covers for my tables, nor did I have a kid pen set up in the yard, or safety latches on every cabinet. Sometimes kids just have to learn on their own. There were a few things that I did get that is worth their weight in gold.
Knob covers. I can’t tell you how much this thing saved me! I didn’t go overboard, I had 3: one for the front door, one for the back door, and one for the bathroom. My kids are curious and they like making a mess. A BLOODY FUCKING MESS! You name the substance and my kids have made a serious mess with it. I will tell you about the butter incident later. And I do believe that if I let them roam in the front yard, they would go look for a new
victim family and migrate.
There is a downside to the knob covers: They work. That means kid or adult, you’re going to struggle to get that fucker open. My advice to you? BE VERY AWARE OF YOUR BLADDER’S CAPACITY.
Dog Collars. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Family life revolves around the kitchen. That’s where the bonding really is forged. You spend so much time in there (Me, I don’t cook – like seriously – but I must have 2 hours of dishes every damn day), that’s the main family part of the house.
You know what else is in there? The fridge. All the magical stuff kids want are inside this tall, cold box that mom always yells about keeping shut. My youngest wasn’t 2 before she knew what was in there and how to fucking get it. Milk spills, mustard paintings, the pool of mayo…. and of course the butter incident.
I used to tie a hand towel around the top of the handles to keep the fridge shut – that was useless after 2 tries; she had it figured out fast. Then my friend turned me onto the dog collar. Durable. Secure. By far, the best thing I ever purchased at the dollar store.
I can’t stress this enough: YOU CANNOT PLAN WHEN IT COMES TO KIDS! You try and try but right when you think you got it all figured out, someone gets the shits and ruins everything.
Enter the Pre-Pack. You NEVER KNOW what the fuck is going to happen. I was once on my way home from work when I got the call that my kid was rushed to the ER from Disneyland. I didn’t have time to go home, I had to get out to Orange County like pronto! But, I subscribe to the pre-pack philosophy.
I have several pre-packed bags that I scatter throughout different areas in my life. I know it seems like a lot of work, but it pays off when it comes down to needing it. Just like in survival kit, I keep basics in there for the JIC (just in case) scenarios. I have 3 kids, so you can imagine how much space that can take up. My sister was in the Navy and she taught me the most effective way of packing I have ever seen! You roll everything in sets (shirt, pants, undies, socks).
In any one of my KSB (kid survival bag) I have for each kid: a change of clothes, sweater, snacks, extra shoes, water, a notebook, and crayons. I also throw in a deck of cards, charger for the tablet, the get along shirt, and a bluetooth speaker for the tablet.
I keep these bags everywhere: by the front door, in my car, in their father’s car, at Oma’s house, and an extra one in the closet. I keep all the backpacks from school years past and that’s what I stuff all these things into. Also, I don’t go out of my way just to buy things for the bags; this whole process started because I finally washed every stick of clothing in the house and didn’t have enough space to put it away.
Now, I have a little peace that anywhere I go, I will have enough available to get my kids comfy for the duration.
The 2/3 Rule
It goes without saying that toddlers are just little assholes. Say it as nice as you want (they’re curious, energetic, full of life, whatever), it all comes down to the same thing: They do what they want without thought of other people or consequences… just like an asshole.
I love my assholes. I think they’re brilliant. But they want everything you don’t want them to have. So, I came up with the 2/3 Rule: They get all the space from the floor to about 1/3 up, then non-kid stuff gets stored the other 2/3s up. I apply it to just about every room in the house.
Let’s take the kitchen for example. Anything lower than the counter-tops has kid-ok stuff in it. I have come to peace with the noise that is children so I keep the pots, pans, tops etc like that in the lower drawers and cabinets. They have their own shelves in the pantry that has their plates, cutlery, cups etc and snacks. In the fridge too.
Most people keep their cleaning chemicals under the kitchen sink but I don’t. The linen closet in the hall has a top shelf that all that goes into – I also put the plastic bags, trash bags etc in there. Under the sink I keep the dust pan, a plastic bin with all the manuals and inserts they tell you to keep, and the crock pots. Knives are in the cabinet with the mugs and plates. Any small appliance that isn’t used daily, is also in that cabinet. In the smaller side ‘up top’ cabinet is where I keep the medicine (I also have a locked box for the prescription meds), the cheese grater, and the food processor.
Counter-tops themselves can be tricky because once they turn 2, kids can start pulling shit off of there. I try to keep the actual counters as bare as possible. Things like the coffee maker and toaster are as close to the wall as I can get them. Any decor is as far back as I can put it. Once the dishes are dry, I try to put them away quickly so the kids won’t try to grab them off the counter.
Never leave the coffee close to the edge. Ever.
There is no sense in trying to force your kid to potty train, from what I learned. They do it when they want and it won’t be a damn day before — no matter how much you want to stop spending $100 a month on diapers. As far as the actual process, rewards help, but you want to do it in a way that the child feels the most confident and comfortable with.
A kid sized toilet for the house and a slip on toilet cover for when you go out. Add a silly ‘you did it’ song after every use, and boom(!) potty training done!
The Basket Solution
I’m all for easy. Complicated and detailed is a quick way to get me pissed off when it comes to saving time and getting shit done. For cleaning around the house, I have a list (Cleaning Info Pic ) I go by everyday. I check off the things as I complete them so even if I get interrupted (which is always), I can pick up right where I left off. And that list always starts with a basket.
It’s an old ruddy laundry basket that I keep in the garage with my cleaning supplies in it, and next to the broom & mop. There is only 1 room that has carpet, so that’s where I keep the vacuum cleaner. The first thing that I do in each room is put the cleaning supplies on a counter and take the now empty basket and fill it with everything that is in that room that should really be somewhere else. That somewhere else is usually the kids room because they leave their toys EVERYWHERE. It’s almost like they’re marking their territory with all their crap. Then I take the stuff and put it in the correct room it belongs in. If I already cleaned that room, I will put the stuff away right away. If not, I’ll drop it anywhere… I got to clean in there anyways so why not? It shaves serious time off of my cleaning-time budget.
There’s no magic trick to solving all the problems that kids create, but hopefully this list helped some of you eliminate a bit of stress.
Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you have the ability to help out, I’m trying to raise funds to unite my kids with my sister and could really use the contribution. If you can’t, could you please share so maybe someone else would be able to help? Thanks a ton!