They clumsily trail after you everywhere you go, communicate mainly through groans, and — upon entering your life — leave you frazzled, on edge, and deeply sleep-deprived.
We’re talking, of course, about toddlers — but you’d be forgiven for assuming we meant zombies. It may be hard for new parents to realize, but their sweetly cooing baby will soon transition (at least at times, or so it seems!) into something straight out of a horror film.
The good news is that you can survive life with a toddler. Keep reading …
Gather supplies. For the parent of a toddler, getting caught without supplies in public can be nothing short of disastrous. Not having an emergency snack when your toddler whines “I’m hungry” in the middle of a pew at church, or a change of clothes when your little one has an accident that soils his or her outfit (and yours), will be a mistake you only make once.
Prepare your home. To give yourself a fighting chance during a toddler invasion (even if the invasion consists of only a single toddler), you will need to diligently ready your home. Mount your TV to the wall (or secure it with a TV anchor), babyproof everything, and remove anything scalable, because toddlers will climb anything they can with absolutely no care for self-preservation. Yikes.
Always know where they are. It doesn’t matter if you’re all safe and snug within the confines of your home — if you lose sight of your toddler for even a moment, you will regret it. Why? Because an unwatched toddler only needs a minute to go full Picasso on your walls, pull every last petal off your roses, or worse.
Team up with a group of survivors. Trying to outlast a toddler invasion by yourself is a big mistake. You’ll want to assemble a team of people you can trust for support — family members, day care workers/babysitters, and especially other toddler parents (who feel your pain and will keep you sane).
Be in shape. With their hourly tantrums and constant need for supervision, toddlers can exhaust a parent long before bedtime. Get knocked off your game for even a minute, and your toddler will get the upper hand, and once you lose the upper hand your toddler has won.
Yes, it’s hard to find the time, but even 30 minutes of cardio a day can help keep a parent up to the task of toddler-keeping.
Know there are survival tactics that work on toddlers. For example, you can render a rampaging toddler docile with a string cheese or applesauce pouch.
And you can keep your drooling little cutie healthy and happy with lots of hugs and kisses. Don’t be afraid to dole out the love.
Mike Spohr and Heather Spohr are the authors of “The Toddler Survival Guide.”