The other night as I was getting Ella out of the bath, rushing to get her dried off and in a diaper before she took off and pee’d on the floor, I realized something: with kids, there seems to be this unknown, figure-it-out-as-you-go recipe for survival.
I like to think it’s equal parts timing and planning mixed with a whole lot of go with the flow. The pee-on-the-changing-table-short-naptime-screaming-kid-with-the-short-attention-span flow.
Everything comes with a time limit, for which there must be a plan…no, a strategy. And then I must go with the flow when that plan epically fails.
Diaper changes have always been a well-timed event. In the newborn stage it was “hurry before she pees!” Now, as Ella is a toddler, it’s actually become “hurry before something catches her eye!” I have gotten skilled and putting a diaper on a backwards baby and grabbing whatever random thing will hold her attention long enough.
Meal time is about 15 solid minutes of actual eating and behaving before Ella (literally) taps out and wants to move. It also means 15 solid minutes of inhaling my food in preparation for Miss E and her quest to vacate the high chair.
Errands are strategically timed around naptimes and meal times to (hopefully) avoid a meltdown.
I try to avoid grocery store trips with Ella because they outlast her attention span. The last trip I took, I made the gigantic mistake of going the weekend right before Thanksgiving. It was very crowded and I had a long list. Bad combination. Our trip ended up with an open package of chewed Gouda cheese, the removal of both shoes and one sock, and pen markings on her sweatshirt after I grabbed her hood to save her from cart jumping.
I always feel like these are the sorts of things motherhood books and birthing classes should include. Or at least a second part to the birthing class “The Toddler Years”. But then again, I suppose parenting is all about being thrown into the deep end and figuring out how to swim.
And it gives us reasons to blog.
I have yet to experience a full-blown toddler meltdown in a store or restaurant, but I know my day will come. I can strategically time and plan all I want, but it will happen and I will have to go with the flow, even if it includes no other choice but to let my kid scream. Because sometimes, that’s the only solution. Well, that and walking outside with the screaming toddler.
With each month that goes by, I do feel like I’m getting a little better at this parenting thing each time. And with each failed plan. In fact, planning is usually the worst plan.
I’ve actually learned that the my best strategy is to be flexible, say “OK” when timing is not on my side, and move on.