The toddler survival kit

It seems I blinked and now I have not one but two toddlers on my hands. With two boys, aged 3 and 1, I have certainly learned a thing or two about life with toddlers.

In no particular order, here are my must-haves for surviving life with toddlers.

A hand-held vacuum

Toddlers and mess go hand in hand. Get used to it. Meal time mess used to be restricted to the floor under the highchair but toddlers prefer to eat on the go. This means nothing is safe! The floors are constantly covered in crumbs, squashed fruit and week old sultanas. Don’t even get me started on the couches, walls and windows. Enter hand-held vacuum. You can easily whip that baby out and quickly clean up the floor, lounge or child’s lap without the fuss of a bulky corded vacuum.

A bubble machine

Kids LOVE bubbles. A manual wand type situation will work just fine but if you really want to up your bubble game and keep your toddlers occupied while you remain hands free, you need to get a bubble machine. These suckers can pump out hundreds of bubbles a minute all at the push of a button. Genius! Just be careful where you use this. If you are out in public you will very quickly attract all the children within a 500m radius.

A “beach” caddy

Toddlers require lots of crap. Yes, even more than babies if you can believe that. A simple trip to the park or family outing requires precision planning and packing. Between food, drinks, toys to keep them amused, changes of clothes in case of accidents or mess, hats for in the sun, jackets if it gets cold. The list goes on and on. One of the best things we have ever bought was a “beach” caddy from Kmart (hint, most of the things on this list can be purchased at this wonderful store). It folds up and is big enough to hold all of the crap and a kid or two as well. Every time I use this I get comments about it. God send.

Snacks… a lot of snacks

I never really understood the power of snacks until my second toddler. Toddler one can easily survive a week on nothing but milk and kinder surprises but toddler two LOVES his food (got it from his mama!). Snacks can be used for loads of different purposes including a diversion tactic, tantrum diffuser, boredom cure, oh and sometimes even for hunger.

A happy place

Toddlers are assholes. This is not new information. But if you’re like me you always thought that seemed a bit harsh. Nope. It’s true. Toddlers have a way of breaking you down. They may be small but they can make even the most mindful of mums lose their shit from time to time. Your spirit will break a little every time you have to wrestle a toddler to the ground to brush their teeth or drag them out from under the desk because they think running away and hiding from you at bath time is hilarious (or is that just me?). At some point you will need to walk away from your child, close the door and punch the air or scream into a pillow. Then find your happy place before emerging to try again. Don’t worry, bed time will come. Eventually.

There is never a dull moment with toddlers around that’s for certain. And though none of the above is ground breaking, life changing advice, hopefully it helps you to navigate the mine field that is life with toddlers whilst keeping a shred of sanity in tact.

What are your toddler survival tips?

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When you hit PEAK DAD!

When do you know you’ve hit peak dad life (hashtag dad life y’all)?

Like, what was the turning point where you went yup… I have officially made it… I am at peak dad-ness right now. Like, I couldn’t get any more dad if I tried!!! Because I think I had that moment over the weekend god dammit. That’s right… I think I’ve now officially hit peak dad-ness (I’m pretty sure that a word… ADD IT TO THE DICTIONARY GUYS!!!).

WHAT DO YOU MEAN I hear you all asking. Well, let me paint the picture for you.

We decided to do a Westfield run on Sunday. The idea was twofold… We were there to get out of the house, and we were there because Jesse wanted this Peppa Pig bag he spotted three days earlier (we did not hear the end of this f***ing Peppa Pig bag). So after days of Jesse walking around going “I want the Peppa Pig bag”, we finally relented and went on a family outing to Big W.

So we walk into Big W where Jesse spots the infamous Peppa Pig bag he wants, and with giddiness and excitement grabs it from the hook and shows it off to mummy and daddy like he’s just won 5 million on Gold Lotto. Mission complete! He jumps back into the pram with a smile, and we are ready to roll. F*** it, let’s just take a gander around Big W while we’re here. You never know…

Well, truer words have never been spoken. And this is also where you will see why, I feel I have hit PEAK DAD!!!

As we continue to aimlessly meander through the wonder that is the Big W department store, I decide to deviate from main path when we hit the men’s wear section. I wasn’t after anything in particular. But it never hurts to take a quick look.

Well, 6 minutes and 28 seconds later there I am, purchasing a Big W tracksuit. Yup. That’s right. I just bought myself a tracksuit from Big W and I ain’t even mad about it. PEAK DAD MOTHER TRUCKERS! Gone are the days of Nike sweat pants and trendy jumpers. Gone are the days of expensive “active wear”. With this $35 tracksuit purchase, I just hit peak dad-ness and I dare you to tell me otherwise!

Outfit
Big W Circuit Men’s Active Wear Range – Toddler Not Included

Now let me say this. Yes, it probably isn’t the nicest tracksuit you’ve ever seen. But if there is one thing I know, and I do mean there is one thing I know (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), it’s that there is nothing sexier to a wife and mother of two than a dad rocking a $35 Big W tracksuit! Plus… It’s comfortable as fuuuuuu*********!

So I will ask this. When was the moment that you realised, hey… I’ve actually reached PEAK DAD right here? I’ve hit the pinnacle! There is no higher echelon to achieve for as a dad.

And as I sit here, in my $35 Big W tracksuit writing this post, all I can think is damn… this feels good. This whole embracing the dad life really feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Gone are the days of trying to impress… well I don’t know who I was trying to impress. But gone are those days I tell you… GONE!

Now hold my beer because I’m off to K-Mart to buy some sneakers!

Our babies are growing up (sniff, sniff)

Sometimes I feel quite sad that I no longer have a baby. Jesse is three so basically a grown up and Jasper is heading towards 16 months and embracing full-blown toddler-hood.

Sometimes I miss those blissful new mama days when you feel so exhausted but so elated at the same time. I already feel a bit out of the loop especially since I’m surrounded by new mums and first time mums in my job.

But, as much as I miss it, I also absolutely adore the stage we are at right now.

The other day I had a lovely lunch date with my boys and I was relishing in the fact that, though they are still dependent on me, its very different now to life with a new baby.

We sat in a cafe (kid-friendly of course, let’s not get too carried away!) and enjoyed a meal together. Well, I ate a meal while Jesse consumed an entire giant cookie and Jasper shared my chips and dropped his sultanas all over the floor. There was also a few clean ups of spilled beverages. But all in all it was really nice.

Then afterwards they both went in the play area and played together while I looked on. I didn’t have to intervene. I didn’t have to nurse a baby while trying to keep an eye on a toddler. I could just sit. And be quiet. And sip my coffee. And watch as my two little boys played and laughed together.

In that moment I really appreciated how things are right now.

Now, I do need to say that it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Just days before this I was absolutely hating life as I tried to hostage negotiate my way through the basic morning routines.

I still have just enough night wake-ups to keep me coffee dependent and a heavy reliance on nursing bras and easy boob access. So I’m not out of the woods just yet.

As crazy as it sounds I will miss all of that. But getting past the baby stage and seeing your babies grow into little people is also pretty great.

My week as a stay at home Mum

Last week, I took some recreation leave from work.

I would say that I had a weeks holiday, but as I quickly found out, it was about as far from a holiday as you could possibly get!

Let’s call it… ‘My Week As A Stay At Home Mum’.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Initially, I was thinking of just having the Friday off, as I was heading to the Broncos match Thursday night and considering I was planning on consuming one too many beers that night, I didn’t want to be hung over at work. I then offered my services to help Renee on Wednesday, and at that point I just though, bugger it, I’ll just take the week off instead.

So here I was coming out of the weekend excited about not having to go to work, and excited about a week of taking it easy and enjoying some down time. Well, after looking at the schedule I had been given I quickly realised that this week was going to be far from a relaxing weeks “holiday”. It turns out, that stay at home mums lead very busy lives. And it was my turn to experience the hectic, non-stop, balls to the wall existence that these mums live every… single… day…

So my schedule went something like this: Monday was play group. Tuesday was Kangatraining. Wednesday, Teddy Bear Picnic. Thursday, Kangatraining and footy. Friday was Music Class. Saturday I cleaned the house. And Sunday, we had Jesse’s third birthday party.

Holy f*** balls batman, how the hell do you mums do this every week!!!

Now I realise we only had one event on each day (except for Thursday, but the footy doesn’t really count), but the organisation, preparation, and even the wind down when you get home with two kids is exhausting! I literally required at least a 1 to 2 hour nap each day just to cope with the stress of it all!

It was non-stop. Like Liam Neeson in that movie… Non-Stop. It was like trying to navigate and escape a skyscraper on Christmas Eve with the name John McClane. It was like… well you get the idea… it was fully hectic as bro!

I know that I’m sort of joking around about it, but in all seriousness, it really was exhausting. I have joked on occasions to Renee that when I go to work every day it’s like my break from the kids, but it really is like that. I now have mad respect for those mums (and dads) who are full time stay at home parents, because it’s a tough job. It pays nothing. And it’s a 24/7 job.

So well played stay at home mums. I take my hat off to you.

The question from here however, is would I do it again? The answer, is absofreakinglutely. I loved every single minute being able to spend every waking minute with Renee, Jesse and Jasper. And I think they loved it too.

Parents of daughters: the dating my daughter but is getting old

I’m sure you’ve heard people say it. You might have even said it yourself.

You know, that inevitable comment made by parents of girls. Something along the lines of how she’s not allowed to date until she’s 30 or how Dad will greet her future boyfriends with a shotgun in hand.

This so-called joke annoys me so much! I know it’s just a thing people say and it’s meant to be funny and light-hearted but really? I mean what message is it sending our daughters and sons?

As a Mum of boys the insinuation that they will be somehow unworthy of dating these daughters or that they will be incapable of respecting girls and are to be avoided at all costs is insulting and ridiculous.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a teenage boy and I know there are a fair few douche bags out there. But there’s loads of parents like us doing our best to raise exemplary men. Men that will treat ladies like Queens. Men that any parent would be lucky to have as a son-in-law.

On the flip side to this, what about the girls? What is this teaching them about themselves or their male counterparts? That we don’t trust them? Or that they are incapable of making good decisions? Surely, we are striving to raise daughters who can make quality decisions about who they associate with and eventually date. I know if I had a daughter I would want to raise her to be confident in herself and her judge of character. I’d want to teach her to respect and value herself and trust her instincts. The attitude that boys are somehow the villain or are predators of girls is just unnecessary and damaging.

I know, I know, it’s just a joke. Well, I’m not laughing.

Stop The Criticism

Paw Patrol… Paw Patrol…

Whenever you’re in trouble…

Paw Patrol… Paw Patrol…

We’ll be there on the double…

This is the song that has been on non-stop repeat for the past two weeks straight in our house. That’s right, Jesse is officially knee deep into not wanting to watch anything else other than Paw Patrol. Not that we mind, because at least it’s given us a break from Thomas the Tank Engine (They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight).

And so watching as much Paw Patrol as I have over the past couple of weeks, I was curious to read more about the show that has become somewhat of an international phenomenon! So it was straight to the most reliable source of knowledge I could think of… Wikipedia.

Interestingly, one of the things I was most interested to find out, was what breed each of the dogs were. I mean, it’s easy enough to guess the breeds of Chase, Marshal and Rubble, but what about the others? Is Skye some sort of chihuahua type thing? And what the hell kind of a breed is Rocky and Zuma?

As I was reading through the details of this media powerhouse, I wasn’t at all surprised when I stumbled across a section detailing criticism the show has received.

The main criticism that has been directed toward the show, is regarding unequal gender representation because the team of dogs is primarily male, and includes only one main female. Some by the name of Cat Conway said “the police pup, firefighting pup, builder pup, sea-rescue pup and whatever the hell Rocky does are all coded male, because of course you couldn’t have a female police dog, could you?”

COME ON PEOPLE!!! It’s a children’s show about dogs who talk to humans and drive cars. This isn’t real life!!!

Why is it that we feel the need to complain about everything. Why can’t we just sit back and enjoy a television program, or a movie, or whatever it might be, without having to pick it pieces and find something to criticize.

Peppa Pig has been criticized for a number of reasons from having an episode where they treated a spider named Mister Skinnylegs as a friend, to Doctor Brown Bear setting unrealistic expectations for real doctors. Moana has received a raft of criticism ranging from accusations the movie appropriates Polynesian mythology, through to degrading the diversity of the Pacific.

WHY CAN’T WE JUST ENJOY SOMETHING!!!

I mean, getting back to Paw Patrol, it didn’t even occur to me that there was a supposed gender imbalance among the pups. And I’m sure if you go around and ask the target audience about the Paw Patrol crew, most of the kids that watch the show probably don’t see gender in any case. All they would see is a bunch of pups having fun and rescuing people.

I think it’s about time we stopped, and re-learn how to enjoy the entertainment that is available to us without having to find something to criticize.

So sit back, and enjoy Paw Patrol for what it’s meant to be. A fun children’s program about talking pups who help the people of Adventure Bay!

Oh god, maybe I’m a little too into this show myself!

Paw Patrol… Paw Patrol…

Whenever you’re in trouble…

Dear Mums, you’ve got this!

The other day I was escaping the Brisbane heat at the local shops with the boys. We stopped by the indoor playground and I sat and watched Jesse play while feeding Jasper and then he eagerly crawled off to join his brother.

At that moment I was struck with a memory of being at this same playground when pregnant with Jasper and I remember wondering how I was going to cope with two children in moments like this. How could I tend to nursing a baby while keeping a watchful eye on a toddler? It seemed incredibly daunting, impossible even.

I then thought back to a particularly difficult night with Jesse. He just wanted to be held. My back was aching but I held him close anyway. His bottom propped up by my pregnant belly and his long legs draping down either side. I sobbed quietly as I wondered how I was going to cope on nights like this with two babies. How could I possibly give them both the comfort they need if they need me at the same time?

I smiled.

I can do it. I am doing it. What seemed so impossible is now normal.

NGP_7467

Soon after, I struck up a conversation with a fellow Mum watching her children play. Two little boys. And she was nursing a 3 week old baby boy. Three boys under three. I was in awe.

I could tell she was exhausted. But the smile she wore as we chatted told me she would not have it any other way. I asked her how she was doing. We talked about the challenges of breastfeeding and the joys of raising boys. I was struck by the rawness of our conversation. Two complete strangers but we just understood each other.

It’s a crazy thing this being parents thing. Being a mother. It stretches us to our limits and so often passes them. It breaks us down and builds us up at the same time. It makes us want to do better, be better. Having children is like constantly looking into a mirror that exposes everything about us. All of our flaws and imperfections. All of our funny little quirks. And suddenly we realised how much like our own parents we’ve become.

I guess all I’m trying to say is mums and dads, you are amazing! You’ve totally got this. And on days when you don’t, tell someone. Even if it’s a stranger at the shops. She’ll get it.