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It happens so fast: one minute you have a baby and the next, a toddler. You'll know when your child officially crosses over and your life is about to change forever. Things get real, real fast. Real busy. Real chaotic. You may even start to miss how "easy" having a baby was. Or is it just me?
For better or worse, here are ten ways my life is changing as I say goodbye to my baby and buckle up for parenting the strange new toddler who now holds court in our house.
- I accept that I won't sit down again for at least three years. From the moment I wake up until the moment my head – mercifully – hits the pillow at night, I'm on my feet chasing after my toddler. Any time I even think about sitting, that little (adorable) monster is off, trying to open the oven door, attempting to scale the stairs, going for the toilet seat. I can't take my eyes off my new 1-year-old for a nano-second.
- I'm obsessed with toddler-proofing. Before entering a room, I send in an advance recon team to make sure it's safe. Because everything is a potential safety hazard for a toddler. We recently stayed overnight in a hotel and I broke a sweat trying to stay one step ahead of my child. Lamps were being pulled off tables, garbage was being un-thrown away, toilet paper rolls were being unraveled. Danger lurked everywhere.
- The post-mealtime kitchen looks like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Mushed-up banana, puffs, smooshed avocado, cheese (I think it was cheese), globs of applesauce, and some unidentifiable dark green stuff: these are just some examples of the foods splattered on every surface of the kitchen within a ten-foot radius after our most recent meal. This repeats three times every day.
- Diaper changes are hella scary. Now that my toddler is eating solid food, let's just say mama needs a HAZMAT suit on standby to get up in there for cleaning.
- My toddler is like, kind of abusive. There's biting, hair-pulling, hitting. Totally normal behavior, since a 1-year-old doesn't understand the concept of other people's feelings. But ouch!
- There's no use having nice things anymore. My toddler doesn't have the same respect for my shell collection, which is displayed in glass hurricanes around our home, as I do. Nor does that little destroyer in diapers have any qualms about vandalizing my white bedspread with a pen he found where?
- I've become a 24/7 entertainer. A baby eats, sleeps, poops, repeat. A toddler needs story hour, playdates, trips to the park, swim lessons, and walks around the neighborhood. And they never want to just Netflix and chill. What's up with that?
- My me-time is now the length of one nap per day: Everything I want to accomplish in a given day must be done in the span of one hour. Because that's the only time my toddler naps. Translation: I'm doing laundry, returning calls, cleaning up the kitchen, making beds, paying bills, meeting deadlines, showering, getting dressed, exercising, and eating a meal, all in 60 minutes or less.
- Anger happens. When my toddler has to be confined, he gets angry. Because, Mommy, why you hold me down when I have so much I want to do? Be it the car, stroller, highchair, or pack 'n play, my little one resists as though I'm imprisoning him. How mean am I?
- Communication is improving, sort of. There's a bright side. Now when my toddler wants to breastfeed, he just rips my shirt off. No matter where we are. At least I know exactly what he's looking for. And when he burps, he says, "Eww!" Hey, he knows it's rude, so, there's that.
I've been through this all before, and I survived. We all do. With each stage comes new forms of joy and angst. As crazy as life with a toddler feels, I know better than to wish it away. Because next thing you know they're in kindergarten, and you're home weeping.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.