Having kids isn’t that hard. Keeping them alive isn’t even (really) that hard. The really hard stuff is in trying to stay sane, while repeating the same daily patterns day in, day out. It’s the routine that gets you. Everything is manageable once, but the 30th time you’ve picked their favourite toy out of the plug overflow at bath time, they’re just pushing your buttons.
Bath time, splash time. Every day.
We don’t know which is worse: back-breaking baby bathing, where you hold their head and gently swish water near them; or when they’re sitting up alone playing with 638 plastic bath toys every night. Worse still, to stop the 638 toys from going mouldy you have to rinse them out, drain them and line them up all around the tub. This, of course, is done while stepping in puddles of water, after they’ve flooded the entire room during splash time. We now realise why our parents had bathroom carpets: because it’s a lot easier to replace a carpet than repaint downstairs walls and replace those wood floors. Thanks cutie. No really.
They can’t hear you. Ever.
They can’t talk when they’re tiny, but they can understand you. As they grow they start to pretend not to understand you. And they pretend not to hear you. And then they pretend to pretend to not hear you (or something). And as they get older they will only get more proficient at this, which will drive you mad. Cue you turning into your parents and repeating statements passed down through generations, including the dinner selection of: “Dinner is on the table”. “Come and get your dinner”. “Come to the table for dinner”. “Come and sit down for your dinner”. “Can you hear me?” “Why aren’t you at the table?” “GET HERE NOW!”. And that’s just dinner time deafness. Add those times you try to leave the house; times for bed; time to stop playing with their toys; time to eat their vegetables; flush the toilet; brush their teeth. You name it. Selective hearing even an octopus would be proud of. (They’re deaf, too, you know).
You have to feed them. Every day.
You think feeding them gets easier as they get older. It doesn’t. They only ever eat more and more (and more). You’ll yearn for the days where making one batch of pea-green puree was a novelty. You’ll lovingly and desperately recall ice trays of food lasting in the freezer for 10 meals or more. But that soon disappears when they start to really get eating. Before you know it the two cubes of puree become four – and then they need accompaniments, side dishes. And then you have to cook actual real meals – and actually every day. And then they want snacks, too. What? Pass the Domino’s menu…
Potty training. Torture training.
One of the most soul destroying points of parenting. While everyone else’s child ‘just stopped wearing nappies overnight’ ours was still wearing night-time nappies when she was 7 and was at school. We had tried potty training so many times we were going mad. We woke her every night. We layered her bed sheets with absorbent mat / cotton sheet / absorbent mat / cotton sheet, every night. Every night she would wee in her sleep. And every morning she would would wake up wet. One day I couldn’t take it anymore; I just stopped caring (read: coping) and stopped it all. She’s 12 now – and she doesn’t wear nappies. Yay.
Shopping with kids: just don’t.
The weekly shop. For years, parents have taken a deep breath as they yank a wonky trolley from the rack and miserably point it towards the veg aisle. Ah shopping day, here you are again, you absolute joy. When tots are small you can at least trap them in the trolley seat. But as they grow, they start to want things – even when still trapped in the seat (at just the right shelf-height). And not just things: they want everything. All the bread. All the biscuits. All the little hanging toys that they dangle around the store to ruin your day. There’s only one reason why a flufffy tortoise key ring is hanging with its chums next to the own brand bleach… Yes – all the tortoises. And all the juice. Why do kids want so much juice in the supermarket? Not that juice. Silly mummy. Not that one, either. Without doubt it was a Groundhog Day Survivor who invented online grocery shopping. Thank you Unknown Parent, thank you. Never shop with your kids again. Amen.