My hat is tipped to all moms with a one-year old. It’s been a few years since I’ve had one in the house, but I watched a friend’s child for a quick overnight, and I was reminded of what life is like for moms of young children.
First of all – they’re walking (most of them). And, I don’t just mean walking. They move like a flash of light. You cannot avert your eyes for a millisecond. They move without fear and don’t think to worry about the mountain’s edge, the low hanging rim of the dining room table, or how shoes might protect their feet on the burning pavement.
Remember those “giant” (my memory tells me they were huge) playpens we used to play in when we were children? They’ve made somewhat of a comeback though they are smaller and more easily escapable. I’m making a motion for the return of the giant playpen. Moms – how else do you get anything done? Where is the bathroom break? How do you stir the pot of noodles? How do you tend to the other children?
You can’t clean the house, and you certainly cannot keep up with cleaning the toys when a one-year old is in the house. While you’re putting the blocks away (child helps put in three blocks, you get caught up in the zen of cleaning, and child moves on), your child exits the room and is just about to pull the chess game down off the table when you swoop in like Mrs Incredible and save it just in time.
I’m tired already, and the day has just begun.
Second – is the incredible amount of time and energy devoted to meal times. You decide on hummus and bread. The first few bites are delish but then she starts spitting it out. She’s not full, she wants something else. So, you pull out the sliced watermelon (better make sure she’s buckled into the safety seat before you start walking back and forth to the fridge). The watermelon is a hit, and she gobbles it up, and it drips down her arm, saturates her shirt, and runs down the side of the booster chair in a sticky drip. Then she reaches up and pats her head, and the bath you were going to skip that night is going to happen after lunch. She wants more. She’s such a good eater. You’re so proud. You serve her noodles and sauce. She’s soon done and starts crawling out of her chair (didn’t I remind you earlier to buckle her in?). You reach for her and those saucy hands make a nice imprint on the white shirt you knew you shouldn’t have worn.
I remember I kept a whole bag of wash clothes behind the highchair. Easy to grab, easy to wet, easy to wipe a messy face, hands, and then the chair. A bag of wipes – if you’re not too eco-conscious for it – would do the trick as well.
Third – is bedtime. By the end of the day, you are an exhausted mama looking forward to bedtime – theirs and yours. And, on the nights you really need it – there is no way you are going to get it. The first night I found the strength to let my first child “cry it out”, I was so proud – until the morning – when I went to get him out of his crib, and he had thrown up, fallen asleep in it, and rolled around in it all night long.
I highly recommend using your miles to book a hotel room down the street. When you need sleep, go get sleep. Let your spouse or partner cover the night shift if you can and get a bit of shuteye.
Suddenly, the day is over and you realize you haven’t gone to the bathroom all day long – there just wasn’t time. (An opportune moment is while he’s still in the stroller after your daily walk and attempt to call something exercise.)
And, it occurs to you the kitchen table was never wiped clean after dinner, but it’s only going to get dirty again at breakfast so what does it really matter?
You fall into bed, realizing you are still wearing the sauce-stained shirt from earlier today, you forgot to even glance at your to-do list today, and you never replaced the toilet paper roll that your child unraveled while you were trying to use the loo.
Hire a neighborhood child to stop at your house on their way home from school. They’ll make a bit of cash, and you’ll be able to go to the bathroom in peace.
Having a one-year old is a time to brush up on your time management skills, let go of any fears about asking for help, and of learning to make your needs a priority. The time does pass so find a way to enjoy every moment.