As the mother of two little ones (one of whom I'm told is "spirited"), I have learned some very important lessons in the last five years—most of them the hard way. My idyllic images of being a mom, gathered mostly from the photos in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, didn't seem to match up with the reality I have lived. Why isn't there a "Projectile" chapter in "What To Expect In The First Year?" So in an effort to save other parents from some of my past headaches, I give you my top 12 tips to staying ahead of the preschooler game:
- Never leave a toddler/preschooler alone with markers—ever. See picture.
- When you see snow boots on display in August and swimsuits for sale in February, don’t laugh—purchase. Seasonal kids items will be gone by the time you actually need them, and scouring eBay for SPF 75 sunhats in July is not fun, or so I’ve “heard.”
- One serving of Goldfish crackers (roughly 25 fish) is 75 calories and 2.5 grams of fat (or fat-free, sugar-free and calorie-free when ingested as you "clean them up” off the floor of the car, kitchen or living room.)
- When dining out, request the check when you order the food. That way, if—or when— a meltdown occurs, a quick getaway is possible. Of course, this rule applies only on the rare occasion you eat somewhere other than McDonald’s, Fuddruckers, D’Amico’s or Perkins.
- It’s OK if junior wears pajamas to preschool every once in a while. If it avoids a morning meltdown (yours not theirs), it may be worth it.
- The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser may be the best invention of the 21st century. Don’t believe me? Get one and attack those stains on shoes, walls, carpets, windows and pets.
- When school sends home a project for your child to do, beware that when you show up at school with said project, yours obviously done per instruction by your 3-year-old, 75 percent of all other projects in the class will have been freelanced out to a professional by the other parents and will resemble Renoirs. You're not a failure! Tell everyone your child was channeling his/her inner Picasso.
- Junior WILL say something that will embarrass you in public. Take it in stride and move on. Example: standing in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, the microwave went off —“ding!” — and my 2-year-old son yelled out, “Dinner’s ready.” Cringe. Laugh. Exit.
- Checking out new cars? Forget looking under the hood. Look at the size of the console (i.e. snack, sanitizer, diapers, wipes, toys, sunscreen, bug spray, extra outfit and juice box area.) Also check the number of cup holders and the size of the gap between two kids sitting in the back seat—the bigger the gap the better. In fact, it’s optimal that the children cannot touch one another.
- Until LEGO sells a vacuum specifically made for picking up one thousand tiny blocks spread all over a family room carpet, a DustBuster works wonders.
- If you’re planning on sending your 3-year-old to preschool this fall and you have not yet secured a spot, it may be time to panic.
- Three words: baby wipe bath.
In all seriousness though, I have learned that time flies by so quickly. It seems like yesterday that I brought my little ones home from the hospital—and drove a car that didn't cost $80 to fill up. But now both my son and daughter are in school and rarely want to snuggle in my lap. Most of all I'm learning to cherish the time I have with them—except during The Bachelor when I demand complete silence.