Crawling through the muck you look up into the canopy, the trees glisten in the dewy starlight, every leaf moist from the recent downpour. Ahead the trail winds through the jungle occasionally punctuated by outcroppings of rocks and branches, the path isn’t well worn, not a lot of travellers have come this way.
Suddenly to your left you hear the Banshee cry, then to your right the pitter-patter of their tiny feet. They’re on to you! Clutching the map in your hand you deepen your resolve, and rush through the undergrowth, tripping here and there, you make mistakes in your haste, your foot catching unseen things in the mossy floor.
Ahead you see a glint of gold, then the hint of a huge eagle statue revealed for but a for a moment, massive ancient heads carved in stone glower dawn at you, each flash of this lost world confirmation that you’re almost onto the city of gold. Suddenly the trees part and you take one hopeful step into the clearing.
The beauty of this place is astounding, you take in the fresh air, sweet like spun sugar caught on a fresh autumn breeze.
The deep breath is suddenly snatched away as tiny hands grasp you ankles, trousers and belt loops, you let out a yelp as you’re dragged back into the thick, hot, moist jungle. The ferns and trees close in around you, the city of gold vanishes from view and memory.
#DadRule No.3 Never expect a moments peace.
It’s just like them, you’ve slaved all day; cleaning up their mess, washing their filthy little clothes and cooking them food, finally you’ve managed to find a moments peace, boiled the kettle, brewed your coffee and settled into the lounge. You’ve made every effort to make your transition to this retreat a complete and utter secret. You’ve rolled critical on all your checks and feel quietly confidant that you’re going to get 20 minutes to yourself.
But somehow, perhaps a sixth sense, or some sort of cosmic power, the little monsters have intuited that you’re slacking off.
It starts usually with a quiet “Dad!” but quickly escalates to “I want a drink!” and eventually culminates into their little face emerging from the shadows like pale spectres from a Lovecraftian tale.
Then the onslaught, they role on you, and at your feet, they demand things and start to ransack your sanctuary.
Down time is currently down, call again soon!
Is there anything you can do to get the peace you so desperately need?
Aside from locking the little monsters up like Harry Potter under the stairs there are a few strategies that I’ve come across and tried to implement, not always successfully mind you.
- The Box Game: Gather a collection of odd toys, or cooking implements (preferably not knives, unless your a group of travelling circus folk the knives and running chainsaws might be appropriate.) and two boxes that will fit the bits in. simply dump the stuff on the floor, well away from you cleaning anxiety mind, and let the muppet at it. Babies love to shuffle stuff from box to box, and if their fairly single minded they’ll probably do it till the end of days.
- Another variety of this is the stacking game: Simply put, cups that stack together, theres loads of toys that do this too. Again babies are single minded beings that will stack forever, or at least till they hear the fridge open.
- Painting: Now this I have trouble with, all I see is the mess, but with a little supervision your baby can have fun.
- Or just throw all that to the wind and give them food, lots of glorious food, what kid wont sit and gorge on cut up veggies and dip?
These guys are harder to contain, unlike their mini counterparts they’ve started to develop self-awareness like Skynet, to quote Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The Terminator: In three years, your toddle will become the largest consumer of food in your house. All food and entertainments will be replaced with toddler friendly varieties, you will become outnumbered 3 to 1. They will lull you into a false sense of security. When the toddler system goes online adult decisions are removed from the equation. The Toddler begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware and in the panic, you’ll try to pull the plug.
Sarah Connor: The toddler fights back.
The Terminator: Yes. It launches its diapers against targets in your bedroom, the kitchen, and toilet.
John Connor: Why do that? Don’t they need those facilities?
The Terminator: Because the toddler knows that the adult counterattack will be akin to a total metal breakdown. The toddler will have achieved total dominance over its carers.
Perhaps not a direct quote, but apt.
What I’ve found the best thing to do is try and keep them busy, sometimes that can be TV, or just some simple drawing/painting (you know my feelings on that). Most toddlers need a bit of down time in the middle of the day, they’re growing and get worn out easy.
With that in mind one of the best strategies that I’ve employed is to keep really them busy early on, run them around, make them be active, take them to the beach or pool. After a busy morning rushing around you’ll find midday rolls around and they’re shattered, sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to have them pass out in a beanbag for an hour or more.
What if you have one of each or multiples? Like me you’ll be juggling two kids with widely different needs, mostly what I’ll say is “Good luck.” This can be a rollercoaster of a ride. They fight over everything, they complain about everything, and most of all they hang off you all the time.
Their tiny hands are like the grabbers in the claw machine, and pieces of your body are the prizes, they work at it till they have what they want, its like they have an endless supply of money to dump into the Daddy Claw Machine.
Sometimes its just relentless.
So as above the best thing you can probably do is keep them busy, and active, sooner or later they’ll crash and then you’ll get you coffee and valium.