At a toddler group, I told a woman that she looked familiar to which she replied, ‘you’re the lady in the dressing gown!’ To be precise, I am no ‘lady’, I’m just a curly scruff woman wearing her dressing gown who happens to be still in her dressing gown while the school-run parades outside her front window.
When my two toddler daughters have finished slobbering their breakfast loops all down my chairs and table, and both mini curly heads are dressed and gnashers are brushed, it’s 8.30. I’m ready to go, kids in the car, by nine. But this is shameful compared with how organised other mums are. I clearly have too much time on my hands; that’s probably why I’ve had time to write down all the things any first-time mum might want to consider…
Once your baby is over a year old, you’ll realise that toddler groups are your saviour: when the half-term holiday arrives, part of you will mourn the loss of the toddler group like middle-aged women mourn the loss of Strictly Come Dancing. In the winter, in particular, a toddler group is a place where your toddler can run around and not make a mess in your house. They learn to share with minimal fuss: they don’t quite kick off with their sibling with the same hiss and venom at a toddler group, compared with at home. And, when toddler groups are run by volunteers, you’ll be amazed to see the goodness of humanity when these mature ladies actually volunteer to spend time with your toddler. THAT is amazing. Today, I learnt that the volunteers who help out at a toddler group which I attend start preparing for our arrival at 8 o’clock in the morning. To me, these ladies are unsung heroes.
Another important thing to note is that you will never have full control of your child. No matter how many years you have studied child psychology, or you’ve worked with children, some things they do will pounce on your voice box and steal your words. Learn to love the cringe-worthy and you can do no wrong. For example, on Monday, I was at my usual toddler group with my twin daughters, Emily and Charlotte. Both were happily employed doing puzzles and consecutive minutes like this always call for a slurp of tea. However, no sooner had my mouth become full of tea, Emily picked her nose. And she was not subtle, that finger was right up her hooter and wriggled around like a hyperactive worm. I quickly swallowed my tea; Emily then put her finger in her mouth. I was about to call out, ‘NOOO!’ but she spoke out in a loud, proud voice, ‘DEELICIOUS.’ I was dumbfounded and had to stifle a giggle (you have to, don’t you?) before I explained to her that Princess Ana and Queen Elsa would never do such a thing. I then realised that Emily also says, ‘DEELICIOUS!’ when eating her dinner. So my cooked food is on the same par as her bogies. Excellent.
And when your first child is nine months old, beware of the universally hated phrase, despised by most first-time mums,
‘so when are you having your second?’
It appears that once you have one child everyone believes that your reproduction potential is their business as much as it is yours. Strangers in public toilets, strange sales women working in M & S and your mum’s doctor will all tell you that you must have a second child. Otherwise, how on earth will your child learn to play in a room with OTHER children? I mean, nurseries are full of plastic pre-schoolers and toddler group children are only pretend. As a twin mum, no one really bothers to ask if I’m going to have any more children but I hear about how my friends of single children get almost harassed on a weekly basis. As a first-time mum, you may not even have considered having a second child or you may be trying to conceive and not succeeding. Has anyone considered that?
Finally, your bathroom habits will no longer be your own. Your child will insist on following you to the toilet and will always call out to you several times when you’re in the shower during which time you’re thinking that every minute that you’re rinsing off your soap suds, more and more things are being broken or damaged. And when your blood freezes because you suddenly realise that you put the finger paints in the box which the girls can reach and they might, just might, be able to take off the paint pot lids, you run down the stairs, naked, to see what walls they have painted. Inevitably, one has climbed up somewhere and even though you’re naked your sense of uproar makes you charge over to the child and reprimand her. Only, you turn towards the window and your eyes meet those of a mum on the school-run (at least it wasn’t the dad). Next time, that mum who previously identified you by your dressing gown might be extremely pleased to see you, once more, in your dressing gown.
Thank you for reading my blog post.