The nice thing about regularly watching the same baby for years is that you get a window into what life is like with kids. It definitely not the same as parenting but it’s a quality test. The lessons learned from Gwen at (nearly) 1 hold true and I thought I’d update my observations. I know childless people have naive ideas about parenting; therefore, I enjoy giving my ideas a test run.
Minimalism extends to children. Toddlers do not need a lot of stuff. All of Gwen’s toys are kept in her dedicated play space in buckets from the dollar store. One container is dedicated to library books, the other two are her permanent toys (books, paper, crayons, blocks, flashcards and stuffed animals).
Kids can entertain themselves. We play with Gwen a lot but endless activity is exhausting and impractical. All of her toys are easily accessible and sometimes she has to use them to entertain herself while we manage other things. She’s always in view and comes to us if she needs something but independence is an important lesson that I won’t waiver on.
Dedicated mess space is a must. Little kids make messes. As a semi-neat freak this is a tough pill to swallow but it is inevitable. Luckily, Gwen has adopted my aversion to messes and she constantly wants things “cleen”. As great as this is she’s still little and has her limits. This lovely little table set from IKEA helps contain the limits. During meals we move it close to the dining table so that she can happily feed herself and I don’t have to worry about food spilling on my upholstered chairs. She can also do arts and crafts without me having to worry about her drawing on furniture or other items. Admittedly, this is mainly possible because Gwen is great at following instructions. I’m holding out hope that our future children are half as good.
All toddlers love to yell, throw and run like crazy. Even our good Gwen is a rebel. Her terrible two-ness is minimal but she can be extremely bossy. There is no winning here and we often just do what she wants. Her rapid movement also means pictures of Gwen are hard to capture.
Naptime is awesome but nighttime is nerve-wrecking. Lessons about SIDs in health class have left me permanently scared. During the day this isn’t a problem, I enjoy the short reprieve to run an errand, read or, honestly, also take a nap but at night I’m a disaster. Gwen sleeps in a playpen in our room and will probably do so until she is 5. When she was little I barely slept and regularly checked to make sure she was breathing. These concerns improved slightly in recently months but took a massive set-back when she threw up TWICE this weekend! I heard her cough at 2:45 a.m. and thankfully knew what was coming to pull her out of bed and rush her to the bathroom. This happened again 30 minutes later and my weekend sleep was ruined. If she wasn’t tossing or talking in her sleep, I was wide awake and panicked. This is a not so useful parenting lesson because I don’t feel comfortable with children sleeping in their own room!
There it is the good, bad and ugly. Since I love books I will conclude with my favorite library book selections from this weekend. I may not want a lot of toys in my house but anyone who wants to buy our future kids books is welcome to it.