I can’t get over just how many hazards there are when you have kids. For the first 6 months of their lives your possessions are relatively safe (except for your sick covered and poo stained clothes). With our first child we spent the whole time desperately willing her on to get to the next developmental milestone. BIG MISTAKE. With each new milestone comes access to all manner of potentially lethal things you never would have considered hazardous in a previous life.
In a bid to reduce the risk of bruised heads, climbing and choking incidents we have gradually, but significantly, reduced and elevated our collection of furniture and most possessions. We are currently struggling to source suitable ‘out of reach’ areas. The top of the fridge is literally overflowing with valuables. The fridge and above the windows offer the only sanctuary in our apartment from the ‘go go gadget’ arms of our toddlers.
Once they started to crawl the fun really began. They wanted to touch and grab hold of everything. Both my girls seem to have had an obsession with the exact same things in our home so I’m guessing this is a standard developmental phase and not a trait unique to our family.
Buckles, Tupperware, keys, bags, hats (not the ones they are meant to wear), shoes (the bigger and higher heeled the better), toilet rolls and stones seem to be the front-runners. I was actually slightly concerned that my eldest might have OCD when her buckle obsession first became apparent. She could while away hours playing with buckles on anything she could find. The high chair and pram particular favourites.
This phase did eventually pass however she has now moved on to bags. Zipping them and unzipping them, putting anything and everything inside them, taking it all out and repeat. Our 1 year old has just taken over the ‘buckle baton’ and is currently underneath the high-chair obsessively clipping the buckles into each other. At least it allows me some free time to update my blog.
There also appears to be a requirement for both girls to crawl into any space they can possibly contort their little bodies in to. They are usually to be found climbing on top of the sofa, tables or chairs, under any object that they can squeeze underneath, no matter how precarious, behind anything and everything regardless of how awkward or uncomfortable.
When trying to get our 2.5 year old to perform any basic function of daily life such as: getting dressed, brushing teeth, washing hands, sitting on the toilet etc. the speed at which she is able to leg it and squeeze her body into one of these spaces could put any Olympic athlete to the test.
Yesterday my husband was having a shower whilst our one year old was happily playing in the bathroom with him. She was entertaining herself with an activity table that we have strategically placed in there for a variety of reasons.
Firstly- to provide amusement and distraction so we know where she is and what she’s doing.
Secondly- to cover a drain she seems obsessed with licking and sticking her tiny fingers down.
Finally- to block access to a cupboard filled with various toiletries that she would, given half the chance, take great pleasure rummaging through and eating the contents of.
Whilst showering my husband shouted
”Lucy, come in here quickly”
Rather concerned and fearing the worst I ran as fast as I could into the bathroom to assess the damage. On arriving in the bathroom my husband was laughing hysterically and pointing towards the activity table exclaiming
”She’s stuck or trying to do an impression of a turtle!”
I looked down to see the activity table moving frantically around the bathroom, 2 tiny but very wriggly pink legs poking out from beneath. Our 1 year old was well and truly wedged under the table.
Laughing I picked up the table, taking her with it, I removed her flailing body from beneath its right clutches. Thankfully just a few tears from her (and us) and no harm done on this occasion.
One terrifying developmental phase is the need to put absolutely anything and everything they can get their hands on into their mouths. Stones, bark, toilet paper, dominoes, you name it..if they can reach it..in it goes. This is when I realised just how many choke-able objects exist in the world. I am always on high alert ready to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre at any moment. I can’t remember exactly how long this phase lasts and we are currently still living through it with our youngest.
When our eldest first started to show signs of walking we actively encouraged her. We were over the moon, bursting with pride and excitement that she was able to take her precious first steps. Naively unaware how her new-found confidence opened up a whole new can of worms and anxiety for an already slightly neurotic mother (that’s when my obsession with steps and dog poo really kicked off). With walking soon came running and the ability to leg it, often faster than me who was pregnant at that time. Luckily she didn’t tend to venture too far afield.
The next phase for us was allowing our eldest to be set free from the high chair and letting her eat at her special kids table and chairs. Basically this gave her free reign to roam around the place touching anything and everything with her grubby little mits. Greasy fingerprints and food stains galore. When dining out there have been numerous accidents resulting in falling off stools and seats but she still continues to hang off them.
Around the same time I decided to embark on the dreaded ‘potty training’. I had heard many stories of how horrendous this phase can be. After speaking to other Mums and doing some reading, the general consensus was the best way to approach it was to go cold turkey – nappies off completely and don’t leave the house for 3 days. This inevitably led to a different ‘type’ of accident, not dangerous but certainly messy. Carpets, beds, sofas, kitchen floor, pram – you name it, not much has been saved from a splattering of one sort or another.
Today I was reading an alarming article about a toddler who recently drowned for 30 seconds, he became very poorly after the incident and was sent to hospital as his condition deteriorated. Thankfully he has pulled through but it reiterated to me the dangers of water when you have young children.
On a visit to the Hunter Valley recently for a friend’s wedding, our eldest daughter was playing with her Daddy in the small pool at the hotel. I should point out that whilst she is confident in water, she still can’t swim. As we walked past the large swimming pool we were both taken by total surprise as she casually walked over and jumped in. This is something neither of us expected. Fortunately my husband’s reaction was instant, within seconds he had dived in and pulled her up to the surface coughing and spluttering. Thankfully she was ok. I was not so ok, shocked and totally freaked out by the incident and eternally grateful for my husband’s quick actions.
As our belongings continue to get broken or removed and the few we have left are continually elevated, I realised how much our lives have been taken over by these little people. I used to be tidy and house proud, now I am not. Some days when, for the 5th time that day, I open the fridge and am showered by keys and pens and money and other belongings, I might be known to let out a few expletives. However the constant mess and chaos that we live in I have generally learnt to accept – It’s a small price to pay for the happiness they give us. I also know that just as other phases have come and gone, so too shall this one, and with that realisation is a sadness that they are growing up. In the meantime I get so much pleasure seeing their happy smiling faces as they pull out all the contents of the drawers for the hundredth time that day than I do having a tidy and organised home.