That when job applications ask if you speak any other languages, you should be able to get credit for speaking ‘Conversational toddler’.
That preparing a toddler for nursery, transporting them there, dropping them off and then negotiating the buggy shed requires so much energy and generates such volumes of sweat that it should be recognised as an Olympic sport.
That toddlers make you so attuned to risk that even when there are no children around and you see a small object you still feel the need to warn everybody in the vicinity NOT TO PUT IT IN THEIR MOUTH.
That trying to get a toddler to wear a sunhat may be the hardest work you’ll ever do.
That the volume of books you read to toddlers about farms and zoos highlight the gaps in your education when it comes to animal noises. If there’s a Facebook group dedicated to achieving consensus about the sound we should all make to represent a giraffe, I’d like to join it.
That toddlers throw so much food on the floor and you have so little time to yourself that before long you start hoovering up every damp, chewed up morsel and calling it dinner.
That there is no ‘correct’ way to help a toddler eat, sleep, or do anything really, because they’re human beings, not robots. You just have to find a way that works them and for you and resist the temptation to compare it with anyone else’s.
That the confidence and sense of entitlement with which a toddler will steal food off your plate/out of your hand/straight from your mouth is nothing short of inspiring.
That toddlers teach you more about who you really are than any personality test ever could. Mine sighs like me, dances like me, and becomes impossible to communicate with when she’s overtired, just like me.
That toddler demands are generally pretty reasonable. The trouble is that, because they can’t really communicate yet, the process of getting you to understand those demands can feel somewhat unreasonable. I find it helps to remember that it’s the situation that’s difficult, not the person.
That a toddler’s absolute faith in you to be there to save them should they fall off the sofa, misjudge their ability to balance on the bed, or regret climbing into a cupboard is both touching and terrifying in equal measure.
That toddlers make simple things suddenly seem magical. There’s a metal elephant in our garden, left by the previous owner. I’ve always thought it was fine but my daughter thinks it’s AMAZING, so now I do too. A toddler’s ability to get excited about small things is contagious and good for the soul.
That toddlers are little people learning to make decisions. And when that decision is to give you a cuddle, it feels like the best present you’ve ever received.
…But when it’s to empty the entire contents of your purse across a restaurant floor, it feels like maybe letting them look through your handbag was a mistake.
That toddlers are here to teach you that the answer to the question “But how much mess can one small person really make in this house with a yogurt anyway?” is: So much that you’ll wonder if it would be easier to just move out and start again than to even attempt to try and clear up.
That toddler-care involves a lot of jobs: feeding, dressing, changing, washing, translating, lifting, feeding some more. And it’s easy to get caught up in the tasks and lose sight of the little person you’re doing them for, particularly when you’re tired. I’m trying my best not to.
That being the parent of a toddler is the reason I’m now incapable of walking passed a dog without saying “Doggy!” Or that’s what I tell people anyway.
That when it comes to books, toddlers have two settings: 1. I will allow you to read one sentence from this book, close it so quickly that you get a paper cut and then select another; and 2. This is my favourite book in the world, please read it again and again and again until one of us passes out. (It’ll be you).
That there is no need to have a toddler and a gym membership. All you need to do is tell your child that you’re going to put suntan lotion on them and by the time you’ve chased them down and applied it, you’ll have done all your exercise for the year.
That toddlers have the warmest, softest little hands, and that walking about with my daughter’s in mine is my favourite thing to do.
That, if you let yourself, you could spend every second you’re responsible for a toddler feeling scared, worried, exhausted and confused.
But that it’s better for everyone if you focus instead on how joyful, love-filled, and fun this job can be, and just keep on doing your best.