Toddlers have been compared to drunk adults, tornados, time bombs, politicians, puppies and gremlins. Now in a new book, The Toddler Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Whiny Unfed, authors Mike and Heather Spohr make the compelling case that these tiny, stumbling creatures are a lot like zombies. "They both shuffle after you wherever you go, they both mainly communicate through groans, and in both cases, your life is never the same once they arrive on the scene," Mike says.
Photo: David Williss/Flickr
A parody of Max Brooks's The Zombie Survival Guide, the book, out on August 1, is filled with practical skills for surviving this exhausting, perplexing and messy phase of parenthood. As parents and journalists (Mike is the parents editor at BuzzFeed), the Spohrs have spent more than a decade "studying toddlers in their natural habitat," and have tips for everything from potty training to parental self-preservation.
In an email, Mike and Heather shared with me five of their favourite toddler hacks.
1) If you remove the stocked items from a hotel mini-bar, you can refrigerate milk and other healthy snacks for your toddler.
"If there's one thing more miserable than travelling with a toddler, it's travelling with a toddler who doesn't have access to the only foods they will eat. You — and the people in the rooms near you — will appreciate not having to listen to your toddler scream about not having string cheese, yogurt, or, especially, milk."
2) Always bring cash when you eat out so that if your toddler totally loses it you can drop a few bucks onto the table and leave in a hurry.
"You know how they say time flies when you're having fun? Well, time absolutely crawls when your toddler is screaming her head off and you're waiting for your waiter to finish flirting and run your credit card. Basically, when you have a toddler you need to live like you're fugitives — ready to take off at the drop of a hat."
3) Put an old T-shirt over your toddler to keep her from dirtying her clothes at mealtime. It's like a full-body bib!
"Regular bibs were pretty much worthless with our daughter, Annabel. They kept the small area below her chin clean but did nothing to protect the rest of her. And boy was she getting dirty — we even found spaghetti in her socks. Eventually, we hit upon the idea of putting on her one of my old T-shirts ('Dada shirt!' as she called it) and it kept her clothes clean no matter how enthusiastically she attacked her food."
4) Boy toddlers who stand to pee might not be tall enough to do this with a public toilet, but if you let him stand on your shoes he might be able to reach.
"When our son, James, first started using public restrooms, he was — yuck! — coming into contact with the (often dirty) toilet. Thankfully, we found that by having him stand on our shoes he was now 'tall' enough to go without — blech! — touching the toilet."
5) To distract your toddler from the candy display when checking out at the supermarket, ask her to help you put items on the conveyor belt. If it's still not your turn, put items back into the cart and repeat the process.
"You will love this hack because you won't have to yell, 'Put that back!' 'No!' and 'DON'T OPEN … CRAP.' Just be sure you don't let them anywhere the eggs. We, uh, learned that one the hard way."
The Toddler Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Whiny Unfed is available for pre-order.