Raising children of any age is a struggle at times, but it is almost guaranteed that the toddler stage will be the period in a child’s life that most parents look back on with mixed feelings. Toddlers will drive you up the wall, but they will also bring you some of the best (and strangest) moments. Here are ten things only parents of toddlers will understand.

1. The toy section of the mall is one of the most dangerous places in the world Most people think toy stores are great and fun. That is until they become parents of demanding toddlers. If you’ve ever been to the mall with children below the age of 8, then you’ve probably experienced the embarrassment of having to negotiate with a pint-sized tormentor. Picture this: You left your child alone for only a few seconds, and when you turned around, she’s got a cart-full of Barbie dolls in tow. For most parents, trying to avoid the toy section of the mall is a matter of survival. 

2. Silence is never a good sign when kids are awake Parents yearn for those precious moments when the little ones are either busy playing or are fast asleep. That said, no one wants to hear dead silence especially when the kids are awake because it means they are up to no good. You’ve probably heard stories about, or experienced, a little one inexplicably emptying an entire bottle of shampoo down the toilet. Perhaps eating a full jar of peanut butter while you’re busy folding the laundry in the next room. Parents of toddlers know never to trust silence. 

3. Bedtime is a battle  Toddlers sometimes have incredible stamina even after hours of playing and bouncing off of their playmates. Bedtime can be particularly challenging because kids will try to stay up as long as they can. Most parents secretly bribe their children and sometimes even consider giving them a slosh of Nyquil just to get them to fall asleep. Yes, bedtime is mostly a battle fought with the dirtiest tricks in the book. 

4. Resourcefulness is not always a good thing Toddlers are like Santa’s elves because they get so much done in so little time. This is not necessarily a good thing, especially if your child is finding more ways to “decorate” your bedroom wall or rearranging your shoe closet. Toddlers can do a lot of damage to furniture, clothing, and electronics around the house and parents are almost always surprised at how little they need to pull it off.

5. Your TiVo has been taken over by Dora the Explorer and The Teletubbies  While they’ll never admit to it. Nine out of ten parents sometimes daydream about stuffing huge rocks in Dora’s backpack and throw her over the river she always crosses. This is hardly surprising since your TiVo is probably filled with dozens, if not hundreds of episodes of Dora the Explorer and or the Teletubbies. What’s worse is that you find yourself humming “Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorer” in the middle of the workday while all your colleagues and your boss are within earshot.

6. They are never done until they are done Cleaning up poop is one of the less-than-amusing tasks that parents have to do every day. Granted, you can always grab wet wipes to clean your little one’s bottom, but it’s never a guarantee that you won’t have a handful of poop. Sometimes, kids won’t tell you they’re done with their business so you go on to grab a fresh diaper and come back to a poop-smeared changing table and a snickering baby staring at you. If this happens to you more often than other parents, you might want to keep the diapers on hand before changing your little one. 

7. A weekend with the grandparents can be a recipe for disaster So you wanted to spend some quality time with your spouse because your little darling has taken up so much of your time lately. Taking them to the grandparents for a weekend might be a sensible choice, but you might want to prepare for the aftermath. Grandparents tend to spoil kids so the youngsters go back to their parents with unbelievably high expectations. If your toddler suddenly asks if he can have ice cream for breakfast, then it is time to have “the talk” with your parents.

8. Your multitasking skills improve tenfold First time parents get a shock of their lives when they realize that they now need to shower and brush their teeth while using the toilet. Time has suddenly become the most precious commodity, so you have to squeeze every second for what it’s worth. You become extremely aware that 24 hours doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done when you are spending most of the day chasing after kids that won’t stay put for longer than 10 minutes. 

9. Adult conversations are a luxury Toddlers are just about the cutest things in the world, but they are not excellent conversationalists. It will be a few good years before your child starts to talk in complete sentences, and even then it’s probably going to be about Mickey Mouse and Disney Land. Parents of toddlers crave conversations with fellow adults as their days are filled with monosyllabic exchanges. 

10. Sleep has become your best friend Getting enough sleep is such a luxury for parents of toddlers. You learn to appreciate those 30-minute naps that you used to take for granted (because you thought sleep is for losers) and you’ll gladly give up your spleen to have a mid-day shuteye. Your body now craves sleep like it never did before, and it becomes a priority, even more than eating and sex. 

Toddlers are a handful, and they might make you want to tear out your hair several times each day. But they are a source of great joy, especially when you are present for all those special moments. 

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