Our day starts early, somewhere in the realm of 6am if I’m lucky. Before that, if I’m not.

Miss not-quite-3 toddles in to our room like a miniature drunkard, either rambling about her dreams or already in full conversation mode about her improbable plans for the day. Her mouth is wide awake, the rest of her is still catching up, shaking the sleepy dust from her curls and reaching for mummy for cuddles and milk. We adjust our positions to accommodate her and try to wake up ourselves. It’s only been a few weeks since she decided to sleep in her own room and not on a fold out bed next to us, but she’s adjusted pretty well to it, so I can’t complain.

The days always start out innocuously enough. You just never know when you’re in for a day as incomprehensible as living through a chapter of Alice in Wonderland. Just imagine it.

You are Alice, an intelligent, brave young woman. (Yes, young. Ssshh!) Somewhere between walking down the stairs and producing breakfast, you somehow fall down a rabbit hole.

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Your charming, tousle-headed toddler is hurrying you along, you see. She may have stopped to don a cape or tutu over her pyjamas but she is in a huge rush. She’s late for breakfast. She should have eaten hours ago. She’s starving. What is taking so long? Where is the cereal? The yoghurt? You try to get it as quickly as possible…but, deary me, it’s in the wrong bowl. Or at the wrong part of the table. Switch bowls, switch seats. Still wrong. The toddler is babbling away between complaints. She doesn’t like you anymore. She doesn’t like cereal. Except yes she does, of course she wants it! She wants a drink. She wants THAT place mat. You were chasing a bunny in a hurry but before you know it, you’ve arrived at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. You are well and truly through the proverbial looking-glass.


You know, then and there, it is going to be one of THOSE days. I could go on about developmental leaps and the need to empathise and suggest sensory play and give you a home made cloud-dough recipe or tell you how to make those time-out bottles full of glittery water or something, but let’s get real. Toddlers on the warpath aren’t always willing to wait for that stuff and more often than not, they just aren’t interested for more than a few minutes, anyway. (Apologies, Crafty Parents, but this has been my experience!)

Before you know it, it’s time for morning tea. Apple slices? Grapes? Crackers and cheese? Which magic potion will do the trick? Just remember that, no matter what you offer, it’s probably going to be wrong. Hopefully they will go for something that at least makes the ‘not poison’ list. Whatever they choose, your toddler likely won’t experience magical growing and shrinking that Alice did, but the bit where she floats through a sea of tears might be pretty accurate. For them or for you.


Entertainment gets interesting.  The blocks, a firm favourite, are rejected. Story time is knocked back. A desperate offer of iPad time might buy you a few minutes of peace but you know it won’t last. The battery will go flat or the app they choose will need some kind of purchase to continue or they will just tire of it and want to do something else. You move to the back yard because fresh air and a change of scenery might be just the thing. Activities outdoors become as baffling as painting the roses red, but you try to play along. The thing is, though, that you are trying to play a game where the rules are made up on the spot by your little person. If you luck out and get it right for a bit, you’ll be treated to giggles and grins. Minutes later, what you did right may suddenly become wrong. You just have to remember who you’re dealing with, here.

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For as long as it takes, you keep up the crazy games and tickles and peg-sorting; whatever it is that’s keeping them happy. Soon enough, the battle of lunch begins. Maybe it goes smoothly. You’ve finally nailed today’s parenting by producing the correct sandwich, cut into the correct shapes. Your little Queen is pleased! You get to keep your head! You rest on your laurels and maybe manage to stuff a sandwich into your own face before the next step in the midday meal begins. This is where you offer a drink. Sippy cup, or straw? Or big kid cup? What colour? You pull open the dishwasher, praying someone remembered to turn it on last night. You’re in luck! The drinking glasses are lined up, clean and shiny, in the top shelf. Phew! You pass over the gleaming wine glasses regretfully and settle on a red cup with a straw, hoping for the best.


Soon after lunch, you attempt to get the toddler down for a nap. It’s not much different to trying to play croquet with a flamingo. You realise that, despite a successful lunch, you are still firmly in Toddler Wonderland. They just don’t want to sleep so the afternoon is probably a write-off. Need to go out? Good luck with that. You’ll be doing it with an utterly demented exhausted and cranky little person in tow. Maybe you should stay home and get someone else to bring home milk or whatever it is you needed? The “witching hour” is starting early and it’s not finishing any time soon. The best thing you can do, I’ve found, is to phone a friend for a bit of conversation that actually makes some sense. It may just get you through the afternoon. Put on on DVD, grab yourself a coffee and hide in the pantry with your phone (NOT the bathroom. If you attempt to go to the bathroom alone and with the door closed, you just KNOW you’ll have a whiny audience at the door) and call a friend. They may even have some sage advice.


An afternoon with an over-tired and grumpy little person isn’t always fun, but who knows? You might hit the jackpot again and find something that will keep them happy. Chances are, you need to find 64 of these things to match their whims, but the end is in sight. It may be that your partner is coming home to take the reins for a bit, it may be just that bed time is approaching. Whatever it is, you will make it back outta that rabbit hole. Count the positives! When they get bigger, you’ll miss these days. (Well, maybe not THESE days, but you’ll miss them being small!)


This is a sponsored post for Finish.

#IBOT with Essentially Jess.

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