Getting your toddler out of the house in the morning – nay – at any time of the day – is what some researchers call a “peak experience.”
Psychologists describe peak experiences as “transcendent moments of pure joy and elation.”
If you are reading this you may be one of the lucky ones who has the opportunity to experience this level of transcendence multiple times a day, for example on your way to the YMCA or Toddler Time at Skyzone.
Now I don’t want to give too much advice as to how to hurry the eff along such a powerful experience, lest you miss the full glory of it. But for the sake of making it to swim class on time I will provide a few basic tips for maximizing your exit routine with the toddler most precious to you.
1. Prepare well in advance of your designated departure time.
Ideally you will begin preparing your toddler a full 24 hours in advance, as that’s roughly how long it will take to move him or her away from the electrical outlets and toward your vehicle.
Add 5 minutes to the 24 hour clock if you have an “I’m going to poop right as we walk toward the door” child.
All of us? Ok then.
2. Create an incentive program for your toddler.
Some malicious folks like to call this a “bribe.” If someone uses the word bribe to describe this practical parenting behavior please walk quickly in the other direction, but not so quickly that they panic and begin to chase you.
An example of an incentive program would be – in return for even basic cooperation – a sticker, 10 minutes of Daniel Tiger, or possibly access to an upper cabinet which you normally have locked. Your toddler will appreciate the array of incentives on offer and choose what suits.
3. Organize your luggage.
Wait a minute, we are not going on a trip! Why do we need luggage?!
You fools! Of course you need luggage! Was I not clear you will be leaving the home with a toddler in tow? Toddlers have many strengths, but ease of transport is not one of them.
Your supply list should include, but is in no way limited to, the following:
Multiple changes of clothes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, stroller, goldfish crackers, yogurt pouches, a variety of sippy cups, matchbox cars, crayons, protective head gear (activity-dependent), noise canceling head phones, diapers, wipes, more diapers, a portable potty seat, a pack and play for an extended daytime excursion, bathing suit, towel, “blankie”, and Paw Patrol seasons 1 through however many seasons of that crack-for-kids show are in existence.
So, yeah, luggage.
4. Minimize Distractions
This is a tricky one, as what constitutes a distraction to a toddler can be quite varied. The key is to know your own toddler’s weaknesses and ensure that nothing catches his or her eye as you move your family closer toward the door.
For example, in my family, pains must be taken to avoid walking my toddler past the snack drawer, orange sippy cup, remote control, and scooter. If his gaze happens to fall on any of these most precious items then we are setting the clock back a full hour. Most of us can’t afford that type of delay, so I encourage you to be very strategic about what is at eye level.
*Due to the mercurial nature of toddlers, an unforeseen distraction, for example a pebble that has made its way into your mudroom, could present itself as a challenge at the eleventh hour. There is nothing to be done about this, but I want to acknowledge your pain here.
5. Calm your fury.
My fury? I thought I was having a peak experience?
Did I say peak experience earlier? My bad. I meant hellish nightmare. Are those not the same thing?
Calming your inner fury is the key to a successful operation here. This is harder for some of us than others; if you feel a level of intense aggravation never before experienced pre-parenthood, then you are in the majority. It may help you to know that the infuriating scenario playing out in your hallway is also playing out in 95-100% of households in your community which harbor children.
Yes, folks, all those families are having their own peak experiences at this very moment, if “this very moment” is a weekday between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. This applies to all time zones.
I must note that if you have multiple children, your level of personal rage during this process is likely to increase accordingly. This is because having additional children brings with it the challenge of preventing your offspring from destroying each other in a sort of domesticated version of Lord of the Flies.
I believe many of you will be familiar with this.
Please don’t let your feral children cause you so much stress that you forgo leaving the house all together.
Getting a toddler out the door is hard.
But staying home all day while your kids destroy your home is way harder.
So off you go!
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