I’m going to give you a glimpse into the things you will never have enough of as parents. There’s no section on it in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It’s not mentioned in birthing classes. If you’ve decided you want to have kids someday, or even have one already, I’m going to share a few tidbits about things you can look forward to replacing on at least a weekly basis.
- Toothpaste – Whether your child likes to brush his teeth or not, one thing is for certain: there’s no way in hell he can put the correct amount of toothpaste on his toothbrush and get it into his mouth without wasting an eighth of a tube (if he’s tidy) every use. There’s either too much toothpaste near the tip of the tube or it’s clear at the back. Either way, he’s going to squeeze it like it’s a plugged-up Elmer’s glue bottle and squirt a walnut-sized glob all over the counter, and if he’s lucky, his toothbrush, too. If he misses, he’ll have to try again. Then, if he can pick it up without knocking it sideways, spilling more onto the vanity, he’ll dribble some on its way into his mouth and probably a little more after getting it in there. Now, I don’t know if you know this, but some kids don’t like toothpaste in their mouths, so chances are, rather than applying toothpaste to his teeth and giving them a good scrub, he’ll spit it right back out as soon as it touches his tongue, maybe in the sink, maybe on the vanity. There’s a 50-50 chance either way. Even if it gets in the sink, that’s where it will stay because it will be too “gross” for him to wash down the drain. And you will buy toothpaste every week for several years because even if the tube isn’t completely empty, at some point, it will become too caked in toothpaste for him to use (he will tell you so). And good luck to you if you have multiple kids. No one will like the same kind. And heaven forbid you buy the wrong flavor…or worse, the wrong character on the front of the tube. Choosing toothpaste flavors will make you cry.
- Bandaids – Did she get a papercut? Did she bump her knee? Did a bee fly too close to her? Doesn’t matter. It requires a bandaid. Stomachache? Bandaid. Nightmare? Bandaid. Boss not satisfied with that report? Bandaid. Somehow these over-priced stickers are the solution to most of the world’s problems, especially if you’ve lived less than ten years. And maybe you think, “Hey, I’ll pick my battles. One little bandaid doesn’t sound so bad if it makes her feel better.” But, you’d be wrong. Because you’ll put it on upside down, or sideways, or too tight, or it will overlap, or there will be a bump in it. Maybe it just “feels weird” once you get it on there. But whatever the reason, you’ll do it wrong. And that requires, screaming, crying, and…another bandaid…until there are no more bandaids. Even if she’s decided to do it herself, she will use no less than four bandaids at a time, leaving a tiny pile of wrappers on the floor that laugh at you as you pick them up, because you foolishly thought they’d last longer than the first two hours after you brought them home. I’d show you a picture for reference, but we currently have no bandaids left. We’ve been out since Tuesday.
- Crackers – It’s not just crackers. It’s pretzel sticks, chips, dry cereal, grapes, food in general, especially the kind that fits in a bowl and scatters when it hits the floor. (Don’t even get me started on those damn Puffs. You think they’re a cutesy snack for your little one who’s just ready for solid foods. Good luck getting that crap off your furniture. Cement.) I know, food is one of those things you always have to buy. But, I’m not talking about running out of eggs a few days before grocery day because Junior has upped his protein as of late. I’m talking about standing in the snackfoods aisle for a solid minute, crunching numbers to see if you can hold off paying the gas bill until your paycheck hits the bank in three days. Meanwhile, you keep taking that third box of crackers off the shelf and putting it back and taking it off and putting it back as you imagine your toddler’s screams of dissatisfaction at there not being crackers in the house two days after grocery day. One box. One box should last a normal person for at least a week. But no, you have a child. Practically speaking, you need at least eight boxes to last a week. Here’s a tip: never hand a child the box or allow the child to get his own box of crackers, or you will lose the entire box in one sitting. Place a few in a bowl and hand the bowl to the child. Don’t get me wrong. You’re still going to end up sweeping all but one off the floor as a pile of dust and crumbs later, but at least YOU have a basic understanding of portion control.
- Cups – Get up right now and go to your cupboard. Take down a plastic cup and pour yourself some OJ, or be fancy, wine and a few ice cubes. Now, leave that cup on the table and go grab another cup. Before kids, you lived in this perfect world where every time you were thirsty, you found cups in your cupboard, and let’s be honest, everyone has at least 30 cups. Beer mugs, cheap plastic collectible cups, glasses, tumblers (mostly coffee mugs, admit it), basically a plethora of liquid-holding vehicles in a variety of forms you took for granted. But, now that you have kids, you will find every variety of cup on every conceivable surface in your house EXCEPT in the cupboard. You’ll even find cups in places you never thought to look for them, like on your bed, behind that stack of clean laundry you plan to put away later unless someone under four feet tall hops across the mattress before you can get to it. Or, next to the toilet. More than likely, underneath the tables…all the tables. Just suck it up and wash the glasses. The same rule applies to paper and Styrofoam cups as it does to crackers and bandaids. It’s just not economical to use disposables. Accept this part of your life. You will be forever replacing the cups in your cupboard.
- Towels and Washcloths – Moreso than any other cloth item in your house, you will be replacing towels and washcloths. If you wait until bath night to check for clean towels and washcloths in the bathroom closet, you will be sorely disappointed, because the same vacuum exists there as it does in your cupboard. It doesn’t matter if a little water sloshed out of one of those cups they’re constantly filling or an entire jug of milk is on the floor. Towels. And yes, it’s cute that they’re trying to help clean up, but the skill they have yet to develop that helps with portion control also applies to towels and spills. An adult-size bath towel for three drops of water? Yes! Ten hand towels for the jug of milk? …and two bath towels, and then three more hand towels? Yes! And every one of them, no matter how wet, is now dirty and must be washed. No towel will be left unused, even the one you planned to use more than once after your shower. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have washcloths. In the bathtub, there are not enough washcloths unless the water refuses to drain when you pull the plug. It takes no less than eight per child to pull off a successful bath time, meaning, that unless you are washing, drying, and folding towels and washcloths every day, you will run out very quickly.
- Markers – Ok, when they’re little, you have to go through and make sure every lid is put back on every marker. That’s just parenting. But don’t think that just because he’s mastered tying his shoes or wiping his own butt that he automatically knows how to put the freaking caps back on his markers. You can’t even get away with glancing in the box, because he’s probably put the lids back on without actually attaching them. So, if you don’t go through and snap them on every…single…one…they’re going to dry out. And every time you buy a new pack (because red ALWAYS goes missing, even if you have twelve browns), one will always go missing the same day (it’s gray), and later that day, you’ll find the lids for all of them except one (blue). And even though you find a marker in the box with a lid, it’s dried out for some reason (purple or green) or it’s no longer its original color (yellow). So, you put one of those caps on the blue one in hopes that you’ll somehow be able to keep at least one set of primary and secondary colors on hand for the next time he wants to color. But really you should just accept now that you’re going to have to replace your Crayolas literally every other time he wants to color because you will never have red. Ever.
- Clean Laundry – Now, I know what you’re thinking. Logically, if there are more people in the house, there will be more laundry for laundering, yes? Oh, you poor naïve, rational human being. EVERYONE will tell you, laughingly of course, how much laundry you will do as a parent, but you will never fully grasp the breadth of what they’re saying until you’re living the nightmare. I’m not talking about the extra tiny t-shirt floating around the hamper. I’m talking about the FIVE extra tiny t-shirts floating around the hamper…from today. Plus, the three lying around the house…also from today. I’m talking about the dozen or so blankets you’ve tossed in the dirty laundry pile because at this point you’re not really sure which ones are dirty and which ones aren’t. I’m talking about the six outfits that preceded the one she’s now wearing (at ten ‘til noon) that she threw in the hamper with actual soiled clothing, or the entire drawer of clothes she dumped out onto the floor (because she needed a spaceship) that she then stomped a sleeve of crackers into and accidentally spilled three cups of unidentifiable liquid onto. And heaven forbid you go two days without doing a load of laundry, because if you do, man…cups, towels, and washcloths. So, maybe you had some idea about the laundry that comes with parenting, but on this one, you can’t be warned enough.
- Underwear – Since we’re on the laundry train, there’s one item of clothing that no one will think to warn you about when they say the dirty “L” word and that’s: underoos. Not just any skivvies, mind you, but the skivvies of a potty-training child. You will buy at least four packs in preparation, and you will NEVER have a full drawer. More often than not, you will go to the drawer and take out the very last pair, panic, and run to the laundry room to wash more. Cloth diapering your little one benefits you some, but I warn you: during that brief window in child-rearing, you will be replacing underoos non-stop.
So, there you go. I had to find all this out the hard way, but instead of hoarding my newfound wisdom, I’ve let you in on these dark secrets. I hope this saves you a good ten seconds of disbelief and WTF moments in all these regards. Is there anything I’ve forgotten? (I’m sure there is.) Let me know.
If this chaos is making you crazy, check out this Up-themed birthday party to see how I (sometimes) get it together and organize things! You can check out my other posts on Fully and Well and don’t forget to subscribe for updates!