How To Distract Your Toddler For Your Own Gain

I’m not a perfect parent, but I am a parent. I also became a parent pretty early on, which means a lot of my same-age friends are starting their families now. It’s for these friends that I write this post, since I see you and I love you. Raising a kid is hard enough already; raising a screamy, clingy kid is harder. Raising a screaming, clingy kid while you’re trying to write a report that’s due in 4 hours is the hardest.

Here are some ways I cope.

TV is your friend.

I understand that before you have kids, you have all these lofty expectations for yourself. “I’m never gonna let my kid become a braindead television-worshipper,” we say smugly, patting our rotund bellies and imagining our idyllic future full of Target nursery decor and serene Beyonce-esque maternity photos.

We were wrong.

Sometimes, all you can do is plop your kid in front of a screen and hope for the best. This will safeguard your sanity and make your kid happy, plus there are benefits – this study insists that Sesame Street is as educational for kids as preschool, and at 0% of the cost! Just avoid Caillou. Caillou is a punkass bitch.

Snacks! Snacks for everyone!

I admit that snacks are my secret weapon. Some days I purposefully give my kids a smaller lunch than I know they need just so I can whip out an extra snack an hour later for a guaranteed ten minutes of silence. My favorite thing to do is give them snacks that are trickier to eat, like apples, and reap the benefits of their tiny, wrinkle-browed focus. I love my kids, but I also love precious, precious silence, you know?

Poorly-supervised outings.

There’s this play place in my town that is entirely padded and impossible to escape from. I like to refer to it privately as ‘My Utopia,’ since this is the only place I know of outside of my house where I can set my kids loose and… read a book.

I have to glance up every now and then to like, make sure they’re not trying to become a part of a different family or whatever, but otherwise this is the most low-effort child-rearing of all time. They have this elaborate, foolproof system to make sure your kids can’t escape, and it is seriously impossible for my kids to hurt themselves.

If you haven’t already, check for soft play places or kids’ play-gyms in your area. These could be your saving graces. And vodka in a water bottle looks just like water.

Preserve nap time for as long as you can.

Nap time is sacred. My first kid is a sleeper – she used to take two naps a day like clockwork, cheerfully and without protest. Even now, she’ll come home from a full school day and pass out until five p.m., giving me another two hours of beautiful peace.

My second kid, though. He does not nap. ‘He’s given his nap up,’ my parents will say after watching him, to which I only reply with a firm, half-maniacal ‘no.’ I still put him in his crib at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., even if it means he’s just cheerfully babbling at his stuffed bunny behind bars like a tiny, cute little convict.

You can do this, too. I don’t know if it’s advisable, but it works. I put Atlas in his crib along with a book, a toy, a pacifier, and a blanket. It’s up to him what he does with these tools, but I’ve usually won at least fifteen minutes of blessed quiet before he starts to fuss for freedom. At that point, I give him another snack.

Have another kid.

Alright, this one is radical, I know, but hear me out. There has been nothing better for Lucy’s entertainment than creating a whole new human for her to play with. Granted, there were some pitfalls to this plan – added stretchmarks, more expenses, making space in my heart for a whole extra human, no money, another toddler to distract – but otherwise it’s been foolproof.

It’s the same philosophy as ‘if your dog is destroying your house from boredom, adopt another dog,’ except with little humans. And the fun part is, sex isn’t a requirement for a pet adoption – for adding a sibling, it is!

(Unless you’re adopting the human, in which case you can have sex anyway so please don’t feel excluded or invalidated. That shit is no joke and I’ll grow an extra stretch mark just for you to mark the occasion.)

What ways do you trick your toddlers into leaving you alone? Seriously, I need to know. I’m desperate. Atlas doesn’t care about TV and has figured out the latch to the baby gates. Save me.

xoxo, Grace

image courtesy of diana

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