Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
Let’s begin today’s episode by thanking Hydrofeet, who brings this podcast episode to you, the insole that massages your feet with every step. Use the code OMB15OFF for an additional 15% off at Hydrofeet.com.
So today, let’s talk about the toddler years and learning to walk. I don’t know about you, but when my kids were still babies, I wanted them so much to walk! You know, so excited for them to be mobile.
And when Emmi started crawling, I first got this idea that maybe I had wished for the wrong thing too quickly. She was a fast crawler. It was like, “Go. Speed racer. Go!”
I mean, this kid could zoom through the house so quickly. Andy was worse! Andy did this half-crawl, half-walk thing that was even faster! She was more mobile.
Dora, I did get some time with her when she was a baby. She was also a very fast crawler. But I remember her grandma used to worry a lot about her being bow-legged. The thing is, all babies are bow-legged when they start walking. It’s not like in the old days where we have to worry about rickets due to lack of Vitamin D, but grandma was just really concerned about those little bowed legs. So she used to take the film off of the inside of the eggs. You know, just take that little film off and then gently put it on Dora’s little bow-legged toddler legs. And the thing is, she wasn’t entirely off the mark because, as I said, rickets is primarily a concern with lack of Vitamin D or calcium. Eggs are really high on Vitamin D.
On the one hand, I’m glad that grandma got to use her knowledge to make herself feel better about helping her grandchild with her little bow-legs. On the other hand, there’s the germaphobe inside me thinking that, what if they get salmonella? Or ugh, you know! The thing is that as older moms, we are well informed, typically independent, and used to making our own decisions that we forget that sometimes we need to compromise. We need to compromise with our moms or grandmas if they’re still around because they need to feel included in this growing process for our kids. So, you know, we need to work out a system so that we allow them to use their knowledge to feel included and at the same time balance it out with our own comfort level. For me, that typically meant cleaning her legs immediately afterward. What can I say? But I’m glad that it happened, and I wish I would have done things like that more, that I would have been in a position that I was more comfortable compromising. But that’s also common to all moms regardless of our age. We don’t want to compromise when it has to do with our children. So, it’s a difficult balance to have.
Many years later, I got to see Bugaboo crawl, he wasn’t yet living with us, and he did that “half-crawl, half-walk” thing that Andy did. So, you could tell they were related from the get. Right?
One of the scariest points, though, was when they went from crawling to walking. By then, I wasn’t so eager for them to be mobile or fast because my kids were cruising for a bruising. This is common to all toddlers, meaning they’re going to get bruised a lot. And when I saw their little legs and sometimes their little arms, all of these bruising going on, I would think, “Omg! Is Child Protective Services (CPS) going to be showing up at my doors, saying, “You’re not taking good care of your babies!”
The truth is that despite my age, despite constantly reading books, life gets in the way. And I have to be honest with you. I read many books about the toddler years, but clearly, my anxiety got the best of me. And I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t understand the reality of those toddler years. So, really, I didn’t know what to expect in the toddler years, not when they began walking.
I didn’t know why they fall so much in those years. It is because they lack depth perception. My kids are already doubly out of whack because I have a genetic issue with my optical nerve where it’s not oval. It’s square. So, I already have no depth perception, and according to the optometrist, all of my children will have that problem. So, here I am, these poor babies didn’t have a shot. So, depth perception is not very good.
The other thing is that everything is so interesting when you’re a toddler. So, you’ll start walking in one direction, and you think that’s interesting, but wait a minute! I saw a bag over there. Let me move this way, but I didn’t give myself enough time to do it, so let me bump into the chair on the way to the bag and when I bump the chair, well, isn’t the chair interesting? Should I try to climb on it? Noooo!
But hey, it happens, right? So, every time they’re going to move in a particular direction, they make three or four, five shifts because their ability to concentrate on one thing at a time is just not present. They’re multitaskers. That’s what it is. Let’s just put a positive spin on it. So, as they’re moving from interesting things to interesting things, they often get themselves bruised up.
And, of course, more importantly, they lack experience with balance and coordination. We’re asking a lot of these little bodies, you know, they’ve barely learned to stand up on those two feet. They are feeling so independent. But they are not quite there yet, and they’re not going to be there for several years. Most of them don’t really get that coordination till they are, really, three or four. And in the case of preemies, it might take a little bit longer. Although, I have to tell you that my preemies didn’t have that kind of problem. They were just speed racers!
So, they’re going to get bruised because they’re going to fall, and there’s very little we can do about it. I mean, you cannot walk behind your toddler every step of the way or put them in the crib every time you’re going to cook dinner or something. But there are things that we can do to make them safer.
Safety gates are a big one, and we had several safety gates in our house. Not just to keep them from going down the basement. We did have a safety gate for that. But we also had safety gates at certain different points in our house.
For example, if I was cooking, I couldn’t give them my full attention. Often, I would let the girls play on this little pink table they had in the dining room. I would put the safety gate between the dining room and the kitchen so that they wouldn’t accidentally come in and startle me. And you know, have something drop on them from the kitchen, I didn’t want them to be injured. At the same time, I would also put a safety gate between the dining room and the living room because I wouldn’t see them if they went into the living room. So, the safety gates became my best friends throughout those years.
Another thing that we needed to do was our kitchen floor because it was so slippery! We constantly play slip and slide there. And so, one of the things that we ended up doing was replacing the floor. In one of these, one of our girls actually fell and got this big bump on her head. So, of course, my husband was like, “It’s just a kid thing.”
I was like, “Nope! We’re going to the emergency! Pack everything up!”
Good thing I had really good medical insurance back then, and a good thing that the hospital was only like five minutes away. Or maybe that was the bad thing because I did have great insurance and had a hospital close by. I felt compelled to go to it any time that I felt nervous. These people were used to seeing me, what can I tell you?!
So, we took her, and she was fine. But as soon as we got home, I called our Handyman Du Jour, and he changed the floor. And let me tell you, the slip and slide? It stopped. The kids stopped slipping there, stopped sliding, and there were no more falls. It was actually wonderful for us too. And fortunately for us, it was a tiny little area. Sometimes it’s not so tiny, so if you can’t replace the floor, putting a rug with tape can minimize the place where the kids are falling.
So, we do need to do everything we can to prevent those falls. For example, I would put all of the chairs beneath the table. Now I know that some kids are pullers. Mine were not. They never messed with the big chairs. They would just sit in their little chairs and at their little pink table. They were delighted with that. They eventually became climbers, so that meant that they couldn’t be left alone in the living room anymore. Because while we did have a carpet and really nice sectional, we were always really concerned about them falling.
And that meant that we had to get rid of our crib because Andy started climbing over them. My Emmi was more peaceful when it came to that. Not Andy. Andy wanted to climb over on the side, not the side. You name it! So, we moved to toddler beds at that point. And again, minimized the falling.
One thing I wished we would have done is gotten the girls into denim when they were young. But we were just not into it. I was not into it at that period in my life, and I didn’t really want to see my little girls in pants. I wanted to see them in little dresses. I had so many cute, adorable dresses courtesy of my mom and my mother-in-law, who have both passed away, so I no longer have to argue with them about what they buy for the girls. But they would buy them so many nice things. So, I wished I would’ve put them into jeans because that does minimize some of the bruising. You know, it’s a tougher material, so is corduroy. But I didn’t do that, and I have to admit it was just plain vanity. I wished I would have been more sensible about that.
And despite my concerns, I did learn to truly enjoy their ability to move and move fast. I mean, every night, I would sing, “It’s bath time. It’s bath time. It’s bath time for the babies.”
And they would jam down that hallway. There was a lot of running around and laughing. I miss those years. If I weren’t fifty-four going on fifty-five, maybe I would have two more. I love toddlers! I love kids! They’re so much fun, aren’t they? Here I am giving you ideas. Don’t blame me, okay? Don’t blame me if you decided you want another one.
So, we had a lot of good times running around after those babies. The babies had a lot of good times. I remember this one day we put them in this blanket and just tossed them around. They had so much fun!
And just holding on to their little hands when you’re taking them to the store and they’re looking at things, but they still want to hold your hands! Enjoy it because when they’re teenagers, they don’t want to hold your hand for anything, even when they need to.
But I admit it. Once the kids get really mobile, even if they’re not falling, they start getting into more things, and sometimes those things can be pretty surprising. Like I remember one time, Emmi crawled under this bookcase. Now, I’m a germaphobe. I’m a neat freak, so my house tends to be cleaner than most, okay? But we were living in a relatively isolated area. Our property was about an acre, and the back to it was on old railroad tracks that were really wooded. To the sides, the properties of the houses were relatively big as well. In front of us, there was nothing but a wooded area. So, what makes its way underneath that bookcase? A spider. Not just a spider. A tarantula-looking spider called the wood spider, and this sucker was big! It falls on Emmi’s face. Holy cow! You haven’t heard shrieks like this in your life! So, we were running around. I’m getting her. My husband’s running in there, and we’re trying to find this wood spider who’s become enemy number one in the household! We must get it because we don’t know what kind of spider it is and how it made it inside the house. I would love to tell you that it was the only that some kind of bug made it into our house, but no! That was not the only bug challenge we had.
We once had a hornet infestation in our basement. It was actually when the girls were just about two years old, and it was our first trip to Disney World. While we were gone, in the middle of the winter, our basement became infested with hornets! Now you would think, hornets, right? Two, three? No! It was like hundreds of hornets! Luckily they died before we got back, but it looked like a blanket of bugs on our basement rug. It’s disgusting! I hate bugs!
And of course, this is a big one: make sure your furniture is bolted. Bolted, bolted, bolted, bolted! I can’t say this enough. Don’t think things like, “Well, they could never bring it on to themselves.” Kids are really creative. Well, as I said, Emmi crawling underneath that piece of furniture was pretty heavy, but it was bolted to the wall. I absolutely make sure that everything is bolted in our house.
And of course, my husband said, “Oh, you’re so paranoid. Why do you have to be so paranoid?”
Until a toddler in our little town passed away because a bookshelf was not bolted, and they brought it down onto themselves. The child died of a head injury. My husband never complained again about me bolting everything in our house. To this day, I continue to have everything bolted. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember that old saying grandma used to tell you?
“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of regret,” something like that.
So, of course, you will never be able to completely protect your kids. It’s impossible when they’re becoming mobile, and they don’t have good judgment because they don’t have judgment at all. They don’t know what’s good for them. They don’t know what’s bad for them. Listen, they’re still learning that at the age of thirteen, and I’m sure they’ll be learning it at eighteen. Let’s face it, I’m fifty-four, and I’m still learning things.
So, don’t assume that your toddler would know better. Don’t assume that just because you tell them that something’s not good for them, they’re going to remember it. Remember, they’re getting swamped with all kinds of information and stimuli, and it’s a lot for a little brain to process. So, be kind to them and be kind to yourself. Don’t expect them to remember. And if you don’t expect them to remember, you won’t become aggravated.
Know that there are going to be accidents. Expect that. It’s going to happen. There are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. Just do your best to keep your home safe. As I said, one of the ways to handle slippery floors is to change the floor. If you wanted to do that, you are looking forward to that project. I know I was. Or put a rug and make sure you tape it. Make sure your furniture is bolted.
Be very aware of televisions. We don’t really have those bulky televisions on a stand anymore. Still, televisions are big things that kids tip over themselves. So, be really aware of that. They’re going to be falling at one point or another, and they’ll grab onto anything. Make sure you’re not leaving things around that they can bring on to themselves.
I made the mistake of putting a pile of books once, and of course, my daughter decided to hold on, right in the middle of it. Now, luckily I was there, and as the leaning tower of books was going forward, I was able to pull her out quickly. I never made that mistake again. But it’s always better to learn from other people’s mistakes than learn from our own mistakes. I tell my children that all the time, and that applies to us too.
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If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, welcome to our crew! Till next time! Embrace the joys of imperfection. Toodles!
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