My toddler likes to "help." His version of "helping" usually entails mess-making, time-wasting, and creating an overall stress-inducing environment I am tasked with navigating. He's pretty darn cute, though, so it's hard to turn down an offer when I'm so obviously overwhelmed. Still, there are a whole bunch of things I'd rather do than let my toddler "help" me with anything. Because, you know, toddlers. Now, I'm rarely if ever quick to tell my son "no," because his offers to "help" are literally the best. I just don't want the particular kind of assistance he is currently able to provide. It's seriously no offense, I've just been through it with his older sister and know how these things turn out (not awesome).
In the beginning years, I was ecstatic for my son to want to "help" with damn near anything. It was adorable to watch him try, and I felt like I was "winning" as a mom for teaching him how to do all the things he'll need to do on his own later in life. As time passes, though, I see his toddlerhood negates any and all progress I've made. Whether it's "help" with dinner, daily chores, feeding our cats, laundry, or even wiping the countertops, if he "helps" I better just consider myself having to do that thing twice. I mean, who has time for that?!
I love my toddler, and some days I might be able to sacrifice the time to let him give me a hand, but here are some things I'd much rather do than let him "help." Time is fleeting, and his sister is old enough to "help" without causing as much stress. So, how about I let him do the toddler thing and we'll take care of the rest for now? Please?
Stop Drinking My Daily Latte
Truth be told, my biggest vice is a latte from a local coffee shop I visit every single day. The baristas have become a second family and if I ever had to go without, my day would be totally ruined. I'd give this up if it meant avoiding the whole "letting my toddler help" situation, though.
Let My Children Choose My Outfits
I'm not as worried at what my daughter might choose. She's 10 and kind of a fashionista. My son, however, would put me in a bathing suit, tights, and a tutu. I'd rather wear than than let him "help" me fold laundry (which essentially means tossing the piles everywhere).
Trade My Running Shoes For Heels
I'm a comfort kind of gal so the mere thought of heels makes me cringe. I'll wear them to a formal event (because I have to) but otherwise, nope. I'd rather run a marathon in heels than let me toddler run the vacuum again.
Learn Five New Languages
I'm only fluent in English but I'll take dedicated classes to learn others if I can escape my son's desire to "help" wipe the counter (which means he'll use half a bottle of cleaner).
Give My Old Cat A Bath
My oldest cat is over 15 years old. As a result she's mean, cranky, and like most cats, hates water. I've had to give her baths before and never leave unscathed. I'd rather do it every damn day than let my toddler pick up a mess (that he really just shoves into a corner).
Hire A Personal Assistant
If I do this, I can say, truthfully, that I don't need the help because I'm paying someone to do those things. If only, right?
Go Grocery Shopping Before The Big Game
I hate grocery shopping, big crowds, crowds inside the grocery store, and really just leaving my house in general. If there's a holiday or big event, like the Super Bowl? Forget it. However, I'll do it if it means I can cook dinner without my toddler's fingers getting into all the prep work.
Clean Out My Desk
I have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which can make what people describe as "normal" tasks, complicated. Some things have to be very exact or precise (as with schedules and certain routines) but others (such as my ridiculously messy desk, cabinets, and closet) not so much. However, I'll dive in and rearrange my desk until if my toddler let's me do it alone.
Go Swimming In The Ocean
Among a long list of fears, I must say that I am terrified of stepping foot into the ocean. I love the beach — as in sitting on the sand and watching the waves — but I refuse to dip my toes into that "kill" water. Things live in there, you guys.
However, instead of allowing my toddler to "help" put groceries away (in paces they don't go), I'll throw on the swimsuit he probably wanted me to wear anyway and dive into open water.
Call Everyone I Know
Ugh. Talking on the phone is the worst. Unless it's about my career (as a writer), I don't want to. We have so many other methods of communication now and things can be conveyed just fine through those channels. The day my toddler asks to "help" clean the bathroom (toilet scrubbing and all), I'll sooner go through my contacts and work my way down the list before that happens. Prepare yourselves now.
Hold A Snake
Another of my fears happens to be pretty much all reptiles. I get that some people love them and have them as pets, but they're just not me. I'd rather let you drape a snake around my shoulder a 'la Britney Spears than give my toddler the task of raking the leaves (that he just jumps in anyway).
Put It Off
Sometimes I want to let my son "help" out. No, seriously. I really do. I love that he wants responsibility and, most days, I let him have what he can handle. When he crosses into my territory, i.e. things I prefer to do, I'd much rather delay my response with "maybe later" or "after I do x." That way, I'm not directly denying him and therefore become "a monster of a mother."
Plus, by the time "later" rolls around, he's over it.
Sell Something Door-To-Door
I used to sell vacuums door-to-door, and it was awful. I only sold one (to my darling aunt and uncle) and made almost no money. Everything about it was far out of my comfort zone, but I took the position at a time when I was desperate. I'd never go back to that, unless my toddler wanted to "help" clean the cat litter (that will end up everywhere). In that case, I'll get selling.
Go On Unnecessary Errands
Another tactic I use is to keep my son busy. If he's asked to "help" with something, and I really don't want the extra hassle, I'd rather add unnecessary things to my to-do list — like put gas in the car, run to the post office, or even drive through the car wash — to, again, delay his request. Yes, I realize this, too, eats up my time and energy.
One of the greatest joys of motherhood is the lie. "Of course you can help all you want, sweetheart. Just as soon as the purple moon is out. My app says it should be next Tuesday."
Hey, I might not win Mother Of The Year or anything, but I promise the next time my toddler wants to "help" me with something, I'll let him.
Gotcha. Yeah, that was a lie, too. #MomWin