Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations and the effect that they have on our experiences and stress levels as a parent. I have a 2 year old, and a 10 month old, and we have what I have coined, daily disasters.
This morning Mr 2 didn’t eat his cereal and left it on the little table. Knowing that the baby could not reach it, I left it there to be cleaned away later. Whilst I was putting Mr 2 down for his nap, Mr 10m climbed up, tipped the cereal on the floor, squished every inch of his chubby body into it, then crawled around the room to ensure no floor space was left undecorated.
A couple of days ago Mr 2 got hold of our battery operated foot file and gave a pedicure to the newly painted bedroom door and new, gorgeously curved, Smart TV.
A few weeks back, I went to the toilet with the toddler and the baby followed but got distracted by the wine rack and smashed a lovely new Pinot all over the floor, thankfully evading injury completely.
Months before, we had to have the 6 month old sofas professionally cleaned because of drink stains and toddler paw prints; which cost us $600 and as an added bonus, left the floor water damaged.
So, do our expectations cause the volcanic eruption of stress that we feel or is it really the child’s behaviour? Now I know that Mr 2 can get in the bathroom drawers and turn the foot filer on so why wasn’t it locked away? My expectation was that he wouldn’t go in them drawers unless I was there and even then, he knows it is just for feet, right?
And I know that if I try to use the loo in peace and the house goes quiet that something is wrong but I still left the baby, without locking the baby gate, expecting him not to be able to reach the wine, let alone take an interest in it. Ridiculous expectation! Healthy kids want to explore and touch everything.
Buying two new sofas, a new TV and painting the house, with two young boys was just senseless. My husband and I were absolutely convinced that we’d be able to ALWAYS watch the kids, clean up immediately after them, keep all dangerous items out of their reach, stop them putting filthy hands on furniture. Our expectations of ourselves were too high, let alone our expectations of the littlies.
The new expectations
So if I could shift my expectations a little: There will always be mess. Nice things cannot stay nice if you have young children. Don’t buy anything that will be expensive to replace. Admire their ability to explore and experiment. Then actually, I think our days could be more relaxed. It’s not their behaviour that is challenging me; it’s my expectations that are. Pedicures feel lovely so why would a TV not want to experience that??