Did you seriously leave him or her alone for 1 minute (or more)?! Yeah it's true...I guess we've all done it, maybe once or twice, but don't tell my Mom! Leaving the kids for a minute is no crime, but it's amazing what those little ones can accomplish is less than a minute. If we were as tenacious as they, just think of what we could accomplish!
I mean, what can happen in a minute? Why would a parent need to look away for that amount of time? Well, I'll tell you from experience that a minute isn't long! It seems long if you just count it out but it goes by in flash when you need to do something. It takes a minute to check the banana bread in the oven with a toothpick, to soothe a crying baby, to go the bathroom (by myself!), or check a voicemail in peace and quiet.
A minute is all they need to get into mischief. But don't despair. I know it's tough to be a parent and keep your eyes on your kids every minute of everyday. I submit that it's impossible, especially if you have a life or want to get anything done.
And at what age does it become "okay" to leave them alone? I once knew a girl who strapped her kids into their strollers so she could take a daytime shower. I think, when it comes to this issue (and many others), most parents think in terms of constraining, but I'm a fan of training because it opens up their world rather than limiting it.
In general, unsupervised children are notorious for making messes, doing dangerous things, and having raging emotions when left to themselves. So let's take a quick look at the kinds of sinister and funny things that happen behind our backs and see if you'd recommend constraining or training. I've narrowed it down to 5 messy, 5 destructive and 5 dangerous things that our kids can get done in less than a minute. So be careful and watch your kids!
17 The Blowout
So let's start with the all-familiar blowout. It happens as your child grows. It's inevitable and every parent has dealt with it. But when does it happen? The second you walk away. Gross. There's really no way out of this one. You'll just have to grin and bear it and then clean it up. That poor baby, left on the floor, all alone, crying.
You're in the other room washing dishes and you hear him crying. "Yeah I'll be there in a minute," you think. It's not like they can crawl yet (thank goodness), so you've got plenty of time. Wait, am I think only one who doesn't jump up every time the baby cries when I'm in the middle of something? Okay, back to you.
So you wait 60 seconds, cause you're a sweet nurturing Mom. Really, you stopped washing at 30 seconds, but you had to turn off the water, dry your hands and walk over to the next room. So to be fair, your mommy heart waited half a minute. But still, lying there in a big puddle of yellow poo is your baby and you think, "How could I have waited!" But let go of that guilt! Who knew this would be the time they really needed you right away?! Still, you've learned your lesson. Always check cause babies don't cry for no reason.
16 "Painting Her Nails"
Nail polish. Oh my word. It's so beautiful and she just can't help herself, especially if you have any leftover of the glittery kind. Yeah, I know matte is "in" right now but little girls always prefer shimmery so consider throwing those out! But honestly, I don't think that's the kind of reasoning little girls (or boys) go through when deciding whether or not to get into your cosmetic bag. "Hmm, well I could use the glittery blue or the dark grey?" Nope.
And apparently it doesn't stop with painting their nails. Yep, toenails and perhaps even legs and a bit of facial dots could be considered fashionable these days. How long does this take? Well if you're using the brush it might take several minutes, maybe even 20. But if you just cut to the chase and dump the bottle out on your legs to start, I bet she could get it done in less than a minute! Upside? At least she's on the tile floor!
15 Marker Mess
Angry eyebrows. The "I love hugs" bib isn't very convincing is it? Honestly, it's pretty good for under a minute. I bet they wish they'd thickened the mustache a bit and perhaps gotten a few forehead wrinkles in there for effect.
This poor baby. His Mom is going to have to take him places with his face like this. Sharpie doesn't come off easily. I'd recommend taking down the mirror that's in the car. You know, the one where you can see your baby more easily. Every few seconds it'd scare me all over again.
You can bet strangers will have nothing else to talk about until this fades. Every person she meets will ask the same daft questions, "How did that happen?" and will spew the same predictable comments, "Oh no, that's going to take a long time to fade." Yeah. I know. Maybe they could just do one huge grocery run and hold up in their house for a month, and bathe three times a day and try not to look at their baby. I bet big brother is in big trouble!
14 The "Haircut"
Has your kid ever chopped their hair with scissors? I mean really gone after it and left an obvious chunk out that no one could pretend was the latest style? Thankfully my kids haven't done this (yet). However, I can imagine the horror of finding your sweet child, sharp object in one hand, hair in the other, confused as to why it doesn't look good.
Man, that's rough for everyone. You could lie to them and say it's going to be fine. And it's not really a lie cause it will be fine...someday. But for a kid it feels like a lie cause think about it! Their whole world revolves around them. Waiting a year when you are 6 is 1/6 of your life so that's a long time!
This is when perspective comes in. Yeah, you are the parent. They had access to the scissors. You left them alone, with access to the scissors. Ugh! But, consider the fact that a criminal, who is motivated enough, will break into a home regardless of the locks. And so it goes with kids. Even if you hide the scissors or tell them "no," there's still the chance that when you turn your back they'll go for it! Some things are out of our control. Thankfully, hair grows back but it takes more than a minute!
13 Painting Party
Is that a flat screen TV?! Oh no, they did not! Why does it take us so long to paint and yet, our children (I mean your children!) can do it in under a minute?!
Well, I guess when we think of painting the wall, we'd rather not paint two-thirds of our body in the process. But with kids, that's all part of the fun. And it's a team-building activity because you can bet that if they have siblings, everyone gets to play.
So what can you do if you find such a mess in your home and on your sweet darlings? Well, I'd say move. But if that's not an option, HairFinder.com says that you can use regular shampoo on their hair even if the paint has dried or you can use olive oil for oil-based paints! As for the clothes, unless it was a seriously expensive set, just throw it away. And that TV screen? Well if you got there and it has only been a minute, chances are it's still wet, so throw those kids in the tub and start wiping!
12 Beanbag Explosion
Which focus group decided it was a good idea to put Styrofoam balls inside bean bags? I mean, come on!! For one thing they are choke hazards. And another thing, do you know how tough it is to get it to actually go into the trashcan? The static cling makes it near impossible. I really don't know how long it will take this mess to be cleaned up, but I'm guessing this child may be out of diapers by the time it happens.
I've heard of people using leaf blowers, getting balloons and blowing them up and getting them to attract them all. Yes, you could just grab them little by little, but go ahead and try that out and you'll be on Google trying to find another way.
I can just imagine the thought process of this little one right beforehand, "Hmm, I wonder what this little hole is. Oh look! My finger fits inside. What happens if I make it bigger?" And then, "Oh..." Notice, he's not smiling. I'm betting the person with the camera isn't either.
11 Toilet Fun
Phones in toilet. It happens to the best of us. I think they make phones that are supposed to be water-proof but I'm not certain they can take being submerged and flushed. I've heard of the rice trick, but it didn't work for me. That's over $100 down the toilet...literally.
I know most people focus on, "Oh no my phone. My whole life is on that thing!" Well mine's not. My life is not on my phone. I live my life. But, like, my kid just stuck their hands in the toilet water. That is very alarming to me. Yuck!
Yes, it's been flushed, but I don't really clean our toilets that often. So people, my phone is the least of my worries if my kid pulls this off. They say that germs spread all over in about an hour, so that 1 minute? Not worth it.
10 Dinner Dump
Now this one is trainable! That's good news right? But that doesn't mean it won't happen, like a million times. Who feeds a baby spaghetti anyway? But regardless of what you feed them, sometimes they get a little curious about, "What would happen if..." and then the bowl "accidentally" tumbles off the highchair.
Well what do you do? Every parent is different but one thing is for sure. They're gonna do it again and sometimes you don't even have to leave for it to happen. But if you walk out, the mess will just get bigger, and bigger.
Keep some cleaning supplies near the table. Do you want to get up over and over again to go get more paper towels/water/non-toxic spray etc? Of course not! Keep a little basket nearby so you can deal with it right away and don't have to end up cleaning, not only the child, but the walls as well.
I'm so glad that's mud. I mean really, it could be worse! You know what I'm talking about. I don't know about you, but I don't watch my kids every second of every day, especially if they're in the yard. The backyard is the place where creative play happens. Creativity springs up and sometimes my Instagram will catch it, and sometimes I'm off having a cup of coffee and just pondering the wonderful time they're having.
But then there are times when I realize I missed a few steps. You know that kids can unclothe themselves and get completely muddy within a minute? Well, I guess it depends on how motivated they are. I remember a day when my kids did this very thing, except instead of the playhouse, they were throwing mud balls at our house, like on the brick walls and windows.
Yeah, it was time to clean those windows anyway and the boys needed to learn that life skill anyhow. Oh, and their bodies? Well, there's nothing like a cold hose bath to convince you to think before you act next time.
8 Broken Bones
Well this one is easy cause it's true, you can't really do anything about it. But you can watch them so they don't get into dangerous predicaments. But really, should you keep a kid from having adventure just because he/she might possibly have the chance of maybe breaking and arm or leg? My son recently broke two arm bones on the monkey bars. Um, technically he broke them when we was off the bars, but whatever. Two bones. Luckily, it costs the same as one cause they were on the same arm.
Funny thing is that a kid can still do chores even with a cast. Now don't think I'm the mean Mommy, well you can if you want, but when I saw him doing other things like building with legos and playing video games, I figured he could do some laundry. Are you with me here?
The lesson? Don't let one minute steal some of your family ways. It can be done and that one minute doesn't equal bedridden! Kids are so resilient when tough times come. And it didn't hurt that he got bit of ice cream after each doctor visit!
7 Stranger Danger
It's the thing every parent fears deep inside. What if...
Keep your eyes on your kids when you're in public, especially when you're with friends or family. That's when it is easy to assume "someone else" is watching them.We know all these things and yet, abductions happen regularly in our country. It happens every 4 seconds!
Why? It's a money making business. Even if you don't have money, it can still happen to you because almost everyone has a network of people and some of those people have money. It's our job to watch these precious ones in the mall, at the pool, at the gas station and so on. I know it's tempting to go in "just for a second" aka, a minute. But if you think about it these terms, it's never worth it. It's never worth that book you want to read at the pool, that quick stop for gas, or that moment to check out at the mall play area.
I don't mean to scare you, but I was almost abducted as a child and my grandmother was watching! My Mom was right there, loving me, but looked away for a moment and bam, it happened. I was being taken into the restroom and thank goodness my grandma ran over, talked loudly enough to embarass that woman and grabbed me away. Whew, who knows where I'd be right now...counselling probably, or maybe worse. Don't let fear take hold of you and make your paranoid! Just take action and watch your children, even the older ones. No regrets girl!
6 Near Fatal Accidents
Drowning, yet another dreadful way to lose a child. Any way is terrible, but drowning is the silent death. Even if your child makes it out alive, they could have permanent trouble with basic brain function and it will change everyone's lives upside down.
Yet again, I'm living proof of a situation where I wasn't being watched for literally 1 minute. A friend's pool party was in full swing. Families of all the kids were present and man, was this girl popular cause I recall around 20-30 families in this pool. So many adult eyes, and I was 10. Nothing to concern yourself with right?
Well I went under, and no one noticed. I bobbed up a few times and flailed around and felt a person's arm. I clung onto it for dear life, knowing that this might be my last moment on earth. They pulled up what they felt and hanging on was me. Crazy!
Again, it's not cause for a fear-based parenting method, but pause and consider what's most important in the moments we share with our kids. Is it time to check out? Or is it time to pay attention?
Why do kids want to rush into the street anyway? I guess it's an exciting place where all the action happens and the one place that every Mom doesn't want her kids to go. And because of that, it becomes goal number one for toddlers.
It gets them bragging points at the library and park.Kid 1: "Hey, how close did you get this week?"Kid 2: "Oh I was two inches away from the curb and BAM, my Mom was right there! Next time I'm going to wait until she's on the phone."Kid 1: "Yeah, that's how I got it done. When's the big day?"Kid 2: "My plan is to try for Thursday because that's the day she is most distracted."Kid 1: "Good plan my man."
Seriously, do they plan to do all the stuff they shouldn't when we're on the phone, cooking dinner or have a friend over? It's like ants all stinging you simultaneously. What is that about?
Whatever the cause for this obsession with the street, use your own street smarts and keep them away. Build a front fence if you have to as a buffer. It's as good of an excuse as any to have the white picket fence.
Do you ever have tape around your house? I can't seem to keep a roll of scotch tape around here cause of all the crafts my kids initiate. Can I get an "Amen?" I am not a crafty person but my children seem to need to recycle trash into projects.
Each kid has their unique joys in the world of crafting but they all like glue, scissors, tape and don't get me started on glitter. I hate a long list of rules, but glitter is O-U-T, out.
Whatever their particular interests, it should be done with supervision. It doesn't take long, for instance, to scratch or stab a piece of furniture. Or for marker to "decorate" your couch. If you need to, well use the facilities, you can take them with you...it's what they want to do anyway. Or, there are ways to play games with them while they are right outside the door (knocking games, singing songs, guessing games etc) to keep them from getting in that drawer or, heaven forbid, the junk drawer!
3 Bad Dog
Poor little guy. It's man's best friend, but sometimes your child's worst enemy. Can you imagine how scary a dog as tall as you would feel? Get down on your little one's level and think, "What if my dog's mouth were the same level as my eyes?"
Now you can say it all you want, but you just don't know if a dog is kid-friendly just because their breed says they are. Each dog, and each child are different and everyone has their limits, even dogs. What if they are "kid-friendly" but your particular kid just loves dogs and pulls on their ears, or tries to ride them or trips them with all their legos. Well, it's just a matter of time when that animal decides to send a message and there's no telling how aggressive the message will be. Dogsbite.org reports that pit bulls, rottweiler and pit-bull mixes are overwhelming in the majority of dogs involved in incidents, but there are approximately 1000 per day, and many species are responsible. Check out the chart and see if your dog appears.
We all know that dogs can be great playmates for children, but if you have to make a tough decision because of an incident, let me give you some advice...keep the one with a soul. Just sayin. Better yet, don't leave your dog and child in the room alone together until the child is old enough to be at least a couple heads above the dog, and weights more.
2 Gun Safety
I don't even need to tell you that gun related incidents are the saddest situation out there. It all happens when parents aren't looking. My husband went on a ride-along with a local police officer and he said that it's more likely to have your own gun used against you by a criminal than for the gun owner to use it on a criminal.
Now I'm not gonna tell you that you can't have a gun, cause you can. But, why do you own one? It's good to do things on purpose and it's important to consider all the possibilities, especially with gun ownership, when making any decision. This one, in particular, has real stats to back up the dangers of owning guns when children are in your family.
American children are 9 times more likely to die from gun-related accidents than anywhere else in the developed world. Think about that. How can we be proactive about not leaving our kids alone with guns. It seems obvious, I mean...don't do it. But there must be more to it, cause it happens over and over.
The NRA has been criticized many times, but the Washington Post did a particularly fantastic job in this article. Read it and see where you land. And regardless, don't ever leave the house, car or wherever if there's a gun anywhere, locked or unlocked, loaded or unloaded. It's just.not.safe.
1 Kitchen No No's
"No touch." Every parents has said "no" in the kitchen to their child. There's some dangerous stuff in there. Hot things, knives, chemicals (unless you're a vinegar or non-toxic gal), and lots of breakable items within reach. And I don't know about you, but I have something that helps them get into all my stuff! A stool.
Why did I buy a stool for the kitchen? Well it was this idealistic moment of my kids helping me cook and we're all smiling and having a wonderful time. That happens, but more often, they use it to reach stuff they shouldn't. Bummer.
And every time I leave the kitchen, even for just a minute, it happens. So what now? Well I can't get rid of the stool because I use it for the top shelf, I mean I'm not growing anymore and sometimes I need that cake pan or a rarely used platter. How about having an "open" or "closed" rule about the kitchen. I'm sure you can come up with your own methods, but that one has helped me if I have to leave the room for a moment. "Well kids, the kitchen is closed for a bit."
Sure enough, they all leave and I can go get the mail or take a break. Whew! Okay, now back to watching everyone! Life is good girls, and it's better when we're keeping track of those little hands that like to wander into the off-limits spaces. And when you're ready and they're ready, you can train them to use and respect the kitchen tools. But for now, just watch your kids!