1. Baby clothes
Whoever thought attaching metal poppers onto baby clothing was a good idea clearly has it in for parents, and has never had the privilege of trying to wrestle their own little bundle of joy into them. Sometimes there are a lot of poppers, and when your baby is intent on slithering through your grip it’s inevitable you will have done them up wrong and will have to start all over again, perhaps even several times. But worse than poppers are buttons, most specifically buttons sewn onto the back of the offending item rather than the front. WTH? And don’t get me started on pants with fake drawstring ties that you therefore can’t actually tighten around your growing child. Last in the list of clothing offences are the items that can only be worn by pulling them over baby’s head 😱. Anyone who’s ever had to try this will know what I’m saying. As beautiful as all those fancy little fastenings might be, give me a zip or an envelope neckline any day. Bonds onesies are ideal – not a button or a popper in sight, and they even come with removable feet and mittens – genius!
I only ever buy supermarket brand nappies – I figure I can afford to cut back on something that’s only gonna grace my kids’ bodies for a few hours tops. However, my local supermarket bafflingly produces the two completely different sized nappies I need for for my kids in exactly the same colour pattern, and the difference between the sizes is barely perceptible to the naked eye even though I have a 2 year old and a young baby. To avoid confusion I had to use a marker to initial who’s was who’s at creche. I now make the trip by car to a more sensible supermarket stocking nappies that have their sizes differentiated by colour – and the extra trip is worth the hassle!
3. Platforms in playgrounds
Is there anything more guaranteed to put your heart in your mouth than your little adventurer navigating a playground that has lots of exciting new levels but also a lot of completely unnecessary steep drops? What gives? You either need to abandon your baby and clamber up there yourself to protect your toddler from disaster, or try to be everywhere at once on the ground, ducking back and forth under play structures like a yoyo, trying not to bump your head as your indecisive toddler figures out which way they want to go, and you forlornly hope they leave the playground with all their limbs intact. And did I mention woodchips? My little crawler hates being restricted in her pram, but I can’t set her down for floor time for at least few more months until I can guarantee she won’t choke on the woodchips she’ll inevitably want to poke into her curious little mouth.
4. Supermarket layouts
I think most parents are with me on hating those awful $2 merry-go-rounds that are always strategically located right outside the supermarket doors. As if supermarket shopping isn’t tantrum-inducing enough without adding fuel to the fire. And if you do give in? Blink and you’ve missed it because the whole thing is over in seconds, a fact that isn’t lost on your little one. Then there’s the sweets by the till scenario and the perils of trying to avoid the toy aisle – that’s an awful lot to navigate for the sake of a loaf of bread and some milk! On the flipside, my local supermarket does free fruit for kids which can help make the experience run marginally more smoothly. The main competitor has even started doing it, to my great relief because we couldn’t go there without all hell breaking loose when none of the fruit my toddler had 100% learned to expect was forthcoming and he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just steal him some.
5. Open plan living
Open plan living is a great idea, when you are living alongside humans who are old enough to understand that the oven is not a toy, and the pantry shelves aren’t for climbing. I’ve caught my son resetting our oven timer and turning on the gas hob. That’s not to mention getting into all those dangerous items harbored by the kitchen cupboards and drawers. Our layout doesn’t even enable us to close off the kitchen with baby gates because there’s nothing to attach them to on one side. If parents were architects, I’m sure they’d keep in mind the need to dot safety gates everywhere when designing family homes.
6. Afternoon activities – the lack of
There are no end of activities on for parents of babies and pre-school age kids in the mornings, so much so that we have something fun to do every single day of the week. But the afternoons? That time between the last nap and the start of the dinner, bath and bedtime rush is woefully under-catered. And this just happens to be witching hour(s) for most kids, when an absorbing activity would actually be greatly appreciated. It appears this gap doesn’t get filled until they’re school age. Too bad!
7. Parks without fences
This must be an Aussie thing, because back home the vast majority of children’s outdoor play areas have fences and safety gates. Not so here! I can only think of one local toddler park that is fenced off (there is a rather large lake right next to it), and there doesn’t seem to be another for miles around. This isn’t at all helpful as a mother of a baby and a very adventurous, explorative toddler who very much has a mind of his own, and I have no idea what I’ll do when my baby is walking and they’re both wanting to head off in different directions. This has the unfortunate result that few playground trips are anxiety-free, and even if my child can manage all of the equipment himself I can never quite relax because I need to make sure he doesn’t get a sudden impulse to venture elsewhere! All toddler aged playgrounds in my opinion should come with fencing and gates as standard, then I think we could all breathe a pretty big sigh of relief and enjoy the experience that bit more.
8. Open water
See above. Sometimes good fences really do make great neighbours. My toddler finds it hard to differentiate one body of water from another. Bath time in the lake? Why the heck not?
9. The Xbox light
There’s no binging on Netflix series’ in my house, because the lure of the big shiny white button on the Xbox is too powerful to be ignored by our mini humans who are reliably like moths to a flame.
10. Salty chips
On the rare occasion I might order chips, at a playcentre for instance, they always come loaded with salt even in places that are purpose built for children! I already feel guilty enough for not giving my offspring a nutritious homemade lunch stuffed with hidden veg, so please don’t rub salt in my wounds! And don’t get me started on McDonalds. They have recently announced their new 24/7 menu, meaning you can now have the pleasure of ordering a bacon and egg McMuffin and literally anything else that takes your fancy at any time of the day or night. Just so long as it’s not a ham and cheese pocket, about the only relatively healthy child-friendly item on the menu, which my son happens to just love, because it’s now only available at breakfast time. I can no longer go for a drive-thru coffee after 10.30am without inciting my toddler’s wrath about the injustice of it all. Seethe.
11. Electronic parent room locking systems
There are many things in life that it makes sense to digitise or mechanicalise. Loos are not one of them. Especially not loos for parents of curious toddlers who have a keen interest in pressing buttons. I have actually inadvertently opened the door on unsuspecting parents twice now, and it’s been hard to tell who’s more embarrassed – them or me. The reason being, I suspect, that one crucial step in the mechanicalised door locking system has been missed. I know this because when I first became a mum I sometimes missed this step myself – I was just fortunate enough that I wasn’t walked in on. You first need to press the button to open the door, then you press it again to close the door. Lots of parents seem to think that’s the job done – and who can blame them, I mean, how complex can the locking of a door actually be? Well, if you want to avoid peexiety, you must not miss step 3 which is crucial – pressing the door close button a second time to make that magical red light appear that means the door is truly locked and you can now pee in peace. Unless you have a toddler on the loose who is quite taken with pressing buttons, in which case the best thing to do is to use your pram to block the temptation and be quick. As if the whole process isn’t farcical enough, the buttons are usually located in easy reach of small hands. And if you’re unfortunate enough to get disturbed by a random stranger there ain’t nothing you can do to stop that door opening ALL the way, so you best make sure you’re decent sharpish! And since these loos are often located in the parents’ room, bear in mind you could be about to flash to a person of any gender! Give me a traditional door and lock any day.
12. Questionable parent rooms
There’s a parent’s room at the shops near me that looks more like a dealer’s den than a suitable place to feed and change your baby! I try to avoid going in there if possible. Fortunately there are a lot of other places that go out of their way to provide a comfortable experience for all – you can just never quite escape the smell of a million used nappies!
First world problems indeed, and I’m sure there are many more that I’ve missed. What are your top parenting peeves?