Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mud, the Toddler and You: A Mother's Guide to Cleanliness

Toddlers 101: Initial Pre-Cleansing Prep

If you have a toddler, congratulations. You are aware of the messes they make and that including stock in Kimberly-Clark and other assorted cleaning companies is good for your financial portfolio. I have nothing newsworthy to tell you. If you have never experienced the great outdoors, or indoors, with a toddler, you have much to be thankful for... and much to learn.

When preparing a toddler to play outside, especially after a rainstorm, be sure to have several key items on hand: 2-3 bath towels, 2-3 washcloths, 1 12-oz bottle of baby wash, 2 spare diapers, 1 door mat, 1 bottle laundry detergent with bleach and/or color boosters, 1 mop, 2-3 multipurpose cleaning cloths, 1 bottle cleaning solution, 4 extra hands (those of siblings will suffice), 1 bathtub, 1 can tub cleanser, 1 package baby wipes, 2 sets of pajamas, and a vat of hand sanitizer. This is the bare minimum to have readily available before sending your tot out to play. It is also highly advisable to avoid cooking dinner or anything that must be watched while the toddler is outside - playtime will end all too soon and, as you will discover, it is not a simple matter of opening the back door to allow the youngster in.

Once playtime is complete, do not allow your tot to enter the family dwelling. Place your toddler on the door mat and proceed to strip him down to the diaper. Keep telling him he is an airplane to entice him to keep his hands up in the air as wings, rather than pawing your shirt for balance with muddy hands. This is important. I f you fail to distract the hands, you will need to add a shower, spare adult sized clothes, shampoo, body cleanser, and a hairdryer to your list. The diaper comes into play here. If your toddler discovers the true zen of mud play, he will completely relax. And I do mean completely. And you will remember that mud is 100% dirt+100% water and that diapers are exceptionally absorbant in these modern times. You may need to strip the diaper off, use 20-30 wipes, afix the new diaper and then head up to the bathroom for the daily disinfecting of all your toddler's personal surfaces. Have you remembered to keep the hands busy through all of this?

Toddlers 102: Mission Impossible (Basic Bath Routine)

Indoor plumbing is highly over rated. A garden hose may be required to loosen any large debris from your toddler. (Note: Garden hoses should be used out of doors. If you have already ascended the stairs with your mudpacked tot, do not attempt to back track to the yard. If you do, be sure you have the number to a reputable carpet cleaner on speed dial.) Should you decide to avail yourself of your swelling's indoor plumbing facilities for the purpose of cleaning your toddler, plastic sheeting is recommended, as is a wet suit for you.

Do not bother to adjust the water temperature - this is no day at the Kiddie Spa. Your mission is clear: bathe the toddler with minimal fuss. Whatever you do, do not allow toys in the tub. Toys predispose your toddler to end-of-the-day meltdowns. Just place the toddler in the center of the tub and turn on the water. Do not plug the tub until the water runs clear when poured atop the head. Using the body wash (see above list of required supplies), completely cover your tot in suds. Do not panic if you cannot feel your toddler under the mud - this is normal. Rinse the brown sudded creature in the tub. If the creature still does not quite resemble your toddler, lather and rinse again. You may need to use the entire 12 oz bottle.

When it's time to remove your toddler from the tub, do not announce that bath time is over. Announcements of such magnitude are sure to cause Evening Meltdowns. Promises of watching Finding Nemo will do you no good. Just wisk the toddler out. Use one towel on the toddler by lifting from under the arms and quickly wrapping him as though he were a taquito. It is recommended that you watch nature shows about spiders silking their prey to perfect your technique. Use the second towel for yourself.

Toddlers 103: Cooking Dinner and Too Much Quiet Are Never Good
Pre Requisite: Toddlers 101 & 102

Your fully cleaned toddler is nearing the end of the day, and you are nearing the end of your patience. This is normal. Food will do much to lift your sagging spirits... so will a nice glass of wine. Be cautious at this point and do not be fooled into thinking that your little cherub will tolerate your preparation of a 7 course dinner. Think mac & cheese.

While stirring the butter into the noodles, take note of your living room's ambient sounds: too quiet? Remove the pot from the burner and run, do not walk, to the bathroom. If you should find your toddler swishing Thomas the Tank Engine in the toilet, do not panic. You still have one bath towel ready, a third diaper and a second set of pajamas. Because you are the efficient mother that you are, you know that you have cleaned the toilet sometime this year and that Junior is probably near perfectly disinfected from the blue water. (You also will remember that you haven't scrubbed the redecorated upstairs bathtub yet anyway, so there is no hope for another cleansing.) Deposit the repajamaed Wonder Child into his high chair and placate him with snacks. (Note: you can serve dinner at this point as long as you loudly proclaim it to be a snack.)

Immediately after you discover that your toddler is too full to eat "dinner" (aka, seconds of "snacks"), declare that it is bedtime. Bedtime will be discussed in another Mother's Guide class when an instructor becomes available.

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