Everyone has a list of baby essentials– the stuff they rush out to buy when they find out they’re pregnant. But that’s the simple stuff. Babies just need a place to sleep, eat, change, and a Bumbo. What you really need is an essentials list for toddlerhood– a list of goods you need to survive that soul-depleting blur from ages one to five when life is covered in snot, the floor is covered in food, there is poop in hidden places, and there is no longer any limitation on simply walking out of bed when you’re not feelin’ bedtime.
Since I’m in the throes of toddlerhood at the moment, spanning ages 1T to 4T, I have compiled a list of toddler must-haves, organized by geographic region of your house:
Remember in your 20s when you’d come home and change right into your pajamas? This is something like that. Stock up on what I like to call toddler rags: cheap, easy-to-wash, and disposable clothing that I put on the moment I walk in the door from work. Yogurt on my sleeve? No biggie. You didn’t feel like getting a tissue, so you blew your nose on my pants when I wasn’t looking? I’m cool. All because I’m rocking my toddler rags.
This is going to be a key place to strategically place some essentials. Most importantly, place a small basket of toys in your bathroom. Your toddler will, at some point, request to sit on your lap while you’re on the toilet or bang on the shower door during your monthly shower. A basket of toys to distract them can go a long way toward not having to hold them in one hand and your blow dryer in the other.
In the shower, keep a detangler. You’ll need it to take out the aforementioned snot and food that will always makes its way from your clothes to your hair. Lastly, waxing strips. You wont have time– or the will– to take three toddlers to the salon. Invest in some waxing strips before you’re subconsciously twirling your mustache in front of your husband. Don’t let it get that far.
Now, admittedly, this category is more applicable for my bed-sharing/co-sleeping comrades, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t spent a night or two with one or more toddlers in their bed. The absolute must-have in the bedroom is a King-sized bed with a mattress protector. This is your shield against the toddlers who will sneak into your bed and take off their diapers in the middle of the night for the thrill of it, the sick toddlers who will simultaneously poop and vomit in your bed, and the ones who just love a good session of emptying out their bottle of milk on to the mattress and you. (Formula-soaked hair smells delicious if you’re wondering!).
Next to your bed you’ll want a clock that projects time on to the ceiling. It’s hard to get up and check your phone for the time when you have a toddler on each arm. Lastly, because your toddler will want water in the middle of the night, make sure you provide it in a tightly closed water bottle with a closed spout. Under no circumstances should their source of midnight hydration be an open glass of water, which you will find dumped on you in the middle of the night, jolting you out of your tender sleep and your youth.
The Family Room
There are two family room essentials with toddlers: the first is a seriously stain-resistant couch in a dark color (I have performance velvet from West Elm in dark gray). While it’s nothing to look at, that bad boy has graciously endured every stain thrown its way. More importantly, what you need for the family room is complete surrender of your aesthetic goals for that room, as well as acceptance of the state of emergency it will always appear to be in. Coloring on the wall and couch? Check! Pee accident on the carpet? Check! Ugly basket of toys and diapers next to your leather chairs? Check. The sooner you accept this reality, the happier you will be.
Last but certainly not least, this is another room in which abandonment of expectations will serve you well. It will never look like it did pre-kids. It won’t. Let it go. To keep the chaos at bay, buy a chair that attaches to the kitchen island, put a plastic mat under it to protect your hardwood floor, invest in a non-fabric bib, and suction cup tableware. This is your best-case scenario.
What would you add to your list of toddler essentials?!
What have you let go of?
What’s saved you?