January 10, 2017

occupational hazzards: basic and forseeable

Turns out a few inconveniences crop up when a mom of six active kids opts to babysit for three additional buggers during the school day.

Sip cups make it challenging to reach in and grab a 'real' cup.
One basic issue is stuff.  Gear.  Crap.  Equipment.  As if my kids' trail of belongings didn't offer enough of an obstacle to my sanity, I have reintroduced diapers, wipes, bibs, portable cribs, diaper bags, sip cups, two clumsy high chairs, and piles of toys to the mix.  This was not an unforeseen surprise.  I vividly recalled all of the 'extra' junk that accompanies small people when I chose to offer our home as babysitting central.  No big deal.  What's a little extra clutter in a house where dirty socks litter every hallway, important papers disappear in the black hole of the kitchen counter, and evidence of unapproved snacks lurk behind every piece of furniture?

Since I've begun to welcome other people's little ones into our home, my stress level on Sunday nights has reached a new dimension.  Knowing that I am about to trade my 'mom' hat in for a 'caregiver' hat, I begin to feverishly search the family room and kitchen for choking hazards, writing implements, and the relentless supply of dirty socks.  I holler at my kids to grab anything they care about and stash it in a place where curious hands won't grab it.

My kids customary lack of thoroughness in this endeavor leaves me little choice but to personally survey the few rooms where the 'wild things' will soon roam.  On careful inspection (translation:  by standing in the doorway of the room and giving it a quick glance), my eagle eye spies the obvious:   computer chargers, Lego pieces, books with real pages, mislaid homework, laptops, books on loan from the library that levies fines for ripped real pages, food remnants or wrappers (even though food is not allowed in the family room - EVER), basketball uniforms, favorite American girl dolls (with momentarily flawless hair), and abandoned piles of clean laundry.  With the exception of the crusty food and the laundry pile, my kids don't want these items touched.  Perhaps they'd feel personally vested if they had fought their own desperately heavy eyelids in order to stay awake long enough to sort the entire mound of laundry.  Instead I'm the only soul disturbed when ignored stacks of clean clothes are toppled arbitrarily when the youngsters run pell-mell through the room.

Bottom drawer tough to open minus handles!
Run down end table serves as  Thomas storage.
When the tykes get dropped off, the family room in particular is their domain.  Thanks to clever storage solutions- like pretty baskets and a book case cabinet- most of the tot toys stay concealed when everything is tucked away.  The deep drawers of my ancient end tables house miles of wooden train tracks, Dr. Seuss books, and fake food.  Years ago the drawer pulls broke off of the drawer that is now stocked with choo-choo pieces.  I grimace each time I glance at this embarrassing excuse for furniture with its broken drawer handles, deep scratches, and chipped edges.  What a relief that only I know how to open the cherished train track drawer.  By wedging the very tips of my fingers between the minute space under the heavy drawer, I can gradually-and painfully- tug it open.  Of equal importance is my powerful ability to heave it shut after a good clean up job.

Coach detests tripping over the two eye-soar high chairs that I drag into the kitchen from the dining room and back again for every toddler meal I offer.  My kids cringe each time I hand them a dirty diaper to toss in the garage's smelly garbage can.  Laddie melted down, not unlike a tot, when he came home from college and discovered his mudroom locker had been re-purposed as a spare diaper storage unit.  If the toys don't get put away at the end of a day, my we-didn't-make-this-mess crew end up being recruited to pitch in.  With toddlers camped out napping in my kids' bedrooms each afternoon, I've fielded the occasional moan about not having access to their rooms right after school.  Inconveniences aside, my kids can't get enough of the three entertaining shorties I sit for.  The financial benefits help Coach and I overlook the added clutter, or perhaps the presence of baby gear makes us remember the good ole days . . when our kids still liked us, listened to us, and napped.

There have been a few unforeseeable issues caused by my offspring, and may prove hazardous to my children if I catch the culprits the next time they mess with my daycare equipment.  One weekend the toddler potty collected a mysterious urine sample from someone.  Perhaps one of my sons didn't think I would notice that he was experimenting with a little target practice.  Since I had already washed out the potty for the weekend, the fresh pee was difficult to explain.  (no photo- use your imagination)  I have strong suspicions about who would stoop to this level.  Recently, my pleased-with-myself feeling after I remembered to snag some animal crackers at Target over Christmas break crumbled into frustration when my children ate almost all of the bland odd-shaped snacks.  Nothing is sacred!
The march of the high chairs from the dining room into the kitchen
Huge animal cracker supply I purchased over Christmas break was eaten almost entirely by MY children!

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