One of the most exciting days of your young one's life, and yours is when your child starts to crawl, then no area of your house or your life is sacred.
You have no one to blame but yourself. With eager anticipation, you wait for your child to start to crawl. Down on your knees, you demonstrate the crawling motion and with exuberant encouragement, you inspired them to take the plunge.
That’s your undoing. Before long you are wishing that you had never taught them to crawl as you will never go to the bathroom alone again.
Alone time is a necessity when you have young children, even if it is just five minutes alone doing your business and, of course, reading Facebook at the same time.
You just got comfortable when there is a bang, bang, bang on the bottom of the bathroom door. Your child has again proven their brilliance and has crawled from the sitting area, that is strewn with toys to keep them occupied, to the bathroom and is hitting their head on the bathroom door.
Quietly you curse. “Can’t I just have one minute of alone time?”
If your child is extra clever they will undoubtedly, when they have no response from you, sit up at the door and bang it with enthusiasm while chanting, “Ma, Ma, Ma,” or “Da, Da, Da.”
There goes your quiet time.
In just an instant, any time out from your busy baby has now vanished, but at least, for the moment, you can still outrun them and hide in the cupboard to try to read a parenting magazine in the sliver of light entering from the crack in the door or catch up on social media. But this won’t last long.
It will just seem like a moment and your little one will be pulling themselves up on the furniture then taking their first steps. Of course, you’ve praised their efforts and applauded their bravery with gusto, and they have learned that this behaviour is not only fun but that you enthusiastically approve. That’s it! It’s the end of any spare moment that you have while they’re awake.
Any spare moment of privacy that you may have won has now vanished. Even time in the shower is not sacred. Guaranteed as soon as you step into the cubicle your toddler will burst into the bathroom with a leaking sipper cup or dragging the comatose cat behind them. Even if you do get a moment of peace, you have left both the shower cubicle and the bathroom doors open so that you can listen for any trouble that they may get into.
Any hygiene rituals that you may have developed over the years will have gone by the wayside. Long hot showers are a thing of the past. They are now taken in bursts, sometimes with you forgetting that you haven’t washed out the shampoo or conditioner from your hair as you run screaming from the bathroom to attend to your child. Even the three minutes that you allow yourself to clean your teeth is normally spent not in the bathroom, but attending to your child’s needs or saving the cat.
Parents have shared with me some of the ways that they scored just a minute or two of peace away from their child.
Jess says, “Children have a sixth sense when you try to hide, best to distract them with a movie, colouring in or some time playing in their bedroom with toys.
“I have on a couple of occasions locked myself into the bedroom for a 3-minute breather but it ends really quick when my twins' bash on the door or they fight with each other,” says Krystal.
Sarah says, “I try to put him down on the play mat to try to get things done, but this usually doesn’t work. The Jolly Jumper is a godsend. I just hook him up in the door frame and I can keep an eye on him and have a shower at the same time.”
“I worked in a supermarket at night so when I needed some alone time during the day my in-laws were great, they took the kids for a visit so I could have some time for myself,” explained Sonya.
Alone time, when you have a toddler, is sacred. So scared that when your child’s asleep, your partner and other children are occupied outside and far away, the cat’s locked in the garage, the phone is off the hook and all other distractions are put to one side. You can have an uninterrupted cup of coffee and even get to clean your teeth, but, just as you have taken your first sip, a cry comes from the bedroom.