Dear Moms,

I am a mom of two riotous, super busy boys (both toddlers) – need I say more!

I thought I would share some ‘survival tactics’ with other moms, soon-to-be moms or, well, anyone out there who can relate. Here are some handy tips for the next time you have to appear in civilisation with your much-loved baby or toddler:

  1. Master the art of looking terrible, all the time… Gone are the days of wearing makeup and high heels. Wear sneakers. It’s much more comfortable, and also practical on the off chance your two year-old decides to play hide-and-seek in a busy shopping mall…
  2. Do not look at yourself in the mirror – you might get a fright and never leave your house again. This is bound to happen when your baby spoils you with an all-nighter – who knows, there might come a time when the bags under your eyes could be high fashion, until then I suggest avoiding mirrors.
  3. Give your kids blindfolds when passing through the very narrow aisle which leads to the shop tills (you know which shops I am talking about…).

The ‘store layout person’ (whatever they call themselves these days) knew exactly what the ratio of trolley width and the height of the nearest chocolate bar needs to be and made sure to nail it. This, and the combination of a toddler’s arm length, has been masterfully thought out to ensure that you leave the shop with way more sugar that you intended on buying!

  1. Do not laugh sarcastically at the pharmacist who hands you your medication and cheekily exclaims, “All you really need is some rest”. Let’s face it, the word “rest” has become a word people use to taunt the tired and weary. It is a word that can only exist in the minds of child-free individuals or those with lots of willing grannies and grandpas on call.
  2. Master the art of speaking on the phone with no hands while sounding professional. Phone calls are a mom’s worst nightmare (especially in public spaces). There is no way you can take a call without sounding like a lunatic randomly uttering words such as, “NO,” or, “Leave your brother alone!”. Luckily, the digital age has come with some solutions! When it comes to booking a doctor’s appointment, for example, I prefer to go online. My go-to site – it saves me time (bonus) and takes out the stress of calling my local GP without the circus (that is my life) playing out in the background. This site is open 24/7 which is a lifesaver at 2 am (that time when most lucky adults reach REM sleep and you are still up trying to figure out how many hours ‘till you can medicate again…). I am not the most tech savvy, but booking a GP appointment online when everyone is asleep beats sitting around staring at the clock and waiting for the practice to open. Plus, who can survive or has time for elevator jingles in your ear when you still have so much to do?
  3. Never use double negatives in the parking lot. An interesting fun fact: a toddler’s brain cannot process negatives. So sentences like, “Do not run in the parking lot”, becomes the pink elephant. Remember the saying, “Do not think of a pink elephant?”. Result: pink elephants everywhere!
  4. No matter what you do, DO NOT look down. There is a 95% chance you ran out the house (toddler in tow) still wearing your slippers – whatever gets the job done!
  5. Never park at a steep incline or downhill. Getting anywhere with a baby and/or toddler is hard work and in most cases requires some heavy lifting. We start with the pram (which is supposed to miraculously fold into a pretzel at the press of a button, but never does), the bag with clean nappies, dirty nappies, wipes, water bottles, formula, band aids, Dettol – you name it! The list is endless hence the oversized, super uncomfortable nappy bag that never fits anywhere other than over your shoulder. Try and fit all these in the boot of your car at an incline without dropping your precious cargo (munchkin).
  6. Miraculously grow FOUR arms. Nothing beats simultaneously pushing a trolley (with groceries) and a pram. Let’s face it, no shopping trolley has ever been manufactured to hold a car seat in a safe, non-tipping position. And we all know that waking your sleeping baby will end your brief trip to civilisation in two seconds flat.
  7. Avoid the urge to scream, “What are you looking at?” at passersby who feel the need to shake their heads judgingly at your toddler’s public tantrum, as if they’ve never come across a toddler before.
  8. Last, but not least, always pack for every occasion:
  • A change of clothes – this includes underpants, socks, new pair of pants and a new shirt – for you and baby!
  • A warm jacket
  • A water bottle
  • Some juice if water is not an option
  • A snack
  • A variation on the snack in case the snack does not suffice
  • A toy of a sort
  • A variation on the toy in case the toy does not suffice
  • Something random in case you need to distract your toddler from their current tantrum
  • A variation on the ‘something random’ you packed in case the distraction did not work

If you are not a parent yet, I by no means want to put you off having little offspring of your own. Just follow my list of do’s and don’ts and you should be fine. If you are a parent I am hoping you can giggle/agree your way through my short notes and not take this time for granted. Let’s face it, we would not have our lives any other way!

Madel Fourie is a dedicated working mother of two young boys and the Operations Manager at RecoMed.