Having more than two kids earns you a higher rate of questions and requests for advice. I have no advice because even now I have no idea what I am doing. As with most advice, things you need or want on hand change depending on your situation. All of the things I list below were once very useful but we have outgrown them and it is funny to look back at our glowing ambition to make this parent thing more easy. The truth is that there is a lot of neat gadgetry that is a frilly substitute for nothing much. So below is my current list of things we don’t use and most sane parents of two or less probably still do. (Parents of two or less = Wise)
- SPECIALTY BOTTLES –I don’t know what high technology they press into rubber nipples but Wal-Mart presses the cheap bottles into boxes for $1 each; BPA free and dishwasher safe. Yes please. Marketers will have you believe correct nipple design increases IQ. I would have you know that after the first few months it is next to impossible to keep anything out of their mouths. My kids have the single goal of drinking any drink within fifteen seconds so they can ask for more before their sisters get to.
- CHANGING TABLE – For the first child this worked well. Now it is not as useful because we don’t care where we actually change a diaper. This is a good place to stack diaper supplies and even used diapers temporarily. My kids gutted the side cabinet for use in hide-and-seek. Then the little anchor things shattered and if you look at it incorrectly it will collapse into a pile of kindling. It is not physically safe for its original purpose.
- DIAPER GENIE – Our sheer rate of diapers and trash generation has hit a daily amount equal to that of the main trashcan. The dog uses a pull-up with duct tape. Diaper genie is old news at this point. Be sure to check for a lingering diaper in the actual diaper genie before you store it in the garage for two years. It is like a window into a suburban landfill. Not to mention when you empty a diaper genie you feel a little like Nicholas Cage pulling out the string of nerve gas in The Rock.
- HIGH CHAIRS – One extra accessory in our tiny kitchen. It is nice but it didn’t last long. It now holds things in the garage. Brand new except for the bugs that die on the fluorescent light and fall all over it. Our fourth child is unfamiliar with the entire “chair” concept, she eats while standing in the floor with her plate on the couch. Or she dumps it and tries to eat it off the rug before I can pick it all up. The dog follows her like a criminal record.
- CHAIRS – My kids won’t sit down and eat. They are nomadic. They roam and forage off each other’s plates. The dog prowls for dribbles of food. I roam between the bedroom, the kitchen, and my secret eating spot over the washing machine. The chairs have been moved to the garage. All that nostalgia about eating around the table and sharing your day…. Maybe when they are older and we have an actual dining area. For now they selected eating arrangements by which TV they want to watch; Kids Shows, Baby Shows, or Dance Moms/Raising Asia.
- THE KITCHEN TABLE – My kitchen table is storage and workspace. The chairs are in the garage and the long bench is shoved underneath as a secret perch for Cat. I dream of dinners where we sit around and pass food while talking about our day. The reality is doling out plates of whatever easy meal of the day and letting the four girls eat and watch TV in the living room while SuperMom and I hide in the bedroom and try to watch Wheel of Fortune. Keeping it Classy.
- BABY MONITORS – These are for multi-level housing where there is substantial separation in parents and children’s rooms. I took the batteries out of ours and was much happier. If the cry wakes me through a closed door then a response is justified. Also the sound generating bears with heartbeats and whooshes just make the kid think that something is sneaking up to eat them. I accidentally left one on in the living room and by 3:00 am I was ready to find a licensed priest and schedule an exorcism.
- HUGE TRENDY STROLLERS – Get an umbrella stroller as soon as the kid can sit upright. They are way more useful and mobile. Unless a piece of gravel jams both front wheels at an inward angle, then it is dead in the water. A wheelbarrow race with a one armed partner. A battleship with a broken rudder. Fish in barrels have a better outcome than a wounded fold-up stroller.
- MASSIVE DIAPER BAG – Cram some wipes and a couple diapers into the wife’s purse or a small bag that will hang on the back of the umbrella stroller. Most of the things we carried either spoiled or spilled before they were used. If I am by myself I will sometimes calculate how likely the kids are to shit themselves in Walmart based on a complex algorithm of [Time In Store + Lunch + Last Known Poop + How Much I Care At The Time]. Usually I chance it and figure, “The worst case I can buy diapers and wipes because we probably need more anyway.”
- EDUCATIONAL TOYS – I give the kids all the pen, paper, and markers they want to draw pictures, write books, or trace the cat while someone holds it down and smothers it with printer paper. The kids like cardboard houses and make shift blanket tents. Stacking red Solo Cups into pyramids and crashing it down. At this point an educational toy is one that teaches them what not to do. Unstable boxes used as an impromptu podium = educational toy (Don’t stand on flimsy crap).
Runner ups: Wipe Warmer, Bottle Warmer, Stride-Rite custom footwear.
I only throw in Stride Rite because the saleswoman insisted that the kid would have physical problems without these special shoes. I asked her how Indians, Aboriginal peoples of Australia, and even George Washington had managed to be bipedal without the magic of her shoes. I was asked to leave and I agreed.
So if you have dropped all pretense of doing the right thing. This post is for you. Your Welcome!
-Underdaddy to the rescue.