Today’s parenting magazines and blogs provide us with a plethora of strategies for raising our children. From the controversial wisdom of Dr Spock that emerged in the 1940s, through to the multitude of modern day family-life commentators across a variety of media, a myriad of approaches assure us that by following their advice, we will succeed in raising well-behaved, well-adjusted, bright and happy children. An endless list of ‘behaviour modification’ methods and strategies are advocated to ensure well adjusted, well behaved little people for the future.
Over my parenting lifetime of twenty years, I’ve seen many trends come and go. But in my house I currently have one strategy and one strategy alone when it comes to my two and a half year old twins-containment. This is a strategy that was used last century by the United States to stall the spread of Communism. It is also a strategy used to deal with environmental disasters. And well, to be honest, giving my twins free reign anywhere can only end in some form of destruction of a catastrophic nature- and tears. And you can be fairly confident that the tears won’t be theirs.
It may seem harsh to the uninitiated, but really it’s the only way to reduce the destruction. I actually wouldn’t be surprised in the future if we find that they actually have some ability to replicate themselves. It’s amazing how much devastation can be caused by two such seemingly harmless individuals.
I don’t recall having this problem of whirlwind destruction, even as long as 6 years ago with number three. Is it because I’m ‘that bit older’ and I can’t keep up as well as I once could? Is it a result of my dodgy old eggs? Is it because there are two of them and they feed off each other in their naughtiness? I’m sure that one deliberately distracts me whilst the other does something really naughty, it can’t be coincidence.
They can climb walls. They can crawl into small spaces. They can find anything that they shouldn’t have, no matter how well I hide it. They can open so called childproof containers. So along with this strategy of containment I also must use a minimalist strategy with what is accessible, even in their bedroom, because really if it’s accessible, it’s on the floor at the end of rest time.
I have a couple of times made the mistake of leaving nappy changing powders and creams on top of their wardrobe. Alas no more, although one would think after mummy’s psychotic episode after the first Pro Hart episode with the zinc cream on the carpet and pram it wouldn’t happen again. Maybe they just thought I was having a bad day. Who knows?
So now I have had to resort to a US military strategy from the mid-1900s, though looking at history I believe have chosen one of the more harmless ones. And the useful thing about containment, it can also be useful once they hit adolescence. You just need to improve the locking systems. In fact, you’ll be amazed how many of your toddler parenting strategies you revert to once they reach those teen years.