Before I could turn around twice, my sweet babbling infants both morphed into a two-legged tornados bent on leaving my nerves twisted and my house flattened. Here are a few things with which to arm yourself as your own spawn heads into toddlerhood.

Patience and Self-Control. Once my son got his legs under him, every cubby hole in my house was fair game. His favorite hidey spot was the dishwasher. He would crawl in every time I would load the dishes, then have a Def-Con-5 meltdown every time I pulled him out. Once, he got so mad he threw up on himself. It took tremendous effort to fight the urge to shove him back in and run him through the pots and pans cycle.

No Home Décor Expectations. When my kids learned to walk, toys took over my living room. My floors wore deep scratches by toddler bikes and push-toys. My carpet begged for mercy as my toddlers could finally pull up on tables, grab my cups of caffeine, and empty them all over the place. Carpet-cleaning with no caffeine is a dangerous combo—see number 1.

Carpet Cleaner. That foamy stuff you buy will at least lighten most normal stains and take the stench out. The only cure for our stains, however, is a bonfire and new carpet.

Magical Multi-Tasking Prowess. If you have more than one spawn under four, chances are that potty training is all mixed in with your frantic baby-proofing and caffeine consumption. Once, when my four-year-old daughter was playing with our muddy dog on the front porch, she yelled that she needed to pee. She launched herself inside and upstairs. The dripping dog streaked into the house behind her. While I was trying to drag the dog out from under the dining room table, my one-year-old son climbed on top of it. I retrieved my son with one arm and hauled the dog back outside with the other. My son got down and tried to eat some of the mud the dog tracked in when I heard sudden sobbing and what sounded like a downpour on the dining room ceiling. My daughter didn’t make it to the toilet. If multi-tasking isn’t your thing, then wine. Wine helps.

A Tendency to Hoard. During the above potty debacle, I needed a place to deposit my son so he wouldn’t eat dog mud. Even though he’s outgrown it, I haven’t put the Exersaucer thingy away. I dropped my son into the seat while I went up to see about my daughter’s flood. His legs stretched all the way out from under all the toys, but he was contained until he kicked himself free and turned the whole thing over. Luckily I got to him just before he shoved a clump of mud in his mouth. I really hope it was mud.

Bleach and a Shop-Vac. We should be the poster family for Clorox. I know the stuff is poisonous, but it’s effective against dog mud and pee. My children will have iron immune systems if the items they eat off the ground doesn’t harm them first.

Cartoons. When I was pregnant the first time, I swore up and down that I would never plant my precious womb nugget in front of the brain rot box. After three days straight of non-stop nursing my second child while trying to chase my first, my husband came home and found me sleeping in the fetal position on the floor by the television. Our infant and toddler sat hypnotized by Sponge Bob. We were all corralled by the portable dog fence I’d set up in a moment of exhausted desperation.

Monty Python or Some Form of Sick Humor. Every day with toddlers is a Flying Circus. I have “Every Sperm Is Sacred” on my phone for when my kid pees on the floor. I also downloaded “The Philosopher’s Drinking Song” for when I accidently calculate the amount of time I spend cleaning up bodily excretions.

Cheerios and Fish crackers. The kind that come in the package. Not the kind with the bugs crawling on them on the grocery store sidewalk that my son would toddle toward and attempt to eat. When hand-fed to a toddler contained in a stroller, these snacks can keep said child quiet for an entire graduation ceremony. True story. Just have a back-up feeder nearby in case you have to abandon your duties to take part in the ceremony. Any random teenager works fine. Also a true story.

Date nights. They’re great. Just study up a little on how you got all these kids in the first place. You know—if you can’t be good, be careful!

Jennifer Worrell

Jennifer Worrell has been teaching in both the elementary and middle school classroom for 22 years. All the while, she has been writing for a variety of publications including Trailblazer, Women in the Outdoors, Practical Horseman, Daily Press, Virginia Wildlife, The Virginia Journal of Education, and TeeterTot. She also creates high-quality instructional materials for the classroom which she shares on Teachers Pay Teachers. As the wife of an outdoorsy guy, a stepmother, and a biomom, her humorous and poignant perspective enables her to create powerful content for clients and for her own blog.