The Bill Murray film Groundhog Day came out in 1993, a month prior to my 15th birthday. I remember for my “friend party” that year, my parents dropped a bunch of my girlfriends and me off at the area movie theater to take in this comedy. Through the years I have had many friends who have quoted and talked about their love for this film. The movie never really resonated with me (my 90’s comedy favorites skew more toward the Adam Sandler/Chris Farley/David Spade canon) but lately I feel like I could be a supporting character in this movie. Life with a toddler = days filled with much of the same as the day before.

groundhog day

Our current Groundhog Day activities include:
The morning wake-up. No matter the day, no matter the time she went to bed the night before, my daughter is reliable like a Swiss Army watch. It has gotten to the point where, if I wake up and look at the clock at 5 a.m., I can tell myself “thirty more minutes!” knowing that in a half-hour I will hear the “come get me” whimpers calling out from our monitor on the nightstand. When I enter her room I find my daughter standing at the ready in her crib, arms up and lovey draped across one shoulder. Nighttime is over.
– Mealtime. My daughter is a fairly good eater. But she doesn’t like meat, milk or too many vegetables. And, like many kids, she tends to binge on certain things for a given period of time. So whether it is waffles with cream cheese, grapes, hummus, cheese sticks, etc. she will go on a bender when all she wants to eat is this particular item – morning, noon and night. When I find myself doling out the same thing for every meal, I justify it by telling myself “hey, at least it’s healthy and better than nothing!”
– The Park. We are grateful and lucky to live across the street from a town park. However, being able to see the playground from our front door results in our spending a lot of time over there. A lot of time – as in multiple trips per day. I recognize by face most of the other parents who are also standing over their little ones, taking their shoes off in the sand box, pushing them on the swings, helping them climb the stairs to the toddler playscape. “How old is he/she?” is the common phrase we ask one another, heads nodding after answers are exchanged then standing in silence again as our children continue their solo play with little acknowledgement of one another. I have taken to driving to other parks in the area just to get a break from the familiarity that is “our park”. My daughter on the other hand loves knowing the ins and outs of this space and puts up a fuss at the suggestion of going anywhere else but across the street once again.
– Toddler Conversation. The most adorable and endearing of the Groundhog Day activities, my daughter’s new found vocabulary is pretty vast for her age but certain topics are definitely in heavy rotation. After chewing up a sippy cup spout to the point where it dumped milk into her eye one night before bed, her conversation with me every night after that went something like this: Me: “Do you want some milk before bed?” Her: “Eye. (puts index finger in eye) Broke.” Me: “It’s not going to go in your eye. Mama threw that cup out in the trash, remember?” Her: “Trash! Broke!”  We had this same conversation every night for a few weeks before I moved on to an entirely different looking sippy cup to help us start anew.
– Bedtime Routine. Some days I wish my toddler was like my tween stepchildren who like to veg out after dinner with some screen time, maybe go up and take a shower on their own if so inclined, and then disappear into their rooms where they may or may not go to bed at a decent hour (but they are quiet so that’s really the point right?). But in toddler world, every day its dinner, play or watch a show, bath, pajamas, downstairs for final awake time (which usually includes a request for a frozen pancake that sometimes is actually eaten), sleep sack, kisses to family, back upstairs to first put her favorite doll to sleep on the changing pad, then books for the two of us in the rocker, followed by lights out and rocking, then some pats in the crib, and hopefully out the door to toddler-free evening time. This process begins around 6:30pm and typically ends by 7:45pm with varying degrees of meltdowns along the way.

I thought I thrived on routine until I had a child; then I realized what it really means to do the same things, in the same order, every day. Wash, rinse, repeat. Familiarity and predictability are warmly embraced by my daughter. The result is time at home that is pretty much the same on any given day, with some new excursions thrown in here and there. To her credit, she handles those exceptions to the routine like a champ and has a real lust for life. But most days proceed as detailed above. At least the company is good.

Happiness = park. All day, every day. Photo credit: R. Brandt

Happiness = park. All day, every day. Photo credit: R. Brandt

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