My sister has been divorced for a few years now and works full time as a nurse at a nearby hospital. Unfortunately for her four boys, and me, she works the night shift. So that means on nights that she works and the boys are not with their father, they stay at my house and my parents and I watch them. Over the last few years I have learned, mostly the hard way, that there are certain protocols and precautions that need to be implemented when you have young boys, ages thirteen to four, living under the same roof as you. Here is what I have discovered so far:
1. Always lock the door when you’re taking a shower. When you have a six and a four year old staying over you’re going to learn that when nature calls there is no hold button. It doesn’t matter if there is another bathroom for them to use, they are going to run to the closest one and they sure as hell are not going to knock. And this may just be me, but I’ve found that the only time you don’t have to yell at them to flush the toilet is when you’re in the shower and you don’t want them to.
2. Likewise, always knock on the door before entering a room. A closed door generally means that the person on the other side is looking for a bit of privacy, especially if that person is a teenage boy entering puberty. So if you are looking to avoid being in an awkward situation with a thirteen-year-old boy under the covers with his laptop, KNOCK FIRST.
3. Keep your toothbrush in a separate cabinet than theirs. Call me a germ-a-phobe but nothing grosses me out more than someone else using my toothbrush, I don’t care how closely we are related. Kids will just grab whichever brush they find first and use it, especially if they are in a hurry to get out and play with their friends. Writing your name on your toothbrush won’t do you any good either if a kid can’t even read yet.
4. Never make waffles for yourself if there aren’t enough for everyone. Kids always want whatever someone else has, especially when it comes to food, and you don’t want to be there when the crying and screaming starts that “he has waffles, why can’t I have waffles?” And you definitely don’t want to be the person who has to leggo your Eggo for a screaming child at seven o’clock on a Monday morning.
5. Always stock up on waffles! Seriously though, unless you want to start World War III, I suggest you always keep a couple boxes of waffles handy.
6. Get ready for work before they all wake up. When you only have one bathroom it’s important to make sure you give yourself enough time in the morning before they wake up. Trust me, you don’t want to be standing outside of a bathroom arguing with a six year old over who gets to use it next, because you will lose that fight and then you’ll be late for work. Try explaining that to your boss without him laughing at you.
7. Make sure you shower before them. For starters, no one likes to be stuck taking a cold shower because someone else used up all the hot water. On top of that you don’t want to be the one who slips and falls in the bathroom because they got water all over the floor and didn’t clean it up.
8. Always label lunch bags. This is especially important if you bring lunch to work every day like I do. It’s quite embarrassing to find yourself sitting in the break room eating a pb&j cut up into small triangles with the crusts cut off and drinking a Juicy Juice when you should be feasting on the leftover Chinese food from the previous night you were so looking forward to. And FYI, the office break room is exactly like your high school cafeteria, you will be mocked.
9. Do your laundry separate from theirs. You don’t want to risk one of your thongs ending up stuck inside a six year olds Captain America t-shirt. When this does happen you’re going to be asked a series of embarrassing questions that will lead to an even more awkward debate as to how wearing that could possibly be comfortable. This is a debate that you will lose my friend because, try as you might, there will never be a reasonable explanation for wanting to walk around with a piece of string shoved up your butt.