There are many different time zones in our country. There is Pacific Standard Time (PST), Central Standard Time (CST) and Eastern Standard Time (EST), to name a few. Technically there are nine documented time zones, but if you ask me, I will tell you there are ten. The most prevalent yet least documented zone is the Toddler Time Zone (TTZ).

TTZ is a magical time zone. Unlike the other zones that have a definitive measurement to them, the Toddler Time Zone can add and subtract time on a whim, depending on whatever mood the toddler is in at any given time.

Typically, when one is in a hurry, the TTZ will multiply the normal required task time by about one hundred. For example, let's use climbing the stairs as an example. For me, I can climb one small flight of stairs in my house in about six seconds. I am like a leopard stealthily leaping the steps to get to my desired destination. My daughter on the other hand is like a tourist, stopping at each step to survey the surroundings as if they may have somehow changed while her foot was transitioning from one step to the next. If she was more nimble with her fingers, I am pretty sure she would stop and take a picture at each step. What I can do in six seconds will take Isabella ten minutes to complete. Many times she will only make it to about five minutes of uphill stair climbing before I whisk her away to our landing-place - the changing table.

Depending on how tight or complex the contraption that I am wearing is, I can change my clothes in two minutes or less. Take old clothes off, slip new clothes on. So easy even a caveman can do it. And then there is my daughter. With her big crocodile tears and tantrums that are akin to a fish flopping around like it is out of water, the changing process takes much, much longer. There is the wrestling match to put the new diaper on, the silly banter to dry up the tears, and the re-organizing of all the items within her reach that she has decided to toss in multiple directions. And because Isabella is a big girl, she wants to put the socks and shoes on for herself. So add about another five minutes for her to fumble unsuccessfully with the socks and end in a crescendo of frustrated grunts. Don't get me wrong, this entire display of independence is adorable to me, but it is essential to include in the logistics and inner workings of Toddler Time.

Mealtime is a dreadful time for many parents who are short on time. My daughter is a constant source of entertainment for me during meals. I am proud of Isabella when she uses her small cache of sign language gestures to let me know she would like to eat, wants more of something, or would like milk to drink. I am amused by my daughter when she pretends to put food in her mouth only to slyly slip it to the dogs. I am befuddled by the amount of time it takes from start to finish to consume one small container of yogurt or other comparable food item. She would fail miserably if she were in a food eating contest because let me tell you this kid sure can drag out the process. I could empty the dishwasher and fold a load of laundry and still she would only have eaten one-half of the container. With one quarter of the yogurt matted to her hair, there is still the remaining quarter smeared on her tray that is perfectly good to eat. To shave off some time and speed up breakfast, I usually let the dog finish off the rest of the yogurt that Isabella used for finger painting. Not only do I trim time, I also save on washing the food tray. Gotta love those little shortcuts you learn along the way. To account for the chaos at breakfast, you can easily add an hour to normal consumption time.

Bedtime...ahhhh, this is where the magic happens. Pick a time that you the parent would like to go to bed, then add 2 hours. Unless you are deeply engrossed in one of your favorite TV shows. In that case, subtract an hour...or whatever amount of time that falls right at the spot in the show when you are involved in the storyline, but just before you get to find out the ending. Right in the middle of your favorite show is probably when you will feel tugging on your leg and hear "Momma, momma, momma..." in a tired whimper. However, if you are exhausted and eager to go into hibernation for the night, please be sure to expect your child to be full of energy and far from relaxation. There are also some random nights that observe Daylight Saving Time. For example, if your alarm is set for 7a.m., you may find yourself awakened by the crying baby alarm that goes off at 5a.m.

Now that we have just reviewed a day of Toddler Time, there is one more phenomenon that you should know. The Toddler Time Zone changes every few hours, days, months. Just when you think you may have a schedule developed in TTZ standards, your toddler wipes the slate clean and starts anew with an entirely different pace to keep you on your toes. Make sure you have an erasable calendar and a flexible schedule. Don't say I didn't warn you.