We’ve all been there: let’s do something different, something cultural would be good. Why not a daytrip with toddlers? Well lend me your eyes and I will tell you why not…
We’re out for the entire day and literally anything can happen in an entire day. We must be prepared for toilet accidents, rips, tears, falls or unexpected famine. This means spare clothes – lots of clothes. It means snacks. We need the healthy snacks for when people are looking and the unhealthy snacks for Defcon 1 situations.
What if it’s too hot/cold/wet/windy/snowy/there’s a desert storm?
All this preparation means leaving home with a bag the size of that belonging to a gap year student setting off to find himself. A bag that will be left in the boot for an indiscriminate period of time after we return.
LEAVING THE HOUSE:
We’ve been up since 7.30am and I have not stopped for even a wee yet, so how are we all still in our pyjamas at 10am? How many “one last paw patrol” episodes can there be before it is time to get dressed? By getting dressed, I of course mean the ritual of chasing a naked 2 and 3 year old around the upstairs of a chalet bungalow in the midst of a heatwave. ‘It’s hotter than the bloody sun up here, is that why you want to go naked? Fine, we’re going naked. We have enough clothes in the Gap Year Bag anyway.’
And how many toys can stop a toddler in his tracks between the bedroom and front door? Just because he hasn’t seen them since nearly seven minutes ago? The answer is 683.
But we are by the front door now and the car is in sight. ‘So which shoes will we wear? No, they don’t fit you because they’re your brother’s. No, not those either, they’re mine. Have you done a poo? Great.’
The CAR JOURNEY:
We’re in the car so all smooth sailing from here. They are strapped in and literally nothing can stop us getting there. Not even programing the (correct) location into the satnav to cries of “Come on, let’s go!”, “Why aren’t we moving?”, “Why are we being LOOOONNNGGGGA?” We have barely moved out of the drive before Tiny Child begins his wind up routine:
Tiny Child: “You’re a naughty boy”
Small Child: “Waaaaah, Mummy, he said I’m naughty”
Tiny Child: “Not your Mummy, my Mummy”
Small Child: “Waaaaah, Mummy he said ‘My Mummy’”
Me: “Shall we listen to some music? What music?”
Both: “Polar Express!”
Me: Erm, OK. In June. Fine. [plays polar express]
Tiny Child: (in a low voice) It’s my polar express…….
LUNCH IN A PUBLIC PLACE:
So far it’s all going ok. This wasn’t a half-bad idea. Everyone is glad to be out of the car and there are plenty of cuteness comments keeping the boys happy. We look like a normal, loving family. They’ve even been holding hands and pretending to be twins to encourage more cuteness comments. They truly are wonderful and we are feeling rather smug and proud.
Lunch will be a breeze, so let’s go eat. ‘What shall we eat? No, Angel, you can’t have crisps for lunch, how about a sandwich and an apple first? No, chocolate isn’t lunch either, sweetness. Ice Cream? Ho, Ho we know that’s a pudding for after lunch. What? Why are you crying? Get up off the floor. Sshhh…come on it’s ok. Stop that, you’ll hurt yourself and you’re getting covered in mud. Right OK, lets have crisps and ice cream. We’ll eat outside. Leave that dog alone!’
‘Actually, let’s just eat on the go.’
ATTEMPTING TO LEAVE:
We did it! The Good Parent badge is so close. They came out and saw stuff and Lord knows, everyone will see the evidence on Instagram!
The journey to the promised land (car park) is filled with wails of “Carry me!”, “My legs are tired!”
Was it as far as this on the way in? And how do we have so much more stuff than we had on the way in, especially as Gap Year Bag is still in the car?
One last obstacle left – the old “distract ‘n swerve” move as we walk past the playground. ‘Yes I know I promised that we could go on the swings on the way out, I lied. Here, have some fruity, gummy, chewy things.’
We’re at the car.
“I want Bear. Where is Bear? I’ve lost Bear!”
We’re walking back away from the car.
Finally, I exhale. The children are seated and strapped, comforters brushed down and cuddled. Eyes are closing in anticipation for the best bit of the trip: the Nap In Unison. At least that is until we start to drive away and hear that little voice; “It’s my Bear”….