At about 4pm today, my husband and I could be seen staggering in from our car, dragging with us three half asleep boys, all extremely distressed at having been woken from their worst-time-of-day-for-a-sleep nap. None of us are looking our best. I’m sure our neighbours are used to this sight – it is how we always look when arriving home after a day out. Perhaps we are doing something wrong, but I find that every little element of a day out with three infants – getting ready, being out, and finally getting three over tired boys home again – combines to use up every last ounce of my energy.
Remember those days out pre-children when you would skip out of the door whenever you were ready, decide to find a nice pub for lunch, and head home whenever you fancied? Days out now are nothing like that. Days out now require precise planning, otherwise you know you simply will not get out the door. Let’s remember children’s days are short – normally in bed by 7 and eating tea by 5, that means you really have to be home by 4.30 or let’s say 4 if you want to avoid the dreaded witching hour naps. And while you are out you will spend a good amount of time handing out food and taking children to the toilet, plus you’re only able to walk at about half of your normal speed. So unless you get out at a decent time in the morning, you might as well not bother going at all. That is my defeatist attitude anyway.
Before you can go anywhere, there is a significant amount of prep to be done – namely packing bags and preparing food. Each adult will have at least two bags to carry, including a packed lunch because if you’re going to be paying a small fortune in entrance fees, you might seriously need to consider remortgaging the house if you also ventured to the cafe for lunch.
Then of course comes the pain of getting everyone out of the door. And it is painful. For some reason, it is even more of a mission when there are two adults at home. I’ve decided this is almost certainly because at weekends I quite like to take advantage of having another adult on whom to vent my frustration – why not add a few totally unnecessary arguments and general bickering to the existing chaos?
By the time bags are packed and I am putting children’s shoes on, I inevitably start to feel defeated. Children are flinging themselves against the door and removing coats/shoes/hats as quickly as I have put them on. There is screaming over Easter baskets and plastic eggs. I feel like going back to bed before we’ve even gone anywhere. Husband chooses this moment to announce he needs to go and get his socks and then asks why my mood is deteriorating.
By the time we leave the house at least two of our party are crying/having full-on meltdowns. I wonder what the neighbours must think but decide not to dwell on it and fling all boys and luggage in the car. Remaining optimistic at this point is vital – I try to remind myself that we can still claw something back and make this day a success. We have only just left the house after all. All I have to do now is sit in the car for 40 minutes and listen to a crazed lady singing nursery rhymes, then everything will be lovely.
Arguably the hardest part of the day done, there are still a number of things to keep in mind if the day is to be a success:
- Main aim for the day should be to minimize children’s moaning – this makes the day more bearable for everyone. I find that most activities can be enjoyable if you don’t have non-stop whining in your ear.
- Expect to spend a large amount of your time answering questions. Probably the same two questions over and over again – ‘When are we having lunch?’ and ‘What are we doing after this?’
- There will be injuries. Your child(ren) may have their own speciality injury – Twin #1 (Trouble) has a habit of falling flat on his face and cutting his lip, for example. He did this today and now looks like a junior boxer.
- Giant slides – they may look fun, and in fact they are fun, but after negotiating all the steps to the top with three small boys and several sacks, you might question whether the effort is worth the 5 seconds of joy. I’d say not until they can carry their own sacks.
Looking back on it, I think I’d count the day as a success, although undoubtedly the low point was mopping blood from Trouble’s face whilst travelling on a Routemaster bus. But are the tears/ pain / total exhaustion necessary just to have a day out of the house? And if all of this sounds unfamiliar to anyone, perhaps you could let me know where we are going wrong?