With the appearance of the sunshine and the fact that we seemed to be the only area in the country still on Easter holidays, we have had a lot of picnics this week. I don’t mean I have been spending my afternoons lying on a rug next to a wicker basket sipping prosecco. I mean the type of picnic that you pack up because you’re going out for the day and would rather avoid buying lunch at the over-priced cafe.
I have always loved picnics, they used to be one of my favourite ways to spend a sunny day/evening. But picnics with small children are a different affair all round. They are just as stress-inducing as any other mealtime (see my mealtime post here) but with added complications such as hats blowing off, food blowing away, dropping a sandwich and it being eaten by a passing dog, and so many more. None of these are easy things to recover from, especially if you’re aged 2.
In fact, this picture is exactly what picnics don’t look like post-children. See that lovely wicker basket in the background? You wouldn’t have that with you for a start, mainly because if you are out with small children you are likely to be carting around a significant amount of luggage even before you take the picnic into account. So rather than packing up a basket full of yummy treats and a bottle of something lovely to drink, you need to keep your picnic to a minimum – after all you probably already have 2 large bags, 3 scooters, several cuddly dogs, rabbits and monkeys and a bag full of toy buses to carry. This means that it actually ends up being more of a packed lunch than a picnic; and you’ll be lucky if you’ve remembered to take yourself a drink at all.
Picnics used to mean lounging on a rug with delicious treats spread before me, which if I wanted to I could spend the whole afternoon chomping my way through. The laying out of picnic food on a rug unfortunately is a thing of the past, and has not been done since my twins crawled through a quiche and a tub of houmous a couple of years ago. When on picnics with small children food must be kept hidden away otherwise, as well as the crawling/walking through food scenario, you will almost certainly find children a) eating all the treats which you’d brought along for the adults and b) grabbing food and fighting over it, often resulting in injuries as well as squashed food laying on the ground.
The hiding away of the food means you will spend most of your
picnic packed lunch experience searching for items in your bag and then distributing them to small children. When you’re not distributing food, you will be consoling a child about berries that have fallen in the mud or trying to stop another child eating a bonus sandwich he’s just found in a puddle. You might get approximately 30 seconds in which to shovel down a sandwich, which you’ll do standing up – there will be no lounging on a rug. If you’d like to guarantee yourself up to 2 minutes of peace, I suggest cracking open the cocktail sausages. It’s the only way.
I am often fooled into thinking that a post-picnic ice-cream is a good idea – other children seem to manage ice-creams quite successfully. But I always regret the suggestion the moment I have made it. For some reason my children don’t seem to enjoy something that’s supposed to be a treat melting all over them faster than they can eat it. Our last ice-cream in the sunshine experience went something like this:
Me: Eat up your ice-cream – you know what happens to George Pig. You don’t want to drop it do you.
Twin #2 (taking this in whilst staring at ice-cream): I know what happens to George Pig, mummy. I don’t want to drop it.
Me (beginning to get hysterical): No, you don’t want it to melt. So EAT YOUR ICE-CREAM QUICKLY PLEASE BEFORE WE LOSE THE WHOLE THING!!
It felt like a lot of pressure for everyone.
And this is just the start of the picnic season. By July perhaps I’ll be cracking open the prosecco and leaving the children to fight over cocktail sausages and scavenge on the ground for bonus food.