I really am an excellent wife. Sensible, rational, mature, organised, impeccable housekeeping standards. Which is of course a total lie because I am basically a bit useless and James should probably be awarded something for putting up with me.
To illustrate my point, I have been nothing sort of sh*t in recent years when it has rolled round to James’ Birthday. I have failed to get my shiz in order and generally been left playing the ‘hey love, I cooked you a nice dinner and here’s a photo of our child in a nice frame from Asda’ card.
BUT NOT THIS YEAR!
Because I really am very fond of James and my crapness is no reflection of my affection for him, it is just a reflection of me. I am crap.
So this year I was determined I was going to organise something for his Birthday AND I BLOODY WELL DID. I budgeted and researched *wailed forlornly on Facebook* and at the recommendation of all round good egg Ellen, I found us a bargain deal for a family weekend away in the giddy heights of Leicestershire! Travel 30 scenic minutes up the M42 with it’s fine display of crawling lorries and you will find yourself with a couple of decent day-out options and a choice of nice hotels. Parents, on a serious note, have a look at Stay Play Explore which is eye-wateringly good value.
We have had a great weekend together. Blake has been exceptionally well behaved, James has been *I think* touched by the gesture, and I have drunk some wine and seen some monkies at the zoo. Cracking.
If you have kids, when you plan a family day out, it probably goes something like this.
Rock up at destination.
Child hoots with delight.
Child leaps out of car, co-operates with superme grace across car-park and runs howling with joy towards entrance to attraction.
Child fist pumps the air and pronounces you the best Mummy and Daddy ever.
Child and parents do not stop smiling all day.
Child listens with rapt attention to your bounteous knowledge about said attraction.
Child declines all junk food and sugar in favour of healthy, nutrious picnic lovingly prepared by you.
You pepper Instagram with beautiful photos of your beautiful family throughout the day.
Child agrees it is time to go home, does not want anything from the gift shop, and stays awake all the way home before settling happily in bed.
I am a fan of a family day out. I am not so good at being housebound. So I have observed of late a few trends that frequently occur when embarking on a day out with a toddler. It is not all rose-tinted Instashams.
Here are my observations:
- You will be asked one of two questions approximately every three minutes on the journey to your chosen attraction. Where are we going? AND Why are we going there? Except for the final three minutes when your child will fall into the deepest of sleeps known to man. That is until you turn off the ignition, which is the cue to unleash a banshee who DOES NOT WANT TO GO TO THE SILLY OLD ZOO.
- For their own safety, you will fireman’s lift them across the carpark. This experience is rather like attempting to fireman’s lift a greased eel with a screech that can rupture ear drums.
- Practically every attraction now has a soft-play. Your toddler will have a sixth sense for this. Get yourself comfortable right now with this truth: you are not getting out of there without going to the bloody soft play. Even if it is the one single solitary day of sunshine that this bastard country is going to dish up this year, you will be chasing a sweaty toddler around a soft play and you will only get them out of there with BRIBARY. Probably food-based bribary so just ditch any thought of a healthy picnic and accept you will be eating crap.
- The attention span of a toddler is, 98% of the time, limited. They will be thrilled to see a giraffe. They will then be thrilled at the prospect of trying to climb into the enclosure with the giraffe. Oh look, a bridge! Can we buy an ice-cream over there Mummy? Please will you put this stone in your pocket? I want my toy car. Oh an elephant! Is that poo? That is a big poo. I did a big poo today didn’t I mummy? Can I put this stone in your pocket? HOWEVER, they will throw you a random curve ball every so often and pay rapt homage to something entirely unexpected or trivial or both. Shall we move away from the stationary lizard now Blake? We have been looking at it for 10 minutes. NO MUMMY I AM LOOKING AT IT. *whispers* James is it actually dead? IT IS LOOKING AT ME MUMMY AND IT IS SAYING HELLO BLAKE OH HELLO MR LIZARD! *observes for further five minutes. Lizard moves one leg. Child incandescent with glee* MR LIZARD IS DANCING MUMMY!
- Your child will wait until they are the furthest point from anywhere before declaring one of two things. 1) I need a poo, or 2) I need you to carry me. Prepare to take it in shifts to piggyback them around the rest of the attraction unless you come across a playground or an ice-cream kiosk.
- In the gift shop, your child will activate it’s expense homing device and swiftly locate the most expensive item on offer. They will demand this in exchange for having been such a good boy. They will have the mother of all tantrums when you point out you do not have £300 to spend on a deluxe wooden Noah’s Ark.
- You are unlikely to leave the gift shop without the cheapest tat you could negotiate as acceptable with your threenager.
- If there is a splash pad, your child will want in on that action. Of course you will have remembered to bring a towel and a change of clothes. You will also have brought your game face for the moment you spot your child, stark bollock naked,in the middle of said splash pad. You will marvel at how they managed to get out of their t-shirt and pants in the time it took you to stuff their discarded trousers and socks into their Peppa Pig backpack.
- You will carry the Peppa Pig backpack all day.
- Your husband will carry the backpack AND your handbag to free you up to carry your child.
- After a maximum of 3 hours, your child will have had enough. They will be tired and dazed and you will head for the car. They will realise what is happening as you reach the exit. Tantrum.
- Repeat falling asleep trick on the way home with loud protests of I DO NOT LIKE THIS SILLY OLD HOUSE MUMMY YOU PLONKER upon arrival.
Reflect later, as you nurse a small shandy and rub your aching shoulders, on the pure joy on your child’s face whilst watching two gibbons play together, on your pride in their growing confidence as they marched around the petting zoo, and their pronunciation of today as a lovely day as you settled them into bed that night; and agree that today has indeed been a good day. Where are you going to go next?