Gaining confidence and making the most of the winter sun

AFTER nearly six months I feel like I’m finally getting into the swing of getting out of the house with two little people – and even being spontaneous. For a while I only went places with both Santi and Ezra if Stew was with us or if we were meeting friends so I wasn’t alone.

AFTER nearly six months I feel like I’m finally getting into the swing of getting out of the house with two little people – and even being spontaneous. For a while I only went places with both Santi and Ezra if Stew was with us or if we were meeting friends so I wasn’t alone. It was a confidence thing – I was worried I would struggle with both boys on my own, and felt that I needed someone else with us as back-up.

Even little things like getting from the house to the car are a mission when you have a toddler, baby in a car seat, pram and changing bag with what seems like a month’s worth of things. Staying at home is definitely the easier option.

Recently though, I’ve been making sure we get out and about just the three of us. It’s a combination of knowing I’ll be back in work soon and don’t want to regret not making the most of my time with the boys while they’re so small, and that once winter sets in properly we won’t have much chance to be outside.

Santi goes to nursery two days a week, and when I pick him up we only have an hour or so before we have to fetch Stew from work. It can be difficult thinking of something to do to pass the time, and we usually end up just coming home and watching some TV before heading out in the car again, which is such a waste. Anyone with a toddler will tell you that being stuck indoors will just drive you crazy, and we’ve had a run of dry, sunny days recently, so it’s been lovely to wrap up warm and go for a little walk instead of coming home. It’s really nice picking Santi up and asking him where he’d like to go, rather than what programme he’d like to watch.

Winter sun
Enjoying at the park

A little while ago I would have been too nervous to do that – being outnumbered by children is daunting, to say the least. Now though, I’ve worked out how to get us all from the car to the park with no drama (the key is putting Ezra in the pram first while Santi is still in his car seat so he can’t run off!) and because it starts to get dark by 4.30pm Santi knows when it’s time to leave and doesn’t make a fuss about wanting to stay longer.

I’m lucky that Ezra is such a content baby and he’s happy to sit and watch while we play. There’s a lovely new play area at the park we go to, and Santi loves pretending to be pirates on the wooden ship. Ok, so he did once slip under the fence into the old park, which was being refurbished, but that shows his adventurous spirit, right?!

Winter sun

I take some snacks and a drink to tide us over until tea time, and would usually panic a bit if I forgot something. One day last week I didn’t pack Santi’s juice bottle and he started to complain that he was thirsty. Rather than abandoning our plans, we popped through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Fruit Shoot and a Diet Coke … crisis averted! Santi now thinks McDonald’s is an emergency drinks shop, so nobody let on that they sell chips or we’ll never be able to drive past again. It’s not something I’ll make a habit of, although I have discovered their Christmas coffees, which could be dangerous.

Autumn leaves
Autumn leaves

I’ve also been a bit braver recently on full days when I have the two boys on my own. We would usually spend an hour or so at a soft play place  and the rest of the day at home. But again, knowing how dark and cold the days will soon be I’ve been keen to get out while we can.

It’s funny how when you have two children you realise how easy life was with just the one and I do wonder now why I wasn’t more confident to do things with Santi before Ezra was born. You live and learn I guess. Having said that, I’m still only brave enough to venture to enclosed places where I know Santi can’t run too far ahead and we only have a short walk from the car, but that’s a start.

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One day last week we spontaneously popped to the wetlands centre. I say popped, but we ended up staying for nearly four hours! We fed the ducks, followed the Lego trail through the grounds and even sat in the cafe for a drink and a biscuit. I wouldn’t usually attempt a hot drink because you never know how long Santi will sit still for, but it was so nice having a chat with him about the Christmas decorations the staff were putting up and what ducks we had seen (luckily they do takeaway cups so I wouldn’t waste my coffee if he decided to make a break for it!).

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Just casually letting the geese through

The sun was low in the sky and cast a beautiful light over the grounds – perfect for me to take far too many photos and annoy Santi with the camera the whole way around. There was hardly anyone else there and Ezra fell asleep in the pram so it was nice to have some one-on-one time with my biggest boy. He’s so funny – he started off saying he was scared of the geese (they are nearly the same size as him, so it’s fair enough), but it wasn’t long before he was racing them and telling them off for not coming through the gates with us.

Llanelli Wetlands Centre
Beautiful sun through the trees
Llanelli wetlands centre
Chasing the geese up a hill

It might sound daft, but I was quite proud of myself for spending so long out of the house just the three of us with no major mishaps … just the one little incident where a certain toddler ran off with a huge cylinder from the soft play area, which he abandoned in the shop in favour of a duck-shaped lollipop, but I’ll let that one lie…

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Living Arrows

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WHEN picturing your life after having a baby you might imagine cosy evenings all snuggled up on the settee watching Disney films. What you don’t expect is to be watching your husband apply nit lotion to your toddler at 7.30am on a Friday while watching Bing get indignant about something ridiculous yet again. But that’s

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Hi ho, hi ho…

MY last thought on Thursday night, and my first on Friday morning was “why did I think this would be a good idea?” Like a child on the last day of the school holidays, I laid my clothes out, set my alarm, and crawled into bed with a sense of impending doom. Yep, I was

MY last thought on Thursday night, and my first on Friday morning was “why did I think this would be a good idea?”

Like a child on the last day of the school holidays, I laid my clothes out, set my alarm, and crawled into bed with a sense of impending doom.

Yep, I was going back to work. Ok, ok, so it was only for one day, but I felt totally unprepared for a day in the office. After seven months off, even one keeping in touch day was enough to fill me with a sort of nervous excitement.

It turns out I had nothing to be scared of. Apart from not getting to sit at my usual desk and being banished to the work experience corner, not much had changed … there was a lot of tea, office banter, and even some of the same stories were still rumbling on.

My first task of the day was to attempt to gain access to a computer … this would have been easier said than done if I hadn’t forgotten both my username and password during my time off. By 10am I was logged in, and the floodgates were opened on my inbox – only 9,849 to get through … time for a cuppa!

My view for the day
My view for the day

I spent most of the morning mass deleting emails. I was pretty ruthless and got rid of everything sent before January without even opening them, but managed to catch a glimpse of some of the stranger subjects. I’d been sent everything from a letter about controlling diabetes at Christmas and a press release about protecting the marsh fritillary butterfly, to instructions on glittering your lips and joining a book club. Oh, and there was a series of faxes from my own email account, followed by my out of office reply to each one … shame I missed out on that circle of fun the first time around! From the contents of my inbox there’s no way you’d guess I’m the news editor of a local newspaper. I think when I’m back in properly it’ll be time to unsubscribe from an awful lot of mailing lists.

By the time I cleared the influx and edited a couple of stories for this week’s paper it was time for lunch. Stew and Santi were coming in to town to meet me, and I was excited to see them after a few hours out of the house. Santi was full of smiles (Stew was fairly chirpy too) and spent the hour dropping toys from the high chair, stealing our bread and staring at strangers.

Back at the office I discovered yet more emails to be deleted from my junk folder (looks like I’d missed out on inheriting millions from a “long lost relative” in Barbados), drunk more tea (I really took advantage of actually drinking a hot drink) and rediscovered my passion for correcting grammar (that didn’t take long!). And before I knew it, it was time to go home.

As strange as it was being back in work, I’m glad I took the plunge and did a keeping in touch day. I feel a lot better knowing I still know how to be the “old me”, and it was refreshing not turning every sentence into song. In just 3.5 months I’ll be manning the desk four days a week, so I need to ease myself into it slowly. Although come to think of it, I don’t think work itself is going to be the challenge … getting myself and Santi up, fed, dressed and out of the house by 8.30am every morning is what’s going to kill me. Especially since we slept in until 9.30am today! Oh dear…