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.
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?!
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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…