Yesterday I posted a picture on Instagram of a day out with the kids. They are holding hands, looking cute, dressed in bright rainbow colours. They have beaming smiles and look like the very best of friends. I even gave it a cheesy hashtag #firstdayoftheholidays.
I hold my hand up and admit that photo was a BIG fat lie.
Here’s how the day really went…
I set out with high hopes. Sure I woke up at the crack of dawn after yet another broken night’s sleep and we were all a little blurry eyed over breakfast.
But it was the holidays. No school or nursery run to face. No schedule to fit into. The day was ours and I was determined that we would all head out and have Fun. With a capital F.
There was a small hiccup before we set out when both my five year old and two year old insisted on taking their scooters on our walk to the duck pond.
I know from experience that they always, ALWAYS promise they will scoot the whole way. Then they always, ALWAYS give up approximately 5 meters into our walk and I end up hanging two scooters over the buggy handles and having to adapt a bow legged walk to avoid banging my legs into bits of metal.
But – it’s the holidays. They ask for scooters. They get scooters. Maybe they’ll scoot?
They didn’t. My two year old fell off just as we turned the corner and cried. My five year old lasted about 5 minutes more before abandoning hers.
I ended up balancing two scooters over the buggy handles and had to do the awkward walk with them swinging against my shins. Why was I surprised.
But a few shin bruises were not going to dampen my mood.
A promising start
We chatted on the walk to the duck pond, which has the added excitement of having a play park at the entrance.
The older two held hands and skipped like characters from Swallows and Amazons. The baby snoozed contentedly in his buggy. So far, so good.
We got there and fed the ducks and it was all idyllic. They maybe ate more stale bread than the ducks but I tried to just relax and go with the flow.
5 minutes later
Then we set off on a walk. But the older two started squabbling and pestering each other. I did my best to distract them and urge them to stop fighting but they didn’t listen.
They started poking each other, then shoving each other and finally my five year old pushed over her little brother into a bunch of nettles.[/wrap]
Cue at least 40 minutes of almighty howling. The ruckus woke the baby who opened his eyes, saw what was going down and decided to join in and raise the noise levels one notch further.
I rubbed it on my toddler’s shins anyway in desperation to try to get him to stop screaming as if he’d been burnt alive. We were getting looks from all the other perfect families passing by.
Finally everyone calmed down. I wiped away snot and tears and put on my cheeriest voice to suggest we find a bench to sit down and have our snack.
But my kids chose to accept this as a challenge. They fought over which identical bench to pick.
The wooden one next to the pond or the other identical wooden one five meters away, also next to the pond.
Cue more squabbling and accusing each other of being ‘Mean rotten poo-poo heads’.
By now one of my eyelids was beginning to twitch.
The baby has decided it’s boob time and he doesn’t give a flying duck which bench we choose. And he’s not going to hold back letting us know. In the only way he can. By screaming at the top of his voice.
I lost it and put my foot down by shrieking that we were all going to sit down on THIS bench. Why? Because I said so.
And I admit I shouted the command ‘SIT DOWN’ so loudly that three ducks flew off in fright.
A little old lady looked at me as I raised my voice. I’m choosing to believe she was with me on this one. In reality she’s probably thinking I’m a terrible mother.
Two tear stained, grumpy kids sat down on the wrong bench and I got out snack.
I thought that would keep them busy for a few minutes but it turned out that I had packed breadsticks and they wanted oatcakes.
Throughout their loud objections at this terrible snack decision I made, I tried to breastfeed my baby without exposing an entire boob to passers by. I felt like I wanted to cry.
But I still held the trump card of the play park in my back pocket. And off to the swings we went.
To the swings
The big problem with this particular play park is that it’s a teeny park with only one swing. And so they have to share. And they’re rubbish at sharing.
The baby is crying again and I bob up and down with him grizzling in my arms as I try to get the two elder kids to take turns swinging.
You know when you watch tense crime dramas with bomb squads trying to talk down assassinators. It was a bit like that. But with small kids. And a crying baby.
Anyway we manage to get through it and then it’s time to leave the play park.
Leaving the swings
I stretch it out to six, seven, eight…fourteen more minutes as I give into their pleas.
After fifteen more minutes I have to yank the five year old from the swing, prise my two year olds fingers away from the swing bars and coax the baby back into the buggy.
Out of the corner of my eye I can feel more tuts from other parents and old ladies.
We traipse back home with everyone either sobbing or trying not to sob. Me included.
When we finally make it back to the house we have fish finger sandwiches for tea and I play them a recording of the CBeebies ‘Goodnight’ song to trick them into believing it’s bedtime at 5.30.
My husband comes in and asks breezily ‘How was your day?’
Star that he is, he notices the blank and beaten expression on my face and pours me a gin.
Tomorrow’s another day. Maybe we’ll try a museum!