PICTURE the scene … It’s a Tuesday, and the one day a week you’re solely responsible for your toddler and baby for the entire day.
By 8.50am (more than three hours before you’re due to meet friends for play and lunch) the oldest has been up for several hours, two of you are dressed, and you’ve all been out in the car to take your husband to work.
It’s going well until the toddler asks to watch Bedtime Story (that’s Toy Story to you and me) and you have no idea how to get it to play on the memory box device your husband has saved it in instead of buying an actual DVD (despite having at least 150 DVDs on the bookcase).
Your frantic text to your husband results in a phone call with step by step instructions on how to get the film on. It’s like some sort of Mensa test with various menus and sub-categories to choose from.
Success! Toddler is engrossed in the adventures of Woody and co, allowing you to get yourself and the baby dressed. “What the heck,” you think. “I’m going all out and putting on a dress today so I can wear my lovely new ankle boots” ( a spectacular £12 from Primark in case you were wondering). You even have time for both make up and hair straightening – practically unheard of when there’s only one adult at home.
Your toddler looks like a full-on 70s child in the head-to-toe Little Bird by Jools outfit your husband chose, so you go all out and put the baby in his new Little Bird onesie for a matching, not matching kind of look.
It’s always a good day if there’s some twinning going on.
You give yourself an hour to cover the 20 minute journey to the play place. You stop for petrol, then to get cash out, kicking yourself that it’s only Tuesday and you could have done that over the weekend rather than when you have two children in the car, and finally pop to your husband’s work to drop something off.
It’s then that you catch a whiff of that all-too-familiar scent. It’s the baby. You undo one popper to check for leakage, and thanks to the car seat buckle squashing the nappy, out it comes through the side of his vest. Again.
You remember why you no longer wear dresses as you lean over the back seat of the car in the car park to strip your baby out of the lovely onesie you took the tags off just one hour ago and dress him in the handmedown emergency outfit, while your toddler repeatedly asks when you’re going to the play place. Oh, and your husband strolls over to the car and says “I thought you were coming in”. Not sure a naked baby is acceptable in the workplace…
Finally, you’re on your way, and after driving around for an extra 15 minutes you find somewhere to park, only to discover it’s a supermarket customer only car park and the idea of explaining to your husband why you’ve been clamped is marginally worse than movinv the car.
The baby has fallen asleep so you daren’t transfer him from his car seat to the pram, and as you walk along the pavement your toddler has a stop about having to walk on the inside. He won’t move unless you pick him up, so you end up carrying the toddler with one arm and the car seat (plus a 16lb + baby) with the other, wondering if the combined weight comes to more than your eight-and-a-half stone, while your toddler argues that “mammy isn’t little” and can easily carry both siblings at once.
Thankfully the double carrying only lasts a couple of minutes, and you eventually make it to the play place, where you have a relatively stress-free couple of hours. It’s always easier out of the house.
The 3pm drive home is a guaranteed nap time, and you naively plan a cup of tea and some online shop browsing. Nope. The toddler’s eyelids don’t start to drop until the very last roundabout, so risking a danger nap but relishing the idea of peace, you hastily turn around and go for a spin to send him off completely.
The baby is outers, so you face the military operation of getting two sleeping children out of the car and into the house without waking one, who could set off the other. You go for the baby then toddler option, putting the car seat in the play room and planning to lay the toddler down on the settee in the living room.
It’s looking good … until you get to the front door and your neighbour appears out of nowhere, booming “someone looks tired”. And he’s awake. As is the baby, who hates his car seat and instantly wants out.
It’s ok, you’ll put Toy Story 2 on so toddler can wake up slowly. Except that the stupid memory box machine now has an error message that another emergency text conversation reveals your husband has never even seen. Seriously, what’s wrong with buying the DVD?!
Somehow, while also changing the baby and opening toddler’s juice bottle, you happen to press something that gets it working, and all is well with the world.
Not content with just sitting down and appreciating the calm, you ask toddler if he would like a snack. He agrees to have some toast, and as he’s in a bit of a sleepy grump you have the genius idea of brightening him up with a surprise (making shapes out of the toast with a person-shaped play doh cutter).
You immediately regret it when he declares “I meed (need) more man bread”, and at 4.10pm you find yourself trying to glue a toast head back onto its body with butter while eating the remaining bits of bread because so much is wasted, when you should be doing the breakfast dishes before your husband gets home from work and secretly wonders what on earth you’ve been doing all day.
Round two of “man bread” eaten (with no suspicions about the accidental decapitation) and it’s time to pick husband up from work. All back in the car for the fourth time in a day. Toddler in first as he’s the biggest flight risk, baby in second with tears the second the buckles are clipped, and a rendition of the alphabet song complete with toddler’s “h and jake and ella ella p” (HIJKLMNOP).
Your husband comes out to demands from the toddler to go in to work for a walk around. As the baby is crying, and unlikely to stop while he is strapped in, he takes both with him.
You settle down for five minutes’ peace to check Facebook and listen to the radio. Then look up to see the trio heading back to the car with baby being held at arm’s length and a suspicious looking patch spreading along his dungaree leg – AGAIN – and not even a nappy to hand, let alone a second spare outfit as you were only going to be out of the house for 10 minutes.
On getting home, your husband dashes in with the baby, while you attempt to open the back door of the car wide enough to get the toddler out without being hit by one of the dozens of vehicles zooming down what appears to have become rush hour central.
Of course, the toddler has taken both his shoes and socks off so has to be carried in, and as you get him out of the car seat, trying not to flash your neighbours (that damned dress), you manage to drop the bag containing leaky nappy number one, which rolls out and into the middle of the road.
And so the chaos continues through tea time, where toddler will only eat plain rice, and bedtime which involves taking two cuddly toys, Buzz Lightyear, a juice bottle, sunglasses and book to bed.
Despite appearances, that was a good day. There were no major tantrums, a vanilla latte drunk while it was still hot, and a secret stash of Dairy Milk in the pantry (albeit the treat sized bars, but that just means you’re allowed more than one).
Oh, and the husband dashed quickly to Asda for bread and Weetabix and came home with matching baby and toddler Woody the cowboy costumes … I can’t wait for the meltdown over wanting to wear those to nursery.
Oh wait, did I say “I”? This day totally didn’t happen to me … Honest.