“So, how was your Bank Holiday weekend?”
I knew I was going to be asked this when I returned to work this week and for once I didn’t want to say, “Oh. Changing nappies, feeding, clearing up, trying to sleep.”
Bank Holidays have a special place in the British psyche. They seem to unleash a bacchanalian spirit simply by adding one day extra to a normal weekend.
Some people end up on three day drunken adventures. I don’t do that anymore. Others enjoy extravaganzas of sporting glory at Twickenham or chasing cheese down a hill in Gloucestershire, and even those who simply visited family and friends return with an extra spring in their step.
For us Bank Holidays used to be about mini breaks at slightly too expensive gastro pubs in cosy Cotswold villages or trips to quirky B&Bs by the seaside.
For the last couple of years they’ve been more about survival, getting to the point where we can collapse with a beer / glass of wine and summon up the last of our waning energy to high five across the sofa.
I’m not whinging by the way. I knew it would be like this with two children under three. And I know we’re not alone in feeling like this. But if I lay it all out it might also remind us when we’re older what on earth we did with our time during these early years of parenthood.
So here goes. This is what we did this Spring Bank Holiday weekend.
We decided to have a family outing to Kew Gardens. Lots of space for Little B to run wild. What could possible go wrong?
7am: I wake Little B up, change him and dress him in between prising trains out of his hands. When I’m changing him he sticks his feet in a pooey nappy and that goes on the floor, and my hands…
730am: We finally arrive downstairs. I make breakfast for Little B and he insists on eating it at the table, on the floor, on the sofa. No. In the garden? No? I give up. He eats it on the floor with the cat.
Mrs B has been up most of the night with Baby F but she’s now awake and feeding him upstairs. We live in different sections of the house these days. This is largely because Little B tries to attack Baby F when he is in the same room. It’s loving attacking (most of the time) but it still involves a squash and a squeeze, or ripping his legs out of their sockets. Hopefully this is ‘a phase’.
830am: Mrs B comes downstairs so I rush off to get showered and dressed while she acts as a UN Peacekeeper in the toddler vs baby war zone.
9am: We still haven’t left the house. Packing for a day out involves more luggage than we used to take on a mini-break when it was just the two of us. Baby F is having a meltdown because he’s tired having hardly slept. Little B is having a meltdown because he can.
930am(ish): We set off to the station with The Tank – my name for our double buggy. We manage to get on the train and Little B is very good all the way to Richmond. This still involves constantly entertaining him and bribing with food but we are not publicly humiliated.
1045am: We catch the bus to Kew outside Richmond station but get off too soon. Little B decides he is “A bit tired” and lies down in the street. For some reason toddlers manage to put on an extra four stone in weight when they do this. Cats have a similar trick if you try to remove them from a cushion. We haul him screaming into the buggy and arrive at Kew with a crying toddler. Amazingly they still let us in.
For the next half hour we try to find the children’s play area/cafe alternately letting Little B walk and then fighting to get him in the buggy when he lies down on the path. We still haven’t had a coffee. I’ll repeat that. We’ve been up for four hours and we still haven’t had a coffee.
11am: We split up. Don’t worry, I don’t mean our marriage is over. After a lightning lunch break for sandwiches I take Little B to the play area so Mrs B can feed Baby F and have some time out. We are big fans of time out in our house. I had a pretty good time out chasing around after Little B in the excellent playground until his batteries ran out.
12pm: We try to find a shady spot for a sit down. Little B plays hide and seek with us and these are the ten minutes of glorious silliness we will remember rather than the tantrums and moaning. When toddlers are being charming you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
1pm: Both boys in The Tank again. We walk and walk and walk and walk hoping they’ll go to sleep.
Thankfully walking at Kew is a glorious experience, and the sun had come out. I drape my coat over Little B after the request “WANT DADDY COOAAAT” is yelled at me a few times. Baby F lies truffling behind him in the bassinet.
“BAAAABY CRYING!” shouts Little B from the flight deck.
“Shhhh! No he’s not,” we lie. “He’s saying he’s sleepy, everyone needs to go to sleep. Mummy and daddy need to go to sleep.”
Little B pops his head out from the coat cave and starts “Shushing” everyone very dramatically with his finger to his lips.
2pm: Both boys have fallen asleep. We walk v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y through a gorgeous rhododendron dell trying to avoid bumping into people.
I spot a bench.
“Shall we have a sit down?”
Mrs B gets a wild look in her eyes.
This is the post-baby equivalent to telling her that I’ve booked us a two-week all expenses paid Kuoni trip to The Maldives. She murmurs happily through the sleep deprivation.
230pm: We enjoy a nice sit down. We have a vague conversation about what life used to be like and what it might be like again one day and how we mustn’t wish this time away because we wanted children and some people can’t so we mustn’t complain.
245pm: I am lying down on the grass near the bench. Some people have to step over me. I didn’t realise it was a path. My lack of trying to get out-of-the-way makes it clear I don’t care.
255pm: I’ve had a lovely long sleep. Both children are crying. I get up and feed Baby F. Little B goes back to sleep. Amazing.
330pm: We have arrived back at the entrance. Our visit to Kew is complete. The trees and everything were lovely.
We try to have a cup of tea but Little B insists on banging on the table and shouting so I take him off for a walk. Yes, we’re on a break again.
345pm: I spend 15 minutes running around a hot-house with Little B shouting at the plants.
“WHAT PLANTS DOING DADDA?
“Err. Being plants?”
“WOWWWWWWW! BIG PLANTS!”
‘Yes, they are big pla…”
“WHAT PLANTS DOING DADDA?”
This is fun. No really it’s great. I’m not meant to run around in glass hot houses. Some people look at us disapprovingly. It’s not like we’re throwing stones. You can all fuck off I mutter in my head. I think it’s in my head. My son can’t hear me anyway what with all the shouting at plants.
4pm: We have left Kew Gardens. All the way home Little B tells us he is tired. Fair enough I think. So we do our very best to entertain him, ply him with raisins, and let him have a dummy. A nice woman next to us doesn’t sigh or roll her eyes but smiles and probably enjoys her night out even more when she gets off at Clapham.
530pm: Home. Bath and bedtime for Little B. We play out the evening ritual of feeding and trying to settle Baby F while watching Britain’s Got Talent. I think the magician won.
So, that was how we spent our Bank Holi…
What’s that you say? What about the rest of the weekend?
On Sunday and Monday we stayed at home.
Categories: Days out