We recently took the kids to Amsterdam to visit friends. Given that a simple trip to the shops or the beach usually ends in disaster, it’s fair to say I was apprehensive. We live 20 minutes from Gatwick and the flight is only an hour and 15 minutes. So we obviously ignored all that and decided to drive the 7 hours there. “Why the bloody hell would you do that?” you might ask. I was asking the very same question right up until I saw the boot of the car once we’d packed it all up. Travel cot, packs of nappies, clothes for all eventualities, buggies etc etc. You get the picture. Anyway, we managed to do the drive there (with a stop off in Bruges for lunch – I cannot believe we swung that) and back, with three fantastic days in between. It was an eye-opener that we could have such a pleasant time with two under 3s in tow, and thus lulled me into a false sense of security.
Buoyed by this experience, I set off with the Baby and Toddler to Brighton Pier this week thinking “I can definitely do this on my own. We’ll go on rides! We’ll have a picnic!” I mean, we tackled a 15 hour round trip to Amsterdam…what’s a couple of hours by the seaside? Well, I thought I’d demonstrate the day with a little diagram. I got a Fitbit for my birthday and one of the features is that it monitors your heart rate, so you can tell when you’re burning fat/in your cardio zone etc. Here is my heart rate for the duration of my trip to Brighton. In the manner of a Year 7 science experiment, I have labelled the key areas for discussion.
- Toddler refuses point blank to go to the toilet before we leave. I attempt to wrestle him, bare bottomed (him, not me) onto the toilet but accept that he may just wee in the car seat.
- This is a weird anomaly. Maybe everyone was quiet in the car on the way there? Maybe I fell asleep without realising?
- We find a dragon ride in the kids area of the pier. It looks really sweet and tame and I decide to be fun, cool, relaxed mum and put the enthusiastic Toddler in the front and the Baby in the back with me. The ride attendant assures me the Baby is fine to come on the ride. It starts up and we glide round and round gently. Then, without warning, the dragons begin pinging up and down at an alarming speed. The Baby should definitely not be on this ride, her head is lolling around like a bladder on a stick. I try and hold her neck still while the Toddler’s body goes stiff and he pipes up “I don’t want to go on this any more Mummmmmyyyyyyyyyy”. I obviously cannot stop this hell ride, so plump for false joviality. “Ha, ha, ha! Isn’t it bumpy? Weeeeee! Ha, ha, ha”. All three of us eventually escaped unscathed, with only a hint of whiplash.
- Sit down for a picnic – I’ve picked a nice, shady spot. Open up the tin foil package which contains my usual dramatically unimaginative soft cheese sandwiches. I notice the Baby is gumming on a dirty pinecone and, as I reach forward to retrieve it, the Toddler shouts out “Mummmyyyyy, look!!” I turn round to see a bloody seagull dragging the foil parcel away, sandwiches and all. The Baby finds anything that moves hilarious and is having a whale of a time as she watches me chase the bird. I deem some of the sandwiches to be edible as they fell along the way – bit of a brush off and we’re all good again, although the seagull continues to circle.
- I haven’t eaten, due to the seagull incident, so we head to Tesco Express. The kids are getting really cranky and overtired now so I want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this is nigh on impossible due to the giant double buggy and the Toddler shouting “I WANT TO HOLD IT!” every time I pick something up . I do not let him hold anything, even though it would have saved a public tantrum – I had decided it was the principle that counted. God. Baby starts screaming, I rummage for the dummy, drop it, blow on it a bit, give it to her. The check out aisles are so ridiculously small I knock into almost everyone I pass and have to back out to exit, muttering apologies for my mere existence as I go.
As you can see, my heart rate drops again when the kids fall asleep in the car on the way home. The good news, though, is that I apparently spent over 2 hours in the fat burning zone. You know when celebs suddenly drop back to their teeny pre-baby dress size and breezily say “Oh, I just run after the baby all the time”and we all think “Bullshit”? Maybe they’re not all on low calorie diets and intense workouts with their eight personal trainers. Maybe they’re all hanging out down Brighton Pier with their kids. That’ll do it.