When my daughter was a baby I would go and visit friends for coffee or lunch and she’d happily be passed around, fall asleep and have a boob or bottle stuffed in her face whilst conversation continued throughout, relatively unbroken.
Now that she’s 18 months old, she likes to run. Everywhere. Sometimes with her hands over her eyes (I’ve no idea why, it never ends well). She doesn’t enjoy sitting on laps. She can’t be appeased with colouring books, toys or even android phones. She desperately wants to explore this new place filled with smiling, waving strangers. She craves climbing chairs, hiding under tables, opening and emptying cupboards filled with breakable (chargeable!) items. She wants FREEDOM! It’s understandable, but so bloody inconvenient!
Here are the differences I’ve personally found between stepping out with a baby to stepping out with a toddler:
Stepping Out With a Baby
- Before leaving the House – Check the change bag for nappies, wipes, poo bags, change of clothes in case of Poomergency (I also like to keep a change of clothes for myself in the car, just in case shit gets really real!) and brightly coloured nondescript soft crinkly toy thingy for dangling in front of Baby’s face.
- Cup both boobs and simultaneously bounce them in the palm of your hands in order to test their weight for feeding viability. ‘Lefty Booby, you’re up next!’ Alternatively, ensure you have ample bottle supplies with pre measured formula/milk. And with that, you’re ready for the off!
- Arrive at destination, unload paraphernalia and baby from buggy/pram (is there actually a difference between the two?).
- Find a seat, park up your baby’s ride, unload baby onto lap, leisurely peruse the menu and its many treats, pass baby to friend and go stand in line pondering how wonderfully simple your life is (this is a complete lie. At the time, being Mum to a baby was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Ever!).
- Chat, laugh, marvel at your bundle of wonderment, feed it with boob or bottle, change it if required, dangle brightly coloured nondescript soft crinkly thing in front of Baby’s contented face.
- Go home.
- Baby may be either bored or overstimulated, address accordingly.
- Message friend ‘same time next week?’
Stepping out with a Toddler
- Before leaving the house – check change bag as above (minus the dangly in front of face thingy), pack a lunch bag with snacks (so many snacks, take everything you can carry!), pack a bag of toys, books and crayons.
- Arrive at destination and, with the toddler tucked under your arm, wrestle a highchair from the stacked highchair tower festering in the corner. Drag said germ-infested highchair noisily across the room whilst toddler twists about, desperate to be released.
- Attempt to transfer toddler into the highchair. Much kicking and yelling of ‘No!’ and ‘Down!’ until you relent and set them down on the ground and that’s it. You’re off! Dragged around the restaurant/coffee shop by a tiny hand whilst you yell brightly over your shoulder to your patient companion ‘HI, SO GOOD TO SEE YOU!’ and ‘I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!’
- Re-attempt high chair deployment, fail, snatch up the menu on your next (98th) circuit past the table so you can quickly select something both you and the toddler will like (because of course they’ll discard their favourite food for whatever you have!). Smile and roll eyes at the morons who find this spectacle adorable (if it’s so adorable, feel free to take over for a while!) whilst in your head screaming ‘CAN YOU NOT JUST FUCKING SIT CHILD?’.
- Stand in line, holding toddler who is hell bent, for some fucking infuriating reason, on pulling the hair of the person in front of you in order to get their attention. Nobody likes having their hair pulled, even by a cute, toothy, smiling toddler. Apologise profusely to the alarmed customer.
- Successfully encourage (bribe with unhealthy snacks) the toddler into the highchair and collapse into nearest seat with a breathless ‘Hi! Here we are!’ to your bemused looking friend (unless they also have a toddler, in which case they will be across the room waving, walking in a crouched and uncomfortable position whilst being similarly dragged around said restaurant/coffee shop by their very own Mini Dictator).
- Attempt to converse with your adult companion. Most sentences are interjected with ‘sorry, what?More? What would you like now?’ and ‘oh you want Mummy’s food?’ before reverting 20% of your attention back to your friend with a ‘what were you saying?’
- Consume food and drink where possible.
- The child is finished eating and wants to go exploring. No, the carefully selected toys, books and crayons are not going to amuse them.
- Complete your meet-up realising you’ve both started 100 conversations and you don’t know the conclusion to a single one of them. Remind yourself to text them later for some form of ending to those snippets of conversation you can vaguely recall.
- Wrestle child back into the pram/buggy and return home.
- You’re knackered, hungry (if you gave up on eating) have indigestion (you were not giving up on the food you paid for and inhaled it like a champ). The toddler? They’re happy, content and, best of all, tired and in need of a nap!
- Message friend ‘same time next week?’
Based in Cambridge. First-time blogger, part-time Secretary and full-time confused Mum to a toddler and ever-growing bump (due November 2016). I dream of booze, chocolate and lottery wins (not necessarily in that order).