Staying home all day with three young kids is a massive no-no for me. I’d much rather take them out even though it’s a mammoth pain in the arse.
Getting 19 month old twins and a three year old ready to go somewhere is basically the longest, most frustrating, shoutiest part of my day and I still can’t believe how bloody LONG it takes.
I am always late. Always. No matter how much time I leave myself to get out, it is never enough. One of them always needs a last minute nappy change and making the three year old sit still long enough to put his shoes and coat on takes longer than sorting a Brexit deal.
Then the four journeys to the car – Twin One, Twin Two, the three year old, and then the bags. And don’t even get me started about how the hell I manage to lift/bounce/push/shove/catapult Twin One into the middle car seat. I’m sure that meme about banging your kid’s head on the car door was created with me in mind.
Then doing it all in reverse the other end. I sometimes ask myself why I’m bloody bothering.
And then I remember the alternative – STAYING HOME with three children aged three and under.
This is literally at the very bottom of the list of things I like to do and why my diary is booked full of activities and playdates at least a month in advance. Free days are a rare thing in my house, and woe betide anyone who cancels on me at the last minute.
So I thought I’d put together a little list of fors and againsts staying in versus going out. But as you’ll notice, it might be *slightly skewed.
5 REASONS FOR GOING OUT WITH YOUNG CHILDREN:
1.You get to see friends.
Now this for me is paramount to my staying vaguely sane. If I don’t see my mum mates (or anybody of the adult variety to be honest) during a day, it’s not a good day. Okay you don’t get to have much in the way of chat because the kids are interrupting you ALL the time, but now and again, and stretched over about a 30 minute period of stopping and starting, you might actually be able to talk about something other than which dinosaur has teeth the size of bananas (T Rex in case you wondered). It’s also a great way of remembering that you’re not the only mum in the world whose child still can’t put their own shoes on, or is up three times a night soothing babies. Plus the kids get to hang out, so they’ll be well-rounded sociable individuals. Ahem.
2. It tires them out
Considering the main aim of parenting is to get your children to sleep all night (that’s right, isn’t it?!), the more physical activity you can get them to do during the day the better. Extra points for fresh air too. This could be in the form of a bike ‘ride’ where they set off energetically racing their mate on balance bikes for all of about 20 minutes, then whinge that they can’t even walk resulting in me balancing the sodding bike on the top of the double buggy, and bribing the three year old all the way back to the cafe. Because there is ALWAYS a cafe as you’ll read below. Or if, heaven forbid it’s raining, send them clambering over as much tricky stuff as you can at a soft play centre, whilst trying to contain the twins in the ‘baby’ area – obviously of which they are having none of. Hideous as soft play places are, they are STILL better than staying home.
3.You can keep it varied
Once you leave the safety of your own home, the world is your oyster, right? Well maybe not if you have three children so young and dependent, but there’s definitely more to do than when staying home, surely. Take them to a baby group (if you can manage all three on your own, if not send for reinforcements like I do – hello Mum!), what about a swimming lesson (again tricky alone with all three mind), someone else’s house so the three year olds can fight over toys, or somewhere as simple as the park. Granted this option is only ever chosen when I have back up to ensure no child of mine is lost, abducted, injured or stuck irretrievably at the top of a climbing frame. But for me the favoured choice of outing every time is a local National Trust garden. Lots of space for the three year old to burn off energy, and a safe place to release the other two from their buggy prison for a wander. In different directions obviously. And National Trust do THE BEST cheese scones.
4. They *may sleep on the way home
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ALL about the naps, but if any (all) of my children want to fall asleep on the way home from a morning out, this is fine by me. Especially as I’ve totally nailed transferring them from the car to cot/bed with them still asleep. It is not unusual to see me driving the very long way home to help speed up this process. You can’t do that if you’re staying home all day, can you?! Plus, it’s VERY cute when they hold hands.
5. Coffee and cake
Okay, so I could eat cake at home but that would feel indulgent so I don’t. Although I think nothing of hiding behind the cupboard door to scoff a biscuit. But when you’re out and about it’s totally fine. My usual decision-making process for what to do is based around whether there is a hot latte at the end of it. And what goes well with a hot latte? Cake of course. Or those aforementioned National Trust cheese scones. I pack up the kids’ lunches (I hate the job but I’m too tight to buy them food out every single day), and feed them in the cafe. That’s cheeky enough of me, so it would be downright rude not to buy something to accompany the coffee. And because the babies are contained in high chairs, and the three year old is well-trained enough to sit still whilst eating (usually), I actually get to drink it when it’s at least luke warm, sometimes even hot!
5 REASONS NEVER TO STAY HOME ALL DAY WITH CHILDREN
1. No adult conversation
If you have more than one child and opt for staying home, you’re basically outnumbered at all times. This might also be the case even if you meet up with friends, but at least there is an adult to talk to then. Staying home means no adult conversation, nobody to whinge to when your preschooler is a bit of a knob, and nobody to laugh (cry) with when you hear “Mummmeeeee” for the 3,497th time in two hours. If you can cope with this for more than one day at a time, you are a better mum than I am, and I need to know what magic stuff you’re putting in your morning coffee.
2. You have to entertain them
Sounds stupid as this is obviously your job, and you’re clearly entertaining them when you’re out and about, but at home this feels like a bit of a task. I’m not talking about the odd half an hour here and there where they flit between playing with the Paw Patroller/Dinosaur Transformer/sticker book. In my house all three boys like to wander around seemingly aimlessly carrying toys between the kitchen, play room, lounge and stairs – not actually playing with any of them but just leaving them everywhere as trip hazards. So I need a plan to engage them. Something for them to focus on. Such as a lovely craft activity, a spot of potato printing perhaps, or even a bit of baking. Obviously I’m talking about for the three year old. The twins are still happy wandering aimlessly. But If you know me at all, you’ll know these are NOT my thing. At all. When I do it, I hate it. The most creative I can be is getting the kinetic sand or play doh out. And believe me, that’s a push. Taking them out is SO much easier than staying home.
3. The house looks like the aftermath of a burglary
If you like a tidy house and choose to stay home, you’re just asking for trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those clean and tidy freaks, FAR from it. But the mess two 19 month olds and a three year old can make in just one single hour is TOTALLY INSANE. By the end of a day staying home, and however many times I pick things up, my house looks like it’s been ransacked by a group of visually impaired burglars.
4. Activities last 10 minutes – if I’m lucky
Stay at home ‘activities’ are definitely the most frustrating part of not going out. Even with my limited offering of books, play doh, cutting and sticking, reading, and colouring, nothing lasts long. I’d say 10 minutes max. Sometimes it takes longer to get it all out and clear it away than it does to play with it. Apart from Duplo. Duplo and Lego is King in our house. The three year old absolutely loves both and can easily spend an hour or so sitting at the table building random “vehicles”. And just recently the twins have discovered Duplo – albeit they get frustrated pretty bloody quickly when it doesn’t do what they want. Otherwise they like to ransack the cupboards.
5. Cold coffee and no cake
In comparison to my cafe-stops whilst we’re out and about, there is no such luxury at home. I’m lucky if I get round to making myself a cup of coffee, let alone remembering to drink it. Even when I make it in a travel mug (among top 5 must haves for any parent IMO), by the time I’ve kept it out of reach of the babies whilst I’m on the floor being climbed over by Twin One at the same time as trying to do a floor puzzle faster than the speed of light before Twin Two rips it apart, the coffee somehow gets forgotten and goes cold. At least when you go out you can take a travel mug in the car with you. I’m ashamed I’m at the point where this is considered a treat…
So there you have it. Staying home is definitely not the new going out for me. What about you? Do you like to stay at home and get the crafts out or would you rather they run wild outside and burn off their energy?
If you thought this blogpost wasn’t half bad, why don’t you hang around and have a read of some more. If you’re anything like me, you might appreciate this one on why it’s okay to not love every minute of parenting or what about the ‘almost love/hate’ relationship of a toddler and twins.
Or if you fancy a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a giggle at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. Feel free to join in though. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. And if you fancy sharing your own funnies, come and join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group on Facebook.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here, and I’ll get back to you during naptime/screentime (!)