Let's Go Outside


Leaving the house used to be something I never really thought about. If I had my bag, keys, purse and a cardigan, I was good to go. Heck, sometimes I could even leave without a cardigan if I was feeling particularly reckless. Having a baby totally takes away that freedom. Leaving the house now takes planning, coordination and the skills to work out whether you have enough nappies to deal with at least 3 catastrophes per hour that you’ll be out for. Because babies are rubbish at being left at home alone (I think it’s because they haven’t worked out their guilty pleasure on Netflix yet), if you need to go outside then so do they.

Take this morning. I needed to pop to Sainsbury’s to get some stuff for dinner. Pre baby, this would’ve been a 15-minute round trip. Easy. With a little bean in your life, it takes an absolute age. First you get yourself ready. I hadn’t yet had a chance to shower she was refusing to nap and has now learnt how to barrel roll across our living room floor. So, after making myself look just respectable enough that Sainsbury’s didn’t attempt to put me in their reduced meat pile, it was time to get her ready. Thankfully, in the hot weather, a strappy vest is enough. Tip: strappy vests are the best thing in the world because, as any parent will tell you, sleeves are the devil. Getting a baby ready to go out in winter requires PhD level sleeve navigating and will make you consider whether you really need to go out and get food. Just as you get them dressed you hear a familiar sound, it’s what I’d imagine throwing a blancmange into a demon-filled well sounds like. Right, vest off, nappy changed, vest back on. Oh, why are you crying? Time for a feed? Yes, of course. Right, let’s sit down and feed quickly then. Oh, sure, long feed. Right, you’re done, let’s get-, oh no, sure, throw some of it back up. Now we both need new clothes on. And this is all before we even begin getting the pram ready so we can actually get out. God, it was so much easier when I just had to decide whether I should take a cardigan with me or not. At least this bloody heatwave means I don't have to make sure she's got her cardie too. 

Of course, there are a few times when she doesn’t get to come out with you. Occasionally, you’ll be given day release and you can leave her with your partner/grandparents/friends/the TV (obviously I’d never do this one. As I said, she hasn’t yet figured out Netflix and I therefore can’t trust her to not just watch Question Time repeats). However, if you’re breastfeeding, this can mean that even the briefest of trips requires additional planning. Because my boobs get time off for good behavior, it means we have to make sure there’s enough expressed milk in the house to last me being delayed by at least 2 weeks plus more to cover any potential apocalypses (yes, plural). Obviously I’ll be fine, I have my trusty cardigan.

But once that is done, you’re out. Oh, sweet, sweet freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter more than Walkers Pickled Onion crisps but being outside without a pram or a baby carrier, even for an hour, is quite amazing. You get free hands, you can easily access your bag, pavements cease to be a problem and you get to sweat normal amounts on the Tube rather than the horror levels experienced by having a human hot water bottle strapped to you. This is freedom, this is gloriously liberating, this is-, oh, I’ll just text and check she’s okay. Partner sends reassuring reply with added photo of them having a great time. That’s nice. I totally don’t wish I was at home with them. Not at all. No way. I mean, a baby can’t forget you after two hours, can they? No, of course not. And how long have I been idly swiping through the 12,000 photos I have of her? Stupid cardigan, why don’t you smile at me like she does?

So next time you ask a parent to leave the house, consider the implications. Heading out now requires admin, heavy duty admin, because it’s no longer just a case of remembering their cardigan.

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