Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Out and About

Routines are great. Many's the time since becoming an SAHD that having a routine has helped me hold on to my sanity, especially on those days following sleep-scarce nights when my brain is working even more slowly than usual.

Wake up. Breakfast. Play. Get dressed. Play. Pushchair walk. Play. Lunch. Play. Nap. Snack. Play. Toddle outside (weather permitting). Dinner. Bath. Bottle. Into PJs. Story. Kiss. Sleep (cross fingers).

Organised bliss. And it seems to work. For the most part, E&W are very happy little campers - we're really lucky that we seem to have two very nice-natured little people. And of course I enjoy spending time with them at home, playing around, watching them pick up new skills. Getting out for a walk is a particular highlight of the day, a chance for me to get some fresh air, some much-needed exercise and to see a bit of green countryside (which is good for my soul), and E&W like watching the world go by, playing spot the !!CAT!! and getting fussed over by passersby.
And of course now they've entered toddlerhood, they really enjoy getting out of the house under their own steam and having an explore of the front path.

K and I having been talking recently about how we think that life has perhaps got a little...well, boring...for E&W. We've noticed they get irritable more easily when cooped up in the house. It's harder to distract them with the things they used to love - cuddly toys, being chased, wrestling, books, Duplo. They're growing up and they're wanting to explore the world more. Who can blame them?

It's not as if there aren't lots of exciting places to go and things to see in and around Oxford. And I don't just mean museums and galleries (E&W are maybe a little young for them, but when they get older whole other worlds will open up for them). There are playgroups, soft play, parks, petting farms, all sorts within easy reaching distance. But we don't tend to do much outside the routine above.

I readily take a lot of the blame for this. I’m a little bit nervous of taking E&W somewhere new during the week, when it’s just me with them - the logistics of getting them somewhere, getting them out when we get there, keeping them entertained and safe when they’re having an explore, it all feels a bit daunting.

But the main problem is me. I'm a homebody. Not very sociable. Not very adventurous (it's somewhat ironic that my third-favourite type of book - behind sword-and-sorcery fantasy and ghost stories - is real-life adventure, all mountain climbing and canoeing the Nile and walking round the world. Vicarious adventure from the comfort of my armchair). I know what I like, and I like what I know. I'm not particularly comfortable in new places or with new people, although I like to think I warm up quite quickly once the ice has been broken. So given the choice, I'd always naturally pick something we've done dozens of times before, something we know works, rather than trying something new. But I know that's not really a good way to live your life, and I certainly don’t want E&W to grow up to be like that like that, so I know it’s important they get out and about, properly explore and experience the world, try all sorts of things, meet other people. What I want, what I'm comfortable with, has to get shoved aside for their good.

So we’ve decided to make much more of an effort trying new things.

First on our list is swimming. We bought little swimming trunks (nice looking swim-nappy wraps) for E&W, K and I dug out our swimming costumes, and early on Friday morning we all headed off to Leys Leisure Centre. I was really impressed at how swish it is - a far cry from the municipal leisure centre in the town where I grew up, which was always a bit shabby round the edges and smelt of chlorine, weak hot chocolate and beef crisps. Ahh, memories. The swimming pool area (at the Leys) was really nice - a 'fun pool' with fountains and water jets, a teaching pool, and a grown-up pool. As it was our first time, we stuck to the fun pool. E didn't really enjoy it that much. We think she was a bit scared by the noise of the water and the general hubbub, and had a minor meltdown; she did calm down a bit after a while and enjoyed lying on K in the shallow water - hopefully she'll be happier once she's got used to things. W seemed quite at home pretty quickly though, and was soon strutting around like Daniel Craig in those little blue trunks in Casino Royale. All in all, a successful, enjoyable trip, and one we're going to try again this week (fingers crossed E feels a bit more at home this time!). It's given us some real motivation for getting out and doing more varied things as a family, which is no bad thing at all. Perhaps we won't be scootering across the Sahara any time soon, but I think we'll definitely be broadening our day-out horizons a little.

And if you're wondering why there are no photos of our first family excursion to the pool, well...it's a swimming pool. My phone would have got wet. And there was the risk of getting a shot of me with my mild Dad Bod - and bright pink swimming shorts - and no-one really needs to see that! To make up for it, here are some more photos of E&W:

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, give feedback, or make suggestions for what you'd like to see me write about (I'll happily do requests!) below - and please share this blog with anyone you think might be interested in it. And you can find me on Twitter and Instagram: @andymarsh58. Thank you!


  1. Well done! It's definitely a good move to shake up the routine a bit and to give the kids a slightly different experience, although I know what you mean about wanting not to go too far with new logistics. But as the kids get older they also become more accommodating of change and longer, more demanding days (as well as being less dependent on you for everything). I don't think it needs to be 'let's go out every day' but having something like a swim to look forward to is a great way of keeping the kids motivated - and behaving better too!

    1. Thanks Tim - I'm looking forward to both E&W being more confident in their toddling. I think (hope) that will make getting out to more interesting places easier - or at least I won't have to think about pushchairing or carrying them so much. Of course, they're guaranteed to always want to head off in other directions...but that's a whole new challenge to deal with :)