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Over the years there have been many things that I thought would be a great to do with the kids, only to discover that in reality things are always far more complicated than I expected. Nice activities or family trips end up in chaos and mayhem. Kids just seem to conspire against us to make even the best laid plans turn into total mumfails!

These are some common things I have idealised and had good intentions for, which ended up with me pulling my hair out, wondering why I bothered

BAKING: The Fantasy

It would be really nice to bake some cupcakes together. That’s a nice and easy thing we can make. Easy enough for a toddler to make with minimal disaster. They can help me measure the ingredients and mix it all up, and maybe spoon the mix into the cases. It will be a chance for them to wear that cute little apron I bought him. It would be good for them to learn basic cooking skills growing up. He will look back and have fond memories of us baking together when he grows up.

The Reality

He loves the idea of baking, but after 2 minutes I already regret it. Measuring out the ingredients is much harder than I thought. Flour all over the floor, he has poured in way too much and the scales have reset so no idea how much is in there.

I had to take over doing bits like the egg and now my son is having a full on meltdown because he “wants to do it”. I let him mix it once its all in the bowl… bad idea, he dropped the spoon in and has eaten some. Its raw egg, can’t be good surely?

Spooning the mix into the cake cases has resulted in some cases drowning in mixture, all oozing over the sides and others practically empty.

I thought this would be fun and I hate to say it but I am actually getting really pissed off. He is making a right pigs ear of this. I thought we could make some nice cakes to eat but I wouldn’t want to feed these monstrosities to anyone!

There is cake mix everywhere. In his hair on the floor. All I can hear is my own constant droning repetitive request to “be careful”.

Next time I either do this alone, or accept the task is him having fun and the output will be some questionably safe baked goods.

GARDENING: The Fantasy

I’ve bought some cute little vegetable growing kits to do with the kids. They can help me divide the compost into the pots and each plant some seeds in the trays. Nice fun activity, and they can then water them each day and care for them, watching as they grow and eventually harvest them to eat.

The Reality

Compost everywhere, water everywhere, why did I do this indoors? Listen to me each pot needs ONE seed Okay, not the whole damn packet!
Please don’t eat the compost! Please don’t mix the seeds. Thin layer!!!!!
I hate this. Worst idea ever.

ARTS & CRAFTS: The Fantasy

What a magical and fun thing to do. Sparks the imagination and develops creativity and curiosity. I love crafting. Before I had kids I used to make stuff all the time. This is a good way of me being able to do some of the things I used to enjoy and share this passion with my child. I shall keep lots of recycling items for art projects.

The Reality

All craft stuff creates mess. Toddlers are crap at crafts! Scissors are dangerous, glue is the enemy, play doh gets stuck into the carpet, and there is no point having colours because all toddlers want to do is mix it together.

NEVER USE GLITTER. I’m basically blinded by a glitter blizzard on the back of a sneeze! You will find glitter in your hair for the next month. Kids LOVE glitter. Glitter glue is worthless trash that never dries.

We’ve been using all the old recycling items to make stuff. Wow my son has so far made a robot, a rocket, a house and various other things. They all look the same. A box with things stuck on. There are loads of these creations piling up around the house. He wont let me get rid of any of them. I must keep every single creation or he will feel unloved and rejected. I wait a few days until he seems to have forgotten about something before sneaking it into the bin.

Sometimes he discovers a rejected project and asks “mummy did you throw my crafts in the bin?” I feel terrible but I really don’t want to keep everything. Sometimes I lie and say I don’t know how it got there. Sometimes l say I thought he didn’t want it anymore. Rumbled rejects always return back to the collection and have to stay FOREVER as they will notice the minute its gone again. Your only hope is for it to break!
He now raids the bins stealing any household waste that can be used for new masterpieces. I have created a hoarder!
Arts and crafts from now on shall consist of paper, stickers and crayons.

SOFT PLAY: The Fantasy

Lets take the kids to a soft play! My mate takes her kids there and they love it. It sounds amazing and I would have loved going somewhere like that when I was a kid. Just like fun house!
The kids can run around and use up lots of energy and I can sit and relax, safe in the knowledge that they will be safe- you know, because it’s soft, and enclosed. And they will have so much fun and when we leave they will be so shattered from all the fun we can then have a nice quiet and relaxing afternoon.

The Reality

What fresh hell is this? I have literally fallen into a nightmare. This place is huge and full of massive bruiser kids that could give Phill Mitchell a run for his money. My 3 year old is going to get butchered!

I did believe a soft play would be pretty safe from injury but had not foreseen the issues of slide friction burn, ball pit suffocation, child avalanche crush, kick in the head from standing too close to the bottom of the slide or the absolute real chance of picking up germs from the filthy bodily fluid stained padding. I will be lucky if he gets out of here with nothing more than a verruca!

I imagined I would be sitting with a coffee, possibly reading a book, when I am as actually running round desperately trying to locate my child within the 3 story high, rope encapsulated pits of doom. He calls to me from within the abyss and I’m shouting back “don’t worry mummy’s here but I haven’t got a fucking clue where he is or how to get him.

Adults aren’t allowed in. Its fend for yourself mate. I shall have to stand at the sidelines, powerless. Follow my voice!!!

When the hour has ended I am bloody relieved to be leaving, with no plans to return, but can I get him out? Ha ha. Not a chance! I’m calling out like a parent with absolutely no authority, begging, bribing then threatening in order to get the little shit bag to come down from the top floor of the soft play. I finally get him out, with the promise of a sweet treat and vow to never go back.

That afternoon he is an absolute rascal because he is over tired but too wired from the excitement and the chocolate I had to agree to give him to get him to come home.

PLAYDATES: The Fantasy

With a baby: It will be so good to have a catch up with my mate. We can have some lunch and maybe a drink and chat about how motherhood is treating us. The babies can have a roll about on the play mat together. I can escape from the hum drum for a bit and get a sense of me back for a short while.

With a toddler: It will be so good to have a catch up with my mate. We can have some lunch and maybe a drink and chat about how motherhood is treating us. The kids can play together, preferably in the bedroom and give us some quiet time to have a good natter. I can escape from the hum drum for a bit and get a sense of me back for a short while.

The Reality

With a baby
: The babies have conspired against us. My mate made lunch and her daughter was screaming her head off so I held her and tried to settle her whilst my mate quickly whipped it up.

We sat down to eat but I had to eat alone at first while my mate fed her daughter and then got her down to sleep. Then mine wanted feeding so my mate cut my food up for me and I ate one handed over the head of my baby until I was able to pop him down. Then hers woke again and set mine off and our cup of tea got cold. We sat chatting with the babies in our arms as the only way to get any quiet enough to hear a word each other were saying.

With babies in slings we downed a glass of wine and now I’ve been here 3 hours and I really need to think about heading home to avoid the school rush. Time has flown and I’m not sure we have finished a single conversation.

With a toddler: The kids have conspired against us. My mate made lunch and her daughter was screaming her head off because my son had taken her toy and wouldn’t give it back. I had to intervene and mediate between two emotional and highly strung little people who have no understanding of sharing or allowing us any respite.

We sat down to eat and mine started whingeing he didn’t like it and wanted to play and I spent 10 minutes calling after and chasing my son around trying to get him to sit at the table and eat whist her child sat and watched. She then took the lead from my little terror and decided to join in the resistance. My mate ate her food quickly and then took over getting them to settle down and watch something whilst I shoved my cold food in my mouth.

We sat chatting with the kids running round like bulls in a china shop, shouting their big mouths off and could barely hear a word each other were saying. Within minutes both kids are crying and blubbering that the other had hurt them and whilst trying to make sense of their tales of battle and facilitating their making amends, we downed a glass of wine.

Now I’ve been here 3 hours and I really need to think about heading home to avoid the school rush. Time has flown and I’m not sure we’ve finished a single conversation.

SWIMMING: The Fantasy

I really want my child to go swimming from an early age and be confident in the water. They say babies naturally take to water well and it will be relaxing for them. I’ve not been for ages too so it will be nice for me to get some exercise and have some good bonding time with my baby.

The Reality

What a colossal mistake. The only good bit about this is the first 10 minutes of being in the pool! Getting a baby in a wetsuit is like something out of the krypton factor and getting the damn thing off when its wet? The worst!

Baby loved the first 10 minutes in the pool and once I figured out how to get in with a baby in my arms I enjoyed it too. But then the baby’s lips start getting a bit blue and they are shivering a bit and clearly need to get out already. Hardly seems worth it.

We get out and showered then the real fun times begin.
For the record. Once babies get out of the pool they literally have one thing in mind. They want feeding and that’s all they want. They have no sympathy for your sodden wet and freezing body. They care not for the fact they too need to be changed out of their wet and skin tight wetsuit and shit filled swim nappy. If you are really lucky you’ve nabbed a family cubicle with a baby changer which makes the whole scenario marginally less difficult, otherwise you are balancing that baby on the narrow bench of the changing room cubicle.

The baby is SCREAMING whilst you change them and dry them. Everything is damp and so the dry clothes don’t want to cooperate either. You finally get them ready and then are faced with the mind boggling question of where the damned heck do you put the baby whist you change? Can’t leave them on the bench, they will fall. Can’t put them on the floor. It’s drenched! Whilst holding the baby in one arm you wrap a towel round you and whip your costume off and in the split second your breast is exposed that baby has by some small miracle managed to latch on!!! You accept defeat and sit in the towel feeding, at least happy the screaming has stopped. But swimming creates an insatiable thirst and this ravenous beast intends to not stop anytime soon. You have to take them off and get ready.

They scream whist you pen them down with one arm whist you put your freezing damp top half into a top, and using a leg to hold them on the bench to proceed to haphazardly pop on your trousers. There is no scope for sorting out your hair. You shove everything in the bag and hobble out of the cubicle with your shoes shoved on, backs pressed down into make shift flip flops.

You sit in the cafe area outside feeding for another 30 minutes. You want a drink but you cant get up. You never go swimming alone without your partner again until they are walking.

4 Replies to “Parenting Fantasy Vs Reality Part 3: Activities & Outings with kids”

    1. Hi Jennie
      Thanks for having a read, much appreciated and I’m glad it resonated with you too. Glitter is my current arch enemy, although I’m sure the kids will pronto introduce me into a new found fiend!

  1. Oh, these are great. I especially like “never use glitter”. I also enjoyed the picture of the Playmobil toys in the top picture. I enjoyed those as a kid.

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