S has been on holidays from nursery, which means two weeks stuck at home with Mummy.
Neither of us has been enthralled by this prospect, if I'm honest. Being self employed means I can't really take two weeks off so most of S's nap times and my evenings are spent catching up on the work that can't wait until S returns to nursery after the Bank Holiday weekend.
I don't drive, so as much as S loves the bus, days out pose a bit of a predicament. We have been on a couple of outings, though; these are some of the difficulties one faces as a lone parent with a toddler:
The biggie: buggy or no buggy?
- If I take the buggy, there is no real luggage rack on the new buses so it has to be parked in a wheelchair space - meaning S is left staring at the side of the bus for the entire journey. If I don't take the buggy, we can go and sit on the top deck and have great fun pointing out cows, horses, sheep and straw!
- If I take the buggy, it is in the way for about 90% of our day. S likes to walk everywhere, and if we go somewhere like the Oceanarium (as we planned to last week), it's not accessible with a buggy and you have to find somewhere to park it - and then go back in and retrieve it when you're done. Neither is ideal when you have an over-excited toddler who doesn't want to get in the buggy, doesn't want to leave the fishies behind, wants to play with everything in the gift shop. And then you come out of the Oceanarium, and she wants to run and play in the sand - while I try and gamely drag the buggy along behind us!
- If I don't take the buggy, we have to be back on the bus home by around 1pm so that S can have a nap - especially if she's been walking around all morning, she needs a nap!
- If I don't take the buggy, when S's legs get tired or she's fed up, I have to pick her up and carry her - which doesn't work well when one is sporting an umbilical hernia/bad back combo. Similarly, if she's having a bit of a meltdown, I can't let her sit in the buggy and calm down while we keep walking for the bus (or whatever else) - we have to stop and sit down somewhere. And miss the bus.
- Do you go somewhere with table service & hope they're the sort of place that welcomes toddlers throwing their fish fingers all over the place?
- Alternative to table service: you go to the counter and order food & drinks. They give you cutlery, drinks (usually in glasses filled to the brim) and all sorts of stuff that you then have to get to your table, along with a toddler. This one is tricky with or without a buggy.
- Alternative: you get the toddler settled at a table, and chance leaving them for a few minutes (longer if there's a queue) to order the food/drinks. Toddlers don't sit still, and in my experience you have only a 2-week interval in the development of a child where they can be left in a restaurant high chair without either sliding out of the bottom of it, or tipping it over in attempt to escape. But if you leave them loose in a normal chair... we all know how that ends.
Toilets & nappies:
- You are out on your own with a toddler, and you need a wee. If the toddler is in a buggy, you have no choice but to try and find a disabled toiled that doesn't require a radar key (those ones are usually all shades of awful) or you leave your child unattended outside of a normal cubicle door.
- If the toddler is not in a buggy, it's easier in that you can bring them into the cubicle with you... but less easy in that you spend the entire time saying "no, don't touch that... please don't sit down... please leave the door locked... please wait until Mummy has pulled her knickers up..." all the while with a running commentary which yesterday sounded a lot like, "it's loud, Mummy! Mummy do a wee wee it's loud! S do wee wee too..." as she tries to pull her trousers and nappy down.
- When it comes to nappy changing, it can be pretty hard to find a nappy changing facility without a queue outside, especially in a touristy place on a nice day. Let's just leave that one there, shall we!