Every day I am pretty sure I do at least one thing wrong. Most days I do more. I used to think I was alone, until I talked to other parents who were honest. Here is a place for more parents to feel less alone, and more "good enough".

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

How to have a largely successful day out.....

So, we did this. We had a successful day out. All five of us. And it included a city centre, a coffee stop and a 2 course meal. Here's how we did it.

Firstly - the eldest two slept at their Dads last night so they were already dressed and first-breakfasted upon arrival at 730am. This is a very important note as it meant no negative morning issues. It is important to also note that James, their father and myself had a highly positive conversation about various things upon drop off, which even included laughter, so even more positivity sneaked into their heads whilst they weren't looking.
We had a slight meltdown upon setting off as Jess was in delay/avoidance mood and we missed the train and I left my phone at home, but we were back up and running (and thanks to James actual running also had my phone back) by the time the next train came.

A few minor mishaps involving platform races, swerving prams and Jessica having to see *shock horror* DRESSES on display whilst exchanging Toby's suit (for the next size up - milk monster alert!), and we were headed for the Lego Store. Having wisely set off early to avoid crowds (and thus meltdowns from pretty much all of us except Toby), we had the store almost to ourselves. The children were impeccably well-behaved, didn't ask for anything, and happily built and paid for a minifigure each from their own pocket money when the idea was suggested to them. On to the next store!!

We had wisely located the next store before going in the first store.......and upon stepping out of the lift were able to shout "Yay Toy Shop!!!" for the first time in ages in Leeds City Centre. The children loved the roof of the Trinity also at this point. In we went.........

I followed Jessica and James followed Adam. Jessica's conversation was a stream of "woah"s and "wow"s as she came across Doc McStuffins, Peppa Pig and various other tv toys. She brilliantly asked for nothing.
Until we came to the Cut the Rope display unit. "Pleeeeease Mummy. But pleeeeease Mummy, I keep this?" With many sad looks and cuddles. Looking at the 10 pound price tag I was extremely firm in my no. I offered to take a picture so she could ask for it for her birthday. She had a very cute pleading face in said picture.

But she put the toy back with no further questions, no tears or tantrums. I was so amazed I offered to buy her a foil pack with 2 cut the rope figurines in for 2 quid which she happily accepted. Soft touch, moi??
Both children paid at the till (Adam chose some more Kobots, again out of his pocket money) and we directed them next door to Costa which James and I had spotted on the way in ;-)

This, again, was amazingly stress free. We sat for 30-60 minutes, drank both our coffees, had one mini muffin each, fed Toby, changed a nappy, whilst 2 happy and cooperative children played with their new figures and then our phones as we noticed boredom triggers appearing. To the bookshop I suggested?? And both children happily agreed and didn't delay leaving?!

Upon arrival in the bookshop Jessica needed a wee. I headed back out with her to find a toilet (and bought a pot of fruit from a cafe to gain access to one). She happily walked, waited and wee'd. Both children spent time choosing books, a bit of 'Jessica wanting to buy books she already has, half the shop for Toby, and Adam wanting to spent 20 quid on sticker books' was dealt with surprisingly diplomatically and with no meltdowns and the man on the till was very impressed that Jessica was spending her pocket money on a book (Little Miss Star) instead of sweeties. Luckily she didn't hear him and gain ideas ;-)

On to the museum! No food and drink allowed in but thankfully Jessica had just finished her fruit pot (and shared it with Adam?!) so no issues arose. Adam enjoyed running all over the huge map "destroying Leeds" and James had fun spotting all the places he had driven to in the van recently. Jessica pushed and pulled lots of interesting "things" whilst Adam read about what they actually were. A few slight 'getting tired combined with warm museum' grumbles began to surface after about an hour so we took the executive decision to get excited about it being sunny enough to play in the Noble Comb park hint hint.....they decided yes it was ok to go back to the train station. We had a few wobbles from a tired 9 yr old (and a tired 26 yr old) on the way but nothing spectacular in our world ;-) and found the 2 spare mini muffins on the back of the pram just in time to offset a tired 3 year old's descent into 'I want to do whatever you don't want me to do' whilst James was buying juice in the shop and I was outside with all 3 children. Phew!

We psychologically tricked the children (mainly Adam) into making the walk to the pub feel shorter by walking right through the station "You can go through the tunnel AND on a lift this way!" and not surfacing until near Foxes Corner where "You can see the pub from here!" - awesome parenting at it's best ;-)

We arrived at the pub. And the rest is history.

Adam read his new book in the sun...........before joining his sister in the park.

Jessica ran about on the park, took off her tshirt because it was warm, straight away put on her jumper because it was cold, and ran about without her wellies on because "it's safe, OK!"

Adam ate all his meal AND an extra identical meal we bizarrely got free, and Jessica had a pretty good go at her "pizza, rice and peas, I don't like vegetables ok, so get me PEAS ok?" so we got puddings. 2 big sharing puddings between the 4 of us, because we were high on the no meltdowns so far day we were having.

Who likes their pudding? "I DO!!"

A park, an empty bench table next to it, weather *just* warm enough for us to sit outside, an extra pizza the kitchen cooked by accident and two sharing desserts later, two children actually happily walked out of the pub in the direction of home.

For about 2 seconds and then they realised it was 4pm, they'd left the house at 930am (and their Dad's at 715am) and now they were being asked to walk home. Slight parenting fail but one with no other solution due to the location of the pub, our house and that the walk for a bus/train would've been just as dramatic and almost as long. The 9 year old was the most vocal. Luckily, another 2 seconds later we were on the canal. And the complaints of "it takes ages, I'm tired, we've walked loads today" were forgotten as sticks and stones were flung into the ever accepting depths. It wasn't plain sailing and took a rather tortuous hour and ten minutes to get from the Noble Comb canal entrance to our house in Saltaire......bearing in mind we had the pram with us that Jessica had the option of jumping in and out of all day so we hadn't been forcing her to walk miles. Much was made of "ooh a red boat", "look that's where Aunty Karen works" and "I think the ducks are following us....quick run!". Jessica jumped in the pram just as we got to Roberts Park, we had a slight hiccup when she saw the icecream barge but these were the only tears of the day and were gone by the time we reached the train station and found a stick to bang on railings all the way home.

At home, surprisingly, Jessica didn't fall asleep (unlike Beard who nodded off on the sofa) and chilled out watching tv whilst Adam updated his kobots profile on the pc. A few Good Luck Charlie episodes later, a small upset over the water cup in the bathroom, and all three children were in beds/cot. Jessica fell asleep straight after her stories and a quick mummy snuggle so I actually feel rather sane.

The nappies are in the wash, the house is 'tidy enough', and it's quiet. And we had a successful day out. All five of us. So how did we avoid meltdowns? A mixture of planning, cunning, and a big dollop of luck. Maybe we have the skills to have a good time at DisneyLand next month after all?? I certainly hope so, for now I'm just happy that we managed it once x.

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