Toddler Logistics and the Spinning of Plates

One thing they never warn you about when you’re expecting your first child is how much of your free time is used up pondering logistics. Sure, you receive your complimentary dad dancing lessons and a copy of the Big Book of Dad Jokes, but they really need to start providing advanced multiple plate-spinning classes as part of the ante natal programme.

This weekend has been a fine example – my wife Jill was away Friday night, playing roller derby in Glasgow, whilst I was back on PA duties on the pitch for the first pre-season friendly at Scunthorpe United. Now here’s where it gets complicated – my parents usually travel from Scunthorpe to our house in West Yorkshire to look after Elsa on a Friday and they often stay late if we want to go out in the evening. However, my dad works at the football too so I had to leave my normal work early, pick him up and take him, leaving my mum to bathe Elsa and put her to bed.

To make things more complicated, my mum needed to get back home that evening, but thankfully my mother-in-law was coming up on the Saturday from Derbyshire for the Ilkley book fair (just up the road from us). She reckoned she could make it to ours later on on Friday night to relieve my mum, which is handy because I returned at midnight, only to leave the house at 5am to work on the radio. I was back at 10:30am to resume parenting duties, allowing her to shoot off and get on with her day.

Short of trusting the dog to tend to 20-month-old Elsa, there didn’t seem to be a less complicated plan of action available to us, but even Field Marshal Montgomery might have thought twice about taking on such an involved strategy. Before you have kids you just never consider that putting together a plan of action for being out of the house at the same time as each other would be like wading through mud of Glastonbury-at-its-worst proportions. I had to actually write down the timings in a kind of flowchart and was even considering creating a spreadsheet at one point to track each of our movements throughout the evening. A spreadsheet!

Elsa and the dog

It’s even fairly difficult to get the three of us ready at the same time when we are all going out together, there’s no leaving the house in under five minutes any more. This doesn’t bode well for our first foreign holiday together in September. If the logistics of a run-of-the-mill Friday evening are that complicated, then how are we going to cope with flying to southern France without me having to curl up in the aeroplane toilet for a silent weep? Especially seeing as we have to transport a sack of grain, a chicken and a fox as well.

People do this everyday though, it’s just the reality of parenting – kids are so much fun and thoroughly rewarding but bring with them unrivalled levels of chaos. With that in mind, does anyone have any tips on taking children abroad, particularly on a plane? I’m already planning to upload the Sing and Sign DVD to our iPad – not just for her, though – I want those smug non-parents who enjoyed a leisurely holiday packing experience to have to listen to How Do We Get to Grandma’s House?  thirty-two times on a loop as well.

That’s something else they forget to tell you about before you have children too. If childless couples knew of the existence and addictive (to kids) properties of Sing and Sign, it could bring the human race to an abrupt end.

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