Babies and Baggage

I need at least three hours notice to leave the house at the moment.

That seems to be the fastest time in which I can wash, dress and feed one adult, one toddler and one baby. Then all I have to do is find everybody’s shoes, coats and hats, argue with the toddler about wearing said coat in the car, select by process of elimination the correct small cars from the 20,000 in his collection to hold on the journey, change the baby’s nappy (again), and finally go to the loo myself while the two year old sings “mummeeeee weeeee weeeeee!” at the top of his voice and the baby cries because he is in his portable carseat on the floor and the toddler is blocking his view.

Performance anxiety is not an option in our house. Neither is privacy.

My handbag is roughly the size of Moldova – and this is in part the bugger about bottle feeding. If we are going out for the day I need three bottles of cooled boiled water, plus a large pot containing the right portions of powdered milk. For some reason this baby simply refuses to drink the ready-made cartons, which is rather inconvenient of him. But I am not entirely unhappy about it because, at an eye watering £3.50 per litre, that stuff is more expensive than gold (probably).

I also need nappies/spare pants (which *must* have spiderman on them, don’t ask), wet wipes and a change of clothes for both children. After one particularly memorable moment featuring a fruit salad and an exploding infant on a sofa in Pret a Manger I’m seriously considering adding a spare outfit for myself to the collection but I don’t think my shoulders could take it.

Then there’s the “emergency” toys, in case one falls out of favour, or into a river – yes, this has actually happened – the toddler drink and snacks (note to potential bag thieves: I wouldn’t touch those Marmite rice cakes if I were you. I have no idea when they were opened or how long they’ve been there), the muslin square, the changing mat, the teething gel… and finally my own stuff: keys, wallet, mobile phone, hairbrush.

Needless to say I can never actually find any of my stuff. Car keys can hide for days on end inside a tiny trouser leg and I think the last time I fixed my hair away from home was July 2009. I do wear make up but more often than not I get home to discover my mascara has taken up residence on my cheeks and I’ve got toothpaste rather than lipstick on my lips.

I’m sitting in a quiet beachside cafe on my own while I write this. I’m by the fire, and haven’t had to apologise to anyone for the trip hazards/spillage/loud burps or say “stay away, darling, it’s hot hot hot!” every 30 seconds. I have with me my phone, a debit card and an iPad, and that’s it. I think I am at least a stone lighter and five inches taller.

I miss them…