Thursday, 20 November 2014

Wailing, whining and weeping: our playground trip went wrong

This week I decided to take my two boys to a nearby playground and nature reserve so that we could all get out of the house and reap the benefit of some fresh air.
It wasn't a very nice day: blustery and gloomy, with the sky so low it seemed to almost be hanging like one of those cartoon clouds over your head.  But I was getting cabin fever waiting in the house for some sunshine, so off we set anyway.  It was my first outing with the First Boy and the Second Boy on my own, so I was a bit nervous, but what could go wrong?  We were going to a playground that the First Boy loves, and the Second Boy had been sleeping 20 hours a day and loves his pram, so he'd be no problem.  It was supposed to be so easy.
Off we went, armed with everything we needed for a nice jaunt out, to the tune of the First Boy's nursery rhyme CD in the car, the Second Boy predictably asleep in his car seat.
We arrived at the park, paid our £3.50 parking fee, and headed for the playground. But with no single other family there whatsoever, the place felt really desolate and eerie, like the set of a Scandinavian crime drama; swings creaking in the wind, climbing frames stark against a leaden sky. You get the picture.  We all seemed to pick up on the mood.  My spirits sank. The First Boy wandered in a desultory way around the different pieces of equipment. The Second Boy began to whimper in the pram.

'Zip-wire, Mummy!'  The First Boy picked up a little when he spied his favourite part of the playground.  But when I tried to lift him onto the seat, while stopping the seat disc from sliding back down the wire, I realised that it was an impossible feat for me to elevate a 2.5 stone lump that high with one arm.  Cue a fit of pique from the First Boy, who seemed confused as to why I couldn't help him onto the seat like Daddy does. But he recovered soon enough and went off to play on the climbing frame (that has a clear notice that tells you it is designed for children five years and older).  Normally, Daddy gives him a lift up, and helps him with the monkey bars and fireman's pole.  Mummy, on the other hand, was again pretty useless at this, and was beginning to feel more and more anxious as the Second Boy began to wail. 
I began to alternate between pushing my big boy on a swing and comforting my newborn, whose pramsuit was inconveniently slippery next to my own coat and made him as hard to handle as a bar of soap in a bath.  Every time I laid him down in his cosy pram he immediately restarted his wailing.  Every time I stopped pushing the swing, the First Boy immediately berated me for the swing not going high enough.  I was on a loser.

Then I remembered that there was another, lower, more mummy-friendly zip-wire in a different playground within the nature reserve, and I foolishly suggested to the First Boy that we walk to that one instead, thinking that the Second Boy would stop crying once the pram was in motion.  Instead, as we walked the mile to the other playground, the wails got louder, the track got more uneven and muddier, the First Boy started to whine that he didn't want to walk any more, and my nerves got more and more frazzled.  I resorted to cradling the Second Boy in my arms while pushing the pram, and whilst the First Boy staggered alongside, holding the side of the pram and adding his weight to it.  It felt like a very long way, and by the time I got to the second playground I was ready to cry myself. 

Before the wailing and whining began . . .

After I'd helped the First Boy have a go on the zip-wire, from which he fell off and landed in a patch of mud, I decided that I'd have to try breastfeeding the Second Boy to pacify him.  So on a cold metal park bench, with the wind whipping my hair across my face, I exposed myself and attempted a feed. It didn't work.  After ten minutes, I gave up, put the Second Boy back in his pram while simultaneously leaking breast milk all over his blankets.  We made our slow progress back to the car park, in the same awkward way as we got to the playground.  I had never been so glad to see our car.

At the same park on a happier day

I was so worn out and demoralised by our first outing that when I got home and found my husband there (I was so glad to see him!), I went to bed for a little weep and a rest.  Sounds melodramatic I know, but factor in the month of sleeplessness and hormones and I think I can be forgiven.

So, there we go.  Not your usual upbeat positive post about making use of the great outdoors with your children, but an honest experience that I think a lot of mums will recognise.  In hindsight, I should have stuck to our smaller, local park for my first trip out with the two boys, and shouldn't have attempted such a long walk with a grumpy pre-schooler. We live and learn!


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  1. Oh bless, I really do feel your pain! Early days out with my girls together didn't go much better, it does get better (most of the time!)

  2. Thanks Claire. It really was a crappy afternoon, but the very next day was a lovely one. The early days are such a contrast of ups and downs! x

  3. I'd say it gets easier but I think we just become more experienced. Every one assumes you are an expert when you have your second, apart from the fact that no two babies are the same, you've never had two before! When they start giggling together it will all be worth it. My youngest is 8 months and he is in awe of his big brother. #brilliantblogposts