Andrea Mara

Official website

Getting Out of the House is (not) Child’s Play

Getting out of the house doesn’t seem to be any easier than it was eight years ago when we had one tiny baby, one huge changing bag and two very confused adults in charge. Lots of parents know the routine: feed the baby, change the baby, pack ridiculous volume of unnecessary baby stuff into the changing bag, check everything five times, then put on jackets, only to find that the baby needs to be fed again. Start over.

Eight years and two more babies later, it is harder than ever to get out of the house. We have learned little it seems.

One Sunday a few weeks ago, we woke to a beautiful sunny morning.

“I know!” I said, “Let’s put on the roast and head to Killiney Hill for a walk while it cooks, then come home to a lovely dinner, having got loads of fresh air.”

(this had a ring of perfect parenting to it with the added bonus of food that would cook itself while we weren’t even there)

So we put the roast on, and decided to skip Sunday morning bath-time in order to speed up our departure.

We’d just tidy up after breakfast, prepare the dinner food, dress the kids, get ourselves ready and go. Simple.

“Kids, come on upstairs and get dressed,” was repeated over and over while we tidied up, completely pointlessly, as we well know, yet we continue to do it.

Finally we picked them up and brought them upstairs to begin the “what do you want to wear?” negotiations. There were deep discussions about the suitability or not of a tutu for hill-walking, arguments for and against taking out summer clothes (“but it’s so sunny out!”) and a child who went ahead and ran a bath anyway, then got in, still in his vest.

Eventually five of us were dressed, and the hunt for jackets, gloves, scarves and hats began. By noon, we were ready to go.

“Em, the roast will be ready in twenty minutes,” pointed out my husband.

Right so. And anyway, it had started to rain.

Killiney Hill Office Mum
Killiney Hill on a day when we actually made it there

A few weeks later, again it was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. Having learned that we couldn’t win a race against a roasting pork, we took a different tack.

“I know!” I said (ever enthusiastic on sunny Sunday mornings) “Let’s go to Dun Laoghaire market and get lunch there – no need to cook till later!”

Cue the usual cleaning up, the outfit choosing debates, the protracted getting dressed and the search for the gloves. By 1pm we were finally ready to go.

“I’m starving mum,” said the six-year-old “Can I have some bread?”

“Me too,” said the eight-year-old

The four-year-old was already biting chunks out of a loaf.

“Actually, I’m hungry too. You want something to eat?” I asked my husband

“I’ll put the kettle on,” he said.

So after our pre-lunch lunch, around about half past three, we headed for the market to get lunch.

Dun Laoghaire People's Park Office Mum
Dun Laoghaire for a late, late lunch

I thought about all of this today as I witnessed a lengthy hunt for shoes and jackets. Discussions about the merits of runners over boots for football, debates about whether or not a particular coat was officially in the wash or just designated as due to be washed, and negotiations about hats and scarves. Eventually they were ready to go to their destination: a game of football in the back garden.

There’s no moral to this story, and definitely no assumption that we’ll get it right next time, because clearly, we’re not learning anything at all.





Click the button below to sign up to my Penguin newsletter.