I love day trips – I always have.
Packing up for the day and spending it somewhere different has always been a source of excitement and enjoyment. When I was a child, I went on lots of day trips to the seaside, museums, zoos and one of the things I was most looking forward to about having kids was recreating these trips. And I did – almost every week saw me packing up and heading off with our butties on a Big Day Out.
But since F was born and, more significantly, since becoming a single parent, the day trips have fallen by the wayside.
I’m too exhausted and the thought of doing it on my own is often too overwhelming. Even if I did have the energy, I just don’t seem to have the time amongst the school visits, doctor’s appointments and food shopping to spend a whole day somewhere new. Of course we still go places, but aquariums and castles have been replaced by soft play, the library and playgroups – usually only for a couple of hours and usually bookended by TV and Lego in the living room.
I’d like to say that as an intelligent woman I’ve been able to rationalise the lack of day trips as an inevitable necessity of life right now and avoid the mum guilt. But I haven’t.
I do feel guilty. It’s yet another thing my children are missing out on.
So my heart sank when my daughter brought home the nursery bear on Thursday for us to look after and document our weekend adventures with. Flicking through ‘Tofu’s’ accompanying book, it was full of exciting day trips. In some cases there were even holidays abroad – dutifully photographed. How could our weekend compare with that?
But then I started thinking about my childhood. Yes I remembered the trips to the theme parks and farms, but I also remember the smaller things – watching Gladiators on a Saturday night, going for a milkshake with my mum and playing with friends at the park. It made me realise that being a parent is more than the Big Days Out. It’s about being there for the seemingly insignificant moments – the singing very loudly to the radio over breakfast, administering Calpol at 2am and tickling feet under a blanket on a Sunday afternoon.
As it happens though, we did have a day out planned which was exhausting and enjoyable in equal measure. But that wasn’t my daughter’s favourite part of weekend. The bit she enjoyed the most was the hot chocolate and marshmallows we had together on Sunday because, as I’m slowly realising…