How is it that leaving the house, something I do everyday, often multiple times a day, is always a source of so much stress and difficulty? I always leave later than planned, and usually it's just ten minutes later, but living through those ten minutes takes at least an hour off my life.
I always plan for ten minutes to actually get the kids and bags downstairs and into the car. But in the interest of setting a good example for my children, I feel compelled to make sure we finish putting everything away before we leave the house. My three year old assists reluctantly, but the very act of putting toys away reminds my one year old of how much fun she was having playing with them, and she follows us around, delightedly pulling toys back onto the rug.
Everything's away, and I double-check the nappy bag. Are we stocked up on nappies? Do I need to refill the wipes? I'm trying to reduce the snack habit in my children, so I can risk omitting snack-cups if I haven't prepared them in advance, but in this weather, I want to have ice in their water bottles, so these need to be done as late as I dare. Typically, as I fill them up, the children appear at my legs, suddenly thirsty. Telling them that we are saving these to take with us will bring the Tantrum of Instant Gratification Frustrated. Am I willing to deal with that?
If I remember, I tell my son he needs to go potty before we go out. If my daughter has yet to poop that morning, I check her nappy furtively. If I am unlucky, my impatient son will be too hasty in positioning himself and will manage to spray his pants. I have to find him a clean set of shorts and/or underwear, which means going upstairs. By the time I'm back down, my daughter's in mischief again, and I need to restore order from her chaos. Did I finish filling those water bottles?
Time for shoes. Mine and my daughter's are in the cupboard. Where are my son's? Probably by the sofa, he'll have to look himself, but it usually takes me to point them out for him. My daughter permits me to put one shoe on but insists on attempting the other herself. I try and gather my bags while she fails. Nappy bag, shopping bags, swim bag, camera bag, small bag.... Usually not all on one outing, I swear.
Keys, sunglasses, everybody's hats, where is my daughter's hat? Crap (spoken aloud, oops!), we forgot the sunscreen. We are going out, you just have to give me a moment. Put that back! My sunglasses are not a toy. Quiet voice. Now you poop?
Finally, we're headed down the steps, me laden with bags and toddler, urging my son ahead of me to open the door into the garage. Unload half the stuff on the small table in the garage for that purpose, just so that I can open the car doors--it always has to be my son's first. Sling the other half of the stuff into the footwell under my daughter's carseat, and wrangle her into her straps against her protests. Load up the boot, and tell my son to get his arms through his straps while I run upstairs for something forgotten--and to check I locked the doors.
Halfway down the road, it will occur to me that I forgot to get the iced water bottle back in the bag after the children were done with it or that I left the wipes box on the dining room table after refilling it. And I will say "Bugger it," (silently, good Mum,) and drive on.