When Ev was a month old we took him for a ‘day out’ for Westy’s Birthday. I say ‘day out’ because actually, despite prepping the prep, by the time left the house it was gone lunchtime. I cried for about half an hour of our forty-five minute journey, lamenting our inability to leave first thing as planned. Worrying about Ev crying in public. Feeling guilty that I was ruining Westy’s Birthday by being such a hot mess.
We’d opted for a National Trust property that offered a shuttle bus from the cafe and shop area to the main house. I surveyed the small grey vehicle that was gradually filling with people and decided I was not going to risk being confined in such a small space with a potentially noisy baby. So we enjoyed the lovely picturesque walk to the house.
By the time we arrived at the house, Ev was starting to voice the odd murmur of discontent. His feed wasn’t due. His nappy didn’t need changing. He was probably just tired. So we gaily attempted to enter the house with him nicely snuggled in his pram. Only, prams weren’t permitted in the house. We probably should have just decided to skip the house at that point. Instead, I picked Ev up, snuggled him in a blanket, and left the pram outside.
I don’t know if it was the change in light from the bright winter sunshine to the dark interior of the house. Or the musty old wood fire smell that clung to the walls. But something really offended Ev, and he was not going to be polite about it. He wailed, and no bouncing or cooing could coax him out of his despair.
It was then, as I started to get a sweat on and look for the nearest exit, that the ‘helpful’ unsolicited comments started: “Oh, you poor thing, you’re hungry aren’t you?”; “Look, he’s probably cold!”; “Do you think you should feed him?”. Each well-meaning remark felt like a dig at my ability to mother my child. I hot footed it out, burst into tears and could only be won round by Westy bribing me with me a cup of tea and a very large slice of cake in the cafe.
The fact is, as a new parent you’re often exhausted and overwhelmed. But if you’re like me, you also want to be living a life outside your living room. Getting out and about with your baby can feel like mission impossible, but I survived outings in the early-days with Ev and Harmie using my tips below.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR BEING OUT AND ABOUT WITH A BABY:
- All babies cry. Most parents will remember when they too were carrying around a ticking time bomb of a little human. They’ll try and make eye contact with you so you know we’ve been there and you’re not on your own. Your baby always sounds louder to you than to everyone else.
- There will always be someone (possibly more than just the one) who feels the need to ‘suggest’ what is wrong with your baby and offer helpful advice: what you should be doing; how you should be doing it. These people mean well, but don’t assume that their need to offer advice is a reflection of your ability as a parent. Simply nod and smile and remember you’re the one that matters here. You know best what your baby needs.
- Build up outings gradually. Start off by going to familiar places for a quick catch up over a coffee, or by popping to the shops. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone to tag along and support you. It’s simply a case of building up your confidence and every outing is an experience for your baby; they’re not going to complain that you’ve opted for a quick stroll around the park rather than a walk around a landscaped garden.
- When arriving somewhere new, suss out the locations of changing and feeding areas. It’s much easier to get your bearings when there’s no pressure on you to do so. By having a quick scout about when you arrive you’ll feel more confident that you know where you can escape to if needs be, and your baby will sense you’re calm too.
- Have confidence in yourself. You’re the one that soothes your baby. You’re the one who makes them feel secure and loved. Together you’re a team. You’ve got this!