Back when I was single, or even married without a kid, planning things wasn’t necessary. I’d get an impromptu phone call from a friend and just say “sure, I’ll be right there!” Then I’d actually be right there, and we’d spend the next 11 hours sitting at a bar.
Nowadays, if I don’t have something on the books at least a week in advance, I can’t even answer that phone call. Just getting yourself and your kid out of the house takes an eternity. When you become a parent, the concept of “spur of the moment” ceases to exist.
Having children means the death of spontaneity.
Here is a list of things we need to prepare for even the briefest of trips away from the home base:
- Snack cup
- Toy cellphone
- A yogurt pouch
- Toy stroller
- Toy computer
- Toy car
- Coloring book
And that list doesn’t take into account the process of preparing the kid himself. Which means changing his diaper (always gotta change it right before you leave, to maximize its stamina), putting his shoes on, putting his coat on and finally corralling and putting him in the stroller.
What really hurts are all the different distractions you need to bring, since you never know what he’ll respond to on any given day. Sometimes he wants to draw, sometimes the sight of crayons enrages him; sometimes he likes to play with his fake cellphone, sometimes he will spike that cellphone right into the ground; sometimes he wants to read a book, sometimes he will light that book on fire right in front of you, the little Hitler! You just never know, so you bring them all.
You’re probably wondering why we don’t just keep everything packed so that we’re always ready to go. But that would mean we’d need TWICE as much stuff! He still needs toys and food and books and all that when we’re home. So we’re faced with either doing the packing/unpacking routine every day, or going broke/hoarding toys just to save time. So far we’re sticking with the timesuck, rather than the poverty. We’re on a budget as it is.
Speaking of the timesuck: gathering and packing all this junk means that even when you have firm-set plans and know exactly when you have to leave the house and manage everything perfectly, it always takes longer than you anticipate. We are always behind. It’s like going to the beach every single day but without the cooler of booze. And then, after we’ve gotten together everything the kid needs, we inevitably forget something for ourselves. Like our keys. Or our cooler of booze.
When he was a baby we could always just strap him on and wait for him to go to sleep; infants are like cats that way, if they’re not eating, they’re either sleeping or about to be sleeping. But with a toddler it’s all about distraction. It’s a war out there, and god forbid you get caught out in the field without a weapon; it’s not long before things escalate and you’re caught in the middle of a bloodbath.
So you pack everything you own to avoid such a scenario, and that means getting up at 5am just so you can get out of the house by 11. Of course, if he’s napping, you’re totally screwed.