As a first time mum I was willing my little boy to hit that next milestone; desperate for him to learn to sit, encouraging him to crawl, and willing him to take those first steps. Second baby I was less than keen. I knew that crawling would lead to cupboard emptying and doorways blocked by baby gates. I wasn’t so quick to set the toys just out of reach to encourage crawling. Walking is swiftly followed by running. In the wrong direction. Always. It would be helpful if you babies could just stay still and safe for a little while longer. Third baby; can you just stay still until you are three and understand the concept of danger?
No such luck. Baby number three is currently in a battle with her big sis as to who will walk the earliest. One week before her first birthday and she’s up to four solo steps. Walking is imminent. She has three weeks to master it to be crowned quickest walker. She’s already mastered climbing onto furniture and sitting perilously down whilst balanced teetering on the edge of the chair/step/toybox, (why are you always the other side of the room when they do that? And stair gates are suddenly impossible to open when legging it back from the loo!) so I guess walking isn’t actually as bad.
But this stage in babyhood makes leaving your carefully baby proofed house an exercise in having eyes in the back of your head, and having understanding friends who, after a visit from yours truly and my little darlings, will find their house not only littered with toys from the preschoolers play date, but rearranged to have random seemingly normal household objects now placed on windowsills, fireplaces and shelves after extracting them out of the hands/mouth/nose of a dribbly baby on the move. I’m sorry you couldn’t find your TV remote/felt tip pen lid/random shoe dearest friends. Blame the baby.
I’m currently shirking invitations from people to their houses to save the inevitable cold coffee and nerves on the edge whilst I crawl around after the baby with half a house plant in her mouth, catching only every 7th word of the conversation of the other mums who’s little darlings who are playing quietly in the corner. I leave needing a G+T let alone that cold coffee.
To save myself going completely insane at home with three kids I’m now actively
encouraging begging my friends to meet at play places suitable for my three year old and safe enough for the soon-to-be toddler baby sister too. Regular play zones are still off the agenda due to the likelihood of the baby legging it out of the ‘baby’ area due to lack of dangerous apparatus to climb on, when she can clearly see where the good stuff and the giant yellow slide are at. Viable alternative options are my current Google obsession. So for local mums, passing on my wisdom, here are two of my favourite finds….
Active Tots, Stratfield Saye (north of Basingstoke) http://www.activetots.org/
A padded room for toddlers (up to 4yrs). I love that you can stand up in the middle of the room and see everywhere. No small person can hide and lead to the inevitable 10 minutes of mild panic until you locate your child. A great cafe, lovely staff, a new garden play area and ample parking. But note the warning on the website about satnavs. I got lost. Very lost. With a petrol tank in the red.
Little Street, Frimley (nr Farnborough) www.little-street.co.uk
A gorgeous little set up of a pretend street with little ‘rooms’ as a hairdresser, cafe, supermarkets with mini trolleys, a building site and a whole room for dressing up. Preschoolers can play happily whilst babies can crawl around chewing on a toy pineapple. Everyone’s happy. Booking is essential and the car park is small but we found parking on the next residential street.
If anyone knows of any great play places suitable for the younger little monkeys let me know! I’ve got a while before I’ll be invited to my friends’ houses again….