So, I was driving Miss O home after a rather uneventful day involving a pootle around the shops and a trip to the library. It was pouring with rain, but we were in high spirits given that we’d seen not one, but TWO yellow cars, and an excellent variety of doggies, including a Dalmatian (which, if you’re as big a fan of Marshall from Paw Patrol as she is, is akin to clocking Taylor Swift sashaying down your local high street…)

After a minute or so of silence, I caught a glimpse of her in my mirror. She was absolutely beaming in my direction.

“Mummy?”

“Yes baby?”

“I am SO happy!”

… I’m not going to lie, I welled up a bit.

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I spend an inordinate amount of time feeling guilty about how much ‘quality time’ we spend together. Weekdays are often a blurry race to the finish line filled with pick-ups and drop-offs and deadlines and “crap is that TOMORROW?” and rattling through a bath-book-bed routine peppered with “but WHY??” and “don’t like it!” and “5 more minutes!”

Weekends are better, but seem to get swallowed up by weekly shops and household jobs and all manner of mundane tasks. Of course there have been trips to the farm, toddles around the beach, that time in CBeebies Land when she nearly bankrupted us in the gift shop…but more often than not it’s a trip to the park, a gander round the free zoo (nobody actually BUYS things from ‘Pets at Home’ do they? 🤔) and back to the house to top-up the play-doh/glitter/baked beans ratio on the living room floor.

I worry that we’re not doing enough of the whizz-bang, magical family memories stuff; that because we haven’t managed a day jam-packed with exciting/educational/creative/life-affirming jaunts and jolly japes, we’re failing.

But times like this remind me how much of a kick she gets out of the unextraordinary everyday – like helping with the shopping list in Aldi (although I’ll let you be the judge of just how helpful it is to quality-check a packet of Bourbons on the way round), or sitting on the kitchen counter asking me a million-and-one questions whilst I make dinner (again, usually working her way through my ingredients; there’s definitely a pattern here 😂).

So yes, I’m never going to stop aiming to carve out a bit more time for ‘the grand family day out’, but I’m also going to try and remember that in toddler world, the recipe for happiness can be as simple as a game of I Spy with someone you love (as long as it involves dogs, it should ALWAYS involve dogs…)🙄😂

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