During the first few weeks / months / year of parenthood, you gradually build-up an ‘essential kit bag’ of all the stuff you MIGHT need when (if?!) you make it out of the house – nappies, wipes, nappy cream, change mat, change of clothes, warmer clothes / cooler clothes, muslin(s), calpol sachets, favourite toys, spare toys, etc. etc. etc… You take everything and anything, JUST IN CASE, because it makes you less stressed while out if you think you are prepared for every eventuality. Once you walk out that door, you can breathe easy knowing you’ve got it covered!
You then spend the next few years gradually learning what, really, you can actually do without and what really IS essential! Why? Because you have learnt that, while carting around four tonnes of baby paraphernalia may make being out and about less stressful, WHILE YOU’RE OUT, getting it all ready and trying to not to forget Red Bear (which your baby chews slightly more often than Blue Bear and, therefore, following your hormone-fuelled powers of deduction, must be his favourite…!?) causes more stress than being potentially under-prepared by not taking the ‘mega kit bag’!
I have now, after nearly 8 years of parenthood, got my ‘kit bag’ down to as close to the bare bones as I’m willing to go! A few weeks ago I took the boys onto the beach for a play before nursery / work – they wore their hats and I took one nappy and some wipes. OK, so when I changed Toby’s nappy after he inevitably did a “you’re in a place you’d really rather not have to change a dirty nappy so I’ll do a really grizzly one just because it’s great sport and, well, because I can” poo he did get a bit sandy around his nethers (the amount of sand he ate while on the beach, his nethers were going to be getting sandy sooner or later anyway!), but, in reality, I didn’t need the change mat or cream or any of the other nappy-change-related items I would have taken in the early days. No disaster occurred because I didn’t have anything more than the essentials and it meant that we were able to just get out of the car, get onto the beach for a play in the sand and a paddle and then get back in the car with an absolute minimum of fuss. And it means we often have time to do little trips to the beach or the woods between the school run and nursery / work because the preparation time is negligible.
So why am I seemingly unable to simplify everything in the same way that I’ve slimmed-down the kit bag? Nearly 40 years into life and I still feel like I have to carry around the mega kit bag for life, just in case. If anything, I’m still adding stuff to it. Why is my house literally bursting at the seems with items I don’t need or use, just in case one day I might? Why do I juggle three different childcare providers so that I can work in a job that doesn’t even cover the cost of one of them, just in case I would become unemployable if I gave up work for any length of time? Why am I doing yet another course for yet another qualification when I don’t even have time to shower every day, just in case I want to change career? I think I am now finally at the realisation point that I need to start simplifying my life and slimming-down the mega kit, so as to free-up time for the important things in life. I am just hoping that the build-up to slim-down ratio is going to be different for my life than it was for my essentials kit – otherwise I’ve got a 280 year wait before my life is simple!! 🙂