1. Mentally gather up the nerve to set foot outside the safety of your home. Hesitate over whether you’re ready. Decide that you are. Decide that you probably aren’t. Force yourself to do it anyway.
2. Excitedly announce to toddler that you’re going to “go bye-bye” together. Watch toddler’s face light up with glee as she hears the welcome news that her cabin fever will finally be cured. Note toddler’s sudden increase in energy upon hearing news of impending outing. Immediately regret decision to leave the house and, more importantly, to tell your toddler that you’re doing so. You’re all in now. There’s no turning back.
3. Realise that you are all still in pyjamas. Wonder if you can get away with maintaining that status quo. It’s just so much effort. Accept that milk-stained singlets and Hello Kitty pyjamas (for the toddler, relax) are not quite the look du jour. Spend 28 minutes trying to get toddler dressed, during which time you will surrender and allow toddler to wear the completely impractical and questionably-tailored tutu dress she so desperately wants to sport. Pick your battles. This not one of them.
4. Consider properly styling your hair and maybe even wearing a little mascara. Hear newborn, who has been napping soundly for the past two hours when you didn’t have an agenda in any way, shape or form, suddenly wake up screaming with hunger. Attend to newborn. Nurse said newborn while one-handedly applying apparently miracle-working “BB cream” on your face to hide the bags of death under your bloodshot eyes. This will have to do. This is how I look now.
5. Attempt to put newborn down after feeding in order to dress yourself. Be interrupted by newborn howling at you to show that she takes great offence in not being on you for three split seconds. Grit your teeth and literally run around your room trying to get dressed in record time to minimise duration of howling. Observe that getting dressed soon after having a baby involves a lot of extra leak-prevention, which in turn doubles the time in which you can get ready. Why are these nursing pad sticker thingies so damn hard to peel off?! Finally put on outfit. Exasperatedly realise that you can’t nurse in that outfit. Rummage through drawers looking for something else to wear. Groan in frustration as you realise you haven’t done laundry in four days, which, in normal circumstances is not the end of the world, but apparently the introduction of a newborn into a household means that you go through clothing twelve times as quickly. You have nothing to wear. Decide to don husband’s T-shirt instead. Between the polyester tutu and this oversized “white tee”, we are a bloody good looking trio right now.
6. Notice that toddler has been quiet for a disconcertingly long time. Find toddler in study room drawing all over her face with those allegedly “washable” Crayola markers which you were so eager to buy her a few weeks ago. Well, wasn’t that a genius idea. Washable, schmashable. Look for baby wipe and scrub off as much of the marker as possible. Regret that the dark green and black colour scheme she has used to create her masterpiece unfortunately looks like a gigantic bruise when rubbed off.
7. Repeatedly urge toddler to run along and put her shoes on. In the meantime, put on that super cute bamboo wrap so you can snuggle that newborn of yours and have her sleep peacefully during your outing. Wriggle newborn into wrap while she fusses because frankly, you’re doing it wrong and those YouTube tutorials are all lies. Decide that it’s good enough if she’s stopped fussing and try to head to the door. Hear loud, wet burp and feel warm spit-up dribble down your man T-shirt. Roll your eyes and inhale deeply. Accept that there’s no point in changing now and just try to get out the door.
8. Negotiate with tutu-clad toddler as to why you feel it’s impractical for her to take her toy stroller, baby doll and nappy changing bag with her. Give up in the face of toddler’s determination and, let’s face it, excellent skills of persuasion. Repeat mantra of choice to self: pick your battles/this kid owns me and I’m too tired. Spend half an hour walking to the store which is only an 8 minute walk away. Decide that this is okay, because no one is screaming, pooing or asking for something. This is your bliss right now. Enjoy it.
9. Arrive at destination. Try to convince toddler to let you take the toy stroller. Be pleased with yourself when she obliges but then instantly regret this transaction when you see the extent of her unbridled energy when she doesn’t have the stroller slowing her down. Dammit, that stroller was actually doing me a favour. Chase toddler through shopping mall and try to prevent her from grabbing perfectly folded Uni-Qlo T-shirts off the shelves. Smile apologetically at shop assistant for being the parent with that kid. Suddenly notice that newborn has fallen asleep (win!) but that due to your bending and chasing and grabbing of toddler, newborn’s head is flopping about a little more than it should be. Make mental note to self that you need to use a different carrier next time.
10. Bribe toddler with the promise of a treat in order to get her to walk in the direction you want to go. This works 99% of the time. Respond to toddler’s repeated question seeking reassurance that she is getting her treat 156,934 times. Feel a rumble in newborn’s belly, and then bottom. Great timing. Think back to whether you put on enough barrier cream to get away with not having to change newborn while you’re out.
11. Go directly to vendor of aforementioned promised treat and hurriedly purchase treat. Abandon remainder of shopping list. Violate doctor’s orders and throw toddler up on your hip. Carry toy stroller in other hand. Warn toddler not to kick her baby sister while you are carrying both of them. Thank toddler for wanting to be affectionate and kiss her baby sister’s head but ask her to maybe not squeeze her that hard please. Overhear older ladies by the checkout commenting on how impressed they are at your child-juggling skills. Feel adrenaline rush due to society thinking you’re doing a half-decent job when really you’re about to lose it. Adrenaline rush provides you with necessary energy to make it back home, relatively intact.
12. Walk through the door of your apartment. Collapse on couch. Vow to never leave the house again.