How to go away for the weekend with two kids in 35 easy steps

1. Decide to go on church weekend away with your two young children. Ignore the fact that you haven’t even been away with one child, let alone two.

2. Begin planning logistics a week ahead. Plan to do all washing on Wednesday and Thursday.

3. Neglect to plan for rain on those days. Try not to think too much about your next energy bill or growing carbon footprint as you turn the dryer on for the umpteenth time.

4. Realise on Wednesday that your six months of capsule hire expired on Saturday. Arrange for return of capsule and plan for collection of layby-ed car seat.

5. Kick self for combining layby of car seat with layby of toddler bed. Plan to take both off layby and carry home on train with double pram.

6. Decide you’re quite possibly not sane. Call father-in-law and ask for help with collection. Arrange to meet him at the shop on Thursday.

7. Begin to make list of all things necessary for toddler and infant for the weekend. Seriously doubt all items will fit in your hatchback.

8. Arrange to borrow father-in-law’s car for the weekend.

9. Discover you do not own sleeping bags. Successfully purchase double sleeping bags on sale for less than half price. Feel a touch thrilled when you realise they are named ‘tardis’. Organise for collection of child’s sleeping bag for toddler.

10. Ensure husband has packed his belongings and retrieved the suitcase before he leaves for work on Friday. Plan for him to swap cars after work, adding an extra ninety minutes to his travel time. Tell yourself you can’t possibly go mad in that time.

11. Give some consideration to sleeping arrangements – you have one portacot and two children still in cots. Decline offers of second travel cot as you don’t know if they’ll fit in the room. Consider possible options involving toddler on mattress on floor or baby in double bed with you. Decide you will wait until you arrive to finalise details.

12. Discover on Friday morning that both of your monitors are totally dead. Attempt to purchase new basic monitor from various shops in local Westfield.

13. Quickly realise this is pretty much impossible. Investigate local op shop in desperation.

14. Discover brand new monitor still in plastic wrap for $20. Buy as fast as possible. Buy baby food pouches for simplicity.

15. Return home and pack, preparing for all eventualities for both kids. Throw in fresh underwear, extra shirts and toiletries for both adults. Entertain toddler with Play School ad nauseum while baby sleeps.

16. Toy with idea of colouring hair before you leave. Dismiss thought as sheer lunacy. Begin preparing toddler for car trip in the evening. Load iPad with Play School and the Wiggles.

17. Do dinner and bath routine as normal when husband gets home. Pack car and ferry children downstairs.

18. Open door and stare as torrential rain begins that very second. Firm your resolve – you are going.

19. Stay undercover while husband ferries toddler to the car.

20. Groan inwardly as husband returns with toddler and offers you a small backside to smell.

21. Ferry all family members to garage. Change offensive bottom while its owner lies in the pram.

22. Load all family members into car and depart. Realise this is the baby’s first trip in his new car seat. Desperately hope he doesn’t scream the entire trip. Sigh when both children are asleep within five minutes.

23. Arrive at campsite 90 minutes later. Ascertain whereabouts of your cabin and deposit luggage. Set up portacot.

24. Retrieve sleeping children from car. Successfully transfer baby to portacot. Place toddler on lower bunk.

25. Gently inform wide awake, disoriented and hysterical child you will be sleeping there tonight. Feel heartless as he pleads with you to get in the car and drive home. Place toddler in double bed with you.

26. Sing all nursery rhymes in your arsenal. Feel unsure of your vocal stylings due to volume of toddler screams.

27. Make up multiple stories. Wonder if screams are actually decreasing or if you’re going deaf.

28. Give toddler to husband on the trundle bed. Try and relax while he attempts to soothe child.

29. Cheer silently when he succeeds. Make room for him in double bed.

30. Launch yourself into trundle bed when toddler suddenly sits up screaming. Decide you will sleep there for the night.

31. Instantly regret decision as you are now half on the bed, half on the floor. Resolve to put toddler in double bed with you the following night. Eventually drift off to sleep.

32. Wake at stupid o’clock to see toddler rolling off trundle bed under bunk bed without waking. Retrieve still-sleeping toddler and place on bed. Try not to count the small number of hours available for sleep.

33. Wake a further three times. Remind yourself there is an excellent weekend ahead of you for the thousandth time. Congratulate self for bringing a plunger and decent coffee.

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How to introduce a toddler clock in 19 easy steps

1. Purchase clock. Do not deploy immediately – plan to wait until big bed is introduced.

2. Have ‘discussion’ for over an hour with toddler at 2am about whether it is daytime yet. Decide to begin clock use that evening.

3. Unpack clock, read instructions and plug in.

4. Re-read instructions.

5. Attempt to follow instructions. Fail.

6. Read booklet for a third time. Successfully program clock. Select time that daddy is up for work as wake up time.

7. Prepare toddler for bed at the appropriate time. Tell toddler about his new clock and how he can get up when the sun gets up.

8. Be suitably impressed when toddler informs you that it is his alarm clock. Wonder where he learned that.

9. Turn on clock. Put toddler straight to bed without stories at his insistence.

10. Feel excited that toddler is so enthusiastic about sleep. Wonder if a clock would work for six month old.

11. Wake in the morning to realise that toddler slept all night (even if baby didn’t). Resist urge to whoop for joy.

12. Get toddler out of cot when you hear calls of “it’s day time! Morning sun!”

13. Repeat for remainder of week.

14. Set as normal for Friday night.

15. Wake in morning to crying toddler yelling “is not day TIME! Is night time! My do back feep!”

16. Send daddy into mediate between distressed toddler and offending time piece while you feed baby.

17. Hear yells subside into silence.

18. Ask daddy what happened on his return – toddler was very upset that his alarm clock had told him it was time to get up before he felt he was ready.

19. Simultaneously feel a twinge of regret (your toddler now understands the tyranny of the alarm clock), a flash of pride (is he a nocturne like his mum?!), and a sense of foreboding (will you ever get him out if bed as a teen?).

Revenge of the Meal Plan

The captain sat, brow furrowed, as she stared at the blank paper in front of her. This was possibly the most grueling of her regular duties. Due to budgetary constraints, she was also chief cook on board. As such, the weekly task of meal planning fell to her.

It should be easy. All she had to do was select seven meals. How could it possibly be this hard?

That was far too simplistic an understanding of the task at hand. Firstly, the meals had to be easy enough to prepare when both she and the junior officers were tired and running short on patience.
Secondly, they had to be nutritious and healthy.
Thirdly, they had to cater for a range of tastes in order to be acceptable to all. She understood the argument for simply making the meals regardless and insisting they get eaten, but she wasn’t overly interested in arguments over food every night.
Finally, she wanted variation. It would be easy to simply select the same seven meals week in, week out; but she wanted something different.

The biggest challenge, of course, was getting the junior officers to eat a balanced diet. The smaller one had previously been easy as his diet was completely liquid; now the captain had to factor in feeding him an appropriate amount of nutritious mush everyday.

It was a messy process. The laundry black hole had been mercifully free of Kleenexite incursions, but now she was faced with the prospect of soaking orange goo off clothing on an almost daily basis.

The real challenge lay in convincing the older one to eat what was placed in front of him. Some days were excellent – every last mouthful was virtually inhaled. Other days – well, she tried not to think about them.

She had some meals in reserve that she knew he would eat. These made up the bulk of her menu planning. The catch was that overexposure to the same meals could lead to a sudden, unexpected rejection of that meal on a night she was counting on it going down well.

I need inspiration, she thought in frustration. She opened the Book of Faces, a communication portal that connected her to a countless number of other captains. Ideas flowed in and she was able to finally construct a basic outline for the week.

She sighed and sat back in her chair. It wasn’t all bad – there had been recent successes in ensuring vegetables were consumed. She had put her humble grater to work and shredded almost any vegetable she could and cooked it into oblivion. Combined with a healthy amount of garlic, the extra ingredients had gone unnoticed.

She smiled. Her co-captain had shared a smile with her over the table as they watched their junior officer eat a veggie-laden meal recently. He knew her secret.

Or so he thought. She had smiled back at him as she are her own meal. Her secret was safe and her whole crew were eating vegetables they would not normally eat.

Mission accomplished.

How to visit a gym in 27 easy steps

It may become clear to you that I’m trialling different forms of exercise. The truth is, I’m working on losing weight and I’m currently road-testing a few different exercise options to find my best fit (and a fit me). Today I visited a gym for the first time in…well, probably three years. Here’s how it went.

1. Procure babysitting for kidlets (thanks Aunty Lizzie!).

2. Gather essential gym equipment (towel, water bottle, earphones, lip balm) and leave house. Resist urge to notify Facebook of your plans.

3. Realise you have four gyms within an easy ten minute walk of your house (including two of the women-only variety); select closest and walk there.

4. Enter premises and ask for a casual pass.

5. Politely decline to see their various membership options to work out which would best suit your lifestyle; request a casual pass.

6. Explain that a membership is not really appropriate at this point of time as you cannot commit to coming regularly and cannot justify the expense of making a regular charitable donation joining.

7. Fill in form requesting complicated medical history.

8. Glance at booklet with membership options you’ve been given “to read later, just in case”. Try not to faint at prices.

9. Pay exorbitant admission fee for casual pass. Realise you could be chased up and down the pool by a Prestigious Private School of Sharks almost five times for the price of this visit.

10. Walk through gym. Feel your senses assaulted by the stench of sweat, glisten of Lycra and glare of fluorescent lighting. Place belongings in locker and begin exercise.

11. Turn on music and place headphones in. Tug t-shirt down self-consciously.

12. Take headphones out as the migraine-inducing music is too loud.

13. Begin on treadmill. Try and avoid looking at insanely fit beautiful people barely breaking a sweat as they run.

14. Get off treadmill as you prefer going places when you walk and get a better workout pushing 30kg of pram and toddler while wearing an 8kg baby.

15. Begin on cross trainer. Get excellent workout (you know this because your fingernails have started sweating). Desperately hope you can stand as you dismount.

16. Walk past free weights section on your way to refilling your water bottle. Avert eyes from the Muscles.

17. Take phone call from husband. In an exercise-induced stupor accidentally tell him the full cost of your gym session. Feel his shock immediately. Promise him it’s worth it. Secretly hope you’re right.

18. Get foam mat and complete your daily push ups and plank challenge. Mentally curse the sadist who created the plank.

19. Begin workout on stair climber. Begin to miss your sharks and how they make you feel wanted.

20. Remember you live up three flights of stairs that you can climb for free any time you want. Get off stair climber.

21. Begin workout on stationary bike.

22. Realise cycling is more fun when you have a destination. Get off boring bike.

23. Return to cross trainer for another (slightly slower) workout.

24. Begin workout on rowing machine. Row 1km.

25. See husband at entrance to gym with coffee.

26. Collect your belonging and abandon expensive Hall of Torture, satisfied with the energy expended.

27. Look forward to seeing your sharks on Monday. Hope they forgive you for cheating on them.