Everyone assured me that one of the perks of going back to work would be that you get a proper lunch hour. Time all to yourself, which is not something you can always count on at home with a hungry toddler, in need of constant entertainment!
I've been back at work 5 months now but this midday oasis of calm has yet to materialise!
Twice a week I seem to spend this precious hour running around sorting out errands, buying birthdays presents or doing the weekly shop. Not once have I had to time for a quiet kip in my car or to read a book or magazine.
I guess it's an indication of how busy all our lives are. BTB I used to tear around in my lunch hour doing all kinds of jobs and making sure no birthday presents or cards were forgotten, so why, now I have the boy, should life be any different? Of course I usually find doing a Friday "big shop" or navigating the town a lot easier without the boy in tow so I can see why I do it.
Today I had business in town. I needed stuff from Boots, M&S Dine in for £10 deal and most importantly a birthday present from the Early Learning Centre for the weekend. With travel too and from work I get 45 minutes to buy what I need too and get back on the bus, that work provide two days a week, to take us back to the outskirts of town where our office is. The bus is a perk. I love the bus. The bus keeps us all sane and in M&S sandwiches twice a week. But if you have a lot to do you have to plan your shopping and your route very carefully to optimise that three quarters of an hour.
The three shops I needed are reasonably spread out but nowhere is that far away in our town so it was do-able.
Or so I thought until I encountered the hoards of people clogging up our main high street!
Now I'm a fairly good humoured person, as you know, but I was like an angry bull, charging around the streets. It's a good job none of my stops involved a china shop! The main reason for the hold ups were dithering, doddery elderly people. Don't get me wrong, old people have just as much right to shop as I do, just not in my lunch hour! I'm not discriminating here, I feel the same way about caravans, they can travel where they like as long as it's between the hours of two and three. In the morning!
I'd visited the ELC first so for the rest of the time I had a rather large bag of bulky outdoor toys with me. To carry it across the main square I slung it over my shoulder, Dick Whittington style. In Boots this was ok (hardly surprising really if I looked like Dick Whittington) but in Marks and Spencer's I may as well had "bump into me and throw me dirty looks" written across my forehead.
Whilst trying to search for a birthday card I was ram raided with a trolley and in the food department I was shoved, shunted and generally shifted out of the way. I know £10 for a meal with wine is good value but this isn't the last supper, there's enough to go round people, have a bit of patience. I got looks that said "How very dare you be carrying a big bag of cumbersome toys you purchased earlier when all we have on us is our pension books, an old lady purse and a coupon for £2 off a home perm kit". Three times I was barged into with not so much of a word of apology, excuse me or kiss my artichoke!
It was then I realised that people are much more polite if I have the boy with me in the buggy. For a buggy they'll get out of the way or at least cut me a little slack negotiating corners. For a harassed mum in her lunch hour without her kid there was no such luck.
So tonight, when I got in from work, I bundled, boy, buggy and hubby into the car and we went to Sainsburys for our weekend groceries.
The boy, fuelled by blueberry biscuits, sang and laughed. People smiled and waved back. It was altogether a jollier atmosphere and a pleasant experience.
Never work with children they say but shopping with them, at least for now, may not be a bad idea....