Please tell me I am not the only one who checks their phone way too much! I unlock my phone and check my social accounts an unknown amount of times a day. Doing it subconsciously without even registering what I am doing half the time. Flicking onto the screen when the car stops. Checking my notifications before I get out of bed in the morning. Logging my food points on my Weight Watchers app before I can cook dinner. Searching through Instagram and Pinterest while I feed Emme. All a second nature action which has become part of each and every day of my life. It’s no wonder my baby girl is attracted to my phone and grabs it the second my fingers have left it. She is 15 months old and all she can do is press the big circle button, but already she knows that this rectangle device is something to smile about. Is it no wonder, when I catch myself quite often looking at the phone in front of her. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so, but then I always feel guilty and put it down.
Any rate, on Sunday morning we had arranged to go to Longleat Safari Park for the day, and enjoy some much-needed quality time together. As a family. Now Tommy is at school I am missing the time together. My days are quickly becoming a mash up of school runs, dinner cooking and bedtimes. Which leave little room for epic bonding time as a family. Which is why I insisted we arrange a family day. Sunday morning came around and the usual hustle and bustle of family life played out starting with early rising children, yes 5 am is way too early! Especially when Emme was on a massive feeding binge the whole night. As you can imagine, I was less than impressed with the wake-up call at 5 am, luckily daddy got up with her.! I woke at 8 am realising that I had slept deeper in those past 3 hours than I had all week. I swear if I had told my non-child self that you would be living off 3hours per week of deep, able to dream sleep, I would have never believed it was possible. But as you all know it’s do-able and your body adjusts. (I am cringing as I write this).
The 8 am wake-up has started with the smell of my lemon and ginger tea being placed on the dresser by my husband, who announces “get up Monks or well be late!” every 5 seconds till I open my eyes. A baby who in spite of the vast amount of room in our king-sized bed insists on sitting on my head, climbing on my neck or her latest obsession belly flopping from what feels like a great height onto my tummy! Not to mention my four-year-old, squawking (like a pterodactyl) bundling into the room with the intention of starting a non-stop whinge of ‘I’m hungry’ every few seconds. This is my reality, which at the time is hard to deal with for a non-morning person such as myself. But upon reflection, and after caffeine I realise I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Any rate, I am getting side tracked with descriptive words. Today we were off to Longleat and the morning routine was under weigh. Two adults showered and dressed. Two children dressed. Baby-bag packed. Lunch boxes packed. Toys picked up. Dishwasher loaded and the list goes on, which I won’t bore you with. Eventually in the car and on our way, I realise I am going out for the day to a place with 1. No phone signal and 2. No internet connection (it’s my own fault I went over on my data). Cue complete melt down on the car journey. You literally don’t realise how much you check your phone until there is no reason to. I felt like I had stepped back in time to when I had a Nokia 3210 and I used it for texting and the occasional call. At least my 3210 had snake to occupy my fingers, and back then I’d wait till I got home to log onto MSN or check my Bebo account, I could never have imagined what todays tech-reliant society would be like. Today’s phones require the internet for basically all the apps! I was helpless with only a camera (which thankfully still worked).
Once I had calmed down from my initial freak out and realisation that I wouldn’t be able to update my Instagram stories every two minutes. I had a coffee and decided to start the day with a new approach. I was just going to enjoy it. Soak up the memories and then if I still needed to connect later. Blog about it. Hence this post. So many moments to record which I felt fitted into my mind like a jack in the box, all ready to pop out and escape unless I write them down. Isn’t it funny how we get so used to recording every memory in the moment that it feels alien to live in the moment.
It was a typically autumnal day, with the crisp morning leaves and the strong winter sun gracing us as we walked into Longleat park. Immediately Tommy was on a mission, which I must admit started long before arrival. He was adamant that this time, unlike the other visits, he would be tall enough to ride the ‘Rocking Rhino’ ride solo. As we stood by the height limitation sign, a pang of memories struck me. In the past 6 months Tommy has stood in this very spot desperate to grow so he can progress to being old enough to ride alone. Well today was that day. Finally, with the growth of half a foot he was able to ‘go it alone’ and off he went to que. Me being the emotional wimp that I am, felt my eyes fill with tears and my mouth smile with pride. Such a small moment but such a big milestone for my four-year-old. Now old enough to not need us for another step on his journey. We grinned and waved, praised and high fived as he rode the ‘Rocking Rhino’ ride three times over and over before we decided to move on to the next attraction.
Next, we went on the Longleat train. It was still early and an in-between season day so the park was lovely and quiet which luckily meant hardly any queuing. We climbed aboard our carriage and the anticipation of the journey began. The deep red bounce-able seats entertained my little lady, who stood perched on them pressing her nose, tongue and face up and all over the glass window. Bouncing up and down saying “choo choo”. A phrase she has never said before. As every parent knows, when your child attempts something new you find great fascination in replaying the event over and over. Praising, clapping and generally taking far too many pictures of this moment in time. As the train moved slowly around the track I sat next to my little bundle of life and opposite my little man and watching them with fascination. Such a small thing, riding on a toy train round on a miniature track, but for them it was huge in their life development. The interaction of their mind and their eagerness to watch is inspiring. They are observant, spotting the animals long before us, desperate to watch each passing object to learn its purpose and unique meaning in this world. I have ridden this train journey with them so many times, but usually filming it, instagramming it or just generally demanding photos of my ever-patient husband. But this time it was different. A theme which I was beginning to feel was going to be the underlying mood of the day.
The day passed and we went from attraction to attraction taking in and joining in with the parks entertainment. Tommy loved the big adventure playground, climbing the apparatus and pushing his bravery to the limits with how high he could climb. Emme loved to practice her walking (while holding my hand) around the baby park. Bouncing on the small trampolines and rocking backwards and forwards on the wooden rockers. As the day went on we went to look round the animals, watching them plod around, swim or sleep, dependent on their preference. This was accompanied by animal noises which was new to our adventure. Emme is now of an age where animals are becoming a real life, living, moving thing, which she is fascinated with. So, each animal was intently observed and each animal was accompanied by my impression of their sound. The poor, poor people around me, had to put up with my mooing, baaing and general sound displaying all day! Yes, I felt silly, but she loved it and that’s all that counts really.
Our day rolled on and the conversation flowed, there was a slow hum to our day. We mulled round at our own speed and generally did each section when we got there. Sometimes it’s nice to slow down and be in your own family bubble. We did all of the park in the end. Even the safari and the boat. Each something we have done before. But each with their own set of new memories made. The boat was lovely and sedate, at dusk when the animals came out to play. A top tip of mine if you’re going to Longleat, do the boat last thing about 4.30pm ish. The scenery is amazing as the sun sets and creates a beautiful backdrop on the lake and the sea lions, gorillas and even the hippos are all out for their evening institutional before bed. A definite must in my books. If you would like any more Longleat pointers drop me an email. Over time we have picked up lots.
Finally, it was home time and what a day we had. So yes, I did miss my phone. My thumb itched for the connection to my cyber world, which drove me crazy as I unlocked my phone on and off all day realising each time that I could do NOTHING. It was very frustrating. However, the reward from not having it was something more meaningful. It allowed me more time to connect, listen and learn. In the society we live in, I don’t think it is achievable to cut myself off from technology 24/7. That isn’t what I am getting at here. I know myself well enough to know that this cyber-connection is strong. It’s something I am passionate about and something I want to make a business out of for me and my family. It allows me to be creative. But I am honest in admitting that I did enjoy the day off from the internet. I felt it cleansed my soul and made me connect deeper with my loved ones. Every moment was fun. Every moment was unique and every moment was precious.
So, going forward I am now back in the real world and have already checked my phone an unknown amount of time today, its only 9am! But I am honest in admitting to myself that I need a day off once in a while for them and for me.