So this post I actually wrote straight after my trip to Westfield but didn’t get the chance to proof read and post prior to us flying out. It was all a bit manic!
Now that we are back and settled, here goes!
If you’ve been following us, you’ll know that one of my biggest challenges was and still is to be able to take Arjun out to public places alone. I become overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. I guess it’s a reflection of my lack of confidence despite how ballsy I come across! A trip to Westfield alone was a major major milestone for me; I had it in my head that I HAD to one day tackle WESTFIELD (It had to be Westfield) and I HAD to do it ALONE. The words “Westfield” and “alone” were enough to set my mind in to overdrive and send me in to a state of panic which eventually meant I would mentally just shut down. I have a habit of over thinking things and over complicating them in my head which in turn means I’m easily put off – such a terrible habit. But like they say old habits die hard. That coupled with my early PND really is a recipe for disaster!
After writing my post on my life soon after I gave birth (My Hormonal Rollercoaster), a lot of people commented on how it must have been really difficult to relive some of those memories. It definitely was and it took me right back there. But what it also did was make me realise that actually I’ve taken very little steps to get up and get on with things especially around tackling my fears head on. I seemed to have spent the last seven months pottering around them as opposed to trying to tackle them. I’m so glad I wrote that post and shared my feelings because that’s actually what made me REALLY want to do it even more. Now that it was all down on paper – or on notepad anyway! And that I’d shared it with the whole wide web, I felt like I wanted to prove something to myself but also to others out there with similar fears.
So .. The night before I had planned to go – bearing in mind I’ve planned to go historically many times and it’s never happened, I decided to pack Arjun’s change bag (I always do this) and take out his clothes as well as mine for the morning. That way when I woke up I knew I wouldn’t have that to add to my list of excuses to not go and to work myself up. I also ensured I didn’t buy a few essential toiletries from elsewhere so I felt pressured to going as I desperately needed them for holiday.
That night was exhausting – Arjun decided to wake about five times so we both had very broken sleep. I woke up really tired but knew I had no choice but to go as I had to get the last few toiletries before we flew out. Had I not needed those toiletries, that trip never would have happened that day!
I also have a habit of being a very timely person by nature. I knew I wanted to be out of the house by 11 but didn’t put too much pressure on myself and tried to do things as leisurely and as enjoyably as I could to keep our spirits up (moody Harps = no Westfield trip). I fed Arjun, played with him for a little while, got ready, did my hair and make up whilst he napped, got him ready and double checked all our bags.
Usually I take my own handbag when I go out for non shopping purposes. However I decided against this for Westfield. It’s so easy to pack the whole house with you when going out but I had to think practically – after all I was going ALONE without my sisters or Preetam and I was going to have to lug all those bags around! My purse went in to Arjun’s change bag and I ditched my mini make up essentials.
We set off a little earlier than planned – 10.30. I actually felt pretty excited about the new adventure we were about to embark on especially now that I felt mentally organised and ready for this. It was going to be our little adventure – just ours. I was going to be able to do this because I’m his mother. My thoughts of excitement were pretty short lived when I hit the A40 – oh my goodness the standstill traffic was enough to put me off and to make me contemplate whether it was a sign that we shouldn’t be going and whether to turn back home. You’ll be glad to know that kisstory (which started at 11 right in the middle of these thoughts) helped me remain on track. Thankfully Arjun slept in the car – I wish I could have done the same! I kept myself upbeat with the help of the old school tunes that were playing. Everyone on the road also seemed to be in a good mood (I use the “did they flash their hazards to say thanks when giving way” as a measure of this). The weather was great (great as in the sun was shining but it was still freezing!!) and I was going to do this. Arjun was calm, I was calm.
I recalled one of the last times I went shopping – I wasn’t even alone and I managed to lose half of our shopping. Fiona and I took both babies out to the local shopping retail park in their buggies. I was pretty certain that I’d stuffed our Next bags under the pushchair but at the same time that I’d done that Arjun was having a crying fit in the middle of the store and I had panicked. I had no idea what to do with him. If it wasn’t for Fiona I think I would have had a meltdown! I have no idea what happened to those bags but what a waste of money :(. Actually going through that made me really mindful to not let myself get in to that state alone – especially when I’m alone.
I had so many questions running through my head; what if I lost something?! Where was I supposed to put all our shopping bags!? One of the items on my shopping list were also Timberland boots for Preetam. How on earth was I meant to carry those with a push chair and a change bag and manage a baby!? What if Arjun kicked off?!
We reached Westfield 50 minutes later with Arjun stirring just as I parked up (good timing). He woke up pretty ratty which wasn’t the best start to our trip. Again, I tried to remain calm. Amidst his screams, I remember to note down where the car had been parked, to put the ticket in a safe place (the side pocket of my change bag), to put my phone and keys in a safe place (in the pushchair pocket). I’m the type of person to lose the car ticket in the chaos and I was really conscious and slow paced because of it – I didn’t want to end up in one of those situations.
Although there are parent and child parking spaces, we ended up parking closer to M&S as the car park was pretty empty.
We entered through M&S and by now Arjun had calmed down at the sight of his new surroundings. He was busy absorbing the hustle and bustle around us – all the new smells, the new faces, all the colourful items on the shelves, the bright lights. All whilst I was busy trying to figure out what I was doing – I had completely forgotten that with a buggy you can’t take the escalator and I’d need to find an elevator instead. This was all new to me at Westfield and I found it a little faffy and flustering. I tried to keep calm as I worked my way through M&S trying to locate the elevator – I found it pretty quickly and was greeted by smiling mum’s and their babies who were also on a similar journey to me. Very comforting.Once the elevator door opened, it dawned on me that I hadn’t really planned out my journey. It wasn’t as easy as it was before – before I’d go to shops randomly and could quickly change my mind and rush back up to the next floor or down to the lower one if I had to. It wasn’t that easy with a baby – I needed to systematically approach this so it didn’t become laborious and I didn’t have to keep locating lifts (which there are loads of anyway!). It’s funny how the simplest things in life change when you have a baby; but we’re still so lucky that places like shopping centres are pretty well equipped to help us deal with the change!
Once I’d figured out where we were going, we set off trawling through the relevant shops! I had a list of about eight and didn’t want to try and be a hero and do more than that. Especially with the whole bag dilemma. I had taken my pushchair hooks to hold as many bags as possible! My Buggy Buddy Pram Clip
We first went to Mamas & Papas (that wasn’t actually even on my list but I couldn’t help myself!) – there we found the cutest little push toys. I hardly ever buy Arjun toys as he’s so spoilt by everyone else around him. It was really nice to pick something for him together. He was fascinated by the colours and texture of the toys. It was £20 for a set of 4 – a great buy in my opinion! Arjun really likes these toys especially because the material that they’re made of seems to soothe his teeth.
I didn’t think about the whole bag issue until I got to the till to pay – the box was massive and so was the bag! I clipped it on to the pushchair and didn’t let it phase me too much. I figured I could add other shopping bags to that bigger one later.
We continued trawling the shops and making our way through the shopping list. Arjun remained calm for the most part but half way through H&M, he kicked off. We were upstairs in the baby wear section and he cried inconsolably. I didn’t really know what to do – you always get mixed feedback from other mummies – some will say “let him cry it’s normal, babies cry” some will say “leave him in there otherwise he’ll cry every time he wants to come out knowing you’ll take him out” others will say “pick him up straight away – don’t ignore his cries”. It’s so blooming difficult to know what to do! On top of that I was so conscious of the other people around me. Were they getting irritated by his cries? Were they thinking I’m a bad mum for letting him cry for a few minutes? Did they think my baby was a “bad baby” (there’s no such thing as a bad baby)? … Do I just walk out and leave the bits I’d picked for him?! Argh so much was running through my head at the same time. I had a hand full of clothes, a buggy to shift around plus a screaming baby.
I thought about it rationally – leaving wasn’t an option. I was there now, I may as well just get on with it. There was nothing wrong with Arjun crying and I was sorry if other’s found it annoying. If other’s were irritated by it, that was their problem – good luck for when you have kids! I decided to let him cry whilst I picked up his last few bits as I knew there was nothing “wrong” with him, he was just fed up of being in his buggy which is totally understandable. I ended up not looking for a few things as I didn’t want to prolong this whole episode out. We headed over to the queue to pay – there were a few people infront of me. Arjun was still crying. I got the odd glance but I just ignored it – it may not have even been a negative glance. I paid for our goods. Once I had paid, I organised the shopping calmly – I recalled my fiasco at Next with Fiona and didn’t want the same to happen. I tried to block out Arjun’s screams whilst I did this. Once I’d organised things, I took him out for a cuddle. He calmed down and I held him for a few minutes.
I put him back in his buggy as I really didn’t fancy lugging him around. He’s not light and also I don’t want him to get used to being in my arms when out. I didn’t have the baby carrier with me so that wasn’t an option either. He started crying again but I didn’t have much of a choice as we had to take the lift back down. I let him cry – I could tell he was pretty tired and it was his nap time. As mentioned in earlier posts, he’s a little sleep fighter. He definitely has “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) syndrome and ends up getting himself in to a state when he passes the over tired mark.
We went to Timberland next and thankfully the shop was quiet. The staff were lovely and joined in with my efforts to try and calm Arjun down. I purchased Preetam’s shoes and we headed to the next shop .. on our way Arjun finally fell asleep. Bliss!I managed to browse some shops for some summer clothes for myself for our upcoming holiday and just generally took the time to reflect on where I was at that moment…
I was alone.
With Arjun ….!
I felt overwhelmed, overjoyed, empowered but also quite tired.
When Arjun woke up, I decided it was a good time to have lunch. For some odd reason, I thought I recalled someone recommending that the Food Court would be the best option to eat with a baby. I blindly followed that advice (bad move!). It all quickly became quite chaotic!
If you’ve been to Westfield, or any food court for that matter, you’ll know that you generally order your food at the checkout and are then expected to collect your food from the counter. This doesn’t work so well with a baby!
I decided to order a Vietnamese noodle soup. Straight after I ordered it, I began to panic – how was I supposed to grab a high chair and carry a baby at the same time? How was I supposed to go grab my food and carry a baby at the same time? Leaving him sat there alone was obviously not an option! It all became so overwhelming and I couldn’t spot a member of staff. The guy at the checkout agreed to bring me over my food but told me to take the little walkie talkie which would inform me when my food was ready.
I managed to grab a high chair (with great difficulty) whilst pushing the pushchair with my millions of bags on it! I sat Arjun in the highchair and took out his food. At that moment the walkie talkie went off. I waited for a few minutes but my food wasn’t bought to me. How annoying. I had to take Arjun out of his highchair and to the checkout leaving behind all my valuables (I couldn’t have carried everything). The guy then bought over my food. Finally.
I exhaled with relief. I began to feed Arjun whilst also trying to eat myself – I realised that he’d given me chopsticks for the noodles instead of a fork. Although Preetam is an expert at using chopsticks (he’s passed the two pea test several times!) having lived in Shanghai for two years, he hasn’t passed on his expertise to me. I was screwed. There was no way I was going to get up AGAIN to grab a fork. I ended up eating just the soup.
After eating, Arjun almost instantaneously pooed. I took him to the baby change facilities located by the food court. The facilities were brilliant although I didn’t use any of them bar the changing tables. They also have breast feeding rooms and bottle warming facilities.
After lunch, I felt pretty recharged (although I’d not had much of a meal!) and Arjun was in good spirits too.
We went to the remaining shops on our list. Whilst at Next, I witnessed a poor mummy trying to deal with a very unhappy toddler. You could hear him screaming and crying from outside the shop (it’s a pretty big shop). Lots of people in the shop stopped to look around. I could hear staff talking about it amongst themselves. A big fear of mine. I felt so bad for her. I continued minding my own business, and didn’t partake in playing witness to the episode. It highlighted to me that it’s completely normal for children to have tantrums or to cry – as they grow, they want to test boundaries. My heart went out to that mother as you could hear she just didn’t know what to do with him. She went with the ignore him approach. Unfortunately, the little boy’s sister shortly also joined in at which point the mother left all her shopping on one side and took the children out of the shop –perhaps it got too much for her and she was done with her trip. I hope not. I hope she managed to calm the children down and continue. It’s hard work being a mum. I can’t imagine having two children, I have so much respect for all mothers! I guess we all have our own battles.
After about five hours (I can’t believe we were there for so long!) when I realised what the time was, I changed Arjun’s nappy and decided to start heading back towards the car. Arjun again began to cry and as it was around his snack time, I decided to give him his milk and grab a coffee (and a sneaky mini cupcake!) before we made our way back.
I was so conscious that we were getting closer to rush hour but I knew his milk would help him fall asleep in the car making the journey a little easier for both of us.
Mid way through his bottle, Arjun decided to poo. Great!! Right after I’d just changed him. We ended up using the M&S changing rooms (not as nice as the main ones) as they were closer to where we were. In the toilets as we waited, Arjun was befriended by two ladies who were cooing over him. They made him laugh lots with their walking sticks. He’s such a ladies’ man!
The changing experience in the cramped toilet was interesting. As I took Arjun out, as the pushchair was so heavy from all our bags, it ended up falling back. Grr! What a palaver. I really need to invest in some buggy weights! He found it all very entertaining!
I was relieved when we finally made it back to the car. What a day! I couldn’t believe we’d done it! I found the trip physically, mentally and at times emotionally tiring but it was so so rewarding. I’m super proud of us for doing it.I’m not usually very good with spotting bargains but I even managed to get a few of those in that day all whilst alone with Arjun! I was super proud of myself! We managed to pick up a new winter puffer jacket for Arjun from Zara in khaki which was reduced from £24.99 to £9.99 and some new boots from Zara which were reduced from £17.99 to £7.99!
I had an early night that day as I was shattered – daddy took over once we got home and showed him our shopping!
I’m not sure when I’ll pluck up the courage to take Arjun alone like that again, but I definitely feel more equipped to do so!
I did it and we both came out alive without me having a major meltdown and so can you!x
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve overcome?x