12 March 2009
Last weekend I went shopping in Solihull with Oliver, our 1 year old baby and Amelia our 3 year old daughter. I enjoyed the day, but it was hard work. I am used to having the children on my own as my wife works every other weekend so it is something I'm used to although often hard work. I normally go to somewhere that I'm familiar with, or a child friendly tourist attraction (see my other reviews of days out for babies and children).
This doesn't just apply to Solihull as this could equally have been the same at many other towns or cities. One thing though, is that I am not as familiar with Solihull having only been into the town centre shopping about 3 times prior to this visit.
The first thing was to find somewhere to park. Parent and baby child spaces are particularly useful, not so much for their proximity to the shops (although if they avoid having to go in a lift, or are at least at the same side of the car park as the lift that is helpful), it's the extra space that is useful to be able to get the children out of the doors. See: abuse of parent and child and disabled parking spaces post. I parked in Lowes Lane car park. There were lots of empty disabled parking spaces, but I didn't find any parent and child spaces. Fortunately I was able to find an end space which was helpful.
Choice of pushchair
We have both single and double pushchairs to cater for most occasions. The double pushchair has the advantage of allowing both children in the pushchair when the oldest gets tired, but is difficult to push around and taken into a lot of shops. I only took the one pushchair with me, which worked quite well with a few comments about "walking all day" later in the afternoon. This would not have been possible a few months ago when she wouldn't have lasted half that long.
For lunch we went to Jimmy Spices buffet restaurant. We got a high chair and they positioned us close to the buffet table so that I could keep an eye on them when going up for food. It was still difficult as I didn't want to leave them out of my sight at all so ended up standing half-facing the buffet table and looking around people whenever they stood in the way. I also had to wait until he finished eating before going up for my main course in case he choked on his food. There was very limited food that was suitable for a baby, although I'd brought some lunch anyway - he loved the ice cream and moose. Food was free for babies in a high-chair and they didn't charge me for Amelia either (although according to the price list I should have had to pay for her). The worst bit is when Amelia decided she needed the toilet just as I'd got my main course, which meant taking them both upstairs to the toilet and holding our baby whilst helping the older child to use the toilet (always difficult).
After food it's time to change Oliver's nappy. Jimmy Spices had a baby changing table in the ladies, but that's not much help for me as I'm a dad! Fortunately John Lewis have one of the best baby changing facilities around.
The "parent room" in John Lewis includes a large baby changing area, a feeding area and a large toilet. The large toilet area is very useful as it allowed me to take the pushchair in with me.
Riding the merry-go-round
Amelia wanted to go on the merry-go-round. Rather than Oliver watch in the pushchair I put him on the merry-go-round as well. As he is quite young I sat on the merry-go-round alongside him. This meant leaving the pushchair unattended. Other than a few purchases there was nothing of value left on the pushchair.
We went into several shops, most of which were fairly easily accessible.
The day went well and the children were both extremely well behaved, but despite that it was still hard work, but enjoyable all the same.