Alpine Mummy

A new life in the middle of nowhere

How to leave the house in less than three hours*


Before babies, I never seemed to have a problem leaving the house.  I’ve never been particularly organised, and I was always maybe a teeny bit (let’s say “fashionably”) late, but I was able to leave the house in, say, 15 minutes if my lie-in required it.  During those 15 minutes I would even manage to brush my hair and slap on some make-up (both a distant memory these days…).

So it was a bit of a shock when Alpine Boy was born and I realised that leaving the house was in fact a military operation.   I soon worked out that if I wanted to go out at a certain time, I would have to start getting ready an hour before.  At least.  If I wanted to wash my hair we were looking at another hour.  Gradually, as time went on (and as he grew out of needing huge amounts of stuff everywhere we went) I perfected my preparation skills and, by the time he was three, I was a lean, mean, house-leaving machine (and longer lie-ins returned, hurrah).

But now that Alpine Girl has joined our happy family we’re (nearly) back to point zero – yet again it takes forever to rally the troops, pack the bags, feed and change the baby, and actually walk out the door.  In general (and thanks to the miracle that is dry-shampoo), I’ve managed to speed it up to 30 minutes of preparation time, on a good day.  Monday was not a good day.

Alpine Boy started school yesterday and so Monday was officially our last day of summer.   He wanted to spend it “doing some good walking in the deep dark woods” (his words), so our plan was to get up early and do a walk before lunch so he could have a nap in the afternoon, and still be in bed before 8.00pm, ready for school the next day (he hasn’t been in bed before 9.00pm all summer.  Sometimes it is 10.00.  On Friday we went to a party so it was 2.30am.  We really needed to reset his body clock before term-time…).

That plan failed.

Firstly, we didn’t wake up until 9.30am.  Well, 9.45 really, by the time I had finally responded to tugs on the bedclothes and repetitive cries of “Mummy, wake up…”.  Which meant breakfast at 10.00am.  Then general faffing and getting dressed and packing the backpack until 11.00am.  This seemed to be going well!  All we needed to do now was get Alpine Girl up, feed her, dress her and leave the house! Easy…

A bit more general faffing ensued (I might have checked Twitter and Facebook a couple of times.  Great mother I am…), but at about 11.15 I was ready to wake Alpine Girl.  Just as I was walking upstairs I heard a hysterical giggle from Alpine Boy followed by these words I hear all too often:

“MUUUMMMYYYY!!! The cat has done a POOOOOOOOO!!”

Great.  “Where?”

“Next to the TEEEEVEEEEEEE!!”

Of course.  Bloody cat.  It was also by the back door.  There was none in her cat tray though…  After 15 minutes of cat poo cleaning I was off upstairs again.  Alpine Girl was fast asleep and so against all my instincts (if I have one rule of parenting it is: “Never wake a sleeping baby.  It will only end in tears.  Probably yours.”)  I gently and calmly woke her up.  She screamed.

As I changed her I noticed that ‘Cheesy Neck’ had returned.  Basically (look away now if you’re eating), Alpine Girl dribbles all day.  And she spits up quite a lot.  And she’s got rather a lot of folds in her neck fat.  All that combined leads to her getting a rather sweaty, dribbly, and indeed cheesy neck.  In the heat it has got all red and sore.  It stinks.  Nice.  The doctor’s recommendation was to put iodine on it.  Those of you who weren’t asleep at the back of class during chemistry lessons will remember that iodine is bright red.  For the past three weeks or so, Alpine Girl has therefore been sporting a rather attractive bright pink neck.

Anyway, on Monday morning, I decided to change tack with the never-ending battle against Cheesy Neck (fatal mistake – when trying to leave the house within 90 minutes, never change your usual habits…).  We usually apply the iodine with cotton wool, but that means she gets nice woolly bits stuck in the fat folds (which doesn’t help the healing process, I imagine).  So, instead, I did what it said on the box and poured the iodine onto the sore bit.  This was much better, thought I: no manky cotton wool stuck in my daughter’s cheesy neck, thank you.

Then I picked her up.  And discovered that the bright red iodine had flowed all the way to the back of her neck, where it had pooled on her plastic changing mat, right underneath her head.  She was COVERED in iodine – all over the back of her head, all over her shoulders and back, and now all over my hand.  Alpine Boy found this, and my shrieks, hilarious.  Of course.  Frantic bathing and scrubbing ensued but – despite the bath water looking like something out of a horror film – the stains remained.  And still do.  It’s now Wednesday.

Anyway, that was another half hour gone.  By now it was midday and Alpine Girl was hungry.  Another 15 minutes of feeding (and a quick check of Facebook, but that doesn’t count – it’s multi-tasking), during which Alpine Boy announced he needed a poo.  That sorted and we were ready!  Hurrah.  Alpine Baby in baby-carrier, walking boots on feet, backpack on back, keys looked for and (eventually) found, then:


That was the sound of a poo explosion.  Alpine Girl’s, in case you were wondering.  To her credit, she is at least consistent in her pooing habits – always just before we leave the house.  So:  keys put on table, backpack off back, walking boots off, baby out of baby carrier, and upstairs for a change.

By the time I came down Alpine Boy had managed to move the keys.  And then forget where he’d put them.  So we had fun looking for them for a little while.  Then it was boots on, backpack on, baby on and – hurrah! – we were out the door.  12.45 – only three hours from waking up.  An all-time record.

(It was worth it though – we had a lovely walk down to the river in the sunshine, with Alpine Boy telling me stories about the “tiny tiny” princesses that live in his wardrobe, and with Alpine Girl fast asleep in her carrier.  Alpine Boy managed to do the whole two-hour walk without moaning (too much), without falling over (his walking boots are ever so slightly too big for him…) and without drowning in puddles the size of bath tubs.  Highlight of the day was, for me, watching three eagles circling above us.  Highlights of the day for Alpine Boy were seeing a cow pat and throwing stones in puddles the size of bath tubs.  Oh, and finding a very big stick.  And he didn’t get to bed until 10.00pm.  Of course.)

*My apologies if the title to this blog brought you here under false pretences.  I actually have no idea how to leave the house in less than three hours.  If you find someone who does though, please let me know…

Author: Alpine Mummy

Now an ex-City lawyer, I gave up London life 'just for a year' to spend my maternity leave in a tiny village in the French Alps. Nearly three years later Alpine Family is still here - the legal career is gone but we're living the dream (most of the time) and skiing and hiking our way through life. Walks and fresh air are now the order of the day - bye bye smog, hello mountains...

11 thoughts on “How to leave the house in less than three hours*

  1. Darn…. I thought someone could finally explain HOW to leave the house within a few hours… Oh well.. Thanks for sharing your routine 🙂


  2. Sounds so familiar! I remember those days well. Wish I could say it gets better (sorry) but they seem to get sluggish as they get older, minus poo explosions, though, so a plus


  3. Keys in hand = poop in diaper, without fail. The little ones have impeccable timing don’t they? Love your stuff — sounds as if I’m writing it myself!!


    • You’re right – it’s guaranteed! The ‘best’ one was when Alpine Girl had an explosive poo attack literally just as I finished texting my mother-in-law to say I was on my way. “No problem” I thought, “I’m an expert at quick nappy changes now!” Only when I went to put my (now clean) baby back in the car seat did I realise that the car seat was covered in poo. And so was I… Thanks Alpine Girl. I’ll tell that story at her wedding.

      Thanks for your comment – glad to know I’m not the only one in the world with days like this!


  4. Oh I remember those days. And I hate to say it, but with a 9- and 7-year-old, some days still aren’t much better. We’re definitely down to less than three, but there is always a chain of events that makes me wonder if we should just stay home. Funny post.


    • I have been known to just give up and stay at home! I was hoping that by the time mine are 7 and 9 we would be expert at it but, knowing me, I’ll be lucky to have cut it down to two and a half hours… x


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