It’s hard to imagine what we did before the Internet.

It’s  hard to imagine what we did before the Internet.

Not just how we managed, but what we actually did. The amount of time we spend nowadays either with our thumbs at the ready staring into a smart phone or gawping at a screen makes you wonder how we filled the time before we became ‘connected’.

On trains for instance, where the Moscow State Circus could be performing in the aisle and we’d no longer notice, what did we do before we were devoted to our devices?   Did we look out of the window more, talk to each other more, take more walks to the buffet car? Or just think a bit? Or heaven forfend, relax?

Children generate similar questions. So much of your time as a parent is taken up either chasing about or thinking about the smallest members of your household that it leaves you flabbergasted that you could ever have managed to fill 24 hours without them.

And then a hazy memory of exactly what you used to do to pass the time pre kids appears in your head and is soon accompanied by a wistful look on your face.

The truth is that as a species one of our greatest strengths is our capacity to adapt to incredibly quickly and subsume change into our lives at such a speed that the past which didn’t include them fades from view at a rate of knots.

I found myself wondering the other day for instance how we’d cope in our family without the naught step. It’s a relatively recent Supernanny induced phenomenon which has become the discipline method of choice for millions of parents at lightening speed, rendering many other methods redundant or even repugnant for many in the case of corporal punishment.

Its a simple idea that carries with it an awful lot of power if you are two – exclusion being at its core of course rather than some fear of staircases themselves. What did we so without it? In fact how did our ancient forefathers cope when it came to discipline I got to thinking?

Threatened with the sabre tooth tiger? Exclusion from the cave?

Well, it turns out that disciplining on a regular basis is itself a relatively recent parental task – because for centuries children just weren’t put in the unsuitable situations on a regular basis which require them to ‘behave’ or be constrained. By which I mean cars, supermarkets, classrooms, chimney breasts and china shops.

A fact which seems blindingly obvious and tremendously insightful all at the same time.

And how did I discover this piece of knowledge which will hopefully remind me not to expect my children to act like adults and to avoid resorting to the naughty step if they fail that impossible ask?

The Internet.

How did we ever manage without it?

Twitter @mark_r_woods

Praise be! A Bank Holiday Monday where by and large the sun shone.

Praise be! A Bank Holiday Monday where by and large the sun shone.

For parents of small children the first flush of summer brings with it a host of opportunities and challenges.

Often first up there’s the traditional hunt the paddling pool game. The loft, the garage, the cupboard under the stairs – each is upturned in an attempt to discover the garish, damp lump of plastic that you neatly folded (scrunched into a mound) and carefully put away(shot putted) last August.

After drawing a blank in all three locations a vague memory of a puncture and hapless attempts to repair it comes into view and you conclude that it went to the tip which means having already mentioned the PP words put loud and started a tidal wave of excitement you need to go shopping.

Pool inflated and water inserted its  everyone outside – after we’ve been through the sun cream ritual of course.

For little beings with relatively small bodies it feels like it takes millennia to properly put sun cream on a toddler.  You move the ultra high factor cream cheese around them again and again in a vain attempt to rub it in before eventually, on the very brink of exhaustion, you give up and send them out to looking like they are about to swim the channel.

The usual mixed messages around the threat posed by wasps is often next up on the first sunny day of the year menu.

“They are more scared of you than you are of them” you lie. “Just ignore them and they will ignore you” you hear your increasingly high pitched voice trotting out as the stripy blighter continues to attempt to extract jam by menaces from your al fresco lunching little one.

Then you crack and try to smash the thing to death with the Argos catalogue before being chased round the garden by it shouting “don’t worry baby, don’t worry.” to your now hysterical child.

But all of these are but sideshows to the main event which is the tackling of the long put off potty training. The modern wisdom around this milestone event is to withdraw the nappy when the weathers good and let them run free in the garden, praising them to the nines every time they do the roses a favour.

Which sounds straightforward except for the fact that for a reason which I do not fully understand every toddler that has ever toddled the planet will do two things when it comes to non nappy poos.

Firstly they will only ever oblige when you aren’t looking, meaning locating the offending article before it becomes a well trodden pootastrophy of epic proportions  becomes vital.

And secondly you’ll almost always find that they have delivered their parcel in one place and on place alone.

The paddling pool.

Twitter @mark_r_woods