When you hear the sound of a wedding invitation feed through the letterbox and hit the ground with a thud, you can assume two things: Firstly, guessing by the sheer weight of the envelope encrusted with sparkling jewels it can only be an Indian wedding, and secondly assume that it’s going to be a long day especially with two children under the age of three. For all my sins I RSVP’ed with a yes – may the Gods be kind to us that day.
So, here’s my parental survival guide on getting through the big day with the toddlers in tow.
Preparation is Key
To be invited to witness two people celebrate their love and tie the knot—quite literally done in an Indian ceremony—is an honour. However, one must look the part and ensure one’s family does also. Therefore allocate ample preparation time the night before a wedding. Yes, that means you get to match up a heavily embroidered sari, five-inch heels, and gorgeous jewellery. However, you must allow additional time to pack sandwiches, extra clothing for all and milk bottles. Dust off that nine-bar steam iron that comes out on an ‘as needed’ basis and press the kids’ outfits. Don’t forget to pack some entertainment – colouring books, sticker books, an iPad with educational games and plenty of episodes of Peppa Pig or whatever it takes!
Rest and recuperate
The next morning when you’re loaded into the car in your Sunday best for the big day, ensure your children have their morning nap in the car so they’re rested and ready for fun. Ours tend to do the exact opposite and babble all the way there. My two boys certainly have a rebellious streak – they must take after their father.
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Be ready for a ‘poonami’
You can always guarantee that a child will poop at the most inopportune time. So when you arrive at the wedding venue, park the pram and empty it of kids and bags then make a beeline for an aisle seat. This way you can up and go with minimal fuss. Then just be ready as it can happen any minute and you’ll smell it. At this point be extra vigilant of your surroundings especially if it’s a ‘silent’ ceremony. With a lot of “excuse me’s” and trying to avoid stepping on people’s feet with the toddler in one arm, nappy bag in the other, you may make it back to your seat just in time for the bride’s entrance.
When entering the wedding venue do a quick survey of where the dining area is as you’ll be the first to leave to feed your troop their packed lunch. When you’re sitting at the table feeding your offspring ensure you have a number of napkins laid out all over you to cover you from flying food. My youngest has a thing about throwing food AT me rather than in his own mouth. No, it’s not about my cooking… I don’t think! If you’re really lucky you may encounter a sighting of other parents also escaping to feed their offspring. If the stars align you may be lucky enough to have an actual adult conversation which will be interrupted a number of times by your children’s life questions,
Mummy, why is this chair so low? Mummy, am I getting married? Mummy my brother is throwing food at me!
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GSOH (Good sense of Humour)
Make sure you pack a good sense of humour: It is a must. Without it, you may need resuscitation or a brown paper bag to breathe into, or a lie down at the very least. Weddings are not for the fainthearted but they are fun if you admire from afar with a gin and tonic in your hand. Okay – highly unlikely to happen! But if you laugh and smile as much as you can—fake it if you have to—you may end up enjoying yourself. Wonders never cease. In the meantime, try working on NOT being invited to weddings for the foreseeable future. Well at least until they’re over the age of 18 and able to feed themselves!