On a rare yet rainy Wednesday off work, I picked TJ up from his half day at nursery. I had absolutely no idea how to fill the time between 2pm and 7pm. I don’t normally have this problem – we fill our Thursdays and Fridays together with various classes, playdates, life admin and tantrums. But on this specific day, when TJ normally hangs out with his grandparents, I didn’t know what to do. So, we went to Pets at Home.

There’s a first time for everything… 

It’s not the first time we have used Pets at Home as a free zoo. On the couple of previous occasions, I have apologised to the Pets at Home staff for doing so. Happily, they clearly didn’t mind as they cooed over TJ. He was also in crowd-pleasing mode and acting like a performing seal.

I ventured in to Pets at Home today expecting to feel more than a little ashamed. Here we were, back again to stare at rabbits yet with no intention of buying even a bag of bird feed for the next trip to the local park.

TJ had a great time eyeballing some rats. He said ‘wow’ as he stared at the fish and he was probably wondering why we stood by an empty cage, which should have been housing a gecko.

We were not alone

As we were leaving Pets at Home and made our way back to the car, I realised that I wasn’t alone in this mini adventure. I saw two other mums with young sons crowded around the guinea pig enclosure. We exchanged a knowing smile and a few pleasantries about how we were all at Pets at Home for exactly the same purpose. I felt like we should actually swap numbers so we could laugh at this in the near future.

As a parent, it can be damn hard to fill the minutes, hours and days with engaging activities to develop and stimulate our offspring. In the constant strive to keep little people entertained on limited budgets (and rapidly diminishing stamina); desperate times call for trips to Pets at Home.

But, such situations also highlight one of the beauties of parenthood. That’s how kids love stuff. TJ laughed, bounced and flapped around in excitement as he looked at the animals playing, eating and sleeping. On a different Wednesday, TJ also had the time of his life in B&Q with his grandparents. Children can find tiny joys in the mundane and ordinary around us. I’ll try and maintain such a positive outlook next time I am stuck in the queue at Sainsbury’s.