Having a baby means having a lot of free time on your hands.
It's free time which you schedule around feeds and naps and it's free time which is often spent cradling a sleeping baby and it's free time which doesn't always allow for the doing of an awful lot of housework. But, other than the occasional appointment with your baby's health visitor, there's nowhere that you're obliged to be; maternity leave is the perfect time to play at being a lady who lunches.
Except... well... what do you do with your baby while you're lunching? Little babies can't sit in buggies or high chairs; the chances of them sleeping in the pram right through coffee and cake are slim; and trying to drink a scalding hot mug of tea whilst holding a wriggling infant is an obviously bad idea.
So I was thrilled when Matilda was old enough and strong enough to sit up by herself. Finally I could meet people for a hot chocolate or a sandwich without having to take turn about jiggling her on our laps.
And then I tried to figure out restaurant high chairs.
They're a grubby Krypton Factor challenge, all dirty, dangling straps and elephant-sized leg holes. I spend ten minutes loosening and then tightening (which somehow loosens) fastenings, clutching my wriggling baby with one hand, flinging filthy ribbons around with the other, all the time aware of how immensely incompetent a parent I must (not really) look to all the other (oblivious) customers in the cafe.
So I was delighted when the Gro Company offered to send me one of their chair harnesses to review.
The stripy chair harnesses fold up into their own attached bag and weigh next to nothing so they're ideal for bunging in a changing bag when you're on the go. They adjust to fit almost any dining chair and clip in place with just two clicks - simple.
When our harness arrived, I tried it out on one of the dining chairs at home. Once I'd figured out which way round it goes (stripes outwards, widest end at the front) it was incredibly simple to fasten both to the chair and around Matilda.
The fabric is similar to that of an umbrella which initially felt a little flimsy - I was a bit hesitant to let go of Matilda! However, once I'd plucked up the nerve, I was completely reassured. She is one wriggly baby but there was no way she was going to bust her way out of the harness! At the same time, she seemed to feel joyously unrestrained - she looked ever so pleased with herself, sitting on a proper chair just like a grown up!
Feeling reassured, Steve and I took her out for coffee. Once again, we found the harness easy to adjust and attach and Matilda seemed content to be sat in it (not that she would smile for the camera...).
We wouldn't use the harness to take her out for a meal - she would need the extra height of a high chair or booster seat for that - but she was quite happy sitting in it, eating her baby biscuits and staring unblinkingly at strangers (most of whom started cooing to each other about the cute little baby peeking over the rim of the table).
The chair harness is now one of the staple things we pop in the changing bag - it's so useful.
Of course, we would have expected no less from the Gro Company - they specialise in solving parents' problems and we already have a couple of their other products. Pop back over tomorrow when I'm going to be telling you all about one of my other favourites - and giving you the chance to win one, too.
The chair harness was provided by the Gro Company for review (thank you!); all opinions are my own.