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101 Parenting Truths: Not Going Out

As a parent, nights out are few and far between. Finding an evening when you can both summon up the energy to look presentable in public, book a reliable babysitter and have the children well enough and tired enough to happily leave someone else in charge for the evening, is about as difficult a quest as the search for the Holy Grail.

Where a night out used to be anticipated weeks in advance, and viewed as another opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes or get your hair blow dried, now it is more of an unwelcome chore. In my experience, there are 8 main reasons parents don’t go out very often.

  1. You’re exhausted.  The thought of getting changed into anything other than your pyjamas is grounds alone to knock the whole idea on the head.
  2. Babysitters. They are difficult to find, cost a fortune and, if you do find one, this then means you have to tidy the house before they arrive.
  3. Peace & quiet. Once you’ve cleared away all the toys in the sitting room, you would really just like to sit down and enjoy being in the room as you intended it to be when you bought all that nice furniture several years ago.
  4. TV. Having been subjected to CBeebies and Thomas DVDs, you actually quite like the idea of a night in front of the TV watching something grown up.
  5. The children’s ‘going-out’ radar. Despite your best attempts to get them into bed nice and early and not display too many obvious signs of your intentions to leave the house without them, they will know exactly what you’re up to and do everything in their power to delay you, stress you out and generally make sure that you’re so frazzled by the time you do leave the house that you’d rather just park the car somewhere and have a good sleep than sit at a restaurant table and have a conversation.
  6. The price of freedom. Assuming you overcome all these obstacles and do make it out, the taste of freedom will inevitably result in you drinking far too many G&Ts, dancing embarrassingly and singing loudly.
  7. Topics of conversation. While everyone else chats about the latest films they have been to see, their luxury holidays and the latest celebrity gossip, you will find all you can contribute to the conversation is another ‘ever-so-cute’ story about your children.
  8. The next morning. This will be a hideous cocktail of hangover, utter exhaustion (because you didn’t get home until 4am and the kids were up at 6am) and excitable children. You then resolve never to do this again. Hence the problem comes full circle.

But it’s not all bad. After all, you now have a great excuse to stay in, get a take away and a bottle of wine and watch The X Factor! Bliss.

101 Truths: Parents don’t go on holiday

sandcastleI am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but holidays, as you used to know them, will cease to exist until the children have grown up and left home. I would advise you to stop saying you are ‘going on holiday’ and just accept that all you are doing is going somewhere different for a week or so!

Where a holiday used to mean two weeks of complete laziness, hours spent soaking up the sun, beer at 11am, half a dozen good books devoured and romantic meals at sunset, as a parent you can forget all about that.

Assuming you are still talking to each other after the frenzy of packing, getting to the airport and spending several hours locked in the plane, you can guarantee the first ‘holiday’ argument will happen while trying to fix rented car seats into rented cars. Grrrrrrrrr. Other disagreements will follow while trying to negotiate one-way systems and decipher European sign posts while trying to get the right song on the CD for complaining small people in the back.

Having found your location and apologised to each other about getting stressed earlier, you will then spend several sleepless nights listening to the baby’s every move as they twist and turn on the plastic travel cot mattress. By day three, you will be desperate for your own bed.

The book you brought with you will remain tantalisingly unopened in the case because you’ll be kept endlessly busy building sandcastles, fetching water, finding pretty shells and buying ice creams. When you’re not doing that, you’ll be running after at least one child, trying to re-apply sun-cream.

Meals out will be frantic and rushed affairs, taken more out of necessity than pleasure. You’ll get indigestion from eating your food at warp speed in the vague hope that you might just get to eat dessert before the toddler finishes their sticker book or the baby wakes up.

Exhausted, you’ll return home to piles of washing, empty cupboards, strange smells emanating from the fridge and just as you start to unwind and look forward to a nice cup of tea, you’ll remember that you forgot to stop for milk on the way back from the airport.

Makes for pretty grim ready doesn’t it! However, don’t despair. There is hope! Holidays with little ones may not be the idyllic getaways of your pre-children golden years, but they do get easier. You just need to let go of your yearning for a sun-lounger and a fancy cocktail, find your inner bucket and spade and start digging. Then you might, just might, discover some real family holidays to treasure.

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