The bad boy leopard-print heels are on. There is an inch of slap covering my face. The scent of freedom, Hermes and Chardonnay is heavy in the air. Mumma is heading out out tonight! Daddy is on duty. Lashings of calpol have been administered to the snot monster and I have wished them adieu.
As much as I adore being a stay-at-home mum, the conversation with a two-point-five year-old is not exactly stimulating. He makes me laugh like no other but I do crave adult company and discussion about more than which Thomas movie or episode of Bing to digest next.
So when I get the opportunity to let my hair down, I grasp it. Even when I’m that knackered from getting up at 5:45am and running round like Mo Farah for fourteen hours a day, that PJs and an episode of ‘Escape To The Country’ sound like bliss.
However there’s a dark cloud that lingers. The omnipresent knowledge that for every minute past 9pm; for every sip of alcoholic nectar and for every tube home that I put off; it will multiply the pain I experience the next day tenfold.
I remember the blissful days pre-baby when you could party hard till 3am, crawl in to bed and spend the entire next day sleeping, eating pizza, devouring box sets and reliving the night’s carnage with your bestie over the phone, practically self-combusting at the hilarity of it all.
With a toddler, cast aside any aspirations of a lie-in or a lazy day. You can be damn sure, that if you’ve crawled in at midnight, they’ll wake at least an hour earlier than normal. Be prepared, with ibruprofen by your beside, to be wrenched from your slumber with a guttural wail of “downstairsssss mummy nowwww” at 5:30am. The rest of your day will be spent counting the minutes till bedtime as you whizz trains, wrestle with nappies and suffer the slings and arrows of your progeny.
How simple things were in the days before babies. As well as a large night out, so many things were easier. Living was satisfyingly selfish and even some of the simplest of activities were so much more pleasurable. Here, for your delectation, are eight activities that were far more enjoyable before offspring:
- GOING TO THE SUPERMARKET. Remember when you didn’t look like a contestant off ‘Supermarket Sweep’ randomly swiping things from shelves with wild abandon, just to get to the till before little one reaches DEFCON 5 on the tantrum scale. On the rare occasion that I get to shop alone, I stroll – yes stroll, the aisles. I take the time to compare prices and fat content. I come home with ingredients that actually constitute a full meal rather than a mish-mash of random ingredients that mean we either opt for beans on toast or asparagus and sweet-potato fritters with minced beef. Yum!
- DRIVING THE CAR. Oh, for the days when every journey didn’t require Paw Patrol barking in your ear – sirens blazing, strapped to the headrest. When you didn’t have to become a contortionist to pass a bottle of water in to the back seat whilst keeping your eyes firmly on the road and the car firmly on the left-hand side of the lines. I’ve become skilled at launching dummies over my left-hand should with a 53% hit rate of landing in his lap. But to drive alone – pure bliss.
- BREAKFAST. There was once I time when I didn’t have to chisel porridge off the carpet and floor-tiles each and every morning. Breakfast could be a leisurely affair, with the radio on and food remaining in the bowl, on the spoon or in my belly – not being picked out of my long locks after an over-enthusiastic porridge covered hug. I’d have the time to poach eggs, to grill asparagus, to toast some fresh bread. And more importantly – I didn’t have to share every damn mouthful.
- HOLIDAYING. Wave goodbye to the ultra chic hotels and the spur of the moment city breaks. Instead of reviewing spa facilities on trip advisor you’ll be furiously googling the number of water slides and whether you’ll have to sell a kidney to pay for a cot to be in the room. €90 a night! Imagine the cocktails and tapas I could’ve consumed for that back in the day! Flights were there to relax on – earphones in, a glass of Prosecco to get the vacation started and perhaps a little nap. Now it’s a three-hour stamina challenge for who can entertain a toddler in a confined space with the added test of how many snacks you can take as carry-on without tipping the scales into excess baggage territory.
- EATING OUT. Then: enjoying taste sensations, sampling great wine, chatting and putting the world to rights, relaxing in the ambience of the establishment, sitting there till the wait staff are clearly ready to go home. Now: trying to keep a toddler strapped in to the highchair to minimise collateral damage, trying to stop a toddler swigging from Daddy’s pint, trying to find the optimal volume of the iPad to keep toddler distracted without pissing off the other diners with back to back episodes of ‘Super Wings,’ trying to inhale your dinner at warp speed so you can get the hell home and put the little blighter to bed.
- USING THE TOILET. Debatable as to whether its a pleasurable activity but do you remember those days when you could sit on the lavvy, scrolling your social media and just taking a little pause in your day. A little bit of alone time was healthy, giving you much needed space from work/partners. No longer is this possible with the siamese twin that takes an unhealthy interest in your deposits. Between trying to ram as much paper as humanly possible in to the bowl and giving you an unintentional douche as they flush whilst you’re sitting on the seat, this necessary function is no longer a solo activity.
- BATH TIME. Candles. A little mood music. A glass of wine. Some scented salts. I’ve almost woo-ed myself! A long hot soak in the bath used to be the way to relax from the day, to soothe aching limbs and unwind a busy mind. The tension would ebb away. You’d exit pruned but positively chilled. Quite unlike the experience nowadays where the bath is a family affair – a toddler literally dive-bombing your tranquility. You’ll spend five minutes winding up the duck who is then subsequently drowned and playing the “I’m having fun being splashed in the face” game, with the stupid squeezy water pistol diggers you bought from Aldi on special buy to make bath times more fun. Fun – hmmm. Then you have the inevitable anatomy lesson. No, mummy doesn’t have a willy. Mummy has a vagina. No, Harry doesn’t have a vagina. DO NOT make my mistake of laughing at this as every toddler loves a willing audience when they crack a funny. Cue toddler on repeat “I got a ‘gina. Harry not got a willy” Can’t wait for him to share that one in the queue at Tesco’s.
- SLEEP. I used to set an alarm. An actual alarm to rouse me from my slumber. Can you imagine – waking up at your own will? Actually making the choice of what time you want to exit your beauty-sleep? This is the thing dreams are made of. I have always found snoozing abhorrent, but now it would be a delight to nod off just to wake up again of your own volition.
Life will never be the same again. Well, maybe when we’re in our sixties and the little blighter finally moves out. And whilst it means lack of certain luxuries, I would not change it for the world. Who needs privacy? Who needs quiet? I need hugs, kisses and giggles as Harry informs the grandparents he has a vagina.
What things do you miss most from pre-baby days? If you had a day – or week – without your little people what would you squeeze in to it?