It might only be a few years since your first little bundle of joy arrived, but it probably seems like a life time ago. In fact, it has been scientifically proven (using the meticulous method of a straw poll in the Mumblog office) that once you have kids, memories of your pre-parenthood state are locked away deep inside the cerebral cortex, and when accessed, they appear as a dreamy haze. Occasionally, it feels good to access these memories, and reminisce about the simple pleasures that once seemed so mundane.
Remember when you pulled an all-nighter (either studying or partying) and it didn’t matter because you knew you could catch up on sleep the next day? Those were good times. These days, if sleep was floated on the parental stock market, its shares would soar, given its value, and if your children sleep past 7.30am, then you probably consider it a lie-in.
2. Sleeping Naked
When you did have those blissful hours of sleep, you occasionally/frequently/always (delete as appropriate) did it naked. Now the chances of an intruder making his or her way into your bed at 2am are pretty high, so sleep tends to involve some sort of clothing, mainly to protect sensitive areas from wriggling limbs.
3. Leaving The House
Leaving the house to nip to the shops when you realise you have run out of something crucial before kids:
Grab keys. Grab purse or wallet. Grab coat if required. Put shoes on. Leave.
Leaving the house to nip to the shops when you realise you have run out of something crucial after kids:
Give a five minute warning to all to avoid the tantrum that arises from sudden change.
Wait just two minutes because your children have no concept of time.
Take child No. 1 to the toilet.
Remove child No. 2 from whatever predicament they got into whilst you took child No. 1 to the toilet.
Ask child No. 1 to find their shoes.
Put shoes on child No. 2.
Ask child No. 1 to find their shoes.
Put coat on child No. 2.
Tell child No. 1 to stop dancing round the house and put their shoes on.
Tell child No. 1 that if they don’t put their shoes on soon there will be no time for (insert whatever item you use for bribery and reward here).
Put shoes back on child No. 2.
Praise child No. 1 for putting one shoe on and suggest the second one is put on as well.
Check bag has usual emergency wet wipes / snacks etc.
Remove child No. 2 from on top of the coffee table.
Praise child No. 1 for putting on shoes and ask them to put their coat on.
Look for keys in bag. Look for keys on table. Look for keys on kitchen surfaces. Look for keys under sofa cushion. Locate keys in Child No. 2’s wellie boot.
Return two minutes later to obtain favourite teddy bear of child No. 1. Leave again.
4. Being Spontaneous
Given how difficult just leaving the house is with kids, being spontaneous is virtually impossible. In the pre-kids era when greeted with a sunny Saturday we could just hop in the car and spend the day at the beach. With children a trip to the beach involves checking the weather report in the days leading up to Saturday to decide whether or not planning a trip to the beach would be worthwhile. Then the night before you have to pack a bag that includes snacks, drinks, a picnic if you are not eating out, wipes, nappies, towels, change of clothes, sun cream, sun shade, and buckets and spades. Then careful consideration needs to be given to the timing of your departure. Do you wait till mid-morning and have your child nap in the car, or go early and hope that your child naps in the pushchair? You also need to think about facilities. Are there toilets with baby changing tables or do you need to bring a mat? If you are planning on eating out, does the place serve pizza or one of the three other things that your child will only eat?
5. Sophisticated Holidays
Holidays before you had children involved a number of sophisticated pleasures. Wine. Fine Dining. Museums. Galleries. Poolside sunbathing. Shopping. You could take city breaks, luxury cruises, or go backpacking in Asia. Now you have children, the words “all-inclusive resort” and “play area” are what you look for when deciding your destination.
6. Eating Out
Remember when you didn’t feel like cooking so you popped over to your favourite restaurant? Now that you have children, you probably feel less inclined to cook (because your exhausted and unless it’s pizza your child will probably complain about whatever you cook anyway) but your favourite restaurant is no longer your go-to choice. Instead, it’s the local family friendly pub that starts serving at 5pm and has pizza on the children’s menu, along with those handy activity packs that keep the kids quiet.
7. Going To The Cinema
Have you seen the latest blockbuster that everyone is talking about yet? Of course you haven’t. Before you had kids going to the cinema was a regular pastime, you went with your other half and maybe some friends once or twice a month. You saw all the big movies when they came out, including several rated 18. It was a great way to spend a Friday evening. Now you have kids a trip to the cinema usually takes place on a Saturday morning when your local cinema has their kids club. The film almost always involves some sort of speaking animal character, and you save the big blockbusters for when they become available on Netflix or Sky.
8. Disposable Income
Before you had kids, if you saw a handbag or pair of shoes you liked, you either bought them, or saved up for a couple of months to get them. Now that you have children, your disposable income is considerably reduced. Children have an annoying habit of growing, which means that clothes don’t tend to last that long. They also require an insane amount of food for their size (due to all the growing), which adds a lot to the grocery bill. Then there are the school trips, the birthday presents for them and all their friends who have birthday parties, safety equipment like car seats and safety gates – it all adds up. Then, even if you do manage to finally save enough to treat yourself to something special, guilt and a need to feel practical will probably prevent you from doing so. Which you will then be glad about because the next day one of your children will spill juice all over your mobile phone and the money you saved will be needed for a replacement.
9. Going To The Shops
Going shopping used to be easy. You looked around, made your choices, and then paid. However, as you have probably discovered, there is something about shopping that turns the most well mannered child that ever lived into a feral, raging, monster. Shopping largely involves chasing your child, shushing your child, begging your child, and bribing your child. It’s a hellish situation for all involved. On the other hand, occasionally you get to visit the supermarket alone whilst your partner or family member watches the kids. Then, fuelled by your new sense of freedom, your trip to Asda is almost as a good as a spa day.
Before you had children, and unless you were a meditative sort, you probably didn’t value silence. You may have even shunned it, instead preferring the sound of the radio, the TV, and chats with friends and family members. Then your child arrived. At first he or she was quiet (apart from the cries). Then the babbling started and you thought it was cute. After that, words arrived and you (naïvely, in hindsight) encouraged those words. Then sentences were formed and you began to question your life choices.
Mummy, what is that man doing over there? Mummy why is that woman sitting on that bench? Who is that person in that van? How do airplanes work? Why does it rain? Why do you have glasses? What does “extraordinary” mean? Who are you talking to on the phone? Can I have pizza for tea Mummy please please please please? Mummy, who made the earth? Why is it called “Earth?” I don’t want to ask Daddy – why can’t you tell me now? Mummy what does “why” mean? Why? Why? Why? Why?