This weekend, we were lucky enough to have 24 child-free hours to enable us to go to a wedding. As it happened, this was a particularly child-friendly wedding (with a magnificent cake of sweets). But we all know that even child-friendly weddings tend to be more enjoyable when you don’t have your own children hanging off your legs or wiping their noses on your dress. So all three boys were delivered to the grandparents for their first joint overnight stay, and I learnt the following things over the subsequent 24 hours:
- As soon as you are without children, an overwhelming feeling of tiredness washes over you. I clambered straight into bed for a snooze. Even once I’d woken up, the sensation of lying still without any small boys sitting on my head was quite enjoyable.
- My make up bag contains all sorts of lovely items which now only really see the light of day when I’m going to a wedding. I am particularly out of practice at applying eye shadow and mascara, both of which now seem to end up smudged all over my face.
- I used to wear heels to work, now I struggle to walk to the end of the road in a pair.
- Taking advantage of Pimms and bubbly is not the best idea when you feel like you’re coming down with the bug one of your children has just had. But saying no is almost impossible when you’re a) at a wedding and b) child-free.
- When a member of the catering staff tells you to take a second plate as you’re helping yourself to the evening buffet, it means you’ve taken too much.
- When you don’t have your own children with you, you will spend much of your time observing the other children and parents around you and wondering what your own children would be destroying if you had been brave enough to bring them along. I know from my own experience of taking my boys to weddings that trying to look elegant and composed (and carry a clutch bag) whilst ensuring you have all the necessary equipment to keep your children happy and clean all day and evening is not at all easy. My favourite sightings yesterday were the bottle of Calpol sitting on a table next to a large glass of wine, and the little boy who insisted on keeping his dinosaur suitcase with him at all times.
I feel I should also be writing about our child-free Sunday morning – perhaps out for breakfast somewhere enjoying a large pot of coffee, a selection of pastries and the papers. Unfortunately instead of this we found ourselves driving up the M1 to Luton to collect an eBay purchase, which wasn’t quite the same. I don’t think we really took full advantage of the opportunity. I did, though, enjoy my lie-in until 9.05 (I know, 9.05!!!) but that ‘sleep breeds sleep’ saying appears to be true – I have spent the day in a blur feeling like I just need to go and hibernate for a few weeks. I attempted to make a cup of tea and found I’d put two tea bags in it – that’s what a full 8 hours sleep did to me.
But the main things I’ve learnt from our 24 child-free hours have been these:
- Children will always behave better for their grandparents than they do at home. We went to collect our boys and everything appeared to be in order. The house felt calm, nothing seemed to have been destroyed and neither of the grandparents were rocking in a corner. In fact, my boys seemed to have been on their best behaviour. Obviously it all went downhill as soon as we arrived.
- When you have a break from your children, any impression you had of feeling slightly relaxed or refreshed in any way will vanish within 5 minutes of you picking them up. For me, it disappeared the moment two of them played recorders in my face while the third hammered away on a keyboard.
And within 3 hours of us all being back home, I was slumped in a good for nothing heap on the sofa.
Normality has been restored. And the mascara has gone back in the make-up bag until the next wedding.