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The best thing about organising a date night with your other half is the moment you drop off or leave the kids with the babysitter.

It’s the feeling of utter freedom. You feel lighter somehow, probably because you’re not laden with bags while trying to balance two drinks in one hand, a wailing baby in the other and walk with a 30lb toddler clinging to your leg.

You’ve planned the night down to the final detail. You’ve figured out what restaurant you’re going to, and you’ve even gone online and stared at the menu figuring out what you’re going to eat with no one else there to steal it from you. You’ve planned what bars to visit and, let’s be honest, looked at the cocktail menu and picked your favourites from there already too.

For parents what used to be a normal occurrence, going out, is VERY exciting. We almost revert to children ourselves.

But alas, because we build it up in our heads of course the reality does not quite match up with the picture perfect movie playing in our heads:

Picture perfection
There is no conversation about the children. Instead we discuss how lovely the wine is, the ambience of the bar and how amazing the other person looks. We reminisce about other nights out long ago and our favourite holidays.

We sample cool cocktails and look at all the other grown-ups enjoying a night out without the screams of “I wanted it with chiiiiips…” accompanying their drink. There’s the pleasant noise of people chatting, but no yelling. It’s noisy but almost peaceful.

When it comes to the food we savour every bite and slowly sip on cool, crisp white wine as a waiter diligently attends to our every need.

We make the most of every single minute of freedom and stay out until well after midnight. We find a relaxing wine bar to end the night with a rich glass of Merlot.

When we do fall into bed we fall into a deep sleep and enjoy a long night of blissful zzzzs. We wake at 10am feeling utterly refreshed. The hangover is that lazy, relaxed kind of feeling. When the kids arrive home we realise how much we have missed them, despite our fun night out.

The reality
Every conversation leads back to the kids. Even the one where we talk about how slutty so-and-so behaved last time we saw them.

When the waiter slings us the food it’s a bit underwhelming to look at and even more underwhelming to eat. The wine is a bit warm and tastes more Chardonnay than Sauvignon.

There’s a family at the next table and they have given up trying to contain their kids, who are racing up and down the gaps between tables. They stop occasionally to stare at plates of food being eaten by total strangers.

I’m pretty tipsy after the first drink at 7pm and hammered by 8pm. Once the food is all gone, my eyelids are drooping and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep them open. It’s 9.30pm.

We’re in bed by 10pm. Both of us can’t get to sleep. We then endure a night of tossing and turning, occasionally I wake thinking I heard the baby crying and go to jump out of bed.

We wake at 5am and can’t get back to sleep. I decide to get up and make the most of the empty house by doing chores.

When the kids come back we are completely knackered, more so than normal, which is a whole metric fuck tonne more than normal.

But we really, really missed our kids.

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Lucy At Home