It’s a dilemma on a Nelly and Kelly scale when you get the chance for a night out when you’re a parent. Why? One word. Hangovers.
On the one hand, you need some grown-up time, to have the kind of fun you used to have before the kids came along. It’s not that the kids aren’t fun, they’re just fun in a less civilised kind of way.
On the other hand, you still have to return to parenting. Whether you’re getting a whole night off or just a few hours, if alcohol is involved you’ve got a hard decision to make.
Do I have just one more of those delicious cocktails/glasses of red wine? Or do I turn down the fun for fear of the repercussions the next day.
I said yes to the booze this weekend. And while at the time it was fun, the crash back into parenting mode was not.
These are the things that are hard at the best of times when parenting, but are even more of a nightmare when you have a grown-up cold:
1. Counting scoops of formula
Every time you begin the count, you tell yourself to focus. You remind yourself to count to seven.
Then, within seconds you’ve lost your train of thought. Then your toddler asks what you’re doing.
Was that the third scoop, or the fourth? The struggle is real.
2. Reading books
You’re bleary-eyed with a banging hangover but your toddler doesn’t care about this. Why should she?
She presents you with all the Spot books, the ones you’ve already read 250 times. Now you need to dig deep to avoid rushing through the story, and you need to do the voices like you normally do.
If you pause for too long or stop to take a sip of water in the hope it will ease your headache, your toddler will loudly remind you to “keep reading!”
3. Wrestling a wiggling toddler for a nappy change
You can see the nappy is bulging it’s so full of wee and goodness knows what else.
If you don’t change it soon, it will overflow and then you’ll need to root around for a change of clothes.
But when you ask toddler to cooperate, it becomes a hilarious game. She runs off giggling, you catch a foot and wrestle her to the ground. It’s then like trying to pin down an octopus that keeps trying to land a flying kick to your chin.
4. Preparing food
Hopefully the freezer is stocked with meals ready to go in the microwave. If it’s not, you’ve got to engage your brain to decide what masterpiece you can create with what’s in the fridge.
It’s made harder by the fact you know your baby has very particular tastes. It’s got to be tasty or she’ll turn her nose up at it quicker than a toddler moves across the room when you mention ice cream. The pressure!
5. Getting out of the house
You feel guilty for being in such a horrendous state when you have two kids to look after. Why have you done this to yourself? Urgh, morning after regrets!
You decide you must take the kids out to make up for your zombie state. This was a good idea until you walked out of the house and the sun hit your already sore eyes.
You then realise you still have eyeliner smudged on your face and your hair looks like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. But the kids are excited to go for a walk.
Sunglasses on, mum bun up, head down, deep breath, and off you go.
6. The noise
There’s screaming, constant repetition of “mummy”, a lot of demands, crying and the banging of toys.
These do not make a headache any better.
There’s also the string of questions about complicated stuff like “where do the stars go in the daytime?” and “why doesn’t the worm have any legs?”
Forming a coherent answer is impossible.
7. The mess
Because you’re not able to constantly pick up after the kids today, there’s more stuff strewn across the lounge floor than normal.
You lie on the sofa instead, accepting that your toddler is putting dents in the wall by banging it repeatedly with whatever she can get her hands on.
You will stand on a Lego brick. You will feel like weeping.
8. Being a piece of gym equipment
Toddlers love to be held upside down, sit on your shoulders, ride you like a horse and use your chest as a springboard to climb onto the back of the sofa.
This is not fun at the best of times. When you’re facing death by tequila, it’s hell.
9. Enthusiastic praise
Your baby has just managed to pick up two toys and bang them together. She looks really pleased with herself so you need to make it clear you recognise her achievement.
This is when assuming that happy mummy voice can be nearly impossible.
10. Bedtime and night feeds
You try not to rush bedtime, but is there any harm in the kids skipping the bath and getting into bed a few minutes early?
You pray for no nighttime wake ups and for a decent sleep. When the first cry sounds at 10pm, just as you nodded off, you question whether your limbs are capable of dragging your body out of bed.
Luckily my hangovers are very few and far between these days. Are they worth it? For the sake of having had a proper night out involving drinks, food and adult conversation and only suffering for one day in exchange for that. Hell yes, it’s worth it. Just.