Andrew and I recently managed a weekend away without the kids. If you’re considering something similar, here are a few things we learnt that might be useful:
I thought we’d start with some sex tips. HA! Only joking mum.
Preparation can be sexist and that’s OK. I have no interest in cleaning green, furry milk stains from under Raff’s car seat. Andrew has little interest in colour coding his sock drawer, transferring all his clothes from drawers to a wardrobe, and tidying the entire house, in order to be able to think clearly about what to pack for a two night break. He wasn’t very interested in shaving his legs or touching up his nail varnish either. That’s OK too.
Preparation can still be super fun though! You know how before kids a weekend away meant throwing your teensiest, most expensive pants into a bag and meeting at the Eurostar champagne bar? Now it means packing two children, a dog, a bike, a cot, a full roof-box and a high chair into your car for a five hour journey. What makes it even more fun is leaving two hours late and not arriving until midnight. For extra enjoyment try incorporating a scenic drive around Birmingham into your route. Honestly, by the time you arrive at nana’s house to drop off the kids, you’ll be dying with love for one another.
Correct childcare is key. At the absolute minimum, one’s support retinue should consist of a nana, auntie, niece and nephew. By the end of the weekend, you will feel more gratitude towards these people than you ever thought possible.
Correct underwear is even more important. Back to the teensy pants. One can be as Fat-Is-A-Feminist-Issue as one likes about one’s body. But now that it has borne children, teensy pants are a mistake. You know it. Your husband (very quietly) knows it, your Agent Provocatuer thong knows it. On the upside, they do make excellent slingshots with which to get your own back on the little people who ruined your body.
You will miss those little people very much. And wonder why on earth you’re spending so much money on torturing yourself. Even in a place where the cushions are really nice and the curtains are devoid of finger marks.
You will experience exhaustion. Because you’re properly allowed to relax for the first time in months or even years, you’ll spend most of your time trying, and failing, to get up from your bed and Homes Under the Hammer.
You will experience stress. Because rushing and being late for everything are now so ingrained in every fibre of your being, you will still find ways to do it. You will play fast and loose with last seating times for breakfast. You will turn up a couple of minutes late for your massage, despite having checked the clock pretty much every seven and a half minutes ever since you arrived at the spa two hours ago.
You might even start to like each other again. Be careful about this. For example, one of you may begin to say something like ‘blah blah blah…falling in love with you again,’ whereby the other will shriek ‘what the fuck??!!! You were OUT of love with me?’. Although that person will get their own back the next day when they say to you that they saw you briefly in the swimming pool, thought it was you, then thought ‘nah, she’s too hot to be my wife.’
You will not be very quick, or very fussy. Because your brain has been child-addled for a few years now it will take you a very long time to work out whether or not to be cross at ‘compliments’ such as the one above. You’ll decide, after several years of marriage and two kids, to take whatever the hell you can get.
You will have a sudden and unstoppable urge to talk to strangers’ children. You won’t even mind the noise they’re making in the restaurant, because for once, you can be absolutely certain it’s not your responsibility.
After 48 hours together, or, say, lunchtime on the first day, you will run out of things to say. A good tip here is to google ‘what to say when you’ve run out of things to say’. I now know what Andrew’s best vacation was, he knows what my worst job was. If that fails, bitching about your fellow guests’ tattoos and second hand smoke is another pleasant way to spend an evening.
Be thrifty! To save money you share a poolside hot chocolate. Later that evening you spend £20 on two double gin and tonics. But then, I think most sensible parents will agree that when it comes to gin and school shoes, the choice is pretty clear-cut.
Bring snacks! You will now be so used to always having snacks to hand, at all hours of the day, that when you realise you have absolutely no biscuits whatsoever to get you through the hours of midnight to breakfast, you experience deep, existential panic.
Bring a disguise. We met someone we knew from home, a distance of some 220 miles away. Most couples would be content with marvelling over such a coincidence. And we were, for a bit. But then marvelling turned to horror. What if either one of us was having an affair? We were DEVASTATED for the fictional us. All that time, energy, duplicity and money, only to be found out! Life is so unfair!
Bring some Zen. There comes a point after you’ve gotten over missing your kids and before you have to start thinking about returning to them, where you experience deep, deep bliss and relaxation. You start thinking about what you need to do in order to be able to have more weekends away. You think about swapping your car for a cheaper one, moving closer home to your mum, earning enough to be able afford a live-in nanny. Then you get so caught up in googling second hand cars and trying to come up with a multi-million pound idea that, oops, look, you’re no longer blissfully relaxed.
You will continue to miss your kids. You’ll get butterflies in your tummy at the thought of seeing them. And when you do eventually get back to them and they give you the biggest hug ever, you think your heart will probably explode.
You will vow never, ever, to leave your kids for the weekend again. And you will really, really, mean it. Right up until your first shared meal together.
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