Rarer than an uninterrupted shit, more coveted than a piece of plastic tat that breaks within 2 minutes and more anticipated than new Peppa Pig material (get a MOVE ON, seriously – I’ve half-watched every episode at least 20 times, I’m on the verge of cashing in my savings to pay you lazy bastards to make some more), the Childfree Weekend Away is a parenting oasis.
Glimpsed from afar across a desert of tantrums, nits, sleepless nights and dunes of beer & gin, it is a life-saving stop on Fatherhood’s (Parenting’s, even) relentless, exasperating, body-breaking journey. But getting there is not straight-forward, and knowing what to do when you get there is critical if you want to return to battle fully charged.
As an Old Man whose first time away from childcare involved wasting a large amount of money to stay at a very nice hotel for a night only for us to gaze at each other over the starter and say “shall we get some kip?”, I feel others can learn from my mistakes (and triumphs). If you don’t want to save money by buying a bumper pack of Xanax and locking yourselves in the spare room for 24 hours while an unlucky in-law chases your feral children around the house, here’s some advice.
- Find your superhuman(s). A night or more looking after kids is not for the faint-hearted. Whilst you might be happy to throw the kids at next door’s errant teenagers for an evening’s babysitting, getting them bathed, in bed and then up again in the morning requires superhuman levels of strength and patience (unless you relax the ban on Quadruple Calpol and using cattle prods to get the feral little shits up the stairs). So you either need someone with experience and/or qualifications or…Family. If you choose Family, you need to be comfortable with the fact that your kids will be pumped full of sugar like Foie Gras geese, given more screen time than James Cordon and allowed to run riot like post-hurricane looters. And you will return to radioactive poo, prison-worthy behaviour and hollow-eyed grandparents who look like they’ve survived Rendition.
- Act your age. You’re no longer teenagers. Don’t kid yourselves you’re going to go all Eyes Wide Shut or Postman Always Rings Twice. Sex will be a feature, it will just be unpractised, possibly perfunctory and likely take a back seat to sleep. You’re both exhausted, you’ve had 4 or 5 hours sleep a night for at least 3 months and you’ve been looking forward to a lie-in like kids look forward to Christmas. Plus you’re out of practice – you won’t know your 69s from your 71s (sorry), your Missionary from your Wheelbarrow or your Doggy from your Sultry Saddle. And don’t kid yourselves you’re going to be partying like James Belushi (RIP) and Charlie Sheen all night – even if the mind is willing, the body will probably fail you. If you do by some miracle find the stamina to keep going until 5am (you LEGEND), the level of paranoia on your return to childcare will make Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory look like Forrest Gump.
- Rejoice in simple pleasures. Whilst you should obviously make the most of every child-free minute, don’t give in to the dreaded Over-Plan. Whilst your other half will likely have been applying their military planning skills to the weekend, it is your job to resist at all costs. I love culture, me, but there is infinitely more pleasure in having a shower without being interrogated by two kids, walking down a street without shouting and having a silent, undisturbed sundowner than there is in looking at a sculpture of Someone Trying to Suck Themselves Off in an obscure local gallery or taking a picture of a Tall Building.
Follow these three steps and your weekend will be the better for it. Then brace yourselves for a return to reality that will bring back (fairly unhappy) memories of mornings after nights at the Hacienda, Turnmills, Subterranea and/or fabric.