I see so many posts on blogs talking about the importance of having a social life and quality time with your partner. I’ve read a lot recently about how to make the most of your time together and why it’s essential you make an effort to spend quality time alone. I get it. I really do. But we don’t all have access to babysitters.
For me, I’m an older mum with a family that I could count on one hand – well actually two fingers as I don’t think I can count my great granny with dementia in my “potential child-minders” count. I am the youngest one in my family bar my two year old. There are various limitations on what they can do, and if you throw a child that doesn’t sleep through the night, or go to bed easily, it’s not a winning combination.
My husband’s family is larger but dispersed throughout the UK. We’re talking about having to get on flights to visit here. When we do visit, social occasions are largely family affairs so it’s home early or one of us staying in on Small Boy Watch – typically me as I’m usually the non-drinker.
That leaves friends – those with their own kids our son’s age battling their own sleep problems and exhaustion. It’s one thing looking after another toddler for a few hours, but when they’re barely two, dumping your semi insomniac child with a big personality on someone else isn’t exactly fair.
I’m sure when he is older or sleeps through like a regular person then it will be easier, but for now it isn’t. I’m sure we can’t be the only ones in this situation. I’m sure there are single parents and older carers and guardians and a whole host of people in our boat.
We’ve had to be creative with ways to enjoy quality time together, at least creating the illusion that we’re grown-ups and can enjoy adulting. I thought I’d share them for the benefit of those who might be feeling a bit disheartened and missing their “parent” time.
This is the term we have affectionately coined for sitting in a car park drinking coffee while Small Boy naps in the car seat. We now know the location of every Costa and Starbuck with a drive thru option in a 10 mile radius. (vague disclaimer about Hubs coming up with this and he probably picked it up off a meme)
I keep a tight rein on our budget so we can afford treats like having lunch out every couple of weeks. Small Boy is with us, but at two he’s now at an age when he is happy to doodle, or just chat with us, as we have some adult food in an adult restaurant. Franky and Benny’s, Nando’s and Las Iguanas are particular favourites. It might not be ideal or an exciting night out, but if we do want to talk about some adult stuff, Small Boy is happy enough colouring, and worse comes to worse we whip out the iPad (no accusations of lazy parenting please!)
Eat late and eat well
Once in a while, don’t eat together in the evening as a family. Sort out the kids and get them into bed and you stave off hunger with a few rice cakes. Make something for dinner which you wouldn’t typically let the kids have – spicy curry, pizza, a “2 Dine for a £10” meal. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you like it! Throw in a bottle of wine and you’re almost adults again. We use this opportunity to watch an adult film – not the wink wink, nudge nudge type, more an action film which would be a bit too much for a toddler.
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