20 things you miss about life before children
However much we love our children, just sometimes we'd quite like to rewind to life before them...Remember these?
1. Leisurely breakfasts
You can forget about Radio 4, snow-white dressing gowns and freshly squeezed guava juice. From here on in, breakfast is a bleary-eyed shoutathon, requiring you to halve grapes with one hand, authorise school trips with the other, and run for the car with a cold Marmite soldier clamped in your teeth.
2. Not being interrupted
Once upon a time, you'd have circles of friends bent-double in beer gardens with your anecdotes. Now, in that perfectly weighted comic pause just before you drop the punchline, a tiny voice will interject: "I need a poo."
Admittedly, the inside of your head still sounds like a Glaswegian shipyard, but externally, you're now reduced to the sort of entry-level profanity that Pooh Bear might use when he stubs his toe ('Sugar!', 'Bother!', 'Flip!'). Builders don't realise how lucky they are...
4. Your beautiful home
Once a tongue-and-groove sanctuary finished in Farrow & Ball's Elephant Breath. Now it's streaked with crayon, sprinkled with day-glo plastic and something crunches underfoot every time you walk through the kitchen.
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5. Decent holidays
You know, the ones involving planes, bikinis, cocktails, hot-tubs, conga lines on Bondi Beach and wildly inappropriate liaisons. As opposed to this: a dreary schlep around a Cornish petting zoo in thin drizzle, a ride on a miniature train, then back to an eyewateringly overpriced 'boutique cottage' for a fractious bathtime.
6. Feeling smug while watching Supernanny
How you'd laugh at the sight of a tiny hell-child reducing his parents to sunken-eyed wrecks on Channel 4. You're not laughing anymore...
7. Your real friends
With your free-spirit uni mates a fading memory, your new NCT-approved friendship circle will now include: a straw-haired earth-mother with a wild stare and fear of plastics, a woman who can't stop weeping, and a gaggle of pot-bellied husbands who always seem to be talking about modem speeds.
8. Sunday lie-ins
Look, darling, we're hungover. Would it really kill you to tiptoe downstairs and take the bins out, instead of appearing eerily at our bedside at dawn and jabbing us in the ribs until we cycle through all 80 Freeview channels?
9. Proper music
You might as well use your Rolling Stones CDs as coasters. From now on, it's strictly the High School Musical soundtrack, on a maddening loop, until you catch yourself harmonising with Zac Efron. My God, what have you become...?
The old you would take six pairs of jeans into the changing rooms and lazily peruse the Café Rouge menu over champagne. No longer.
With toddler meltdown always imminent, you have a maximum of four seconds to make a snap decision, leave the shop, then proceed directly to the Disney Store.
11. Your bottom step
Once, it was merely the first rung of your staircase. Now, it always seems to be resident to a sobbing child who's "thinking about what they've just done".
Christ knows how people who live in bungalows discipline their children...
A bi-annual meal at the local gastropub, eaten in an exhausted silence, with one eye on your mobile in case the babysitter rings with news of a projectile vomit. This wouldn't cut it with Don Juan...
13. Holding hands
Formerly a simple sign of affection, now rendered impossible by the fact you're lugging a Phil and Ted, a changing bag, a wind-lashed umbrella and your contribution to the school cake sale. On the rare occasions you still do it, your partner's hand now feels strange and alien, like a trotter.
14. Adult conversation
Politics, culture, satire, gossip – all gone. Instead, your opening gambit with the other parents is invariably: "So, how are they sleeping...?"
15. Your identity
Just as you describe fellow school-gate zombies as 'Ben's Mum' and 'Laura's Dad', so your own name is a complete mystery to everyone you meet. You are now little more than an appendage to your little treasure. Sorry about that.
16. White clothing
Just as a red rag attracts a bull, so wearing anything white sends out an invisible tractor beam to passing toddlers who have just eaten a chocolate Mini Milk. We'd stick to the regulation beige overalls, which are best for concealing a multitude of stains.
As a go-getting 20-something career obsessive, you rarely even dented your overdraft. Now you're fairly hemorrhaging the green stuff, thanks to children who require new shoes, bed and car seat every time they grow a quarter-inch.
For your childless friends, a free weekend means an impulse shopping trip to Rome or husky trekking in Reykjavic.
For you, venturing beyond the perimeter of your home requires the cross-referencing of calendars, transferral of car seats and buttering of sandwiches, while an unplanned trip to the garden centre constitutes 'living on the edge'.
19. A good body
Hunched in the shallow end during Sunday Splash Hour, you realise you've morphed from lithe, tanned gym-bunny to frizz-haired, dimple-thighed, pendulous mess (and that's just the men).
On the plus side, at least you've got freakishly overdeveloped arms, from the incessant toddler-lifting.
Ideally, we're talking about the wind chime-assisted tranquility of a top-end Thai spa. But under the circumstances, we'd settle for just one solitary moment without reedy shrieks, recorders being tooted or the tinny racket of a pinball machine with no 'mute' button.
We do love our children, but does this sound familiar?