Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Family Time

We've just had a lovely, sunny, three day weekend here in the UK.

In the old days, this would have been a great excuse to drink like a fish.

I'd, obviously, have overdone it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, and I'd have found excuses to start drinking by midday, continuing on for much of the afternoon.

By now I'd be feeling like death, and would have slunk into a pit of despair.

But these days my Bank Holiday weekends are all about family.

It struck me recently that I've spent much of the last decade trying to avoid my children. Isn't that terrible?

I would look for day time activities at weekends where they could play happily somewhere, while I would sit and watch from the side lines with some adult friends and lots of booze.

In the evenings, I would try to feed them relatively early, then there would then be a frantic rush, with lots of kicking and screaming, to get the children into bed 'on time' so that Mr SM and I could settle down for a boozy, 'adult' dinner a deux.

Over a bank holiday weekend I'd often arrange a 'family lunch.'

These generally involved inviting round another 'bon viveur' family. We'd eat lunch with the children down one end of the table and grown ups down the other, then pack them off to watch a movie/destroy the house, while we got really stuck in to the vino.

They'd leave at around 5pm (and probably stop drinking at that point), I'd keep on going until I eventually passed out on the sofa at around 10pm.

Despite the 'family lunch' description, I'd have spent barely any time at all actually talking to any of the children.

This weekend was different.

I booked tickets for us all to go to a wonderful Roald Dahl exhibition on South Bank. We then had lunch by the river, and walked along the Thames, pointing out St Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben, and ogling all the street performers.

We stopped, along with over a hundred other onlookers, to watch an amazing Australian escapologist doing a Houdini style show. He picked two young men out of the crowd to help tie him up. Then he looked around for a female assistant and....picked me!

The smalls were thrilled that Mummy got to be a star in a show and we all had a ball. (I lied when he asked me my name, so every time he addressed me as 'Sheila' the children cracked up).

Our evenings are different now too. Instead of wrestling wide awake children into bed too early, we've relaxed all the rules for non school nights. We all eat together, and we find programmes on TV that we can all enjoy.

The current favourite is Britain's Got Talent.

(Runners up are The Durrells and The Wives of Henry VIII - which counts as revision, and the children love the gore and sex references. You need to watch this sober, as you get thrown questions like "what does he mean 'Anne Boleyn had relations with her own brother'?")

So, Saturday night, I invited a friend and her daughter round, we ordered in a takeaway curry and we all watched Britain's Got Talent, piled onto cushions in the playroom, with much cheering and booing.

None of the smalls got to bed before 10pm, there was no 'adult time', just one big mess of family.

But that's the way I like it now. And, needless to say, so do the kids.

Hugs to you all,

SM x

P.S. Thank you all so much for your messages yesterday. You, and just the act of writing down my fears, helped enormously. I am 90% sure I've just strained my arm (probably as a result of an over-enthusiastic dog on a lead), and I'm not going to die (yet). I know that these cancer fears will fade in time, just like the wine witch does when you quit the booze....


  1. I can totally relate to this. So many nights (practically all of them) i have packed the kids up stairs to bed early or to watch a movie in their own room (much to the kids disappointment) while I get stuck into a bottle or two of wine downstairs. Now, our routine is slowly changing and things are just so much more relaxed, we watch family movies on a weekend now and I'm not clock watching, wondering when I can get them to bed so I can drink. Little changes, make a big impact.

  2. You speak the truth. I get v annoyed when we are asked our en famille and then find when we arrive for lunch/dinner whatever that the children are expected to disappear and leave the adults . How are children expected to learn how to be an adult if they are endlessly pushed off to watch a video with a pizza ?

  3. When I started reading this I was filled with fear at my memory of 3 day weekends. They used to be such an opportunity to mess up and end up really sick. Not there yet in enjoying the kids but I know I'll get there. You paint a beautiful picture of what a good family life is.

  4. On point as usual SM...if I could have my time again I would do it oh so differently, but am consoling myself that at least I can still be the parent they deserve..but it truly breaks my heart when I look back at the wasted (literally) time of their childhood...well done you for having such a deservedly wonderful weekend...my children don't know I have stopped yet,,planning not to make a big deal of it...it is tough being parent but I am beginning to suspect it actually Might have been a lot easier without the pull of the wine witch..xx

    1. I most definitely felt the pull of deep regret reading this, but I choose not to go there because it is the quickest route, for me, to want a drink. I wish I had valued the time with my kids while they were small. You still have the chance. I hope and pray that you keep what I gave away.

  5. Hi SM,
    So happy you're enjoying this time - you are living life fully - and will not have regrets. I may not seem like it - but the littles won't be that little for long - and it would be awful to look back and to have missed it. I only have one - and glad I've stopped drinking soon enough that most of her lasting memories of me will not be of a boozy daddy. Eeyore

  6. Yes yes yes!!! Just had a very busy birthday weekend for my precious daughter turning 4. When did children's birthdays become such boozy affairs??? However, apart from one embarrassingly drunk auntie (2 - 3 bottles of wine) most of the others decided to join me staying sober and it was just the best! And I was still awake and able to watch a film with the older 2 in the evening. I was still drinking at her birthday last year and was probably asleep on the sofa by 7 pm after all afternoon drinking wine. I stopped a week later!!! This is so much better and is becoming my new 'norm' x

    1. So true EH! Been to so many children's birthday parties with caterers, kids entertainers and the mums and dads getting sloshed (champagne mind you, it is a celebration after all.) Lots of kids party venues do parent cocktail parties simultaneously in another room. How did that happen? Sounds like you had a lovely time actually enjoying the occasion with you wee one and making some memories together.

  7. It sounds like a great weekend - well done you