Before we had kids, the hubby and I were quite partial to a night out out. Needless to say the shape of our social life has massively changed in the last half decade since we exchanged our disco slippers for, well, actual slippers. Partly because we are a bit too knackered, partly because we don’t like to abuse our childcare options, partly because we have reached a more mature stage in our lives, but MOSTLY because quite frankly, we cannot deal with THE HANGOVERS.
Don’t get me wrong, every now and again we will feel the need to don a splash of glitter eye shadow (me not him), throw caution to the wind and act like there is no tomorrow. Or, more specifically no 5.30am wake up call tomorrow. We tell ourselves it is needed, we need to let our hair down and feel like the old us, to laugh, be silly, to drunk dance and stay up past bedtime. We basically never learn that we will pay for this tenfold and swear in the morning that we’ll never drink again.
Whilst we definitely know how to party, we definitely don’t know our limits, and like two kids let loose in the sweet shop, a boozy night out quickly becomes a reunion with the old ‘us’; that couple who fell in love going to nightclubs, (and falling out of nightclubs).
The problem is, that twenty something year old us didn’t have much on our agenda the next day other than watching Shipwrecked on T4, eating junk food, and worrying about the alarm going off on Monday morning…48 hours away.
These days the morning after the night before looks very, very different. If we’re lucky it may involve a mid morning pick up from the Grandparents, laden with the guilt of knowing our kids had them up at crazy-o-clock, putting on a brave face and pretending to feel ‘a bit jaded’. At worst, there may be a rude awakening at a god forsaken hour from the room next door, reminding you instantaneously exactly why you hardly ever burn the candle at both ends any more.
Your hangover day will probably consist of a kids party or two – a battering on the senses at the best of times, but a cruel joke to the parents who had a night pass the night before. You can spot them a mile off hanging around the hula hoops bowl and downing lemonade out of a Disney Princess party cup.
Regardless of your agenda, carb loading and caffeine will get you through the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be bread based, or more specifically toast based, and you won’t actually feel an ounce of guilt about it. Fast, nutritious, accessible – everyone’s happy.
That’s because your guilt is probably all used up in the self loathing you undoubtedly feel about your inability to hold your drink any more. The fear kicks in of what exactly did you say and to whom, ranging right through to feeling like a total parenting failure for letting yourself get that messy now that you’re a responsible grown-up. You’re a Mum now for god sake. Alcohol is a depressant, and like the terrible twos, this too shall pass. We may beat ourselves up but within obvious limits, we all deserve to go out and have fun now and again. Having kids doesn’t mean the end of your social life forever, does it?
In a way, a hangover day can be a welcome rest from the normal vibe in the house – I mean how often do you really ignore the washing pile, ignore the dishes and get the duvet down on the sofa? It’s not all bad right?
You’d be mistaken for imagining us rolling out of nightclubs nowadays, oh no, the hangover in your mid thirties is way cheekier than that. Just wine with a meal, or a few pints can send us into a grotty state the next day these days and it’s never predictable. One glass of prosecco at a barbecue can so easily slip into the next, and the next, and on these summer evenings the appeal of cracking open a G&T with friends is all too easy.
Equally, there may be other times when we seem to have totally gotten away with it, scot free. All the fun and none of the payback? When you’re waiting for the progressive hangover to appear and it just doesn’t materialise.
Of course, there are also the slow burners. The ones that start off the day with you feeling tip top, and BANG, midway through cooking tea the alcohol sweats and stomach clenches kick in. That dinner you were whipping up suddenly seems highly unappetising, and frankly, you feel like you need to go and curl up in a ball. Is it really three hours till bedtime?
You’ll be showered with sympathy by your adoring children as you tell them you don’t feel too well, and sneak off to the bathroom to get better acquainted with the toilet bowl. These days were surely over weren’t they? It must have been something I ate…
The children will test you, even though they will probably be in seventh heaven given that your ability to parent temporarily took a dive. More TV? Sure. Biscuits? Grab the packet. In fact, in many ways they probably prefer this version of you. Cuddles? Yes please, lots of them.
Having paid the price for a brilliant slice of escapism from the day to day stresses of parenting, workload and household chores you’ll probably pass on the next event on the horizon. It’s appeal suddenly dimmed by the memory of that long, long day after. In fact, the several days after that it took to feel normal again.
It won’t last forever though..in time, as the stresses and strains of everyday life build up, that little part of you that longs to sparkle, to dance, to laugh at nonsense starts to resurface. After all, even the most dedicated, responsible, conscientious of parents need to let off steam…
Just not too often eh?