The other day we went on a family day out to the zoo. On the way home, both children fell asleep in the back of the car and me and Mr H basked in the silence, held hands and just enjoyed the 'two-ness' of our journey.
Then we broke the silence and started to reminisce about the old days, pre-children, when we would return from a day out (not at the zoo. Somewhere very grown up and sophisticated. Like The Range), and only have three things to do: put on the tv, the kettle and pyjamas.
We would not have to move or speak for the remainder of the day, except maybe to order takeaway or stick a pizza in the oven. Bliss.
Then we talked about the imminent arrival home in five minutes, when both children would wake up at the ceasing of the engine, to demand we watch CBeebies, get them a drink and make them something to eat. Then, after a couple of hours of playing car races, hide and seek and trains, the bedtime routine would begin and play out before they were both asleep four hours after returning from the zoo. Four hours after getting home we would finally be able to put on pyjamas and order a takeaway.
Which got me thinking; returning from days out are definitely not better with children. But, luckily, there are lots of things which are.....
Household snacks: before children we never bought biscuits. Only if we had guests. Biscuits were a treat because we knew if we had biscuits at home I would eat a packet a day. Now? Biscuits are an excellent child bribe. In fact we are currently using "stay in bed all night and you can have two biscuits immediately on rising." Which is not good parenting admittedly but tiredness can do funny things to your morals and your best intentions. The bonus is that when I'm really tired and can't be bothered to make myself a healthy lunch - biscuits.
Walks: not if you're in a rush. But if you don't have to hurry, a walk with young children becomes a magical journey of awe and wonder rather a quick dash to Tesco Express for milk. They find magic in things we now take for granted; things we no longer see the magic in unless we really stop to look and see it; the way dew settles on a spider web, the changing colours of the leaves, the clouds. Autumn walks are especially good for this. I have now taken to choosing five things we have to look out for on our walks and making a checklist for the toddler who loves to 'tick' them off as we find them. It makes him really look and explore his surroundings. I only do five objects though as we are rarely in a huge rush but we would like to return home before dark.
Sticks, trees and wellies. The perfect walk for little ones.
Relationships: all relationships seem to be magnified by love when you have children. Not every second of course. Me and Mr H exchange many a short sharp word about important things like the recycling after a terrible night's sleep. But the big stuff? We're a team. I love him all the more for being a wonderful father to our children. Likewise my parents and parents-in-law. To watch them as grandparents gives us such an appreciation for them in a way we didn't have before (this is especially true when they babysit!). But possibly my favourite relationship of all is the one between my boys.
Christmas: I love Christmas. I have always loved the magic of it. But now we have children? It is ultra magical. From the build up (it's so much more acceptable to visit Santa when you have children), to buying presents, to Christmas Eve and finally opening the presents on Christmas Day. It's THE BEST feeling to be surrounded by your family, with the fire blazing and the children playing with their newly opened toys. And drinking mulled wine. Obvs.
Christmas jumpers for the children are a given!
Life: don't worry, you don't need a sick bucket - I am not going to wax lyrical about how children make everything in life delightful (see 'returning from an outing' above). Also sleep; sleep is categorically not better with children. But, as Mr H said, as he tickled both our boys as they lay on the bed, giggling and cuddling each other yesterday, their smiles, giggles and their ever growing personalities make it all worth it. All the sleepless nights and busy afternoons. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Just kidding. We would like some more sleep please children. Love you