One of the most difficult things about becoming a parent is finding out, rather abruptly, that your time is no longer your own.
Where once, you’d spend a Saturday morning in bed, before making yourself a very unhealthy fry-up then wondering from cafe to cinema to pub before collapsing on the sofa to watch Match of the Day, now your time is focused on your kids.
These days, weekends are all about day trips. To parks, leisure centres, soft-play areas, friends houses, beaches, shops, and many more. The pub bit and the Match of the Day bit can still happen, if you’re lucky, but that’s about all.
As much as my wife and I love our family time, we’ve recently realised that we also need a bit of time to ourselves. Which is where our revolutionary 50/50 © theory comes in. (It’s hardly original, but I thought I’d add the copyright symbol for the sheer fun of it)
It works like this. We alternate looking after the kids, to give each other a break.
So now, we take it in turns to have a lie in. I get Saturday, she gets Sundays. We often take it in turns to do bedtimes and bathtimes (though we occasionally give each other a hand just out of goodwill). While one of us gets on with kid stuff, the other can grab half an hour to read the paper, have a cuppa, or just ‘flop,’ as one of my friends puts it.
The best example of 50/50 theory working in practice was a recent Friday when we were both free. During the morning, my Wife went shopping while I looked after the kids. The afternoon was to be mine, and mine alone.
The only problem is, I was so unused to having an afternoon free that I couldn’t work out what to do with it. So I asked Facebook. The replies I got suggested a bicycle ride, a trip to the cinema, an afternoon in the pub, and many more.
In the end, after quite a lot of agonising, I managed to do some writing and cycling, before (after eating with my Wife) making it to the pub later on that night.
A morning with the kids, afternoon to myself, meal with my wife then a couple of pints?
That’s what Lou Reed should have written about when he penned Perfect Day.
Charlie Swinbourne is the editor of Limping Chicken, as well as being a journalist and award-winning scriptwriter. He writes for the Guardian and BBC Online, and as a scriptwriter, penned My Song, Coming Out and Four Deaf Yorkshiremen.
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.