Sunday, September 7, 2008

Time Out

Today I put myself in time out. And not just a lousy minute for every year I’ve graced this earth (that’d be, err, cough cough, 21 minutes then, yes?) No, I put myself in five; let me say that with as much accentuation as I can, FIVE hours of glorious, wonderful, child-free, husband disengagement, Time Out!

I got a Sunday off. A rare and special treat, but one I thoroughly deserved. A little reward for surviving another season as my family's Chief Entertainment Director. So the Sunday Brunch Gang (a mixture of my Mum and Mom friends who I coerced into my little scheme) fled our respective homes whooping with joy at the prospect of spending time with each other where we could:

1) Actually finish a story without being interrupted by a small person’s request or breaking up a fight. (I guess we could've had a brawl just for laughs, but it was lunchtime and we couldn’t drink and drive and we didn’t want to mess up our ‘best clothes.’ We don’t get to wear them that often!)

2) Eat a whole meal, sitting throughout, whilst it was still warm and not have to share it with a family member.

3) Be in a restaurant without having crayons, paper and half of Toys R Us at the table.

4) Go to the bathroom, alone and with the door shut.

5) Not have to hear, 'Mummy/Mommy/Muuuummmeee/Moooommmeee!!!'

6) Leave a table without their being a ton of food under it and sticky finger marks all over the chairs and our clothes.

7) Drink a coke and not have to hide it.

8) And most importantly, order a dessert and not have to share it.

You get the picture. We were all desperate for a Time Out. So the husbands were given their orders and off we went to enjoy what the Americans do best: a big full fat caffeine loaded breakfast.

Him Downstairs was far too cocksure about manning the Entertainment Ship with no first mate. So confident, he even offered to watch my friend’s son too as her husband was having a midlife crisis and taking his Motorbike license test leaving her without babysitter.

She dropped her son off at ours...

“You sure you’re going to be OK?” we ask HD. Her son is Cheeky’s BF, thus we’ll be leaving my beloved with two rambunctious three year olds and Monkey, who is right in the middle of The Terrible Twos.

“We’re going to have a blast, aren’t we boys?” he says, getting out all the craft supplies. “Yeahhh, ye-hah!” the boys shriek in excitement, like he’s Disney World reincarnated.

“Do they do that for you when you get the paints out?” my friend asks me as we get into the car.

“No,” I reply. “They don’t even bloody notice!”

The brunch is lovely. Seven Mom/Mums let loose in dining and retail heaven with not a stroller at the end of our fingers or a toddler dragging at our heels. During breakfast (half of us on the eggs benedict & bacon, half of us on the French toast with fresh berries) phone calls from various husbands pepper our conversations. “He couldn’t find Aerial!” “He left the diaper-bag at Wal-Mart!” “He wants to know how much longer I’m going to be!”

My phone remained silent.

We paid our bill and went for a spot of retail therapy. We touched lovely knits in H&M. We tried on Fedora hats in For Love 21 (like Accessorize for UK chums) and we laughed over lipsticks in Nordstrom (Selfridges).

Still my phone didn’t ring.

Four o’clock came and most of out happy band of shoppers drifted back to their families.

“I’m calling him,” I said. A mild case of redundancy was starting to set in.

“Hi you,” he answers and I can hear the squeals of joy in the background.

“Everything OK?” I ask.

“What? Hang on. Yes, I am coming boys. Just talking to mummy. Yeah, we’re fine. Having a blast. No need to rush back. Stay out. Enjoy yourself.” Click. Brrrr...

“Alright?” my friend asks, seeing my jaw hit the ground.

“Yes. They’re fine,” I say. “Having a whale of a time apparently!”

And with that, I’m not having quite as much fun anymore. Obviously I totally commend HD on his ability to spend five hours straight with three toddlers and still be smiling at the end of it. But I am, let’s be honest, a bit put out. After all, I’m the Chief Entertainment Director in our family, aren’t I?

When I arrive home with two lovely purchases swinging from my arms, (I plumped for one of the lovely knits in H&M and a bottle of Eau Dynamisante) I am greeted by the sight of HD galloping round the garden riding the mop, with five other Knights of the Mom/Mum Household in his wake. (He’s acquired a couple of the neighbourhood kids such is his magnetism.) They are charging towards a homemade cardboard castle complete with working drawbridge and fully decorated with a rainbow’s worth of finger paints!

No-one’s noticed Mummy’s home...

“Hello!” I wave and am virtually thrown off balance by my firstborn (Cheeky) who’s making a stampede for the drawbridge on his very speedy broom.

“Watch out mummy. You’re in the way!” he shouts.

“Lovely to see you too,” I mutter.

HD spots me and canters over full of excitement at the wonderful day he’s had and very proud of the practically life-size second home they’ve built together. (He’s even got video footage for me to watch and 48 digi pics to mark said funtastic day.)

“Isn’t it great mummy?” Cheeky tethers his ‘horse’ to a turret. Yes, daddy’s even built them bloody turrets! “We’ve had so much fun!”

I know I should be pleased as punch. And I am. Sort of. I love the fact I’m married to a hands-on daddy. I love the fact that daddy loves craft because if I’m honest, even as a child, I’ve never been a ‘crafty’ kind of gal. But, I am definitely put out that the children appear to have had a far better time hanging out with daddy for five hours than they've had hanging out with me for four years! I feel demoted.

HD senses my woe. “We did miss you,” he says, giving me a kiss and a squeeze. Cheeky and Monkey reappear between turrets.

“Mummy,” says Cheeky. “Now you’re home, can you go and make us tea?”


I think it’s time I put Him Downstairs in Time Out don’t you?!


  1. How do you do it? How can you make me laugh and make me cry. Ah, who am I kidding, I don’t cry I’m a tough and rugged man.

    Having seen this from both sides now, what with my new career as a stay at home dad, I can tell you that it’s easy for dad to be at home for one day, go to town on entertaining the kids and the dump it all back on Mom/Mum for another couple of weeks. Been there, done that.

    When you have them all the time, it’s difficult to find five hours straight just to go mad with the kids. I know this to be true, as I’m living the dream.

    What I can tell you is (again from experience)… there is no one like Mum. No one! That’s one spot daddy just can’t take, no matter what.

  2. Oooo. I forgot to say... Your husband sounds like the King of Husbands.... or do I need to read more of your archives???

    I'm impressed with th fort and I was woring out how I can build one, so as not to be outdone! :-D

  3. First off, that time-out for exhausted mums sounds FABULOUS! What a great idea, am going to call my mates asap. Secondly, whilst I sympathise, I think the main thing to remember here is that you have a solid foundation here to do your time-out a lot more regulary... (which is probably not at all the result HD intended)

  4. Ooh post a pic of the castle!! Sounds amazing! And what a great hubby! Shall we swap? I am sure my girls would even love the sound of that! They could turn it into a princess castle of course...
    I dream of Time Out Sunday brunches. What a great idea.
    You are so good at your clubs. YOu should to a mummy's guide to time off from the children. And just enjoy your time out! I know what you mean about feeling a bit put out when the don't seem to notice, but it was only a few hours, and you know deep down that all your boys love you loads. You are one lucky lady...

  5. BTW - I have tagged you. Hope you don't mind!

  6. Hi I saw you posted on Expat mum and came to check you out. I'm the opposite of you in that I'm an American living in the English countryside. I can relate to your time out need and the equally off-putting idea of everyone having just a little bit too much fun when you aren't around....

  7. I have to second Dave's comment. It's all very well for these dads to do this for one stint, (even tho' it was a 5 hour stint), but could they do it ad nauseam? Whenever my husband takes charge, he throws in a bit of washing, shopping and gardening (all with kids) just to really show off. But I'm not fooled!

  8. I'm agreeing with Dave and Expat Mum - I can muster the energy to be Superdad for occasional sessions, but I think I'm more of a sprinter than a marathon runner if you see what I mean?!

  9. Oh, he sounds great !

    My kid's daddy is fab with sporty stuff which is great as I'm not !

    and I adore the brunch thing, you should do it regularly

  10. I had to share the most divine piece of cheesecake I have ever eaten with my son the other day. The look of joy on his face as he wolfed it down, outweighed my desire to grab the spoon off him an guzzle it myself. The things we do for our kids!

  11. I agree with Expatmum and Dave. It's easy for dads to swing in and spend five hours being Mr. Entertainment now and then. They are the novelty so the kids love it. It doesn't mean that they don't value the care you give them every day (it just feels that way sometimes.)Thankfully ExpatOwl is not masterchef yet, so the kids always make me feel wanted by referencing his burnt chips and fish fingers!

  12. Fan-bloody-tastic! Sunday time out with brunch and shopping... how lovely! Small child allows me exactly 20.5 seconds in H & M before buckeroo-ing out of the push chair and legging it!
    She told me only this weekend that she's Daddy's girl at the weekend and only mine when its my day off!

  13. Ooh - I'm jealous! I want a timeout like that! You should take advantage of your husband more often ;-)

    I got to go shopping with only one sproglet in tow yesterday. The excuse was DS needed shoes, but we had to buy some for mommy too and there were some nice looking blouses on sale - except DS suddenly announced very loudly "Mommy, you are a size LARGE."

  14. Dave - Would you like a Kleenex? There's no need to be shy about the passing of water...bless you.
    Tonight, who did the kids want? 'Mama!" Ha! See. I am back at the top of the charts and all it took was a day out at the zoo to get me there!

    Dave, again - FGS don't pay that man any more compliments! He's already craning his neck over my shoulder puffing out his, 'I'm da daddy dog chest.'

    PM - Thanks you dear PM. You talk rock solid sense as always. So that means I can go ahead and book the week-away Carribbean Cruise now yes? Wanna come?!

    ACTTF - Am not posting pic of castle. Don't want to add to his inflating ego! He's busy enough writing acceptance speeches for the Fun Dad of The Year trophy the neighbourhood committee have bestowed upon him.
    Love the book idea amd ta for the Tag. Mwah! x

    Audrey - Thanks for stopping by! I've commented on your blog too.

    ExpatM - Hello and yes, here here. What I didn't add in my post was that HD too went for extra points too by doing a grocery shop, making the beds and cleaning some junk in our garage. It was, however Mummy they wanted for bedtime cuddles.....the love flood back.

    BOOW - Funnily enough, my midwife back in the UK told me that you need the strenght and stamina of a Marathon Runner to give birth! Now, Him Downstairs didn't do that did he??!

    AG - I'll tell him he's getting a little fan club via my blog. His head, hopefully, will get stuck in the doorway!

    TT- You lovely mummy you.. Did you save me a spoonful too?

    Expatkat - Thanks for visiting and having a read. Makes me laugh that your kids rat daddy out with his culinary skills. but your point, yes, I hear you sister!

    TG? - I highly recommend starting a Sunday Brunch Gang. It has made me fall in love with clothes shopping again and made my bank manager fall out of love with me. Oops! Thanks for visiting btw...

    AA - am laughing. God love a toddler and a foghorn voice eh?!
    ps My husband would love me to be take advantage of him more often, but that just slipped to the bottom of my 'To Do' list!

  15. I was giggling all the way through, what a great story.

    I know she gave you a shout out on my blog, but isn't it funny that I 'found' you just a few days previous. I remember commenting on your 'The Snip' post and one other too.

  16. See. I knew it. Mommy/Mummy rules!

  17. Love it! Buy the man a Superdad cape!

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  18. ABD - see we were meant to find one another eh? Thanks for visiting and all your comments.

    Dave - It's nice to be back in my rightful spot!