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Five Minutes’ Peace

Posted May 14 2012 10:22am

Getting ready for a hot date, explains Beth Davies, requires music, hot water and privacy. However, taking time for yourself when you’re a parent is rarely easy, yet always vital.

I’m sure all of you who have read stories to small children have come across Five Minutes’ Peace  by Jill Murphy. It’s a lovely book, which all five of my sons have enjoyed. In this story Mummy Elephant tries to sneak five minutes’ peace, a trick worth learning in a hectic household believe me.

This is all very well when you have four small fictional baby elephants, however, enter the real world and it’s an entirely different story. Trying to have a pee in private can seem an act worthy of being reported to Social Services for neglect let alone holding your partner’s hand, kissing him/her or God forbid trying to have sex. But ‘try’ you must.

We all know the excuses we can make to get out of arrangements made with friends or play dates for your children but you make excuses to avoid Date Nights at your peril. These are precious times, valuable for you both, even when you think that after a day of work/nappies/shopping/you have absolutely nothing left to give. Give you must!

So, getting ready for that date. No matter how old your offspring are they have an innate knowledge that they are about to be abandoned and even the most independent teenagers, who in any other circumstances can’t bring themselves to grunt a ‘good morning’ at you, become immediately super-glued to your hip.

My older boys, who in reality are now men, still bang on the door whilst I’m taking a bath demanding ‘What the hell are you doing in there?’ Now, I don’t hold a degree in Linguistics, but even I would have thought that the plaque on the door which reads ‘BATHROOM’ would give a fairly clear indication of what I may well be doing in there. Apparently not. Deep breath. I try to remain calm and eventually the oik gets the message and shuffles off mumbling something along the lines of ‘Call yourself a mother?’

Of course I don’t advocate leaving a small child to wander around the house poking fingers in where they really oughtn’t, but a hot date requires a hot bath, a sharp razor and the bendiness of an Olympic gymnast to reach those places that haven’t been touched since the last hot date! These three things alone should not be witnessed by anyone else, not a toddler and not even the stroppy teenager who thinks he/she has seen everything – believe me they haven’t.

Call in the cavalry if you must, a friend that can have your little/big darlings whilst you de-fuzz, chill-out and heat up. Think about the night to come, about just being you, about when you first met your partner, think about anything that gets you in the Date Night mood and then hold it up there in your imagination until the time comes to unleash it on your unsuspecting, overjoyed partner!

Being a parent is a wonderful experience but let’s never forget how we got there.

Don’t get me wrong; I love those boys as if they were my own, which indeed they are, but just every now and then I like to remind them that ‘I’m a person too!’ (said Mummy Elephant).

My message to all parents is simple. If you need five minutes then just take it. Picture book explanations just don’t cut it. Give it to them straight. ‘Either you sod off and leave mummy to shave her legs, pluck any wayward hairs from her top lip and indeed conjure up wild fantasies for the night ahead or she’ll do it with the bathroom door wide open when your mates turn up. That seems to do the trick these days.

So thanks Ms Murphy for your beautiful book, it’s been well loved by me but sadly my slightly elephant-skinned sons missed the point completely.

Now I’m off for a hot bath with a razor and the Kama Sutra . If it’s an emergency boys, call 999 and if not you’re on your own!

Beth Davies is a freelance writer based in Hastings and mum of five boys. She blogs at  Chasing Her Tale  and Words Escaped Me , and writes a Cheapskate parenting column for . 

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