Wine, dancing, more wine, flirting, a couple of Sambuca shots and a dirty kebab on the way home. A good night out always starts with the planning, which is minimal when you don’t have kids.
It usually goes like this:
Night Out ~ Pre-kids
You text your friends mid-week to ask if they fancy having a few drinks, you know, just because it’s almost the weekend. They are free. All of them. At the same time, on the same night. That’s it. Girly gathering planned.
On the Saturday morning, you meet in town for a coffee and, after drinking your skinny latte, you head to the shops to pick out a new dress, shoes, handbag, statement necklace and have your make-up done by one of the experts on the Clinique counter in Debenhams.
You then congregate at one house, say around 4.30pm, so you can get ready together and share a taxi into town. By 5.30pm you have sunk a bottle of Prosecco and are feeling a little giddy. You style each other’s hair using techniques you have mastered watching ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. Once your locks are done, it’s on with the fake lashes and moisturiser to match your perfume before slipping into a killer outfit and heels. You then have time to start on another bottle of wine and take endless selfies of your beautiful faces before slinking into the cab. You look good, smell good and you feel bloody marvelous. You are relaxed and in the mood for a few cocktails and a night of dancing.
Let the good times roll.
That’s what I remember of those carefree evenings before children came along.
Night Out ~ Post-kids
These days, a night on the town, when factoring in children, must be planned with military precision and even then, there’s no guarantee it will go smoothly. I imagine NATO has more success in getting world leaders together than five mums agreeing on a weekend night that works for all of them.
But it can be done.
If I cast my mind back to several months ago, the stars aligned and my mummy friends and I hit the town BIG STYLE.
But unlike my childless counterparts, having a night out was not without its challenges.
My Saturday was spent loading the washing machine, changing dirty nappies, packing away the online shopping delivery, making cheesy pasta, playing hide and seek with the toddler and mopping up numerous bodily fluids before I managed a 10-minute dip in the shower. I may, or may not, have remembered to shave my armpits.
I’d had no time to browse the shops, so had taken a gamble and ordered a couple of dresses from an online store. Thankfully one was suitable attire, the other was, well, mutton…lamb. Say no more.
Most days, I try and get my children ready for bed at 6.30pm. It is around this time I also fantasise about sitting down with a cup of tea, or a glass of red. Instead, at 6.25pm prompt, one of my buddies arrived, curling irons in one hand, hairspray in the other. She looked utterly glamorous. I still had wet hair and was wearing a yoghurt-splattered dressing-gown.
Allow me to introduce Organised Mummy. I spend my life in awe of Organised Mummy. I want to be her. I am always saying: “How do you do it? That effortless gliding thing?”
The simple truth of the matter is, she thinks ahead, ergo, she is organised and unflappable.
On this occasion, she had painted her nails the night before and curled her hair when her youngest had his afternoon nap. In between, she’d popped a stew in the slow cooker and found time to shower. She is a force to be reckoned with. Thank god she is lovely, otherwise I might hate her. Just a tiny bit.
She took control of the soggy heap (me) I presented her with. As she got to work, my children were eating Wotsits while watching Peppa Pig on the TV. Organised Mummy finished my hair with a flourish of spray from her can and sashayed off to call on Friend Number Two, who lives around the corner, to help with her make-up. This was where we were meeting to catch the taxi into town.
Finally ready, I wrestled an irritable toddler into bed, hoping he wouldn’t vomit cheesy crisps in my hair, kissed my daughter goodbye and teetered down the street in ridiculous heels, leaving my kids in the care of their grandparents. My husband works most weekends, otherwise I’d have left him holding the baby. Literally.
I knocked on Friend Number Two’s door. Inside, a couple of babysitters were looking after a clutch of children belonging to Friend Number Two and Friend Number Three. They were all having a sleepover while respective mummies enjoyed a night out. As I walked in, Friend Number Three fell half way down the stairs while trying to prise her youngest child off her leg. The kid clearly didn’t want mummy to go anywhere.
Meanwhile, Friend Number Two was telling Organised Mummy how her foot was sore after she had trodden on a piece of Lego and she didn’t know how long she’d be able to wear her heels before she would be pulling out the flats stashed in her handbag. Friend Number Four was on the phone to her husband.
“It’s got a bow on it”, she was saying, “black, rounded toe”.
I looked down at her feet. She had left her house wearing odd shoes and was making arrangements for her other half to meet her in town with the matching shoe.
The taxi driver, who had turned up early and been waiting for 10 minutes, tooted his horn. Friends Two, Three and Four were a little flustered. Organised Mummy was calmly sipping her rosé.
“Shall we go?” she said.
Friend Number Three still had a small child attached to her. “Shall we just stay in and get a takeaway?” she replied. The babysitters came to the rescue and persuaded the youngster to let go of her mummy. It wasn’t pretty.
With the howls of “mummy, don’t go” still ringing in our ears we clambered into the taxi. We didn’t have time to apply fake lashes, or finish our wine but some of us were feeling a tad giddy from the heady combination of stress hormones and inhaling too much of our own Chanel No5.
Did we drink cocktails, dance and let the good times roll? Of course we did.
Did we have hangovers we regretted for the next two days? You betcha.
Did anyone make us a bacon butty and a cuppa to ease said hangover? That’s a ‘no’ then.
Do we have another night out penciled in the diary? Hell, yes! Sometime in September 2017 is a definite maybe for at least three of us.
So, the next time you bump into a group of mummy friends out on the town, spare a thought for the sheer effort they will have gone to just to be there.
It’s a miracle if they are wearing matching shoes.
About Sam Curtis
Sam, 46, is a columnist for the Lincolnshire Echo newspaper and writes for parenting magazine Molly’s Guide. She lives in the beautiful cathedral city of Lincoln, in a house that’s not as clean or tidy as she’d like with her husband and their two children: A tweenage daughter, 10, and toddler son, 2, who is often mistaken for a Tazmanian Devil in supermarkets. She owns two psychotic cats and will settle for chocolate when the Merlot runs dry.