End of the NYE affair
Pre-children we were a different version of ourselves. Obviously worse in some ways but undeniably we were more spontaneous, with super-fast metabolisms and less prone to shouting.
Usually I don’t give much thought to my previous self. But pre-child me does pop into my mind when I’m trying to catch a plane or do a few jumping jacks and when someone asks ‘What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?’
I used to spend NYE BC (before children) in some far-flung venue having paid an exorbitant entrance fee. I didn’t mind paying the New Year’s Tax (that’s a 50 per cent price hike) on everything from cabs to cocktails because being somewhere cool on the biggest night of the year was a point of pride. We’d stagger home in the early hours as cabs were harder to catch than a sugar crazed toddler on a scooter. Instead we’d journey home in sub-zero temperatures, effectively wearing a bikini. It was so gruelling we should have been awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Gold. I could sleep uninterrupted until January 2, recovering thanks to takeaways and not walking further than the length of my own body.
Now I think I might be stuck in a dysfunctional relationship with NYE. We were definitely happier back in the old days, but it just can’t deliver that hedonistic excitement anymore. Not now New Year’s Day starts at 6am with excited, demanding children.
I asked my husband whether he fancied going out for the evening and his reply is unprintable. It got me wondering what are the choices for the Calpol Years Parents (those parents with children under 10).
One option is going to a house party. This is how that one plays out. You’re the first of your group of friends to have a baby. You might even have said the words “having a baby won’t change me” (I’m not judging, we all believed it once). Just to prove it, you accept an invitation to a house party where you’re the only parents there. You think you’ll have a few drinks and a laugh and your baby can sleep in the buggy. Instead loud drunk people keep staggering off with your over-tired precious first born. You manage an hour before you head home just grateful it wasn’t fancy dress.
Alternatively, you could host a kids and grown-ups house party. You start at the child friendly time of 4pm and invite a few families. The plan is everyone heads home by 9pm feeling jolly but one family will always hang on until the bitter end. Somehow you’re the one left looking after even more children than usual and they’re dangerously close to feral. This option is guaranteed to make you feel terrible on New Year’s Day. As you missed all the recycling bin pick-ups you’ll have piles of empty bottles in your kitchen until mid-January as a brutal reminder.
Then there’s the ‘just the two of you’ option. You and your other half can have a good time together at home, opening the expensive fizz and eating something delicious. You might even be nice to each other. However, as you’re normally asleep by the time Newsnight starts you’re both struggling to stay awake past 10.30pm. Television is basically awkward presenters pointlessly interviewing drunk people while they wait for the fireworks. The very second it turns midnight you head to bed. You go to sleep safe in the knowledge your youngest child will have you up at 4am.
Then there’s the ‘out out’ option. We all know an ex-clubbing couple. There’s no way they’re going pass up a chance to go large and we love them for it. This option must include grandparents taking the children and resolutely ignoring the seasonal bloating and prices of everything. If you’re heading out for first time in years be prepared for how busy it will be, how young twentysomethings look these days, and that women now draw their eyebrows on with marker pens. Also your recovery time is three weeks.
There’s no denying 2016 has been a tumultuous year. Many times the news has just felt unwatchable and I want to grab every opportunity to be happy. If I ever needed a celebration it’s now. But it’s not going to be on December 31 for me anymore. Paying the New Year’s Eve tax on babysitters and booze doesn’t make financial sense after Christmas. Who wants to spend January Googling ‘how much for a kidney?’
I think I might break up with NYE and start seeing New Year’s Day. Sorry NYE. It’s me, not you. Or rather it’s my children. Not feeling terrible when woken up at 6am is a pretty good way to start the year. I can drink to that. Happy 2017 everyone.