Ah, the joys of a ‘girls’ night out’. If you don’t have children this is how I imagine your evening goes ...
You phone your friends the night before to ask if they fancy a few drinks to celebrate your birthday.
Other than watching Britain’s Got Talent, they don’t have anything planned so agree to join you.
You meet in Debenhams for a coffee on Saturday morning, pick out a new dress, shoes, handbag, statement necklace and have your make-up done by one of the experts on the Clinique counter.
You then arrange to get together at the person’s house who lives closest to the city centre, say around 4.30pm, so you can get ready together and share a taxi.
By 5.30pm you have drank a bottle of White Zinfandel between you and are feeling a little giddy.
You style each other’s hair using techniques you picked up watching ‘how to’ videos on YouTube.
Once your locks are done, it’s on with the make-up, 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 watch a bit of Ant and Dec (because you secretly have a ‘thing’ for Dec) before the cab arrives.
You look good, smell good and feel good. You are relaxed and in the mood for a few cocktails and a night of dancing. Let the good times roll.
That’s how I imagine it is for those of you without little ones.
A night on the town, when you have children, requires planning with military precision and even then, there’s no guarantee it will go smoothly.
At Christmas, I went out with some friends and we had such a hoot, we decided we’d do it again.
So, after weeks of messages back and forth we finally settled on a date in April – my birthday being the perfect excuse.
With 13 children between the five of us, shift work, away games and babysitters with day jobs it was tricky finding an evening that worked for everyone.
In the run up to the night, Lottie fell ill with a virus. She was in bed for five days and as the weekend was almost upon us, I was preparing to take a rain check so I could care for my poorly daughter.
Mr C suggested I postpone but I knew if I didn’t go out, I could be waiting months before the opportunity came around again.
With my fingers crossed baby Louie didn’t go down with the same bug, I plied Lottie with ice lollies and copious amounts of fresh juice to try and help her on the road to recovery. Luckily, the TLC paid off and she was well enough for me to feel happy leaving her in the care of her grandparents, who were babysitting, with Mr C working.
Unlike my childless counterparts, I didn’t have the chance to browse the shops, so I had taken a gamble and ordered a couple of dresses online. Thankfully, one was suitable attire, the other was, well, mutton...lamb. Say no more. So, with my daughter’s health improving and an outfit sorted it was now just about the finishing touches.
One of my buddies joining me for drinks arrived at 6pm, curling irons in one hand, hairspray in the other. I was wearing my joggers, she looked utterly glamorous.
Of the five, she is the most organised. Mummy to two small boys, she told me 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 casserole in the slow cooker and found time to shower.
After she finished my hair, she was off to call in at 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, after putting an irritable baby to bed, praying he didn’t vomit in my hair, I kissed Lottie goodbye and teetered down the street in ridiculous heels.
I knocked on Friend Number Two’s door. Inside, a couple of babysitters were looking after her children who were having a joint sleepover with Friend Number Three’s daughters. As I walked in, Friend Number Three fell half way down the stairs while trying to prise her eldest child off her leg. The tot clearly didn’t want mummy to go anywhere.
Meanwhile, Friend Number Two was telling Organised Friend how her foot had swollen after having a tattoo that morning, so her shoes were uncomfortable. 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 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 had turned up early and been waiting for 10 minutes. Friends Two, Three and Four were a little flustered. Organised Friend 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. We clambered into the taxi. We didn’t have time to watch Ant and Dec, or finish our wine but it’s fair to say we were feeling a tad giddy from stress. Did we drink cocktails and let the good times roll?
Of course we did.
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 we leave the house wearing matching shoes.
Sam Curtis, 44, lives in Lincoln in a house that’s not as clean, tidy or quiet as she’d like with her husband Leigh, Lottie, 8, and new arrival, baby Louie.