A night in a hotel used to mean one thing and it wasn’t how quickly we could get our review up on Trip Advisor.

On a recent night away we arrived promptly for a 2pm check in. The second the door closed, I looked at Doug with a ‘shall we?’, my brow raised in anticipation of what we’d discussed at length on the car journey. He nodded, so I drew the curtains, whipped off my jeans and pulled back the covers. We both dove straight in to the bed, turned our backs on each other and I reckon were snoozing soundly within four minutes of entering the room. A nap – a blissful, no interruptions nap with the added bonus of buoyant pillows and crisp sheets – has become our fantasy.

The other joyful thing about a weekend away is eating out without taking the contents of your toy box and stationery cupboard or having little plastic giraffes accompany your drinks. Grown up eating – or dining – in nice clothes and with nice food at a leisurely pace. Excellent. ‘So, when are we heading down to dinner?’ I ask. ‘Table is booked for 8pm’ says Doug. ‘Riiiight…lovely…um…do you think we could make it like 7.30, maybe 7pm? It’s just that, um, I’m not sure I’ll last that long and…we don’t want to get back to the room too late’. So we saunter down to dinner at 6.55pm, eat mostly with families with small kids as apparently the rest of the grown ups can handle eating beyond 7.30pm and we’re done and back in the room by 9pm – bosh.

You see, we’re tired. Like many of you reading this, we’re dog-tired. Our kids are two and four and some nights everyone sleeps but more often than not one of the little darlings wakes up, or someone is sick, or there is much wailing because (and this one really annoys me as it can be prevented and it’s our OWN STUPID FAULT) their night-time drink is empty. If not that, we’ve worked late or on occasion, partied late because we like to think we’ve still got ‘it’, which we clearly haven’t as a week later we think we’re still hungover. Getting some extra Zs and food eaten with cutlery is the dream. Then we can crack open the fizz and get back to *klaxon* reconnecting.

It’s all a bit different to the dirty weekends of old from the minute you start packing. Or rather, the one minute you take to pack. Because you’re packing up and prepping for the other loves of your life, and the fear of what might happen if you forget their favourite toy/enough pants takes over and you are left with 60 seconds to fling your stuff in a rucksack. When it comes to night-wear, your hand might skim over the negligee you once purchased for such occasions, and then remember that your post-baby body – or more importantly your post-baby breasts – ain’t gonna offer a lot in that. Anything with cups requires some boob to fill it and it doesn’t have the same impact if the material is hollow and gaping as your girls hang sadly in the bottom of them. As it’s a special occasion, the high-waisted, flannelette pyjamas that could double up as a chastity belt can stay at home. See? Sassy.

Last time we stayed away Doug, ever hopeful, had packed a few items we bought in the heady days before kids. Calm down, I’m not talking Fifty Shades cable ties, but a few things that might…ahem…fuel the mood.

(I am so sorry to anyone who knows me. In particular my family). So anyway, he pulls out these dice that have words like lick, suck and tease on one and body parts on the other. Half a bottle of champagne down and feeling relaxed, I snigger a bit then offer to give them a whirl. The first roll produces ‘tease’ and ‘boobs’ and all I can think is of him shouting insults while pointing and jeering at my chest. ‘Look at you, all crepey and tired. Call yourself tits? You couldn’t fill a B cup’ and the like. We both have a go at insulting my boobs, also known as pyramid teabags, and I laugh for five minutes solid before I can speak again.

tease boobs

At some point he pulls out cards with sexual positions on them (don’t ask – I don’t know where he got them and he will be as embarrassed as we all are). He got to one and looked at me in a lewd manner, and my genuine response was ‘I don’t think my back would take that’. What has happened to us?

And yet we have realised over the last few years that time away – just the two of us – is crucial to surviving the early years with kids because we generally find we actually rather like each other. It isn’t always easy, and there are obviously times when they’re first born that it isn’t practical, or enjoyable – we took a 10 week old Buster on an ill-fated trip to a spa hotel in a ‘we can still do this’ moment. There’s also the cost, as there will always be something else to spend the money on. But we’re often guilty of putting everything else first – work, friendships, and of course the kids don’t get neglected while the person you’ve chosen to share all that with does? It’s a bit crackers when you think about it.

Whenever we have that time to ourselves, within fifteen minutes Doug will get a different kind of look in his eye, one that I know means he’s seeing me as Steph. The girl he fell in love with. He’ll always say ‘It just takes a few minutes away from it all and I feel nothing but love for you’. Let’s not dwell on what that means he usually thinks of me. To be fair to him, I can be a bit of a hag. I’m not trying to make you vomit, but I think it’s probably similar for lots of us. Get us out the house together and rather than the irritating tool that leaves his clown shoes around for me to trip on and regularly forgets stuff he’s put in the microwave until two days later when the smell alerts us to it, I see the man I knew I wanted to marry within days of meeting him.

Like all couples with young kids, we’re on this massive road of discovery that at times feels more like a highway to hell. Whether it be a dirty weekend or a weekend with a smidge of dirt but also some heavenly napping, it feels pretty good to remember what it’s all about.

If you have any thoughts, I’d love your comments below. Over-sharing also welcome.

Dirty weekend image from drinkinbrighton.co.uk