It's amazing what parental activities end up on the banned list when you live under a child dictator, but just so that I never step out of line again I decided to put together a crib sheet of the top 10 outlawed occupations for the enslaved parent:
1. Sex - clearly a no, no as this might lead to more children, and as such to more people who will attempt to share your toys and parental attention. This activity is prevented by early morning wake up calls, late night bed visits and well-timed illnesses that spookily coincide with sign of amour between the oldies.
2. Shopping - with the exception of toy and/or sweet shopping. Any other purchases by or for parents must be averted at all costs, so trips to shopping complexes, supermarkets, garden centres, car showrooms or estate agents must be disrupted by the mother of all tantrums. Suggested techniques include piercing screams, laying on the floor and waving legs and arms around wildly, explosive bowel movements or the destruction of everything in sight. The latter is particularly effective where the merchandise is of high value.
3. Reading anything without pictures - reading to children is an activity which is to be encouraged by persistent whinging, but reading as a grown up pass time is strictly forbidden and must be prevented by tugging sleeves, requests for drinks, food, cuddles and a new DVD until your grown up gives in and gives up.
4. Conversation - chatting or any other form of adult conversation must be nipped in the bud immediately, using the patented constant interruption method. If out and about, for example the school run, you could try the simple running into traffic manoeuvre to disrupt any social gathering.
5. Sleep - even novice infants are aware that the best way to keep the adults passive iss via sleep deprivation. This can start with random crying bouts throughout the night, graduating onto scary dreams, wet beds and monsters in the cupboard.
6. Long car journeys - adults must learn that cars should be regarded as travelling dustbins and therefore entirely unsuitable for long trips. They are fine for getting from A-B thereby avoiding too much walking on the part of the child, but any attempt to travel for longer than half an hour must be undermined by regular demands to stop for the toilet/sweets/sickness.
7. Going out - captive adults should on no account be allowed to escape. If they attempt to leave the house without their infant guards in tow all methods should be employed to stop them, clinging to ankles, crying, emotional blackmail, imaginary illnesses etc.
8. Bathing - adults must maintain a basic level of personal hygiene, but long soaks in the bath and solitary visits to the bathroom are not encouraged. Any adult spending upwards of 10 minutes in the bath must be joined by at least one child immediately, this is particularly important should they indulge in such fripperies as reading the paper, lighting candles or listening to the radio.
9. Television viewing - Any viewing apart from CBeebies, Jetix and Cartoon Network is strictly forbidden and the moment an adult settles onto the sofa with remote in hand, a child should distract them by bouncing up and down next to them, running races in front of the screen or initiating a complex negotiation about the acquisition of a new toy for their collection.
10. Relaxing - this is a cardinal sin, and yet adults are constantly trying to slip a little relaxation past their ever vigilent children. There are many ways to undermine relaxation, but the most successful have proved to be in-fighting, breaking precious items or self harm. If all else fails try the killer combination of all three.
This post is written with thanks to sons number one and two who have attempted to thwart our night out with varying methods including tears, plaintive wails that they will miss us and complaints of a sore bottom.