Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: 'The toddler lies comatose in his buggy, covered in ice-cream'

A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline
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Indy Lifestyle Online

We're off to Margate for the weekend, for what will be our last family holiday before the arrival of the new baby. "The great British seaside," I murmur happily, ducking my head into the mini-cab just as it whizzes off, the driver taking every residential turn at 50mph before depositing us in the middle of a dual carriageway, outside the wrong railway station. Refusing to let this minor mishap blight our time away, my husband and I consider our options, before taking the Tube to where we need to be, two stops back in the direction from which we've come.

Forty-five minutes later, we're settled on the train. "Right," I say, in a show of enthusiasm, "we're off to the seaside!" The kids nod, limply. But our spirits revive, so much so that when we reach our hotel only to discover that we've been booked into two rooms, on different floors, for one night, rather than one room for two nights, we refuse to let it bring us down. "No matter!" my husband rallies, his eyes scanning the room for a minibar, "At least it's not raining!"

Eight hours later, we return to the hotel, hair plastered to our faces – a consequence of driving horizontal rain. The toddler lies comatose in his buggy, covered head to toe in ice-cream, while the four-year-old spins in circles screaming, "Helter skelter! Helter skelter!" At 10pm she finally rolls into bed next to me and whispers: "Thanks, Mummy! That was the best day ever! Better than all the other days!" Then she rolls over and throws up on the carpet.