Why parents tend to be couch potatoes

Posted on: 08/03/2011

Imagine – if you need to – that you are child free.  Whether this is because you are pre-children, sans children or an empty nester, that’s up to you.

Imagine going to work in the daytime.  Again, this may not need to be imaginary.

Imagine someone saying to you at 4.59pm, ‘Hey! Let’s go to the pub* after work!’

Imagine being able to say, ‘Yeah! Why not?’, and flinging on your coat.  Perhaps calling a loved one to say you’ll be late home tonight.  You go.  You have a relaxed time. You might get a little tiddly.  It doesn’t matter, because you have no dependents.  You feel like life is great.

And to be honest, it is great.

Now imagine the same scenario but you have children at home.   How easy is it to say, ‘Yeah! Why not?’ and just do it?

I just can’t picture it.

Spontaneity is a very rare word in a family household…  Even if one of you could willingly ‘babysit’ (yes, babysit your own children, but I have difficulty finding a better term), you have to take it in turns, and you have to plan. And should you be getting more than your fair share of evenings out, you will feel the guilt fairy hop nimbly onto your shoulder and gnaw away at your conscience while your loved one is either shining their increasingly bright halo at home or becoming increasingly resentful at the number of evenings you are spending away, and the children begin to wonder what you look like.

So the tendency is to do nothing.  Besides, going out is expensive and chances are you are either paying for daily childcare or you are down to one salary for the whole household.  Spontaneous nights out can zap your month’s ‘fun stuff’ budget in a couple of hours flat.

razvan ionut /

Now, this is starting to sound like a have/have not moan.  It’s absolutely not meant to be.  Yes, when you first become a parent, it is easy to resent not being able to go out spontaneously like you used to.  But then slowly you adapt to a new routine.  You look forward to coming home and getting a good dose of family life.  You’re exhausted anyway, since you’ve done a morning’s work getting the kids ready before you start any paid work.  You kiss your kids goodnight, and you flop on the sofa, preferably with loved one next to you, watching TV for the entirety of the evening.

That is your life, most days, for however long it is till your children are old enough to take care of themselves.

But it’s not so bad.  Didn’t you dream of this before kids?  Where you and your loved one snuggle up on the sofa, evening in, evening out?  Watching TV, a little chitchat, perhaps a bit of a doze in their arms?

Really, being a couch potato is a great way to spend an evening.

And just as well, since it’s going to be some considerable time before that spontaneous night out is a possibility.


*insert appropriate after-work activity as suits you


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