'Tis the season to get trolleyed, or so the various glossy magazines to which I subscribe inform me. Reading through them this month (it’s for work, OK? God, you’re as bad as my husband) I’ve found out what to wear, how to do my hair, what to drink, how to recover…
Somehow, though, the magazines didn’t quite seem to “get” my life as a stay-at-home-every-night-of-the-week mother. Marie Claire, for example, offers party looks if you don’t like your knees, thighs or midriff – but gives us no clues on what to do when the problem is “all of it”.
So I’ve decided to put together my own guide to getting ready for a big night out as a mum. Follow these simple instructions and you too can go out looking like a haggard old bag lady and embarrass yourself by being drunk enough to kick off the karaoke at 7.35pm.
1. Find someone to look after your child
If they are a friend, grandparent or paid sitter, book them well in advance and leave delicious snacks. If they are your partner, you may need to deal with their bitterness that you are going out and they are not. Employ persuasive arguments such as “F*** you, I’m here all day every day”, or “It’s either this or I call a divorce lawyer tomorrow”.
2. Go online and buy something to wear
According to my fashion magazines, the big trends for Christmas 2014 are lace, glittery crop tops and, er, blankets (yeah, that’s what I thought, finally a trend we can get on board with! – but sadly these do not appear to resemble cot blankets).
Go online late one night, ideally after drinking some wine, the elixir of false hope. Purchase an item that reflects one of these trends. Daydream about how awed everyone will be by your continuing knowledge of fashion.
3. Send online purchase back because it didn’t fit/was made of cheap shiny fabric/arrived too late/was a crop top
4. Have a shower
Although if time is short there’s plenty you can do with dry shampoo and an extra spritz of deodorant, as long as you don’t dance, lift your arms or stand too close to anybody while you’re out.
5. Look in your wardrobe for something to wear
Spend a few moments coming to terms with the fact that none of this looks good, fits or is even remotely in fashion any more.
6. Select the item with the least amount of baby puke on it
Return to the clothes you actually wear, which are probably in a pile on the floor. Pick up each item in turn and hold it up to the light. Which has the fewest visible baby puke/houmous stains on it? Put that on.
7. Choose your “hair muse”
MC suggests Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn or Georgia May Jagger for your party hair inspiration. As a mum of small kids, however, your only two choices are Orlando Bloom as Legolas or Helena Bonham Carter when she’s just gotten out of bed.
8. Breast pads are the new chicken fillets
Remember when a padded bra used to mean something sexy? Breast pads certainly aren’t that – but they’re better than sporting massive wet patches. (And don't be fooled into thinking that loo roll will work in an emergency. All you end up with is a bigger, lumpier-looking wet patch and a papier mâché cast of your tits.)
9. Remember to pack something of the baby’s
A night out isn’t a night out without finding a tiny sock in your pocket or a plastic teething link in your bag to remind you of your early start tomorrow.
10. Do your makeup on the way
One of my proudest moments was last week when a teenager watching me do my eyeliner on a moving Victoria Line train commented, “MAD skills!”. I’ve also ditched my makeup bag and begun carrying cosmetics loose in my pockets and bag, which makes things really exciting – is it possible to make mascara out of lip balm and purple eyeshadow using only a finger? Do I have a mirror or are we using a smartphone again?
11. Figure out where the snacks are. Stand very near them
Free, delicious food that you have not had to prepare yourself? Take it – despite the advice of an expert in January’s InStyle, who reveals that canapés should be avoided as “party food is often gluten-based, which can cause bloating or trigger IBS symptoms”. (Nearly choked on my cupcake when I saw that one.)
12. Get wasted
Half a glass of champagne should do it. Cheers!