If you've had one of those days/weeks/years, Gemma Fraser is here to enlighten you on the hidden perks of parenting...
In the midst of a 45-minute snot-filled scream-fest over not allowing my daughter to wear sandals and shorts when it's -2 outside, or after forking out my hard-earned cash to endure the hell of Sunday soft play just for her to refuse to even dip so much as a toe in the ball pool, I have been known to ask why in the name of God I ever thought procreating was a good idea.
Children have an uncanny knack of ruining every trip to the zoo, every barbecue on the beach, every cinema outing and just generally squeezing the fun out of every single family activity (whilst simultaneously squeezing the life out of you).
It really can be hard to figure out why you bother at times. But in these moments of severe despair, when even The Big Man himself answers your plight with a shrug of his shoulders, you have to lock yourself in the bathroom, count slowly to ten, take a few deep breaths (and a few swigs of gin/wine/mouthwash) and remind yourself why having kids is actually the best thing you have ever done. Honestly, it is....
1. You have a legitimate reason to eat fishfinger sandwiches
You often have to conform to what is deemed socially acceptable when you become a grown-up. Your student days of eating Pot Noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner are (sadly) confined to the dark and distant past, along with your flat tummy and pert boobs. You are expected to cook stuff from scratch now you're an adult, or at least eat things which are in line with the latest health food fad. But having kids is the perfect excuse for reverting back a couple of decades and partaking in a little bit of what you fancy. Your kids beg you for fishfinger sandwiches every night, you say? Well, I'm an advocate of not cooking separate meals for kids and adults, so if you can't beat 'em, you should most definitely join 'em.
2. You can relive your childhood
Remember those days you spent hours dressing and undressing your Barbies, playing with your Big Yellow Teapot, or creating a whole new world with your Sylvanian Families? Well now you can do it all again (although a quick Google search has just revealed a rather unsavoury price tag for the teapot now it's all retro....). I for one was a mad collector of all things Sylvanian when I was younger - boasting a hospital, florist, gypsy caravan and windmill to name but a few - but sadly swapped my prized possessions for Take That posters, crop tops and those weird dummy things you used to wear round your neck in the nineties (WTF?!) when I became too cool for playing with toys. But now I have a little girl, I am rebuilding my - I mean, her - collection, my latest acquisition being the crème de la crème of the Sylvanian Families world - the Grand Hotel. And guess what? It has a working light inside it! Yes, that's right, an actual functioning light. Life complete.
3. You can avoid people you don't like
I'm not ashamed to admit it - I use my daughter to get out of social events and to avoid speaking to certain people. If I don't want to attend a party, leaving do, wedding reception, or anything else for that matter, I simply "can't get a babysitter". Or if I pass that irritating ex-colleague in the street, it's just bad timing that my daughter needs to pee right at that very instant. Every single time that we meet. Without fail.
4. You get a much-needed injection of old-fashioned fun
Even if your little angel chooses to whinge their way around the adventure playground, moaning about being starving/too tired/too cold/too hot, it doesn't mean you have to forfeit your right to enjoy yourself (if you can temporarily palm them off on someone else). Make the most of the opportunity to have a shot of the flying fox or jump around like no-one's watching on the 'jelly belly' trampoline, or get butterflies in your tummy going down the giant slide. After all, you've paid a small fortune for a family ticket, it's only right that at least one member of the family should enjoy themselves.
5. You can talk to hot men without looking like you're trying to chat them up
Having a kid by your side opens up many, many social doors. The act of merely walking around with a child in tow gives you carte blanche to talk to anyone you like - a bit like having a cute puppy. So whatever you do, you must not feel embarrassed about using this new super power to your advantage. Life as a mum can be monotonous and seemingly thankless at times, so you can be excused for taking pleasure wherever you can get it - and a little bit of eye candy goes a long way to brightening up a day plagued by poo, spew and Waybuloo. So don't be afraid to use the antics of your child to spark up conversation with the hot dad pushing his own little bundle of joy on the swing beside you, or to shamelessly flirt with the Italian waiter as you both laugh over your child's bolognese-covered face. It's all about the simple pleasures, ladies.....