As if this wonderful poem by the late Spike Milligan wasn’t enough to make you smile, there are health benefits to smiling too ?
As well as relieving stress by releasing endorphins, and boosting your immune system, smiling also makes you more likeable. Being likeable makes it easier to build and maintain better relationships with people, which is important for your overall health and wellbeing ? 
So go on, start an epidemic today 

So it won’t come as surprising news for any primary carer to hear me say that trying to fit in a social life for yourself is about as easy as buckling a toddler mid tantrum into their car seat. 
Since last summer a friend and I have been attempting to meet up for a kid free evening of wine and whine (almost as therapeutic as laughter when you’re in the right company). As I’m sure will be familiar to you, this evening out had been arranged, diarised, highly anticipated, and then cancelled at last minute almost a dozen times. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago when I spotted a musical that we would both enjoy, and I figured if we booked and paid for an event then we would be less likely to let ‘life’ get in the way and cancel again. So we booked to see Motown the Musical, arranged childcare and looked forward to a night of wearing anything other than ‘school run’ clothes or pyjamas whilst being entertained by and dancing along to this highly recommended show. And last night that evening finally arrived. Was the show as good as everyone said it would be? I have no idea. And that’s not because I wasn’t there – as per our thinking when we booked the tickets, we both overcame many obstacles to keep our date. So I was there in person. Only by the time I finally made it there, I was so overwhelmed by having overcome more obstacles than I’m anticipating at the 10k iNVNCBL challenge next week, that my mind was frazzled, and concentration was a common ability that I no longer possessed.

Now you will know that I’m a practitioner of Laughter Therapy and possibly wondering why I simply didn’t laugh myself through the whole miserable experience of trying to make a social night out?
Well laughter is a great form of stress relief, it can lift your mood and change your perspective. But we can’t rely on laughter to fix all our problems. Let me explain;

* If I had laughed all the way home from work along a grid locked m4 yesterday, I still wouldn’t have made it on time to pick up my children from school. Instead I had to apply practical thinking and beg, borrow and steal favours from friends to chauffeur my kids home.

* If I had laughed about the fact that when I eventually got home (30 minutes before I was suppose to leave for my train into town) I found my new dress was still complete with security tag (and receipt I must point out – I didn’t forget to pay for it) that wouldn’t have gifted me the extra time I needed to ensemble an outfit that didn’t resemble me going for a run or doing the school run (i.e. no leggings, mother sweatshirts, daps or washed out jeans).

* If I had laughed about the fact that all 3 of my children staged a hunger strike 10 minutes before I was due to leave for said night out, that wouldn’t have made me feel any less guilty for not sitting at the table with them to eat dinner together.

* If I had laughed when Mr Roach Coach explained that he must have misunderstood our arrangements for exchanging caring responsibility over our children for my night out, resulting in me having to drive into town taking all 3 hangry children with me to meet him from work….. well actually I did laugh, but it wasn’t the healthy kind of laughter! (I may also have said words that I’ve only before heard being shouted at local derby football matches too ?)

* If I had laughed when, already 15 minutes late for meeting my friend, Mr Roach Coach casually informed me that he had forgotten to ring the car hire company to add himself to the insurance of the brand spanking new £52k luxury car they have leased us whilst our non luxury crumb infested people carrier (basically the clothing equivalent of Crocs) is being fixed at the garage, that wouldn’t have solved the problem of how he was going to legally drive said luxury car home with aforementioned hangry children after I disembarked for my night out.

* If I had laughed when Mr Roach Coach finally arrived, 32 minutes late, to (now legally) drive the kids home but couldn’t fit in the drivers seat or work out how to move the seats of said luxury car (where there are no handles, only buttons), that wouldn’t have helped me get to my seat in the theatre on time.

* If I had laughed as I ran as fast as my heels could carry me (God, I wished I was in my school run gear after all) to the ticket desk to collect our tickets before finding my friend (who should by now have unfriended me for being so late), that wouldn’t have stopped Mr Roach Coach calling me immediately upon my arrival at the ticket desk to report that he couldn’t figure out how to start the luxury car, and to ask ‘where is the freaking clutch?!’

* If I had laughed as I got back to the car (heels now on hands) to give Mr Roach Coach a full tutorial of how to work the luxury ‘automatic’ car to find the youngest of our now even hangrier children bawling his eyes out because mummy had forgotten to pack his dummy for the journey (in my defence I should remind you that I wasn’t planning on taking 3 kids on my journey 57 minutes earlier!), that wouldn’t have stopped him upsetting his big sister who spontaneously burst into hysterics begging mummy not to go out again (she obviously believes that stepping into a theatre and running straight back out constitutes one night out already and couldn’t understand why I was leaving them again for a second night out).

* If I had laughed as I ran back to the theatre, up five flights of stairs (it was a budget night out in the cheap seats, back row actually) and into a now empty bar to find my poor friend sat alone cradling 2 glasses of now warm wine, watching the show on the tiny TV screen instead of the big stage, that wouldn’t have stopped me feeling like the worst friend and mum in the world.

*If I had laughed when the waiter of the empty bar told us we couldn’t take our £8 glass of wine into the theatre to watch what was left of the show, I’m pretty sure he would have thought I was being disrespectful to the (ridiculous) rules.

* And…. If I had laughed when we finally made it into the auditorium to find that, because I was so late making it to my seat, a man in a wheelchair had obviously thought the seat was going to be empty all evening so settled himself into my seat, which meant I either had to ask him to move or settle myself into his wheelchair, I’m pretty sure I would have been asked to leave the building for causing even more of a disturbance to the show!

So, can a social night out really be worth the emotional and physical challenges that a primary carer must face to actually make it??

But, whilst I’ve admitted I didn’t laugh much during the ordeal of getting to my night out, if I hadn’t persisted to overcome each problem that presented itself then I wouldn’t have laughed so much as I reflected and wrote this blog today ?

Yesterday, my night out, and all the challenges that came with it, are now in the past. Today is a new day, an opportunity to learn from my mistakes (and I don’t mean having children in the first place…. honestly ??) and adjust my perspective and expectations of juggling life, kids, ambition and a night out. 
So I’ve come to the conclusion that the next time I plan to go out with my friends and without my children, the stress of getting there will be worth it….. as it will be a minimum of 3 nights in an all inclusive hotel somewhere hot! And I will be arranging a taxi and 2 backup babysitters! ?
#thestruggleofthejuggle #mumsnightout #motownthemusical