It may be winter outside…

As the Halloween horrors begin to take hold, Molly’s blogger Desperate Dad looks forward to a busy winter schedule, which is sure to keep everyone firmly on their toes… Halloween is always a rather special time for our family. Although it officially heralds the start of winter, for us it kicks off the first of many celebrations that help ease the pain of the shorter days and darker nights ahead.

As the clocks wind back and the week unfolds we feverishly look forward to October’s main event. With the kids a little older now, it’s pumpkin carving and trick or treating galore. My iPod’s stocked with a ghoulish party playlist and it’s off to Nana’s for a delectably devilishly tea which usually consists of sausage, mash and lashings of baked beans. Less than a week later and it’s sparklers at the ready as we tentatively remember (remember) 5 November.

A little tricky to fully celebrate with my boys if I’m honest - with one certified adrenaline junkie always looking for Gandalf-style pyrotechnics and the other hidden away in suitably soundproofed bunker – but we always manage to muddle through somehow. The end of the month sees Boy 1 celebrate his birthday. He’ll be nine on 19 November. Nine years since I held him newborn in my arms after being dramatically ventoused out of my wife - blue and distressed from an almost 48 hour labour.

Nine years that have flown by in the blink of eye, time never allowing us enough respite to catch our breaths or take in each major milestone that’s been claimed with ease. Very scary. The last weekend of November is always tree up time for us. In a bid to ring as much Christmas cheer out of December as possible, I find myself scrabbling in the loft for the main feature along with the hand-me- down decorations that will adorn the front room in the coming weeks.

The iPod’s fired up again with more Christmas No.1s than we can physically stomach and by the time the 24th comes around fever pitch has been reached and surpassed, with galactic levels of festive excitement palpable. Christmas with young children is a mix of nostalgia, exhaustion and alcohol. My party hat is secured in place at the dinner table cracker pull and is not removed, by tradition, until I’m dragged to bed kicking and screaming in the late evening.

The days that follow involve lots of tripping over new toys, lazy film afternoons and the vacuuming of endless fake pine needles from the living room floor – this continues into July.
New Year’s Eve has been a damp squib since about 2006. Our current record is managing to stay up until 23:45 by which time we resemble two extras from The Walking Dead, just about able to crawl into the bedroom to doze off to the chimes (or not) of Big Ben. The dawn of the New Year is usually always christened with a kiddie hangover, but never alcohol induced.

The boys are by now so used to their frantic fun-filled mornings that they demand nothing less than intravenous junk food and party game frolics 24 hours-a-day. It’s a relief to get them back to school and settle into a somewhat ‘normal’ nine to five routine again.

But as the dust settles and the January days turn into February’s frosty weekends, Halloween’s hoorays seem like a lifetime ago. Soon the clocks will roll forward, leaving perplexed parents with even less time to complain about the chores of the day. Summer holiday plans will be formalised, annual leave will be booked and the thermal pyjamas will be banished to the back of the wardrobe for another year.

The cycle begins once again and with the changing seasons comes the crushing realisation that children grow ever older along with the cherished memories that they constantly create.
It's a prospect more terrifying than any bargain bin trick or treat costume could ever claim to be.