Ask Grainne | My Kids Have A Better Social Life Than Me

Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.

Dear Grainne,

My kids have a better social life than me

I just about survived this weekend. It wasn’t a hard weekend of me and my partner tearing it up on the dance floor, or, us checking out a super cool 2-day music festival in Europe. No, this was hardcore. We were parenting. Being adults to two little people in peak kids party season, throw in a round of extra activities and you get the picture.

First, there was a battle of wills to get them up and out to drama and ballet classes. We have a boy and girl with a three-year gap. Zero couple time every Saturday as they go to different activities at different venues and times. This was followed by two birthday parties. Held in venues which should carry a medical warning about the sound levels from the shrieking kids they pack into these places at the weekend. And to close off this day of fun? We hosted a sleepover for 3 other kids from which I don’t think our home will ever recover from (slime was involved).  The next day wasn’t any better. Crack of dawn, kids matches outside of Dublin with hours spent freezing on the pitch side lines. By evening time it was a game of chicken as to who would cave first and fall asleep, us or the kids.

My memories of weekends in bed together, cool gigs and a lazy reading of the Sunday papers over a pub brunch are all I have left. Seriously Grainne at what age can you legally give your child a mobile and a taxi app to let them just get on with it? Or is there another solution I am not seeing? We need help, and before you say it, no.  There aren’t any gullible grandparents or young aunts/uncles we can pawn them off on.

Yours exhausted father of two, Republic of Cork.

Dear Exhausted Dad,

Ah yes, the fond memories of tearing up dance floors. Or camping with the gentle sound of Metallica and other people fornicating. These are a distant memory for us all. It is one of the things most of us miss from our youth but alas, those days are gone. I’m sorry, but the next time you get that close to sleeping on the grass will be when it is your final resting place. By the time your children are old enough for Uber you will be incapable of “tearing it up” on the dance floor without your knees giving out. As for 3-day festivals, if you went, you would climb into that tent and not be able to get back out until the JCB arrives to clear the field.

Your busy weekends chauffeuring your young dependants; that will go on for at least the next 10 years. It is your own fault for having them three years apart and signing them up for any extracurricular activities. By the time they are old enough to drive themselves anywhere you will be more into tea time naps and going to bed at 10, which is just as well, you won’t be able to afford to go out with house re-mortgaged to pay for their car insurance.

Your bad planning obviously extends to your choice of location. Unless you are both only orphaned children, why is there no one to pawn them off on? My best advice is to befriend someone who lives in near proximity to you who is also stuck in the same cycle of hell. They might, for a small fee and a lot of gin, or, on a reciprocal basis (be very careful here, do your research and make sure you are getting a fair deal!) give you an evening off every now and then.

Yes, memories are all you have left, but, those weekends in bed are why you have ended up in this position in the first place. Every silver lining has a cloud! So my advice, suck it up, invest in thermals and warm boots for pitch side and cling on to those memories, at least when the dementia kicks in you can relive them all again.

PS Cork is not a Republic

Dear Grainne,


Can we just take a moment to talk about communions?

When did they become such a big deal?  Who’s day is it for anyway? Our child? Or is it for the extended family? The ones who seem to be coming out of the woodwork and are expecting us to take out bank loan to feed and water them for the weekend?

I now honestly deeply regret saying that the little one could do religious classes when we sent them into primary school. Even just picking out an outfit for the day is turning into an episode of Say Yes To The Dress. The whole thing should come with a warning.  And, as to the religious classes in the lead up to the event. Dear God, she has turned into some version of the Holy Mary constantly checking our language and praying for us because we don’t attend mass regularly enough for the priests liking. I mean we go to funerals and weddings, isn’t that enough? How do people survive these events and stay sane?

Yours, communion mum from Galway.

Dear Communion Mum,

See, even you, in your hour of need, call on God to sort it out for you. As he is not answering, you turn to the next best choice you have, me. Am I the answer to your prayers? Maybe not THIS time.

“Who’s day is it anyway?”.. Really!!!!  It is your DAUGHTER’s day! NOT YOURS! So off you go, and organise the party of a lifetime safe in the knowledge that each of those distant relatives will have to stick at least a score (that’s €20 to you millennials) into a card for her. You can always ask her for a loan afterwards if you’re stuck.

Dress shopping, on the other hand, is entirely on you. You have chosen to make it into a drama. Your daughter would have been none the wiser if you hadn’t brought her into 15 different shops! You have wandered down the passage to Hell, now you will just have to get on with it. If she chooses some meringue say ‘yes’. If she chooses a strapless backless diamante number then tell her she looks like ‘a shining star’. If she chooses a medieval shroud tell her ‘it’s fabulous’. Say whatever you have to. Just get the first thing she likes and then crawl back out of the nightmare.

My question to you is ‘Why’? Why may I ask did you sign your daughter up for religious classes if you were not willing to play by the rules? Your daughter is obviously taking it seriously and you’re not. Dressing one’s child up as a miniature bride, is, to some, a rite of religious passage. But if that wasn’t your intention. If you were just looking for a day out, nice clothes and some photos to mark a milestone in her journey into being an adult, why did you choose to do communion? If you wanted to avoid any dealings with a religious institution which, let’s face it has not covered itself in glory over the last few centuries, you had options. You could have cut to the chase, ordered the bouncy castle and handed her your credit card. Also, there is a choice when it comes to schooling. Unless of course, you live in a certain area in North County Dublin (Portmarnock) or just about any other part of the country.

Your lack of spiritual guidance and presumption that the house of God will welcome you in for your little angel’s communion is laughable. God doesn’t make the rules around communions, your local parish priest does. Now he has you on the back foot. He would be mad not to take full advantage, and use it to increase the population of Sunday mass with you and the other heathen parents from your daughter’s class. This may not lead to a calling, but it has to be satisfying for him at some level. Just don’t go up for communion when you are forced to attend – you might burst into flames. Come June, this will all be over, the cash counted by you little darling, and the iPad bought. You will have bigger things to worry about like her 3,000 followers on and of course…her confirmation!

About Grainne: Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.

*Disclaimer Grainne is not qualified in any way to answer your problems. She doesn’t do feedback but if you want you can leave a comment below or email her at [email protected] We can almost certainly guarantee you she will NOT get back to you, but, one of her cousins who helps her might. Alternatively, you can stalk them directly Twitter: @Triona_Campbell or @KearneyRoisin or both.