15/04/2012 13:19 BST | Updated 13/06/2012 06:12 BST

Angie and Me: The Joie of Basement Parenting

Lately I've been reminded of revelations by one of the nannies for the Brangie Bunch. Apparently Angelina disappears down to basement for hours to work out while the nanny has to look after the kids. Oh fer feck's sake!


Angie and me doing a spot of Basement Parenting. Photos and montage: Jody Brettkelly

Give the woman a break! So now Angelina not only makes loadsa movies, looks fab (albeit skin a bit waxy and skinny a bit scary) keeps Brad happy (okay, okay... a problem we'd all like to have) and mothers six small kids - but now she has to be with them all the time? I only have four kids and sometimes I feel like disappearing to the basement for the whole day and just rocking back and forth - never mind working out!

I'm no blind fan of Angelina Jolie but I'm so tired of the omnipresent whirring of the helicopter parents. Who feel that when we become parents we have to suffer, become martrys. Who perpetuate this new delusion that all hours with your precious ones are necessary hours and quality hours.

The truth is just the opposite: the time you have to yourself is even more precious and satisfying than before you had kids. There is never a more grateful and giddy moment for me than, reservations made, best frock on, I wave good night to my children as we drive away.

Surely kids are better off knowing their parents are three-dimensional beings with a life beyond them. Surely it's better to have a (slightly) rested parent who is (slightly) fresher from time away - than an exhausted and irritable one who is there for every minute?

The fact is: there are many hours in the day when you have children. Even if you're working, even if you work out the whole day long, even if you go out every evening.

As wee mites they rise like larks at 6.30am. When mine were tiny, I would get to 10.30am and ruminate: "Golly, it's only been four hours - so why does it feel like a fucking century?"

So I don't feel any guilt in taking breaks - and yes, I get the "Slacker Mom" comments, even in jest.

A small pat on the back for me recently, though....My High Schooler was recently asked to write an essay about ways in which he was close to his siblings. Initially he was stumped - then inspiration! He wrote how his mother went out every night leaving him to babysit and thus bond with his younger siblings.

'That's not true - I don't go out every night" I protested (though fair dues, sometimes I do go out a lot) What did the teacher say?

My High Schooler replied: "She said: I would love to meet your mother."

Ha! A veritable triumph of Basement Parenting!