Dad's plea: How can we get 'alone time' on a road trip?
OUR family's bus trip around Australia, which we're now fairly certain is going to take more than one year, is only four weeks away. Four.
We're at the serious end of the stick and we're trying to foresee any potential problems and head them off before we go.
We think we've sorted the internet and power and security on the bus. We're pretty sure the actual physical bus set-up is as perfect as we can get for a family of seven in 28 square metres of living space.
The air-conditioner went in today, the car trailer is half built and there's a rear camera set up being installed in the bus this week.
Every problem we've envisaged we've come up with a solution.
Almost every problem.
"How are we going to get...you know...alone time?" I asked Tracey this week. Again.
Our bed is above one of our kid's and, except for a thin bit of ply, square up against the other four. There is seriously just a curtain for privacy.
"Do we wait until they're asleep?" Tracey suggested.
She didn't say it like it was an idea she was keen on trying, she was really just talking out loud. But that didn't stop me from reminding her why that won't work.
There are two small nail holes in our lounge room wall, under the air-con unit. One of them goes all the way through to the back of our wardrobe, behind my shirts. Tracey won't let me so much as touch her unless the wardrobe door is closed because one of the kids might come out of their room, stand on the lounge, see the hole I'm pretty sure they don't know exists, peek in it, be able to see through a gap in the shirts and spot us canoodling.
"Well," said Tracey, "we know you can go three months at a stretch."
"You were in hospital! That doesn't count," I protested.
She shrugged. "Do we tell the kids to play outside?"
Tracey won't even nap with me during the day if the kids are home because someone has to be in charge and adulting. So there's the problem laid out.
I think you'll agree it is a pretty big one - I'm not saying it's potentially a child safety issue but it's been suggested I get a teensy weensy bit cranky and on edge unless I'm attended to regularly. I need the endorphin hit.
We've gone over and over what we can do and all we can come up with is regularly booking the family into motels with proper noise reducing gyprock walls between the rooms. It's do-able but, frankly, it feels a bit too much like paying for sex.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with ideas which will enable us to get jiggy with it without the kids working it out. It's a matter of personal pride none of our kids have ever caught us canoodling, and I'm keen to continue with an unblemished record.
We have four weeks to work this out. The future of the world is at stake - well, our little corner of it. Be smart. Be resourceful. Be creative.
Be aware my little munchkins wake up a lot at night.
Time is running out and we must find a solution.
Not for myself, of course, but poor Tracey has needs.