Last night, arms laden with “baby stuff”, I barely avoided falling down the stairs in an effort to avoid stepping on a slinky spring – the precise irony of such a tumble was not lost on me. Pre – children our home was pristine: you had to touch the french windows to establish their veracity and the taps gleamed like a cherished Harley Davidson; say what you like about OCD but it takes some beating in the running of an immaculate household. Nowadays the fridge groans under a metric tonne of juvenile artwork; when our son has finally gone to bed we pay homage to it’s stylistic leanings and refer to it as “a load of Pollocks”. The cupboard under the stairs is now the shoe cupboard, the conservatory is now the play room and my beloved study is now the nursery – the nomenclature of sacrifice. Potties dot the house like bear traps and Jaffa Cake skid-marks adorn the skirting boards. In the kitchen there’s a baby walker that contrives to be in the way at all times and moving it produces the kind of gravelly crunch that suggests the floor is not as clean as it might first seem. Gone is the luxurious whiff of freshly brewed coffee and now everything smells of Milton : Paradise Lost indeed. For my wife and I, tidying up after the kids is a Promethian torture: renewed each day to test the limits of our endurance. So why do we persevere when other parents embrace the carnage, accept the spills, the stains and that odd sticky patch which no-one acknowledges is there? The answer is simple, there is a golden hour (just one), when both children are asleep and before the first night feed, when the odd two dimensional topography of Peppa Pig is not haunting the television, when we reclaim the sitting room and each other. In the absence of the lego minefield and with sofas free from the tyranny of raisins we can “talk”. Mummy and Daddy can go back to being Sally and James – our much cooler alter egos. We know that the tide of toys cannot be halted but our efforts in clearing a space are symbolic of a need to claim back ourselves. It’s also when we break out the stash of contraband: chocolate and wine – the most forbidden of all pleasures. So what do we talk about I hear you ask? What subjects do we choose to discuss in our precious down time? Why our children of course…..