One thing they don’t warn you about when you become a parent is the way that it impacts upon your TV consumption. When my first child was born, watching box sets of The Sopranos and The Wire got us through the batshit, semi-psychedelic schedule a screaming baby imposes upon you. We found ourselves strung out and dizzy, watching three hour-long episodes back to back in the dead of night while the baby breast fed or in the middle of the afternoon in a state of perma-jetlag.
When your kids hit about five that’s your TV viewing sweet spot. You put them to bed in the middle of the evening and have enough time to smash a couple of episodes of something without compromising your own bedtime.
I don’t want this bleak depiction of my family life to make you think I’m not happy. I love my wife and kids. But I love telly too
I look back on those days with a little regret now. I just didn’t appreciate what a halcyon era in my life it was. Now I have a teenage daughter who wants to stay up late watching Grey’s Anatomy with her mum on the big telly. This means that I put my nine-year-old boy to bed at 9pm then have to skulk in my bedroom scrolling through Twitter and feeling lonely until she chooses to vacate my position on the sofa. At which point, technically, it’s already my bedtime.
I want to go to bed but I understand the importance of sharing at least one hour alone with my wife, watching a TV show we both enjoy but the kids don’t. I mean, when you hit your mid-40s, it’s only really your Netflix subscription that holds you both together.
I don’t want this bleak depiction of my family life to make you think I’m not happy. I love my wife and kids. But I love telly too. I just don’t like Grey’s Anatomy. And I generally enjoy an early bedtime. I have worked out that it is impossible for all of these things to co-exist without some serious compromise. So I kiss my daughter goodnight at 10ish, then shuffle downstairs in my pyjamas to bang out an episode and a half of Alex, a mad Swedish show about a coke-snorting, murderous detective that has really made me reassess my view of Scandinavia as a liberal utopia.
Sometimes I don’t get to bed much before midnight. The other night, as I saw Alex cut off a drug-dealer’s finger using some rose-pruners, I held my wife’s hand in mine, gazed into her eyes and smiled. It was a smile that said: “I know we’re knackered and would have liked to have been in bed hours ago but I wouldn’t want to stay up and watch a man having his fingers cut off with anyone else.”