Emma Hollingworth: Children might be a little like dogs: they are better behaved if they get plenty of exercise!

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SOMETIMES I think children should come with warning labels.

‘Warning: Will cost you all your hard-earned cash for the rest of your life’.

Or ‘Warning: This one will never shut up and will drive you round the twist.’

Or maybe it could be ‘Warning: Handle with care, love and attention but don’t expect anything back in return – ever.’

When friends of mine yet to become parents stare wistfully at small babies in prams the best warning I can give them is this – your life will never really be yours again.

The biggest learning curve for the other half and me has been the fact that our going out time has been curtailed. Even when I was hugely pregnant with the first we would go out together at least once a week. Admittedly this wasn’t pubbing and clubbing into the small hours any more – our lives had started changing even before we went down the parenting route.

But we did go out to the cinema – a lot. Or we would go out to a pub quiz. Often we would wake up late on a lazy Sunday morning (what are they again?!) and have a lovely long lunch at some nice inn or pub while poring over the Sunday papers.

Then we might take a nice carefree stroll while deciding on the hoof to divert ourselves to the cinema on the way home.

Now our weekends consist of washing, shopping, cleaning, ironing and generally feeding our ever-expanding brood – who act just like noisy, demanding fledglings in the nest, fighting over the same worm to eat. However, the fight in our household is usually over the remote and whether Bob the Builder or Scorpion Island should be on.

A lie in for us is definitely something very much in the past. Sometimes – but only on special occasions – one or other of us will start the weekend morning routine without the other, letting them lie until 8am.

However, most days it is both of us up early with the children, sorting breakfast and the rest.

In between we have to act like UN peace negotiators stopping them falling out with each other because one got more raisins than the other while dodging the constant whine of “It’s not fair”.

I think children are a lot like dogs. They need a lot of exercise and things to occupy their minds and then they seem to be better behaved.

We have now made it a rule that whatever the weather we will go out somewhere both days of the weekend – basically to exhaust them. Tired out children are less likely to squabble in my book.

Most weekends we manage this by going to the park – usually with bikes. The seven-year-old whizzes off by herself now but the middle one can’t yet pedal it properly and often ends up going backwards!

This weekend we are planning to head down to the annual Sheffield City Council backed Cliffhanger event in Millhouses Park.

As the kids generally drive us up the wall anyway why not let them really have a go at climbing a wall?

Anyone wanting further information can visit www.cliff-hanger.co.uk