When you have children, time off is a whole different game, discovers Kim Knight.

If you are reading this in a bed that contains fewer than three people*, after a sleep that you woke up from in your own sweet time, then you are not a parent.

People with children have been awake since 4.30am. Because Maisie needed to go to the toilet. Because Mason wanted a drink of water. Because Olive had a dream that Thomas ran over Dora. Don't ask me who Thomas and Dora are. Don't ask me why I don't have kids, ask my colleagues.

My colleagues know that Peppa is a pig and Suzy is a sheep and Mr Dinosaur is a badly drawn allosaurus.

Everybody I work with has children. They are good people. Smart, successful, well-dressed people who buy free-range chicken. They are terrible parents.

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"How will you spend your Saturday morning?"

I asked my married-with-two-kids co-worker.

His youngest sleeps in a cot beside his bed. He would get up when she woke. Some hours later (between 7am and 7.30am) his nearly 3-year-old would wander into the kitchen and demand he join her in a jigsaw puzzle.

Later, the entire family would pile into the car and head to a farmers' market, where they would stay for the exactly 20 minutes it takes for the children to become fractious. At some point during those 20 minutes he and his wife would buy a take-out coffee. "That," he said, "is our treat for the weekend."

He must have noticed the look on my ovaries. "And the whole time, I will be overwhelmed with love for my children. I couldn't be happier."

Remember when you were a kid? Spare rooms in strange houses, while your parents drank beer from flagons and smoked cigarettes in the lounge? Saturday morning reading quietly until the little hand was on the nine. Friday nights with fish and half a scoop.

The other Friday night, a former colleague said she was hosting a "kid's dinner". I didn't know what she was talking about. Basically, she said, the mums who worked part-time would arrive first. The dads (and the one or two full-time career women who had not had time to change into designer yoga pants) would arrive later. The kids play, everybody eats, nobody pays for a babysitter.

"It's great," said my friend. Last time, she'd pickled her own onions. This time, she was doing burgers. She was heading home right now, in fact, to hand-mince fresh line-caught Hauraki Gulf snapper for the homemade fish patties.

When did my friends become 1950s housewives with jobs? When did they start letting their kids call the shots? Children used to be seen, not heard. I am not advocating a return to those days. But do modern, middle-class kids appreciate just how much more of the world revolves around them than it used to?

And is it all about the kids, or has parenting just got helIishly competitive? Why don't they just say no?

I listen to my colleagues who work 50-hour weeks, outdo each other with tales of their frantic weekends - hours on freezing football field sidelines, days and days in cars, driving between dance recitals and ukulele orchestras and science fairs. The 5am starts to ice Elsa from Frozen birthday cakes; the five years of credit card debt to pay for the family holiday to Florida to visit the actual Frozen theme park ride.

Recently, a bunch of friends got together for lunch to farewell a family leaving Auckland. They picked Wynyard Quarter's Baduzzi as the venue "because it's so good for kids". I read the menu and nearly choked on my Fiordland crayfish meatballs with lardo di colonnata, savoy cabbage & pecorino ($19).

I canvassed my colleagues: "When did you and your significant other last go somewhere fun without your children?"

"Oh my God," said a senior manager with two children. "I don't know. There was a time in 2013 ..."

I laughed, because of course he was joking. Except he didn't notice me laugh, because he wasn't joking. "We must have gone out last year? For dinner? Oh, no, wait - Amanda got toothache, so we ended up staying home ..." I stared in disbelief. "I remember," he cried. "It was this time last year. We went to the movies."

I asked the same question of my boss. "Last weekend," she said, triumphantly. "Sofa shopping."

* If the three (or more) people in your bed are consenting adults, this sentence does not apply.