One thing that I heard many (many) times when I was pregnant was “oooh, your world is about to be turned upside down!” I would nod sagely, whilst thinking “well, obviously. I’m not expecting to carry on as I was – drinking and dancing all weekend then lying in bed on Sunday inhaling paracetamol and watching T4 (…oh how I miss T4). I knew life would be different. Sure, I’d get less sleep. Yes, I wouldn’t be able to freely walk out of the door whenever I wanted. Of course holidays will never be the same again.
But there are other things I wasn’t expecting. Everyone will have their own lists – and this is precisely why no-one can ever tell you what it’ll really be like when you have babies. Here’s mine:
- I can get a lot of shit done in twenty minutes. Before children, I could spend this time just staring. Really. Just staring. Daydreaming. Planning. Now, if I put the baby down for a nap and two episodes of the Twirlywoos on for the toddler, I am a cleaning demon. Load of washing on, tumble dryer emptied, clothes folded, dishwasher unstacked, kitchen surfaces wiped down, maybe even a cup of tea (and I get to drink at least half of it! I know!)
- I care more about the state of the house. This is probably the change my husband is most relieved to see. In our twenties, he did most of the chores and it caused a fair few arguments (understandably). I was flighty, dippy and disorganised and could happily leave paperwork and magazines in piles and then ignore them. I became blind to them as they became part of the furniture. I once found my “lost” driving license in a bathroom drawer, nestled amongst hair products and suncream. I had a tendency to just shove things anywhere to get them out of the way. Nowadays, I really like to actually know where things are. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still no domestic goddess and I still find objects in the most bizarre places, but I’m a teeny bit more houseproud than I was before.
- I am a morning person. Never saw this one coming. If I’m honest, I’ve essentially been forced into it as, sadly, children are weirdos who don’t like lie-ins. Weekends used to be about laziness (see T4 comment above) and “catching up on sleep”. Except it never actually used to feel like I’d caught up. I’d read many a time that getting up at the same time each day is so much better for our body clocks – this was merrily ignored until the point where I had no choice but to drag myself out of bed at 6.30am. Turns out, the scientists are right! Well done, Science. I’ve recently read a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod who suggests getting up an hour or so before you need to in order to increase your productivity. That’s another blog post. Suffice to say, I’ve not managed it just yet.
- I care about what I eat. For years, I suffered with bad digestion, IBS and general stomach pains. I’ve had every investigation under the sun – including one where I swallowed a camera and had a recording device attached to me for 24 hours. The doctor told me it would only be the size of an ipod (the recording device, not the thing I had to swallow). It wasn’t. It was the size of an old VHS video, with thick wires and pads dangling off that all had to be attached to me. I had to go to work, on the tube, clutching a letter from the hospital stating I had no ill intent and was being medically observed. I’ve never felt so conspicuous in my life. Anyway, nothing concrete has ever come out of these investigations but since having to think about what I’m going to feed the kids, I’ve reflected more and more on what I’m putting into my body. And, guess what? Science is right again! Devouring a whole pizza and bottle of (cheap) red wine just wasn’t working for me. Obviously, I knew all these things before but just wasn’t willing to accept it. I thought I was treating myself, and that thought process is a hard one to change. However, I’ve recently cut down enormously on sugar and limited wheat, and my gut is seriously thanking me for it.
- I want exercise to be part of my life and not just a short term fix to lose weight. Again, I’m still working on this but I’ve found that I actually want to spend some of the little “alone time” I get doing something that makes me feel good. Previously, that entailed watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians with my face planted in a family bag of Minstrels. Now, not going to lie….that did feel good at the time. Right until I’d eaten the last Minstrel and then guilt, shame and retribution would kick in. Plus, of course, I’d get a stomach ache. I’m trying to go by the idea that you never come home from a swim thinking “I really bloody wish I hadn’t done that.” I feel a lot happier when I look in the mirror now – not because I have an amazing body (I really don’t), but simply because I’m caring for myself more.
So, yes – kids change everything….but it’s not all bad.