When did I become a mum?
I know there’s an obvious answer to that question, but it’s crazy to think how much my life – and more to the point, my lifestyle – has changed in the past five years. It’s like a switch was flicked.
Looking in the mirror, I still see me...just with a few more grey hairs and bags for life under my eyes. I certainly feel like a mum, though – I'm permanently knackered, I've nailed the mum stare, and I can identify my little girl's cry in a room full of toddlers!
Here are just some of the ways my life has changed since having kids...
It’s no longer just the two of us
One minute I’m dining in nice restaurants at a table for two, with no rush to get home. The next, I’m booking a table at a kid-friendly restaurant to coincide with my little one’s nap, and phoning ahead to check they have a children’s menu and a highchair.
I remember having long lie ins until lunch time and duvet days on the sofa. Now, I’m lucky if I get to lie in past 7.30am. And as for duvet days, I don’t get 5 minutes to chill out and watch what I want on the telly, let alone a whole day!
Similarly, at Christmas, there was a time when we’d have a lazy morning eating chocolate, drinking Bucks Fizz and opening presents, before eating our way through the day and then collapsing on the sofa in front of some classic telly. These days, we’re woken up at the crack of dawn by some over-excited kids. We have to restrict their sugar intake to avoid an overload, and spend most of the day opening endless kids’ presents and figuring out how they all work.
Holidays aren’t relaxing anymore
I vaguely remember the good old days when my husband and I would go on holiday together, just the two of us. I’d be excited in the lead up to our departure – packing our holiday clothes, heading to the airport and getting some food before the flight. Then, once there, we’d spend our time lazing by the pool, reading a book, heading to the bar for some pre-dinner cocktails and then having a romantic meal and watching the sunset.
These days, just the thought of going on a family holiday sends my blood pressure sky high! I’ve had sleepless nights in the run up to a holiday, worrying about everything I need to pack for everyone. Trying to keep two kids entertained on a flight and getting a toddler to understand why she has to sit still on my lap for take-off and landing is exhausting.
Once we’ve arrived, there’s no chance of relaxing by the pool – the kids want to play, I have to make sure they’re covered in sun cream, and I’m on constant lookout in case they slip and fall into the pool!
Dinner is like feeding time at the zoo at the all-inclusive buffet, and then it’s bath and bed for the kids, and sitting in silence for the rest of the evening for the adults.
Once upon a time I could leave the house within half an hour, carrying a modest handbag with the bare essentials. These days, it takes at least 2 hours to get out the door, and I have to carry a substantial backpack, which holds baby wipes, change mat and nappies, as well as snacks and a couple of outfit changes just in case.
There was a time when I took pride in my appearance - always doing my hair and make-up before going out, and I wouldn’t dream of wearing something with a mark on it. These days, having a chance to brush my hair is a win in my book. And finding a jumper without toddler snot on feels like I’ve won the lottery!
Before kids, I used to shake my thang to ‘Gold Digga’ by Kanye West in the kitchen and sing ‘Sex on Fire’ at the top of my voice in the car. Nowadays, I dance with my little ones to the Bluey theme tune and get ‘We don’t talk about Bruno’ stuck in my head for days!
I’ve never been a massive drinker, but just the thought of staying out past midnight and waking up with a hangover and having to look after two kids while feeling like death, makes me feel queasy.
Facing my fears
I used to have a serious fear of vomit – I couldn’t be in the same room as someone who felt the slightest bit nauseous. Since having kids, I wouldn’t say my phobia is cured, but I don’t disown my daughter when she’s being sick. I’ve even managed to clear it up without retching every couple of seconds.
I say all this because I was worried about what kind of mum I’d be. I didn’t think I was very maternal. I’d see mums with their kids in the park or at the shops and think ‘I want to be that mum’.
The truth is, I don’t think I’m like any of those mums. I’m sure there are things they do that I wouldn’t dream of and vice versa.
You’ve probably heard of mother’s instinct – it’s a thing. There’s some sort of switch that automatically turns on the minute you have kids, and you just know what to do.
I’m not saying we get it right every time. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent and we all make mistakes. Like the time I fed my then 9-month-old, who has a dairy allergy, a supermarket own brand veg pouch, only to find – once she came out in a rash and was violently sick – that it had milk in it. But I learnt from my mistake. I now read the label on EVERYTHING.
It’s ironic that while we’re teaching our kids the ways of the world, we’re also learning at the same time. There’s no exam to pass before becoming a mum, but we definitely learn on the job. Constantly.
How has your life changed since having kids? Let me know.