10 things to know about having a toddler…

Having a toddler is like having a mini wrecking ball. They’re loud, naughty and utterly adorable. As a first-time mum at 40, I’m not sure if the newborn days or the toddler days are the most difficult – I guess they’re difficult in equal measure but different ways. Here’s 10 things to know if your adorable baby is transforming into a tiny tearaway.

You need the patience of a very patient saint.

Toddlers are demanding, and quite frankly, pretty unreasonable. Their mood shifts from ecstatic to incredible hulk rage in a nanosecond – for no reason. Sonny flings his soother across the room and then wails because it’s no longer in his mouth. He flings his half full yoghurt pot across the kitchen, splattering the cupboards and screams because he wasn’t finished with it. He will point emphatically at what you think he wants and screech when you don’t get it right. I long for the day when he can tell me what he wants… or do I??

You can forget about being house proud.

Ahhh, gone are the days when I’d treat myself to candles and succulents, wine glasses, cushions and photo frames – or tat as my husband calls it. Still, they made me feel at home. Since Sonny arrived, I’ve resigned myself to finding MegaBloks in the washing machine, nappy bags and wet wipes strewn all over the floor, baby socks… everywhere. Your home becomes a playground, and aside from a few nice vases and mirrors that eclipse his grubby little hands, our house permanently looks like we’ve been burgled.

You get used to operating on a tight budget.

Babies are expensive. Not even mentioning the kit you need, there’s clothes, nappies, toys, outings, birthday and Christmas presents. If you’re lucky you may be able to indulge on the very odd ASOS purchase but when you have a baby, you automatically put yourself second. Your little one’s needs trump your own.

Your household chores get more difficult.

Extra everything. Dishes, laundry, tidying, cleaning. It doesn’t help much when my darling boy pulls clean clothes off the clothes horse – a permanent fixture in our living room – and discards them around the floor. He also takes it upon himself to put items that don’t meet his approval in the household waste. I am the dishwasher and there’s a a constant flow of dishes. Our two wrecked laundry baskets bulge and spill their contents onto the ‘floordrobe’. The floor constantly needs wiped from spillages and other matter I do not care to investigate.

You must acclimatise to very loud noises.

There is a lot of screeching and wailing. I joked to my husband that it’s akin to the sickener on SAS: Who Dares Wins. Damn, toddlers are loud. They definitely don’t mix with hangovers. So, you should take it easy on the mummy medicine, because they sound a whole lot louder if you’ve had a few rare tipples with a friend or even more rarer – a night out. So unless you invest in a pair of noise-reducing headphones – which probably would be frowned upon – you better suck it up.

Bannisters are such fun.

Toddlers have an insatiable appetite for knowledge.

At 20 months, Sonny favours books over toys. He’ll choose a book every morning to bring downstairs. While he falls over his feet (a lot), you can see that he is picking so much up and he’s learning how to push my buttons. His new favourite thing is to climb up onto the kitchen table, where my computer is set up and proceed to kick the monitor. Despite my protestations and admonishments, his big blue eyes glisten with glee, his gorgeous grin large – and utterly adorable. It’s very difficult for me to keep a straight face.

Coffee shops and restaurants are out.

Sorry, this is a tough one. Coffee shops were a daily haunt when Sonny was tiny, but now, coffee shops with a toddler are insanity. Toddlers do not stay still, get aggravated very quickly and your ideas of ‘relaxing’ are, well, pretty far-fetched. The same goes for restaurants. Fine if you don’t mind your food going cold while you chase an excited toddler around a restaurant several times and restrain him or her from climbing the knee of an unimpressed diner.

All is (almost) forgiven.

You gravitate toward the baby and toddler aisle at the supermarket.

Ordinarily, I might glide into the clothes aisle for a nice pair of slippers but now every time I do the usual supermarket run, I start off scouring the toddler clothes sale section or meander around the snack section. As an impulsive buyer, I need to exercise caution or I’ll spend money we don’t have on cute outfits.

Nights off become a luxury

Before becoming a mum, nights out were a necessity, a way to wash away your cares. Now, while still a necessity, they’re an absolute luxury. Having an evening away from your (dear beloved) is bliss. Being able to offload about mum-life is blissful… and so necessary.

You fall in love more and more every single day.

No-one will tell you that parenting is easy. But, there are rewards, no matter how fleeting. Those moments when my chubby-cheeked toddler grins at me displaying his tiny, cute teeth in all their glory, when he runs to me arms outstretched, when he plumps his perfect head on my chest when he is tired or needing comfort, or the best thing ever – watching him peacefully sleep, warm and content. It’s the best thing ever. Honest.

Ain’t no Hood like motherhood. (19 months postpartum).

I’ve not written in a while. It’s hard to find the time when you have a tiny human (quite literally) snapping and wailing at your heels. Sonny is a big ball of energy – shrieking, laughing, crying, torturing the long-suffering cat. His only words ‘maaaama’ and ‘ooooh’. I’m dizzy in love with him though. I think I could gaze for hours at his perfect crystal blue eyes, his outrageous dark lashes, his chubby wrists, even his squidged up nose when he’s completely overwhelmed by his emotions.

After a fairly peaceful period of relative normality, January hit us hard. Sonny picked up a nasty tummy bug, but took it like a (little) man and fairly nonchalantly vommed as he toddled around grinning. We were equally bemused and horrified at this unexpected turn of events. Sonny, meanwhile, wasn’t that bothered by his bodily functions. While keeping an avid eye on his temperature, we put it down to a common childhood illness.

Unfortunately, the next morning, my poor husband announced he wasn’t feeling the best. This usually means my beloved needs to lie down for a few hours. This time though, it was more serious. It seemed the tummy bug had jumped ship from Sonny to Andrew. He took to bed and moaned a lot while making regular trips to the bathroom. I sighed, thinking another bad case of man illness. I got on with the day’s tasks but I started to feel a bit ropey around 7pm that evening. I swayed up the stairs and declared I was about to die.

Yes, I was also succumbing to whatever it was that had taken over the Gordon household. I climbed into our bed, feeling rubbish, riding the waves of nausea. Times like this, you need a few bathrooms. Still, even though we were feeling horrible, I felt grateful for the fact that Sonny was OK. That he was clambering on us and smacking us on the face as we were horizontal, wishing we had a magical fairy godmother to look after our darling child until we were both better.

Parenthood is the craziest, most magical thing that has ever happened to me. I’m incredibly grateful to have a son who brings me so much joy. He has completely changed my life. Becoming a parent awakens something in you. For me, I want to step up, be a great parent, the type that he will want to become in the future. Becoming a mum has awakened something else inside me, the need to emerge from the person I’ve hidden behind for too long, the weak, scared, insecure girl. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long, long time. I care so much less about other people’s opinions and it’s very liberating. I’m ready to live and it’s about time.

Happy birthday mumofsonny!

I’m on the red-eye shift as I cradle my nine-week-old son with one arm as he sleepily gulps his warm milk, pausing at times to make appreciative sighs before hungrily going back for more. With his ravenous appetite sated (for at least two hours I hope), he melts back into my now aching arm, drifting off to a satisfying slumber. I gaze in a trance-like state at his pink, perfect face, happy that he’s content before realising that I need to burp him. I gently sit my squirming baby on my lap with his back as straight as he’ll allow and proceed to rub and pat until I hear the glorious sound of a burp. He grimaces and squeals, deeply irritated at not being able to allowed to remain asleep. But he’s totally reliant on me to help him with his bodily functions until he’s old enough to burp and fart for himself.

I wrote this almost a year to the day ago. It seems crazy, starting a blog when your baby is just nine-weeks-old and yet, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I spent most of my twenties and thirties aimless, wanting more but not doing more. It’s the definition of madness to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Life gets in the way, you think, you get a job that pays the bills but it’s soul-destroying. You’re terrified of change. I’ve always wanted to start a blog and a long time ago I did. I published my first blog, excited to put my voice out there. I’ve always loved writing and I knew I was good at it. I got a horrible message straight away. I have my suspicions who it was but it was enough to knock me off course. Why would anyone want to read about what I had to say? I had no self- belief, my self-esteem had been battered by jobs, by men. I kept getting the same results.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s beautifully simple. Life is simple, it is us that makes it complicated. Losing my job earlier this year has been the best thing to ever happen me. Once I got over the initial terror of not having a monthly income, I quite liked having days to myself – especially as a first-time mum – and no, they’re not really days to yourself. Getting to grips with being a new parent is tough. Your life is flipped upside down. You are exhausted, thrilled, frustrated, hopeless, happy, sad. It’s utterly life-changing and you know your life has changed for the better. Becoming a mum has changed me, from my core. I don’t sweat the small stuff, I hate drama and negativity. I spend my days enjoying life, enjoying Sonny’s many expressions, his funny sounds, holding him tight, kissing his soft pink cheek (that smells so good). Yes, he is annoying too. My living room constantly looks like I’ve been ransacked. Sonny delights in emptying drawers, cupboards, the bins. He screams and cries and it’s so, so hard. But there are also moments when you think your heart will burst.

Blogging for me is therapy. It’s a chance to sit down when Sonny is in bed and write about how I’m feeling. It has also opened up my world so much. I’ve been so lucky to meet some incredible, energetic and positive people. I’ve met blogger, author of Mumboss and beautiful mamma of two boys, Vicki Psarias aka Honest Mum. I’ve worked with some amazing baby brands such as Baby & More, Babease, Beaux Baby Boutique, and Kate & Moon. I got to experience the new Center Parcs in Longford with my family. I’ve blogged about first aid, sleep training and lately, meditation and self-care. So many opportunities are still coming my way and it’s all thanks to my blog.

Becoming a mum is undoubtedly the best thing to ever happen me. It’s so fulfilling, shaping a new life. It’s so joyful, seeing your son collapse in giggles because of you. If you are still reading, I am so happy for your company and I hope you will continue to follow my journey as my baby becomes a little boy. Maybe I can even inspire you to start writing or to think outside the box that you have created. Life is short, why would you want to spend it pleasing people, or working for the cash machine? I’m so grateful and lucky that I’m where I’m at. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. No, life is not perfect, I am not perfect – I’m human after all. But, it’s pretty close.

My beautiful boy dressed by Beaux Baby Boutique