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.

Things I wish I’d done before turning 40…

I’ve just over a week to go before I enter the next decade of my life. I’m excited, overwhelmed, trepidatious but ultimately happy with my lot. The past two years of my life have taught me a lot about myself, what I’m willing to accept and what I’m not. I have a very low tolerance for drama, I’m wholly committed to becoming the best version of myself and also committed to my incredible family, my refuge, my rock.

My world.

Regrets, I’ve got a few, but they’ve all led me to where I am at this moment. I’ve always believed that ‘everything is happening perfectly’. I wish I knew what I know now in my early 30’s. I’ve been irresponsible, foolish with my heart, reckless with money but now, (you’d hope), I feel grown-up, properly grown-up. I don’t have the stamina of my youth, I go to bed early, suffer awful hangovers, and have various physical ailments but some days I feel giddy with excitement, I want to get dressed up and hit the town, I want to buy that over-priced dress, I want to laugh and giggle ’til my belly hurts.

I might be almost 40 but in many ways, I feel my life is just beginning. I’ve already got what I wanted, a family. But, there are still things I want to achieve for me. I finally freed myself of the shackles of an office job and I’m self-employed as a writer and social media manager. I love and need flexibility in my career. Family is everything and so it goes that everything revolves around family.

However, if I could have a word with my younger self, this is what I’d do…

Learned to drive.

I’ve probably taken well over 100 lessons over the years but have never quite mastered it. I’ve started and stopped, for a variety of reasons – money, confidence, and frustration. I know driving will give me the independence I crave but I fear I’m not ‘cut out’ to drive. It’s so important, especially when you’re a mum. Thankfully my hubby can drive but I’d like the freedom of being able to jump into a car and get to where I want to go without having to depend on a lift or public transport. Maybe 2020 will be my year to get in the driving seat…

Travelled more.

I’m lucky to have seen a little of the world with my husband but there’s much more I want to see. Yes, financial constraints and work commitments have played their part but travelling is so good for the soul. I love blue skies, feeling the sun on my skin, sinking my toes into the sand, immersing myself into a new culture. As an independent and adventurous soul, seeing more of the world is on my bucket list.

Row the boat… in Venice.

Loved myself more.

It’s taken a while. I wouldn’t say I’m quite there but I’m getting there. I’m a decent person, I’m not perfect. I’m lucky to have some incredible women in my life, if you’re reading, you know who you are. I’ve doubted myself, agonised over things I’ve done or said. But, I know I’m good. I’m kind, loyal and a good listener. I wish I could go back in time and hug the teenager, the 20-something, tell her I was good enough. My mum has always told me I was special but I felt unworthy of such an adjective. I feel worthy now.

Almost 40…

Started a family earlier.

I didn’t get pregnant until I was 38. But truth be told, I never felt that maternal urge. My close friends getting pregnant awakened a yearning in me, a yearning that was unfamiliar but strong. Thankfully, I got pregnant easily and delivered a perfect little boy on June 18, 2018. Sonny has changed my life beyond recognition. I get it now, the sacrifice, the exhaustion, the paralysing fear that comes with being a mum. It’s also the most life-affirming experience of my life. Sonny brings me so much joy, more than I thought I’d ever experience. I’m so grateful to him for allowing me to experience the greatest love of all. It’s humbling and so wonderful. I’d love a brother or sister, as crazy as that would be. I don’t think I’m done just yet.

Worked for myself earlier.

I’ve been a slave to a wage for so long. It’s the most soul-destroying thing to be in a job where you feel powerless. I’ve fantasised about becoming self-employed, about getting paid to do something I loved. It’s so important, you spend so much of your life working. It’s so pointless to do something every day that you have no passion for, it’s a waste of a life. Yes, I know there are bills, there are dependents, but it will change your life if you look forward to doing your job.

Been better with money.

I think I have the shopping gene if there is such a thing. I’ve always been a lover of beautiful things. I’ve never really felt that guilt that you should feel after you’ve spent an extortionate amount on a handbag or dress. Yes, it’s important to look and feel good. My husband who is a financial advisor is horrified at what I spend my money on (sometimes I am too), but I’m impulsive and I do get a thrill from buying beautiful things. Yes, I need to reign in my spending as we’re saving for a new home. But maybe next year will be my year to be sensible. Hmmm.

Striding into the next decade!

Overall, it’s been a great decade. I met my husband, had a baby and started a new career. I’m looking forward to my 40’s. It still feels a bit surreal but I’ll get used to it. On December 21, I’ll turn 40 and celebrate with my family and friends. I can’t wait.

Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll join me as I becoming a 40-something!

Lots of love, Davina xx