How Children Change Your Life: 2001 vs 2010

Someone asked me recently how your life changes when you have kids.

I know some people talk about this rush of
love, or how your priorities change overnight, or being miraculously
fulfilled; that sort of thing. For me, I never felt as though my whole
identity shifted when I had a child, or that my existence suddenly
became meaningful.

However, it's fair to say that children may mean making some small adjustments to your daily routine. For the purposes of illustration, let's consider a Day in the Life of Sally, 2001 and Sally, 2010:

Flea

2001

2001 Sally lives in a great one-bedroom flat in London. It’s opposite the dodgy mosque in Finsbury Park but it has oak floors, white walls and acres of bookshelves.

There’s barely any furniture, but Sally just took delivery of a new bed from Heal’s and a sofa from Ikea. Every morning, she takes a hot shower in her shiny chrome bathroom, and carefully puts on the make-up she bought from the Mac counter at Harvey Nicks. After blow-drying her hair, she runs across to the tube station and gets the train to Oxford Circus.

Walking down past Liberty’s and along Carnaby Street is one of Sally’s favourite times of day. Some days, she stops off at the gym to meet her personal trainer, other days she pops into the Italian coffee shop on Lexington Street for a cappuccino. She works in a busy office with small windows and a mean boss. It's sort of soul-destroying.

After work, Sally tumbles out of the office with all the other journalists and designers in Soho. They drink pints of Hoegaarden outside the Blue Posts, sharing tips on good parties, jumping into cabs headed for Covent Garden or Mayfair. If it’s a quiet night, Sally picks up some dinner at the M&S Food Hall and heads home to crash on the sofa with the cats, Basil and Parsley. 

2010

In 2010, Sally lives in a Victorian terraced house in Britain’s oldest, whitest town. There’s a wonky kitchen floor and a plumbing system that provides a plentiful supply of boiling or freezing water – but nothing in between.

There’s still not much furniture, but that’s because Sally had to give away the dining table when the dog ate one of the legs. The TV makes a funny sound if the picture has too much white on it, and the fridge door sometimes falls off. Also, the handle for the dishwasher lives in the cutlery drawer.

In the mornings, Sally showers in 60 seconds, trying to avoid hyperthermia and third degree burns while saying things like, “Yours will look like that when you’re older," and "No, it doesn't count if you don't use toothpaste."

At 8.30am, Sally can’t find a bag, but needs to take her laptop to a meeting. She borrows Flea's Spiderman backpack, ushering her daughter into the garage, apologising because they have to crawl into the car – Sally parked too close to the wall (again). Clambering into the driver's seat, Sally manages to splill Flea's smoothie down her top. Looking in the rear view mirror, she spots two new grey hairs. Marvellous. 

At the meeting, it turns out the backpack was a waste of time because Sally forgot to charge her laptop. Also, Sally's purse is still in her handbag. At home. Sally is parked in the shopping centre, and can't get her car out. She phones her brother and asks him to come and lend her £2 for parking. He arrives and admires the Spiderman backpack, before hilariously asking if she needs any extra pocket money for sweets.

After a day of working on six different projects, and chasing invoices from six other clients, Sally collects Flea from school, and they arrive home. There’s nothing in the house for dinner, so Sally makes a bowl of popcorn, and serves it on a tray on the sofa, together with an Easter Egg and a bunch of grapes. They watch the new Scooby Doo DVD they’ve been sent to review and Flea tells Sally that she’s the best Mummy she knows, although nobody else’s Mummy insists on sharing their kid's Easter Eggs.

So there you have it: life before and after children. Sometimes you'll miss that old life with an ache you can feel in your gut, and which takes your breath away. But with a bit of luck, someone will tell you that you're the best person they know, and even the odd grey hair feels worthwhile.

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

26 Comments

  1. @carolinesweetie
    26th March 2010 / 10:52 am

    A lovely funny post. I used to buy shoes/bags/clothes from anywhere,on a whim. Now-pah the bag I got 2yrs ago will do. Planning a night out or a weekend away is a major undertaking. It all changes,but I wouldn’t part with 2010 life for all the tea in China(and I drink a lot of tea). Lovely.x

  2. 26th March 2010 / 11:45 am

    Ooh that sounds painfully familiar! Maybe I’ll show it to the pair of sickeningly perky, twenty-something yummy-mummies-to-be at work..!

  3. 26th March 2010 / 12:03 pm

    Oh Sally. That’s funny and sad and so true.

  4. Sarah
    26th March 2010 / 12:51 pm

    I’m just curious as to what you mean by a ‘dodgy mosque’? The mosque itself or the people who go there? Sorry, I’m not really familiar with London/Finsbury Park, so perhaps I’m missing something really obvious!
    Sarah

  5. 26th March 2010 / 12:57 pm

    God, yes, “shopping” used to mean something SO different to me.

  6. 26th March 2010 / 1:00 pm

    Google Finsbury Park Mosque. It’s famous as a home of extremism and not always legal activities.
    My highlight of those years was sitting in my lounge one night watching an undercover Dispatches on Channel 4 showing people running guns and selling fake passports from the basement of the building. Opposite my flat. Yeah, it was a bit worrying.

  7. 26th March 2010 / 1:25 pm

    Poignant more than sad really… and good on you for saying that the kid years are just another station on the railway journey of life (cringes at general corny yukkiness)

  8. Sarah
    26th March 2010 / 1:33 pm

    Ah right -See, I was missing something glaringly obvious!I used to live next to a mosque in Glasgow, and I was always struck by how nice it was living round there- I just did a Google search and one of the first things that came up was a book called The Suicide Factory,about Finsbury Park mosque! I can understand your worries now 🙂
    Anyways, really enjoyed that post- especially “yours will look like that when you’re older” hahaha! I recently was asked by my son why I have ‘fuff’ on my ‘middles’ lol

  9. Sarah
    26th March 2010 / 1:36 pm

    That should read ‘fluff’!

  10. Steve Earl
    26th March 2010 / 3:50 pm

    Sally I now live in the next street to where you used to live and the first thing my kids built in Duplo was a model of the mosque – a multicoloured plastic minuaret is quite something to behold on a rainy Saturday. My walls were white but then one of the (three) kids got given supposedly washable markers.

  11. 26th March 2010 / 6:14 pm

    What a wonderfully refreshing way at looking at life with children.
    I too sometimes miss my old lifesyle with the same ferrosity as I love my children.

  12. Vic
    26th March 2010 / 8:20 pm

    I’d much rather have Easter eggs and popcorn for dinner than M&S micro meals. Maybe that just shows I’ve been a parent for too long.

  13. 26th March 2010 / 10:09 pm

    I hear you! Your life in 2001 is scarily similar to mine, except I was doing that merely two years ago..I still dip into it now as I still work in town and I can tell you, its still the same…nothings changed, whereas life with the kids brings something incredibly new everyday! I’d say it’s worth the gray hairs!

  14. 27th March 2010 / 6:42 am

    I don’t even want to think about it! Ten years ago … I was working in Brentford! The height of the boom, lots of crazy trips … there was the one on the lear jet when we went from SF to Tahoe in a snow storm, and landed just before they closed the airport. Then there was the time I flew to Boston, had one meeting and then came back with the same flight crew. The flight crew felt so sorry for me they gave me a bottle of champagne. Maybe this is why I hate flying so much.

  15. Christian
    27th March 2010 / 9:48 am

    That’s funny – did the Spiderman backpack debacle really happen?
    That said, isn’t the Blue Posts a Sam Smith’s pub? Therefore no Hoegaarden?

  16. 27th March 2010 / 9:56 am

    I did used to enjoy the sunlight sparkling off the minuaret of a morning. It was a really handy place to live, but I didn’t do much walking home alone late at night!

  17. 27th March 2010 / 9:56 am

    Yes, I find it odd that so few people will admit to missing their “old” lifestyle. I really, really do miss that freedom and hedonism. Ah, my long, lost youth…

  18. 27th March 2010 / 9:57 am

    It’s a sign of superior intellect.

  19. 27th March 2010 / 9:58 am

    There is that. I miss it most when I’m working in town – I’m there once a month, or so, and I get such horrible pangs if I’m in Soho or Covent Garden. Or Barnes. Or Primrose Hill. Or Regent’s Park. Sigh…
    I need to remind myself of all those rainy nights standing on Oxford St for 20 minutes trying to get a cab home, don’t I?

  20. 27th March 2010 / 9:59 am

    I see the potential for a companion post – Sally’s travel habits, 2001 vs 2010!

  21. 27th March 2010 / 10:00 am

    It’s true, all true. Even the parking story.
    Big bottles of Hoogaarden, as I recall. With cheap packets of crisps.

  22. 27th March 2010 / 9:26 pm

    Popcorn,Easter egg and grapes – well, that’s carb, protein (ish) and one of her 5 a day, isn’t it? Great post, made me laugh.

  23. 28th March 2010 / 10:02 pm

    this post made me roar (with laughter)!
    not least because i only kind of remember those days of spontaneity too! 4 years has gone so quickly and yet my ‘old life’ seems like another life now!

  24. 30th March 2010 / 7:05 pm

    Very funny!
    I used to make intellectual conversationabout the latest restaurants and all the artsy films. Now I all I know about are the school board elections and the latest stroller recall.

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