Did you use to enjoy uninterrupted sleep, lay-ins, time to think, time to pee, time to shower, and food? (Remember when you had time to cook and eat a meal?... that was nice). Some of you may have enjoyed hobbies, seeing friends, and going away.
Whatever it was you liked, it may now be a distant memory if you've recently had a child.
Obviously, there are amazing human beings on Instagram that show us how they ran every day throughout pregnancy, including during childbirth. Their homes are immaculate, and so are their faces and clothes and their children are mini geniuses. Remember we all have 24 hours in a day!
Take me for example, I'm currently sitting writing this in what I like to call my house dress - it was my mum's. It has some sort of food on it, I'm wearing maternity knickers that have seen better days (my child is now 18 months old) and no bra. I'm an aspiring influencer, as you can probably tell and on par with the instamums.
Before I digress into a full piece on the joys of motherhood, I did have a slightly different focus on the changes children bring to our lives. Not that listing all the things I could do in a previous life and how mothers giving up their whole self isn't an interesting read. But I think I'll save that for therapy.
The change I wanted to focus on was the 'stuff'. All the stuff that children come with, particularly toys.
Pre-baby I was one of those people that would happily buy your child a drum, a craft project that requires adult help or all the sweets in the world. Sometimes on purpose thinking it was funny that you would get to enjoy that drum at 4am or your child clawing through the cupboards to get their sugar fix.
But now I'm on the other team and I remember when my house was tidy and toy free.
When my son was a baby, my house was neat. We had a baby gym with neutral colours, and a small bag of sensory toys which would come out during adult-chosen playtime. Within a short amount of time, this changed. Our living room has exploded into a multi-coloured, tune-infested, plastic hell hole.
All those ideas I had of wooden, beige, grey, and pastel toys with a Montessori edge have well and truly vanished.
I'm currently in a situation where I don't quite know how we have ended up with so many things, with not many of them bought by us. How have we ended up with all the plastic crap? The toys that send you insane within 5 minutes of them being turned on. Now I'm only 18 months into this journey but I will admit right now that when the batteries of these toys eventually run out, they will not be replaced. I will explain with a sad face to my child that they are now in fact "broken".
Toys have the ability to make a toddler emotionally unstable - they love it, have to have it but then the piece of rubbish makes them angry for no apparent reason, but God forbid they will not let it go.
These toys in our lives have become a game of hide and seek. I have a talking, dancing cactus currently sitting with the dishwasher tablets under the sink, a speaker behind the bin and a whole bag of toot-toot cars in the local charity shop. Our toddler has quickly understood this game, he may be small and have a limited vocabulary, but the child is not silly. He will act like he just wants to go on a casual climb up the stairs when really, he is sniffing out the speaker and preparing for a meltdown.
With a birthday or Christmas never too far away, there are always questions from friends and family about what they can buy him. You have to think carefully about this because it's not just about them. Firstly, is it something our child will like, learn from and enjoy? Secondly, will I want to throw it out the window?
In addition to this, I don't want my lovely friends and family to waste money on let's face it very expensive toys that my son might not play with. Now don't get me wrong, he does love his toys and will play with them, however, if I were to list his current top 5 favourite things to do, toys don't make the cut. The list would look as follows:
Portable speaker - cradles it like a teddy, loves it more than us, knows it is often hidden in our room and won't rest until he finds it.
Daddy's guitar - impressively he has learnt to strum this by himself but insists it needs to be played every time we go in the room.
Photo frames - must take them off the shelves, must point to every person and say 'Dada'.
The clothes airer - particularly four, blue plastic hooks that fold in and out. Bloody loves them and could fold them for hours. He will cry when they get used for their actual purpose.
Old baby bottles - likes to fashion them into forearm covers.
When I look at this list it makes me think why do we have so many toys when as you can tell the child just wants to be a musical, fashion guru.
Maybe my gift suggestion for family and friends should be a photo frame, the photo could be of anyone. The picture could be of Boris Johnson and he would probably still point at it and say 'Dada'. Or maybe just give us your old recycling.
However, you 100% know if a photo frame was actually given to him, there is no way it is as much fun as the ones that aren't his.
As he grows up, I will be trying my best to get the beautiful wooden, noise-free toys from our loved ones, the ones I refuse to pay that much for but desperately love. When the suggestion of a drum or tambourine comes from a grandparent, I will politely say;
"That's a lovely toy, they can keep it and play with it at your house."
And for anyone in my past child-free life to whom I may have gifted the annoying, noisy toy.
I am sorry.
Please don't return the favour.