If someone would have told me back in the day I’d be raising kids in London I’d have said ‘errr don’t fink so luv’ (my accent was way more midland then, oh how I miss it…sometimes). I’m a beach person really ya see; I am most happy by the sea running or swimming around (and preferably getting a tan on). I constantly crave the beach. I love having a car with a boot full of sand, hair you can’t get a comb through because its thick with salt water and a ‘corner’ of house taken up entirely by beach play toys.
After growing up in the midlands (which is officially the furthest point from the sea in the UK I hasten to add), I went to uni in Bournemouth where Ben and I met. After that we shipped out to Australia for a couple of years and in between there was lots of backpacking to beautiful beaches in various corners of the world all paid for with hard earned cash saved up from my former profession as a pool lifeguard. I did lifeguarding from age 15 – 22, thats 7 years experience of lifeguarding pools. My god, that’s an actual career. The highlights of which included being sent home for sleeping on the first aid bed with a hangover, sweeping hair balls underneath lockers and dressing up as a giant wasp for a kids event (I have no idea why it was a wasp). So you know where to come if you have a heart attack…or a bad veruca, ANYWAY, I digress…
I was always against the idea of having kids in London, I thought it would be too hectic, too urban, too dangerous , just, too….everything. Fast forward a few years and it kinda just happened that way. Now I’m doing it, it really doesn’t seem that big of a deal. London is our home now and it’s taken me quite a while to say that and find my peace with it. For a good couple of years I always found it busy and expensive but for now, certainly not forever, but for now I love it and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the UK. Also as it turns out London is a pretty awesome place to have kids. I think when I imagined having in kids in London, I literally pictured a house and school in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. We live in a nice spot in the south west where really you could be anywhere, its leafy with good parks, open space and schools but its just mere 20 min train ride to all the big city action. There is SO much going on in London we really are spoilt for choice. It’s always a reality check when you meet families at places who have travelled for hours to reach some of the attractions you go to regularly (Seriously if I go to that Transport Museum one more time they’re going to give me a uniform). Recently I’ve also discovered Mothers Meetings a network for creative and glamorous mums in different London boroughs (I qualify for one of those, I’ll leave to choose which), they have cool events and meet up and do all these inspirational things. Very cool. And we’re regulars at the Southbank checking out the cool kids art stuff and exhibitions. The list of museums is endless and on those rare occasions when you get a baby sitter and go wild, you can really really go wild.
There are however some things unique to London that do not compute with family life. One is houses. Buying property in London is insane. You cannot have a desirable location and a decent amount of space, end of. You chose one or the other. We are currently buying a house (yeah I thought that would be a lovely relaxing way to spend my mat leave). The process has been bizarre to me. You have a to make huge decisions involving insane amounts of money in seconds, because if you don’t there are people queuing up behind you who’ll do it quicker. We plumped for location over space in the end because the other London quirk is of course….school places. What a nightmare that is. Places are fought over for the good schools and catchment areas are tiny. The catchment area for the best school near us is 180 meters. No. Joke.
The schools thing is a weird one for me, where I grew up all the schools were generally good and you just went to the one nearest you, there was no question whether you’d ‘get in or not’. But in London the difference between a good school and not so good school can be immense and if you’re not careful you can find yourself with a massive trek out of your area because you’ve missed being in the right catchment areas. Pretty stressful huh? So yes, we plumped for location in the end and are purchasing the ‘worlds most expensive doll’s house’. BUT we’re sitting in the catchment for 2 really good schools so should be laughing. We’re really excited about owning our place and decorating it and making it our own, I’m dying to get in there and have been going crazy making house mood on pintrest!
I can’t believe I have just written the above paragraph – so MANY mentions of ‘catchment area’, jeeze louise when did I become so freaking middle age?! Are you actually really still reading this?! Are you not asleep yet?
The thing is though the longer you have kids the more you start talking like this. The older they get the more ‘proper parenting’ and grown up stuff you have to talk about and make decisions around. I have noticed since having baby number two that my ‘mum-isms’ have definitely increased. You know when you get pregnant and you’re all like ‘hey being a mum isn’t going to change me, I’m still going to be all fun and cool’ and then suddenly you catch yourself doing a ‘mum-ism’ and you’re like arrrggggghhhh!!! Yeah them. Check some of these out which I have been guilty of recently, how many are you clocking up?
“Oooo, I think there’s a storm coming in” (because having kids officially makes you a more credible weather reporter, fact)
“They just grow up so quickly” [start series of Sighs now]
“Nothing beats getting your washing out to dry in the sun” (Nothing?! Nothing?! Really?!)
“Oh you’re still hungry? Well you should’ve eaten all your dinner” (ugh. Yawn, mum. Just hand over the chocolate)
“Do you know what this house needs? A good old clear out” (and then acted surprised when you’re the only one in the house enthused about this brain wave)
“Owwwwwww. STOP leaving your toys lying all over the place” (this is especially mumsy if the offending item is something particularly sharp like LEGO or a metal car)
“I can’t hear a thing in this place I’m going to have to get them to turn the music down” (yep actually did this just last week. Game. Over.)