A Room of One’s Own

“What’s this? A shrine to 44 years ago?” BUB.1 was watching me sort through boxes of old school work, vinyl albums, Smash Hits yearbooks and photos that had finally, at the age of 44, made it out of my parents’ loft and into mine. But not before I had relived the memories and kept a few in sight.

My whopping new 182cm x 182cm Ikea Kallax (the furniture WW resists but cannot deny saves my sanity) was up in my office, with 25 boxes to be filled. I felt like a kid at Christmas. A few hours to wallow in two of my favourite things, nostalgia and organising. So in between the new filing drawers (‘School’ ‘Important things’ ‘To do’ etc.) and a box for chargers, a box for stationery and other important things that we lose daily, I fitted in my Smash Hits yearbooks, my photos, all the books that make me inspired or happy. My diaries, my old work clippings, and still lots of boxes to fill.

BUB.1 was right in a way. Standing there, laughing at all my old stuff. My peanuts book, my Muppet Fun Book, my Just Seventeens and my Wham! Make it Big album. My Creative Writing folder from when I was not much older than he is, my project on volcanoes, a topic his class is studying now.

I keep seeing man sheds springing up, but maybe women need women caves too. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. It could be a little pop up desk with a couple of shelves in the bedroom. While men sit playing video games or using their tools, forgetting the grown up world back in the house, women can read, write, create, build or just listen to George Michael (or whoever tickles their fancy) and wallow in a time before they had the responsibilities of a family. They can just be themselves. People go on about having children changing you completely. It widens your perspective and it alters your daily tasks but I don’t think it changes the core you. I’ve said it before, there is nothing quite as therapeutic as remembering what it was like when there was just you.

The beauty of both women and men having their own caves is that no one is interrupted by the dishwasher bleeping to be emptied. Everyone is off duty. Everyone escapes.

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A change is gonna come

Turns out you don’t know a lot of this stuff, it’s just designed and laid out in pretty catalogues purely to take your mind off searing heartburn and constant, unsatisfactory urination during the latter stages of pregnancy.

This is what my nappy changing table (Ikea Hensvik) looked like just hours before I had BUB.1.

Stacked almost psychotically neatly with clothes, nappies and creams, it’s testament to the amount of time you have on your hands prior to the arrival of children. At the time I swore blind it was the best thing we bought.

Turns out you don’t need a lot of this stuff, it’s just designed and laid out in pretty catalogues purely to take your mind off searing heartburn and constant, unsatisfactory urination during the latter stages of pregnancy.

Yes it probably saved a lot of backache and provided a lovely, safe, well-stocked place to attend to our baby’s bum needs but on reflection, a normal chest of drawers and the bed would have done. As it did the second time round.

This particular table does convert to a shelf unit once the changing table is no longer required, which might make it a good option if you have the space. We moved to a Victorian terrace before the arrival of BUB.2 and there wasn’t room for a changing table, so we do all our nappy changes on the bed or sofa. And it’s fine, really. You’d be surprise what you can live without. Which is pretty much everything.

There are many bits and bobs on this changing table that we NEVER used, including:

  • Burp cloths – BUB.1 was never sick. Not until he was well into his second year. They don’t put that on the brochure do they? They should!
  • Nipple shields – what are these? I’m still not entirely sure.
  • Johnson’s Baby Soap – having babies made me think about all the unnecessary chemicals in toiletries so we used organic baby wash, but the two bars of Johnson’s Baby Soap seemed essential. A rite of passage that ended up in the bin.
  • Paper maternity knickers – hilarious! What was I thinking? What is anyone thinking? Why do they still mention them in baby books and magazines? Several packs of gigantic cheap black knickers from Primark or similar is all anyone needs. I’m still wearing mine, which I hear is shockingly common and probably contributing to divorce rates in the UK. But once you’ve had gigantic black knickers you never go back.
  • The cute little peach bin – how many dirty nappies was I expecting? This bin would hold two at the most. Fast forward one week and you’d see a big black bin bag full of steaming nappies next to that changing table.

But if you look closely you will see a few bits and bobs on this table that we DID use:

  • Nipple cream from Portugal – my friend who lives in Lisbon sent it over, I applied it religiously prior to the birth and didn’t have any problems. Can’t have hurt, can it?
  • Sudocrem – also great for baby’s bum and adult spots, if your skin should flare up during pregnancy. Mine cleared up, perversely.
  • 100% pure Almond oil – perfect for that first tentative massage.
  • Zinc and Castor oil cream – great for sore bums. I think I’ve still got the same pot over three years later mind you. Bum didn’t get that sore.

So, there you have it. If you find yourself reading baby magazines and puzzling over the “suggested shopping list” then I think you have every right to be discombobulated. Most of it is utter twaddle.

That all said, feathering your nest with lots of unnecessary and mysterious items is all part of the process. But seriously, paper maternity knickers? Come on guys. We have disposable incomes and washing machines now, we don’t need disposable knickers.