When we’re issued with a due date, it’s easy to believe that’ll be the day that life as we know it changes forever. But that’s not necessarily the case – there’s actually a pretty decent period of grace after your baby is born when you can still do vaguely grown up things. It falls between the first time you realise you can survive leaving the house with a baby and somewhere around the time they start moving, and is worth making the most of.
Even though you’re probably sleep deprived and held together entirely by coffee, concealer and dry shampoo, there are a few mat leave pleasures you can enjoy while your baby is still containable, sleepy and über-portable. Sure, babies get all engaging and cute when they’re six months and over, but you know what? They’re also a lot less up for going to the pub.
Leisurely Sunday roasts, a glass of red and a saunter home. A couple of hours with a good book in a fireside nook or sunny pub garden while the baby snoozes in the pram. Lunch with your mum mates. Book it all in! Pub floors are not the ideal surfaces for eager crawlers and older babies will think nothing of expressing their dissatisfaction with your tedious book reading or chatting antics, regardless of how much you shelled out for the Mediterranean sharing platter.
While coffee shops might have a reputation for being full of ‘yummy mummies’ (i.e. women with babies who would like some damn coffee, thanks), it turns out, a room full of wobbly tables, hot drinks and laptop chargers can be Quite Hard Work when your little one is on the move – their usefulness as a meet-up spot or just a get-the-hell-out-of-the-house destination has an expiry date. Soft play is a decent alternative but why not enjoy those enormous lattes and choc chip muffins in a more grown-up setting while you still can.
Sitting in a dark cinema with a load of other newish parents munching on snacks, feeding and rocking while getting lost in some magical new release is heaven, even at 9.30am. Best of all, babies up to the age of one are exempt from film classification rules so you can watch something good with swearing, shagging and fighting instead of My Glittery Dinosaur Unicorn: Mermaid Adventures At Pirate Cove (sing-a-long version), which is what’s on the agenda for the next seven-to-ten years.
The work visit
Work often feels like another lifetime after birth, while commuting with a baby when you CBA to go to the newsagent and have been wearing the same leggings for a week can seem like a mission too far. Wait ’til you’ve got feeding sorted and have become accustomed to your new normal, but get in there before the baby starts wanting to grub around on the floor sticking pens in the printer and is still little enough to not mind being passed around everyone who’s been dying for a cuddle since your bump first popped.
Once kids are mobile, holidays are very, very different, usually involving 6pm discos at which you will be expected to join in with a group rendition of Baby Shark (more fun than it sounds). Babies may come with a lot of kit to cart around with you but there’s much more choice in holiday destinations and a lot less expense when they’re tiny. For added relaxation, arrange to go away with family or friends who are up for free babysitting – er, bonding with your little one.
Going to the toilet
Having a perch on the porcelain without a small child bowling into the bathroom and wanting to unravel the loo roll is a bit of a treat. You’ve probably mastered weeing with a baby in a sling strapped to your chest so will already appreciate that going to the loo alone is something that most parents of little kids only get to do when they’re at work or, like, the opera or something. Not that having a bathroom buddy to chat to is so terrible, you get used to it, but for now, enjoy the solitude.
Clothes shopping trips with a baby can go two ways – like a dream or hell on a stick. But urgh, shopping with somebody who wants get out of the pushchair, grab everything off the rails with rice cake goo-smeared little hands and secrete things in the pushchair that set the alarm off in New Look – best avoided where possible. Which is why so many mums are rocking George, Tu, F&F and Nutmeg. Fashion you can hoik into the trolley at 9pm during an emergency nappy run? Hallelujah… In the meantime, shop! Shop while you still can!