With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle having allegedly just signed a lease on a home in the Cotswolds, the craze of quitting the city for suburbia is gathering momentum. And all us parents know that there’s nothing we want more than what’s best for our precious little cherubs. But are you really ready for the big leap? Rachel Tompkins talks us through the tell tale signs…
1. You’re prepared to swap the city smog for the stench or horse manure
What parent doesn’t want their little darlings to breathe in nothing but the purest country air? What city-dweller amongst us haven’t questioned how much of the traffic fumes are making their way into our babies’ lungs as we push their buggy along the side of a major road? Whilst relocating to somewhere more rural might offer significantly less traffic omissions, there is another kind of pollutant to take into – the stuff of the animal variety. Drive, or dare I say it, walk, along a country road during muck-spreading and your gag reflexes will certainly be put to the test!
2. You’re ready to swap Tiger Mums, for Tiger Moths
We’ve all witnessed them eagerly pushing their way to the front at baby groups, desperate for their little one to take centre stage. And when you start nursery they’re the ones asking for homework in early preparation for their gifted child’s future place at Oxbridge. Those who think an escape to the country will result in swapping Tiger Mums for Tiger moths are very much mistaken. Parents of the pushy variety are lurking all across the country, from city to suburbia. I know which I’d prefer to invite round for a playdate!
3. You want to ditch your postage-stamp patio for a paddock
Most of the city-dweller parents among us know that if we refer to our ‘garden’ it’s actually a square of paving slabs no bigger than a postage stamp (ours was when we lived in London anyway). Who wouldn’t dream of swapping the uninspiring concrete for a pretty paddock, complete with tree-house and vegetable patch? Be careful what you wish for though. Whilst a pokey garden doesn’t leave the children much space to play in, it requires considerably less upkeep than the alternative. And considerably less creepie-crawlies for them to mistake for raisins and shove into their mouths. Did someone say bug hunt?
4. The house just isn’t big enough
It’s only when you have a baby that you actually realise how much stuff they need. Big, bulky, easy-to-trip over stuff that makes many city-flats or terrace houses burst at the seams. Moving to the country invariably offers the chance to get more square-footage for your money. Whilst the prospect is a tempting one, just remember that in no time at all your little newborn will be up and crawling, walking and treating every set of stairs like an obstacle course. There’s a lot to be said for maintaining a constant eye on the target – moving ones especially!
5. Silence is golden
The buzz of a city really is just that – the noise of the cars, the busses, not to mention the trains, tubes and metros in some. Add to that some planes flying overhead and a few police sirens for good measure and it’s not surprising some parents long to escape for some peace and quiet. The countryside can definitely offer that, if you forget about the local church bells, the neighbour’s over zealous rooster that crows at the crack of dawn, and the cuckoo who insists on perching on the branch right outside your bedroom window. Just remember that any noise will pale into insignificance when pitted against the cry of a newborn with reflux during witching hour! Proof that being a parent is both tough and truly amazing no matter what your grid reference!