People will often offer you pearls of wisdom before you have children. They will give you advice like “Enjoy the time to yourself because once kids come along your time will not be your own” or "Enjoy the freedom! You'll never have a spare minute after a baby arrives".
And while you wouldn’t swap the experience of becoming a parent for the world, there is definitely a whole lot of truth to these words. After you have children your time really isn’t your own. It belongs to others. Other people, other places, other commitments. Demands are made of you constantly and you soon find that you are at the bottom of your own list.
When I think back now through the hazy parental fog to my life before becoming a mum, it never ceases to amaze me just how much time I had to spend on myself. I used to do things like go shopping – yes, go into actual shops to buy clothes! And they were trendy, often figure hugging clothes that I would take my time trying on in a changing room whilst carefully surveying myself in the mirror before making a decision to purchase.
Now my clothes buying is mostly confined to online shopping where I try my purchases on at home whilst my daughter is sitting at my feet. I then re-package whatever has to go back before handing it to a courier for return.
Before children I also lived in high-heels. I had an array of shoes and sandals who all had nothing less than a four inch heel and I was so confident and able walking in them that I could have almost run a marathon. But how things have changed...
Last year, I went to a friend’s wedding with my husband, our first outing in almost a year and my first time wearing high heels in almost two years. By evening time when the music had started my feet were that sore that I had to take my shoes off and walk barefoot (of course I hadn't thought to bring a pair of flats to change into).
The following day I had to soak my poor wounded tootsies in salted water before bandaging up the cuts and blisters. I then proceeded to hobble for the following two days.
Since having children my wardrobe now consists mainly of ‘comfortable’ clothes like leggings, loose fitting tops and often when I am at home my husband’s jumpers. My high heels have been permanently replaced with runners and the last time I went to a beautician’s for any sort of pampering was about three years ago.
But….there is one thing that I will not allow to change. No matter how tired I am or how many demands are put upon me as a parent, I will always make sure to wear make-up every day. I have figured out that this is something that I crucially need to do on a daily basis in order to feel like me.
Like all mums out there I don’t leave much time for myself and every morning there are one hundred and one things to do, but I will find fifteen minutes or so to apply a few basics like foundation, blusher and mascara. It’s all done pretty quickly and is by no means professional, but once I’ve done it I am ready to start the day.
It took me time to realise why this is so important to me and how it affects my confidence levels. There were many days when I used to not bother, taking time only in the morning to apply some moisturiser and quickly run a brush through my hair. But any time I took a quick glance at myself in the mirror I didn’t like what I was seeing. I didn’t look like me and it was affecting my mood. I was starting to feel down.
For me this was a step too far removed from who I used to be. So I made a decision that no matter how busy I am each morning I am going to make time to apply some make-up and fix my hair. And as soon as I started doing this I immediately began to feel better inside.
I know that the reason I do this each day is not for anybody else’s benefit but my own. I am not trying to please or impress anyone else out there. This is for me. There are so many other aspects of my personal life that have changed that this is the one area that I want to remain constant. My body shape has changed dramatically, so many of the clothes hanging in my wardrobe no longer fit me and my feet point blank refuse to walk in anything except a flat shoe or a runner. But there will always be room for a little foundation.