I think it’s pretty well documented these days how hard parenting is. It’s great that people feel comfortable enough to open up and talk about the ‘bad’ side, especially when it comes to post-natal depression for example. We all know that children come with a barrage of stress, worry and a constant state of exhaustion – the struggle is definitely real.
But there is another side to it… and for every bad day I’ve had with Molly, there have been ten good ones. She has transformed me into a better person, and made me stronger, happier and healthier than I have ever been. Motherhood has certainly surprised me, but it is also everything I dreamed it would be. I only have to hear Molly giggle at something and it instantly lifts my mood – you can’t help but smile.
After years of trying for a baby, Molly came at just the right time. Looking back I honestly felt like I was just existing in a deep dark void, with something missing. I would describe my life now though as complete, and I have never felt that way before. I truly believe that kids are good for your mental health, and here’s why…
- They increase your happy hormones. You’ll have oxytocin in abundance when you give birth, and you get it every time you cuddle your child. It’s like a rush of warm fuzziness that feels just as good every time.
- They will motivate you. “Everything I do, I do it for you”….Bryan Adams aside, there is no greater catalyst for wanting to work harder than your kids. You will want to give them the best life possible, no matter how tired you are.
- They will inspire you. As much as you teach them, they teach you. Molly started a brand new nursery in January, not knowing anyone, and she just walked in with a smile on her face and made friends straight away. Her confidence is infectious.
- You will spend more time outdoors. I never thought as a moody twenty-something who only ever saw the light of day when coming home after a club that I would love being outdoors! All that fresh air is like a drug to me now, and I get stir-crazy if I’m cooped up all day.
- You will rediscover your childhood. This is the most time I’ve spent in parks since getting secretly drunk on cider with my mates as a teenager. You can legitimately go on all the swings/slides/roundabouts you like when you’ve got a kid and no-one will bat an eyelid. And soft play is like finally getting on an episode of Fun House (90’s kids will know)!
- You will eat better. I’ve definitely had my 5-a day since becoming a mum. The odd treat aside, our diet is pretty good, and I cook everything from scratch. I take pride in ensuring Molly gets home-cooked, healthy meals.
- You’ll have a better immune system. There will come a point during those early years of parenthood where you will feel like you’ve all been ill forever. There is absolutely no let-up in the amount of viruses and bugs they get, especially when they start nursery. But after a while it does start to calm down, and you will have an immune system made of steel.
- You will realise that the best things in life really are free. The most memorable times Molly and I have spent have been without spending any money – rolling down grassy banks, chasing butterflies, dancing round the living room, making daisy chains and lying on our backs looking for shapes in the clouds are things I will never forget.
- You can go to a party without alcohol and love it. I have had the best time at kid’s parties dancing like a loon to Gangnam Style and laughing at them all trying to stay still for musical statues. And the best thing is, there’s no hangover!
- Christmas will be magical again. I used to be all for the summer, but honestly I cannot wait for the winter and that build-up to Christmas. That look of wonder and excitment on their little faces will have you actually believing in Santa again!
- You will face your fears. This is the biggest one for me. There was a time when I would have been in a state of panic if Molly had the slightest temperature, but I don’t even react now. The same goes for anything else that used to make me anxious (like spiders for example)…you just have to deal with these things as a parent. Exposure therapy is essential when facing your fears and treating your anxiety, and you now get it all for free!