Age is a funny thing – as parents we get a bit obsessed with how old our kids are, and what they can or can’t do. (Just FYI, my daughter has just turned three, and she can count backwards from 10 to zero – actual genius*.)
And as grown ups, our age marks our stage in life too. My teens were all about finding my identity. I went through a bit of a stage of dressing in DMs, Pearl Jam t-shirts, maxi skirts and plaiting my hair at the front like Angel from Home & Away before I finally found my true teenage calling – Topshop clothes and an unhealthy obsession with Take That.
My 20s were all about finding my way in London. I was at the start of my media career, being invited to all sorts of exciting events (like the Brits and the Busted showcase party – the stuff legends are made of) and trying to work out where someone ‘like me’ socialised in London. I went clubbing in Fabric (too hot and clubby for me), I went to ‘celeb hangouts’ like Cherry Jam and Attica (too snooty and expensive for me) and ended up finding that normal pubs in Soho were the place to be, if you wanted to drink cheap wine, eat Mini Cheddars and have a gossip.
My 30s (which I’m currently four years into…) seem to be all about learning how to be part of a family, how to be a good mum. Learning what kind of mum I am. But it’s also about learning what the non-mum 30-something me is like. There are loads of things the 20-something me did that I don’t do any more. Like listen to Radio 1. Or drink a bottle of wine every night for a week. Or spend the whole of Sunday morning watching Hollyoaks. And there are lots of new things that 30-something me loves to do…
1. A nice wander around Wilko’s. Seriously, that place is amazing. We all mourned the loss of Woolworths, but really, we needn’t have because Wilkinson’s has it all. I like nothing better than a (child-free) mooch around the store. Today, for example, I popped in to buy some last minute party bags and bought some printer paper (£3 for 100 sheets), some poster paint (80p for a large bottle) and a set of baskets (y’know, for putting stuff in). I nearly bought some Hallowe’en goodies but figured that would be a bit too organised. It’s the kind of shop that reminds you of things you need to buy, which is just bloody helpful.
2. Having a nice store of birthday cards. As a mum, I only have enough room in my head for so many things every day. Birthdays often creep up on me, so it’s useful that since I hit my 30s, I’ve been a fan of a birthday card stash. At present, I’ve got a nice selection – some for boys, some for girls, 1 year old, 2 year old, even a couple of wedding cards, a Mother’s Day card and a Father’s Day card. Oh, and an entire box of M&S Christmas cards that I bought for 75p in the January sales. (Yep, I hate myself a little right now, too.)
3. Listening to Radio 2. I used to be a bit embarrassed about it, but now I embrace it. Chris Evans every morning, Steve Wright Sunday Love Songs, a bit of Elaine Page and her showtunes on a Sunday afternoon, and some Jo Whiley on a weekday evening. Oh and if I get a chance to hear Jeremy Vine on a weekday lunchtime, that’s a real treat. I’m 34, so I think I’m pretty much target listener for them. And I’d MUCH rather listen to the Manics and Michael Buble than Stooshe and Dizzee Rascal.
4. A Sunday visit to a garden centre. Apart from the fact that they’re great places for kids (one near us has a mini soft play area and loads of space to run around in) garden centres sell such useful stuff. Posh kitchen gadgets, cheap kids’ books, wellies, deckchairs, various goods that have kids’ names on them… oh and some things for your garden too. A bit like an out of town Wilko’s, I walk around garden centres thinking ‘Ooh! I need one of those!’ (ESPECIALLY when I pass one of those JML displays with a TV demo)
5. Sitting in a coffee shop… on my own. In my 20s, I would rather DIE than sit in a coffee shop on my own. ‘People will think I have no friends!’ But now, sitting on one of those big comfy armchairs, on my own, with a skinny latte and a muffin is nothing short of heaven. Is it a confidence thing? Or just an ‘appreciating time on my own’ thing? Perhaps a bit of both…
If you’re in your 30s, what do you like doing now that you didn’t before?