PARENTS

Babies Are Boring (Sometimes)

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Babies are boring

Singer Lily Allen has returned to the music industry after changing her mind about being a stay-at-home mum to daughters Ethel, two, and Marnie, one.

"I'm not bored by my children. Actually, I am, you know," the Hard Out There singer admitted, in an interview with Hello! magazine. "The oldest one has only just started talking now. So it was really hard because you're spending all day, every day, with two human beings that can't communicate back to you.

"And for someone like me, when my whole existence is about communicating and response and reaction, it was quite frustrating. I felt like I needed to get out and do something else with my time."

Lily, love, you're not the only one...

During pregnancy, I was so excited about impending motherhood. I was going to be one of those natural earth mothers, I was sure of it.

I dreamed wistfully of happy hours spent cuddling my little one and gazing into her eyes. Inspecting her tiny toes and listening to her adorable chuckle.

You know, all the clichéd stuff...

And, to be fair, those bits were truly scrumptious and lovely.

My daughter immediately became the centre of my world and my love for her knew no bounds.

But there was one aspect of motherhood that no amount of antenatal classes could have prepared me for...

No one warned me about the crushing boredom I'd feel, pushing the buggy around the park for a zillionth time, doing a mountain of washing every day and spending all my time with an adorable but not exactly thrilling conversationalist.

On rainy days – of which there were many in the early days of my daughter's life – I used to feel trapped in our second floor flat, as though the walls were closing in on us.

I yearned for the days when I used to nip out for drinks after work and wander around art galleries at the weekend.

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As soon as you become a parent, your world shrinks to accommodate your child's needs. My most exciting adventure, as a new mum, involved going to Sainsbury's for more wet wipes.

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As my baby became a toddler, the delights of parenthood changed from lengthy cuddles on the sofa to finger painting and trips to the playground. Those bits were fun. In the most part.

But, although I hate to admit it, I have a very short attention span (like my toddler, actually) and find jigsaws and building blocks deathly dull after approximately three minutes. I fake enjoyment, of course, but in all honesty, I'd rather be reading a magazine.

Terrible, I know.

Even reaching out for 'mummy friends' sometimes backfires because you end up discussing potty training and bedtime routines in minute detail rather than having interesting chats.

But, at coffee mornings and playgroups, no one ever confesses to being bored by motherhood so it can leave you feeling guilty for not treasuring every single moment with your precious offspring.

Surely it's not just Lily and me who feel this way?

"I think that most parents are bored at some point, it's just that very few admit it," says Sarah

Ockwell-Smith, author of TodderCalm: A Guide for Calmer Toddlers and Happier Parents (Piatkus 2013, £13.99).

"There's nothing wrong with craving adult conversation or mental stimulation beyond learning colours in Spanish from watching Dora the Explorer.

"A lot of the hidden guilt stems from the immense pressure to be a 'perfect mum', to cook nutritious organic meals from scratch every day, produce Pinterest worthy crafts with the kids and still find time to have a spotless home and perfect figure.

"Reality just isn't like that though. Motherhood is hard, really hard, it is messy, it's exhausting, and it's boring and a paradoxical blend of mind numbing and mind blowing all at once.

"The fact is we're not meant to do it alone, we're meant to have a 'tribe' of other mothers around us to help out and to help us keep our sanity, but we mother in a very insular way in modern society where often our only saving grace is online networking which ironically adds to the pressure and frustration."

This makes complete sense to me.

Living 200 miles away from my family meant that I didn't see anyone except for my baby for 12 hours at a time, some days. As soon as my other half arrived home from work, I'd babble away, excited for human contact.

Was it any surprise that I felt bored, occasionally?

In the end, returning to part-time work was the solution. Writing stimulates my brain in a way that playing peekaboo yet again never could.

I may not be scoring number one hits or gracing A-list parties, like Ms Allen. But I can totally understand why she needed to return to performing. It's who she is just as much as being a mummy.

Once I went back to work, I realised that having time apart was brilliant for both me and my daughter.

She quickly settled with a lovely child minder and her confidence came on in leaps and bounds. I had more purpose too.

These days, we've found a healthy balance. On our 'mummy and daughter' days, I have more patience, we relish our time together and have so much fun.

Surely it's healthy for parents to have time to themselves, to rediscover who they are after months or years of simply being someone's mum?

Maybe it's about playing to your strengths? For instance, my husband will spend ages playing 'catch' with our daughter, whereas I prefer to do practical stuff with her, like baking cupcakes.

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Ultimately, though, it's can only be a good thing to admit that some parts of parenthood are tedious, rather than putting up a pretence that it's a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride.

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Because, let's be honest; nothing in life is ever 100 per cent scintillating, is it? Every job has its ups and downs and parenthood is no different.

Sarah Ockwell-Smith says that we should stop feeling guilty about succumbing to the odd bout of 'how tedious is this?' syndrome.

"Just because you admit that you find motherhood boring sometimes it doesn't make you any less of a mother or lessen your love for your children," she says.

"Although as somebody who is a decade down the line in her mothering journey, I would give anything to turn back the clock and relish in those 'boring' moments again. They will be the ones you remember most fondly in the future, so don't be in too much of a rush to wish them away."

It's an important lesson and one that I'll try hard to remember, when I'm on the 10th round of 'Row, row, row your boat' with my daughter.

Because recognising the boring bits allows you to really appreciate the beautiful, fun and exciting moments - of which there are many!

In my eyes, there's nothing more spellbinding than watching my little girl feeding herself a Thomas the Tank engine fromage frais, one painstaking spoonful at a time. Seeing her concentrating so intently and showing off her new skills makes me feel unbeatable pride.

And nothing makes my heart sing like catching her doing her special 'wiggly bum' dance to her favourite nursery rhymes.

Simple pleasures – watching her marvel at the birds in the trees when we go for a walk and hearing her giggle uncontrollably to her Peppa Pig DVD - fill me utter joy and make the dreary times completely bearable.

Those are the moments which I hold dear in my mind, when the going gets tough and tedious.

Parenthood – sometimes a teensy bit dull but always 100 per cent worthwhile.

Do you agree?

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