Posh pyjamas are very important
I used to be the sort of person who slept in the nude or in an old T-shirt, but that was in the blissful time before I had children, when I used to go to bed and stay there. These days, my nights involve roving around the house, trying – repeatedly – to get my stubborn toddler to sleep, or co-sleeping with my baby, which means keeping the duvet at a safe waist-height and developing localised hypothermia of the shoulders.
So, nothing and old T-shirts are out and layered nightwear is in, so that I’m as toasty in a draughty landing as I am in bed. Pyjama sets – nice ones – are the goal, with a camisole or vest underneath, so that my boobs are easily accessible, but I’m still warm.
Never leave home without a giant bag
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, until my children are practically adults, there’s no room in my life for handbags. Not when I have to cart around nappies, changes of clothes, toys, books, presents for other kids and papier-mâché things they have to make for school. Instead, I need a mum-bag. Ideally, something wipe-clean and big enough for a laptop and changing mat, but still stylish. I never leave home without it.
A wrap dress works in the office and with wellies
My body shape has changed quite a lot since I had a baby and I have also become what my grandmother would have called “bosomy”, so my skinny jeans and bra-free days are things of the past. I now wear clothes that accentuate my waist, keep my cleavage decent, can easily go from crèche to meeting room, and look good with a pair of wellies. It’s a tall order, but wrap dresses have been a friend to me.
When breastfeeding, a vest is your best friend
I think every new mum makes the rookie error of buying into The Great Breastfeeding Clothes Hype and believes you need a nursing bra, a nursing vest and a breastfeeding top. The trouble is, once you’ve unclipped one, unclipped the other and pulled up the modesty flap of the last one, your baby is almost purple with hunger and screaming the house down.
Much easier is the vest-under-a-T-shirt trick (you pull the vest down and the T-shirt up for quick and stress-free boob access), but now I’m a veteran I’ve realised that even a shirt or shirt-dress will work if you want to look more pulled together. Throw a lightweight scarf around your neck for modesty and a decent muslin (life’s too short for the public drudgery of stained, overwashed muslins) on your shoulder for spills, and you’re golden.
Take your time in the bathroom
I honestly can’t remember the last time I washed my hair in the morning. It seems so decadent now. In the time I used to stand around, so leisurely, blow-drying and straightening, I’m now struggling to get everyone dressed and breakfasted. These days, I have my shower in the evening, when the kids are in bed. And I take my time. I use the nice shower gel; I might listen to a podcast while I’m in there. Then I get into my nice pyjamas and have my nice glass of wine. After a hard day’s dual-parenting, it’s as restorative as a massage.
That will do
I’m not really one for mantras, but one thing I constantly say to myself is “That’ll do”. For some reason, I have it in my head that my house should look like Pinterest, my kids should constantly look as though they’ve stepped out of a high-end magazine and we should all be organic and trilingual and not, say, be watching Paw Patrol in our underpants at 3pm. But I have to remind myself that life is not like that, and I am doing OK even if I rarely (or never) reach the dizzying heights of my impossible standards. If everyone is happy and healthy, there is nothing wrong with Paw Patrol. Or underpants.
You can be a mother and a badass
I always find the term “You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé” very unfair. Beyoncé has staff. I have three deadlines and grouting to scrub in the bathroom. But sometimes motherhood can feel very unglamorous and as though the non-mum me – the me who wants to do and think about other things – is being chipped away to nothing, as though motherhood might swallow me whole. And that’s when I think about Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot, of course, plays Wonder Woman, is nine million miles tall and has a smile like the sun coming out – but she also can drive fast cars, shoot guns and change a nappy at 30 paces. She is the mother of two and a badass. And it reminds me that I can be one, too.