I’m Emmy, a 31-year-old mum to a nearly-two-year-old girl called Athena, more commonly referred to as Bab. We live in an affluent corner of North London with Bab Dad and a cat called Goat. We are not affluent by any stretch of the imagination.
Before I had Bab I worked in fashion editorial in Soho. Now I wipe bums and sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat 87 times a day. I recently discovered that childcare in London costs more than I used to earn, so I guess this is my life now.
This time last year I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and still don’t really. One thing I have learnt is that, while having a baby can be amazing and beautiful and hilarious, it can be equally terrifying, alienating and awful – particularly when you live hundreds of miles from your family in a city that everyone seems to think is a terrible place to raise a child. When you’ve put lifelong dreams of a fruitful career on hold to devote yourself to this smelly little weirdo it can be easy to forget that you are still a mortal woman with your own desires, personality and a name that isn’t “Bab’s Mum”.
Another thing I’ve learnt is that parenting can be bloody boring. I really struggle to muster enthusiasm for the community centre drop-ins and library ‘Rhyme Time’ sessions that seem to be the bread and butter of the baby activity world, and I’m convinced that there must be more to life than sitting in a circle clapping.
I’m determined that raising a child needn’t be the soul-crushing, social life-ending, monotonous dirge people seem to think it is. I don’t know about you, but when I gave birth to my daughter the hospital didn’t chuck in a free lobotomy. Of course I want my child to feel happy and stimulated, but I don’t believe that it necessarily has to be at the expense of my sanity.
So I’m on a mission to find London’s most innovative and inspiring hangouts, experiences and shops for people with children, in an effort to entertain and educate Bab and to stop myself from going batshit in the process.