I’m Emmy, a 33-year-old mum to two girls: three-year-old Athena, more commonly referred to as Babu, and nearly one-year-old Roma, mostly known as Roro. We live in a fairly crappy though mercifully well connected corner of North London with Dadam, AKA Bab Dad, and a cat called Margot.
Nearly four years into my parenting journey I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but 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 children. When you’ve put lifelong dreams of a fruitful career on hold to devote yourself to these smelly little weirdos it can be easy to forget that you are still a mortal woman with your own desires, personality and a name that isn’t “Athena’s Mum”.
Another thing I’ve learnt: 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. I’m convinced that there must be more to life than sitting in a circle clapping, and absolutely determined that raising children 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 daughters the hospital didn’t chuck in a free lobotomy. And, while of course I want them to feel happy and stimulated, I don’t believe it necessarily has to be at the expense of my sanity.
So with that in mind I’m on an ongoing mission to find London’s most innovative and inspiring hangouts, experiences and shops for people who happen to have tiny children, in an effort to entertain and educate mine and to stop myself from going batshit in the process.
Side note: I often get asked why I called my blog Bablands and usually give any one of about seven woefully ineloquent answers, but basically it comes from the idea of the ‘badlands’ being this dry, barren wilderness that’s impossible to traverse, which is exactly how the under-5s activity scene feels to me a lot of the time. Also it sounded better than BabyLon, which I toyed with using before I realised that that was really shit, like that bloody awful NY-LON thing that was on Channel 4 in 2004.