So we’ve all heard about the tendency women have to nest when they are pregnant.
Last week at work a baby bird flew into my window and dropped to the ground. Now don’t get me wrong, I am an animal lover, but I went into total overdrive to try and protect this bird and before I knew it I was building him an actual nest to recover. Talk about nesting instincts!
It made me think about all the nesting instincts I’ve been experiencing lately and with my first pregnancy and whether we can take this instinct too far.
When you are pregnant, suddenly it’s no longer just about you. You are responsible for this tiny life. This person you haven’t met yet but you are willing to totally change your life for. You reconsider everything - your lifestyle, your health, your career, your home.
If I had a pound for every friend who has moved house (arguably the most stressful thing you can do) while pregnant (definitely one of the most stressful things you can do), well, put it this way, I probably wouldn’t be concerned about how far my maternity pay was going to stretch. So, true to form, we of course moved house two weeks before Molly’s due date. To say it was stressful would be a gross understatement. The whole process was vile with our seller continually threatening to pull out and me crying like an uncontrollable hormonal mess on a daily basis. All because we HAD to move before the baby came. I wanted the archetypal family home and I just had to get that nursery ready (despite the fact the baby would not sleeping in there for months).
Is this urge to move part of the nesting instinct? That subconscious necessity to prepare the perfect environment for your unborn child? Surely purchasing a new house is a huge extravagance to blame on a maternal instinct, but I guess it’s actually no different to a bird building a new nest for their babies?
Anyway, the tears and stress was all worth it when we finally got those keys and everyone could breathe again. Not me obviously – I had a small human within who was crushing my lungs.
When we moved house, we did so with the idea that we would extend ASAP and add another bedroom onto the house. Already pre-empting the nesting for round two? We ended up converting the loft – lots of space, no planning, minor interference (apparently) so it would be ideal to handle with a newborn. Well, I could write an entire blog (or short novel) about the hideousness of the build project. It felt like our lives were taken over for months. It was a constant battle, faced with continual issues, added costs and of course, the added days…weeks…months…
Actually, I would love to hear from anyone who has had a totally hassle free experience of a build project. Does this ever happen?! Surely not.
Having built a career out of project managing, live events and creativity, I felt that this was something I could easily handle. I know what I want when it comes to my home – and it definitely helps that mum is an interiors lover. I also rather handily have a friend in the industry who I PROMISE I don’t just invite round to peruse the Farrow & Ball paint charts with and with whom I always seem to manage a quick “ooo actually, while you’re here, can I just get your opinion on..?”.
For the most part, I love doing this myself. Creating moodboards, visualising rooms in my house. The purpose of this particular project was to create a new master suite. Something for us. And actually being up in the loft made it even more special. A tranquil grown-up room where toys are limited, the carpet is white and the paint is expensive and totally un-child friendly. The decorating and dressing of this room was a dream to do – I indulged. And despite some niggling flaws (ones which no one else will notice but is inevitable with any build project) when I walk into my room at the end of the night, it makes me feel very calm.
And so with a drained savings account and a brain incapable of considering having any more strangers in our house or making any more interior decisions, we enjoyed our lovely new room and vowed to come back to the other bedrooms next year. Well right on cue, before the next year was out, a little stalk prompted me to get thinking about colour schemes and soft furnishings again. And is there anything more special than planning the space for the new family members in your life? Let’s be honest, kid’s rooms are by far the most fun to do – a place to let your imagination run wild with no need to see through grown up eyes - it’s so refreshing.
So what started as the usual cleaning of all the clothes and rearranging of furniture has ended in a full on redesign of the bedrooms and (arguably) non-essential purchasing and planning. After that all important 20 week scan, we found out that the soft mint and peachy scheme I had planned for (I was totally convinced that I was getting another girl), needed to be adjusted slight. While Molly’s room is a proper girl zone – think rainbows, pink canopies and unicorns, I have refused to go ‘boy blue’ in my little man’s room – not least of all because I spent a fortune on blinds when we moved in, and well, it’s not blue.
So the last month or so I have been mood boarding and planning my babies rooms. And with just Molly’s room left to paint – in a race against time with the ticking time bomb within - we are nearly there.
As fun as this all might seem, perhaps this is not aiding the all-important relaxation I need as I go through these final few weeks of pregnancy.
What does the baby ACTUALLY need? Something to sleep in? Something to cuddle? Do they really care whether the walls are just that tiny bit darker than you hoped? And whether you have managed to find that painting with the tone that perfectly complements the shade of green in the blind? Don’t get me wrong, there is something very rewarding about standing in your child’s room (when it’s tidy) and thinking that you have created this safe space for them which they will love – and I do this most evenings on my way to bed - but what about you?
While nesting instincts are all about your child, perhaps we should actually use some of this time to have a little think about our own safe space? A little haven just for you. A calm and peaceful getaway that makes you smile for you. Bedroom, bathroom or even your car. Where is your grown up space? I’m in no way suggesting a full revamp or new car purchase, but just take some time to make a space that is just for you. Make your bedroom about you - a new book and some good calming lighting and all of a sudden it feels grown up in there. If you share a bathroom with your kids, make an effort to tidy the toys away after bath time and replace them with some candles. Then have a bath where you are not staring at gaudy plastic toys. It is honestly a totally different feeling. Get the toys and mess out of the car, unplug the Disney soundtrack and drive like you did before kids.
It is very easy to let pregnancy and parenthood take over. We so easily allow ourselves to indulge when it comes to our children. I’m just not sure we need take things as far as we do with these ‘natural’ instincts. Maybe you don’t need to wash those clothes for the fourth time, maybe the chest of drawers looks ok where it is (and if it really doesn’t, maybe wait for some help rather than just relying on this new found super human strength…how amazing is that by the way?!). And just maybe, if you have an urge to nest, think about yourself for a second and what YOU might need once the baby is born. The baby really won’t care if he/she has a lovely throw draped over the chair in their nursery, but you might really love one on the sofa for you when you’ve finally got the baby to sleep and you want to snuggle up for a quick nap.
Until the toddler runs in, wakes the baby up and jumps on you. Two will be fine right? RIGHT??