Today I turn 35! While it doesn’t feel great to be staring down the barrels of 40, I’m actually very content and happy with where my life is right now.
With two kids, a husband, a cat, good friends and a total career change on the horizon, I feel like I’ve got quite a lot to show for my first 35 years.
And yet sometimes I can’t quite believe I’m an adult. It hits me at random when my kids call me “mummy” or a big decision needs to be made. I’m the mummy. I’m the decision-maker. And yet it seems like only yesterday that I was 17 with zero clues about what I was doing.
So to prove to myself that I have in fact grown up, I thought I would write down 35 things I have learned in my 35 years on Earth.
1. Wear sunscreen
This simple pearl of wisdom (along with several others) from Baz Luhrmann’s song Everybody’s Free (To wear sunscreen) is one of my faves. I repeat it to my children frequently, as they scream and attempt to wiggle out of my grasp in protest.
No one wants to look like an orange handbag when they’re 50, so slap on the factor 50.
2. Real friends make you feel good
A real friendship is not one-sided and it isn’t full of uncertainties. A real friendship is just as valuable as a real relationship.
If a friendship does not make you feel good, then it’s OK to take a step back, or to let it go altogether.
A best friend could be someone you have known since childhood, or someone you will meet tomorrow. Do not hold on to a negative friendship simply because of sentiment.
3. Give as good as you get
Random acts of kindness will always be appreciated. Do not forget to pay it forward.
4. Eat chocolate
If something makes you feel good then (within reason) indulge in it, because life is short.
5. Say “I love you”
You can never tell your children and your family these words often enough.
6. Put down your phone
Every now and then it does you good to take a step back from Instagram and to stop checking your Facebook posts for likes. Put down your phone and just look at what is right in front of you.
7. Take a bath
Showers are purely functional, a bath feels like a treat.
Not other people! Romance should not die just because you’ve had two kids and haven’t slept in three years. Go out for dinner, share a joke, see a movie and have a conversation that isn’t about the children.
9. Seek help
Time is precious. We only get one life to live and we are living it right now. Do not go through life unhappy. If you need help, if you are struggling to find the joy in anything that you do, then reach out and tell somebody.
10. I am lovely just as I am
Of course I still have days where I look in the mirror and worry about my saggy belly and chunky thighs. However this body gave me two healthy children, it chases after them as they laugh with joy and I still reckon I look pretty good when I pull out the LBD and lipstick.
11. Negativity breeds negativity
It’s easy to go on a downward spiral when something is getting you down or winding you up.
If something is within your control, change it, if it isn’t within your control, then Let it Goooooo, Let it Go!
12. Say no
I am a grown-up and so it’s OK to say no. It’s also OK to not follow the crowd. This isn’t school anymore, and if I have a different way of doing things, then I will do it, confidently, because I know what’s best for me.
13. Say yes
It’s easy to come up with lots of excuses as to why you can’t go on the last-minute trip away from friends or why you shouldn’t go out for drinks on Friday night when the kids have a cold.
Sometimes you just need to let your hair down and be selfish. Just say yes!
14. Go to bed angry
Not every night, of course. But in an argument you can end up flogging a dead horse. Staying up until 4am discussing the same petty stuff isn’t always going to make things any better, but sleeping on it and coming back to a conversation later might stop you from saying things that you don’t really mean.
15. Wear comfy pants
I ditched thongs about five years ago. Granny pants are the best things ever. Spanx are even better, because they stop the dreaded chub rub.
16. Write a list
There are very few problems in life that can’t be solved with a good list.
If you’re facing a huge amount of pressure at work or home life is stressing you out, write down all of the things you need to do and start ticking them off, one thing at a time.
Stolen from that Baz classic again, but it’s good advice. My daughter and I danced like crazy around our living room to pop music the other day and it was the most exhilarating 30 minutes.
18. Focus on what you have
Don’t think about what you wish you had. We could all be richer, thinner and more successful. Think about what you do have and what makes you happy.
19. Wear what makes you feel good
If hot pants and a crop top make you feel great, then go for it. If you want to go out head to toe in leopard print, then don’t let the Kat Slater haters stop you.
However if you are aimlessly wandering the aisles of Topshop wondering why you can never find anything that appeals to you anymore, then maybe its time to accept that you need to find a new favourite shop.
20. I will not agree with everybody about everything
Everyone has their own opinion. People will not always think the same way as you, and that’s OK. Some of the best friendships are between people with completely opposite political views or differing ways of life. If we were all the same, we would be extremely bored.
21. Look after your teeth
I’ve had a few nightmares about losing them all and now floss every day.
Every now and then it’s good to turn out your drawers and cupboards. Bin the old takeaway menus and the top you haven’t worn since 1999.
23. Do not delay
If you really want to do something, so much that you cannot stop thinking about it day after day, then just do it. Stop letting fear hold you back from taking a chance. It’s never too late to make a change.
24. I am strong
When I think of some of the challenging moments I have faced and overcome (two labours!) it makes me realise that I’m actually a pretty ballsy chick.
25. Your children will only be young for a short amount of time
It’s a cliche of epic proportions, but they do grow up fast. Enjoy lazy afternoons with your kids and soak up their love and adoration as much as you can.
26. Stop smoking
I have never smoked, but my husband used to. Seeing him successfully quit was something that made me so happy. It was hard, but he hasn’t smoked for years now and I am so glad he did this before our children were born.
Stubbing out unhealthy habits is tough, but you may be giving yourself more years with your children.
27. Buy the dress
It will give you an excuse to go out for dinner asap.
28. Be spontaneous
We went to London as a family on a whim the other week and had the most lovely day. Doing things last-minute can take you by surprise with how brilliantly they can work out.
29. Be silly
Pull a face. Make a joke. Play hide and seek.
30. Ask your parents
They may drive you a little bit nuts at times, but they know a lot and they love you. They will rarely steer you in the wrong direction.
31. Worry less
I get major social anxiety and always analyse how I’ve acted after attending events or getting together with people. I worry about what I said and that I was gabbling away.
I’ve learned that I am the way I am, and I can’t change it. If people want to be friends with me, then they accept me for who I am, gabbling and all.
I will make mistakes, and sometimes I will repeat them again and again. I need to learn from those mistakes, but I cannot spend my life obsessing over every little thing I’ve done wrong.
Women died to get us the vote. Use your voice.
It’s one of my favourite things to do, so relaxing! Learn how to cook at least one thing.
I hate to bring the mood down, but I’m now halfway to 70 (aaarrrrggggh!!!!!). It’s never too late to start saving for the future. Remember it’s not just for you, but for your family as well.
35. Be kind
The most important thing of all. Kindness makes you feel good, and it makes the person who you are being kind to feel good. A winner on both sides.