There are a lot of things people like to tell you will never be the same once you have children.
Your body, your sleep habits and your bank balance are always high on the list. But here’s one they don’t mention - your recycling. Yes, you heard me correctly.
Thanks to budget cuts, most of us now face a fortnightly bin collection (if we’re lucky) and that’s where the problem really begins.
It starts in the early days of parenthood, before your baby is even here, and is so subtle you probably don’t even notice it at first. It’s buying a piece of nursery furniture here and a box of nappies there. Then it’s a box of wipes and a few bath toys, followed by a swing seat and a baby sling. Here’s what doesn’t hit you until it’s too late - all of these things come packaged in mountains of cardboard and plastic. ‘Not a problem,’ you say with a shrug, ‘we’ll visit the tip.’ Oh Yes You Will. By the time I was four months along, our weekly tip trip had become my prenatal cardio.
And believe me, the situation only grows once your little bundle arrives; lovely gifts - and please don’t think I’m taking away from the very lovely gifts! - all arrive in, yet again, mounds and mounds of packaging that you’re required to break down and try to squash into your woefully undersized bins that still have another 10 days until collection. The week after Imogen was born, our kitchen looked like Santa’s personal gift wrapping station with boxes and paper and ribbons littering every surface.
The issue is particularly fresh in my mind at the moment as last week was Imogen’s first birthday and, once again, we’ve found ourselves visited by the cardboard fairy with one entire side of the kitchen currently dedicated to recycling.
Which is fine - when we remember to actually put the bin out. Some people don’t get their bins collected until mid-morning but, round our way, it’s the early shift, and I can’t tell you how many mornings we’ve been laid in bed at ten to six when we’ve heard the truck coming down the road and slapped ourselves on the forehead with a groan. We don’t even bother trying to make a dash for it anymore. When the bin men see us coming, racing down the driveway in our pyjamas, overspilling bin in hand, I swear they speed up in an effort to get past before we can make it to the kerb. We can’t take the humiliation anymore.
So there you go, future parents, that’s one they don’t talk about. Because stretch marks may fade and your bank balance and dark circles will recover in time. But I can’t help but fear that the mounds of non-biodegradable recycling may just last forever...