Uju is the founder of the great family, lifestyle and travel blog Babes About Town. Her mission? Help new mums and dads recover their cool and recapture the buzz of big city life. She accepted to share her experience as a mother with young kids in London.
What do you like the most about being a mother?
U – I love hanging out with my babes, sharing their ups and downs, showing them the world and seeing the world through their eyes. Life is so much richer for me since having children, even though in many ways it’s a lot more stressful too. There’s always something to worry about when you become a parent. The flip side is that there’s always somebody worth worrying about, and that gives you a real sense of purpose. Sometimes I wonder what I thought about before I had kids, I must have been pretty self-absorbed!
What makes you a joyful mother?
U – My boys are incredible, seriously. Just looking at their faces – so expressive – brings me joy. The unconditional love. The constant companionship, even when it drives me nuts. Their sense of humour. We laugh a lot as a family and that gets us through any rough patches. My network of joyful (and crazy) mums.
What has surprised you the most?
U – How much the heart is capable of loving. How much like me and yet nothing like me my boys are. Their beauty and their wit, even at such an early age. The intensity of motherhood. The fact that I’m a space cadet at heart, really quite dizzy in many ways, but somehow I’m proving myself capable of raising actual human people!
What is your best memory of when you were pregnant?
U – I think discovering you’re pregnant in the first place is such an astonishing, magical and terrifying moment. Then there’s the first time you feel the baby move inside you and it’s like, woah, you’re real! One of my favourite experiences was going in for a regular scan of Jed (my youngest) and unexpectedly the doctor printed out a 4D image (not what you normally get on the NHS). I could see his face and he looked just like Ezra. Felt very emotional and even more connected to him after that!
What is the favourite recipe you like to cook with Ezra and Jed?
U – We don’t cook together as much as we could, but the simplest dish we make is pasta with fresh pesto. The boys love grinding all the ingredients with the pestle and mortar and I always praise their cheese grating skills. I do want to get them in the kitchen more because I found, even when they were fussy eaters as toddlers, they’re more likely to eat everything if they’ve helped to make it themselves. I also want to teach them to cook some Nigerian food and I’ve been introducing more pepper to their diets as they grow — Nigerians like it spicy!
What is your favourite story book?
U – Gosh, how to choose one? When they were younger, I loved the simple lyricism of Goodnight Moon. We also love Winnie the Pooh which was my favourite thing to read when I was little. Now the boys are getting into Harry Potter: Ezra read two of the bigger books over summer, quite impressive as they’re both 600+ pages long. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter too, great storytelling for any age.
What kind of music do you like to listen together?
U – The boys have broad tastes, they get a bit more rock and roll from their dad, and more hip hop and soul from me. Ezra says his best song is Bruno Mars Uptown Funk while Jed loves De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. I’m not keen on what’s happened to modern rap music (the videos in particular), so I made them a kid friendly hip hop playlist on YouTube and it’s so much fun seeing them get into LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes and the like. They’re great dancers, each has their own unique style, Ezra does a mean Moonwalk. Michael Jackson is their favourite.
What have you learned from your sons?
U – If we’re lucky, parenthood can be one of life’s greatest teachers. From refereeing my boys’ arguments, I’ve learned to try and be more creative at resolving conflict. Although sometimes I just yell at them and feel guilty after haha! I’ve learned that sharing special moments with my boys brings us all much greater happiness than all the toys in the world (much as they adore their toy wrestlers). And I’m learning to be present and live more in the moment, which I think is the main lesson from all kids to all parents. You really have to take it one day at a time. We’re always rushing onto the next thing/appointment/prize in this modern age but when you have little people, you have to pay attention to what’s happening NOW.
What would you like them to learn from you?
U – I want them to learn my core values which I learned from my own parents. These are simple: be kind, wherever you can, choose kindness over judgement. Be an individual, don’t be desperate to fit in, standing out is your birthright (both my boys are Aquarian like me, so I don’t think there’s much chance of them being ‘normal’ ha). Have integrity — i.e. don’t lie, steal or cheat. And follow your heart, in other words, choose love. Always.
What advice would you give to a young mother living in a big city like London or Paris?
U – Don’t hesitate to get out with your baby and start rediscovering your city. It can be daunting, but you’re surrounded by so much culture and you can start educating your little ones from an early age. I like to say my kids are getting an immersive education in everything from going to the theatre to eating out at restaurants, and the sooner you do it, the sooner it will become part of your lifestyle. Another recommendation is to read local blogs for inspiration and connections too. It can be very isolating becoming a new mum in a big city, so look for any opportunity you can to interact with likeminded mums.
For a day out with your sons where would you recommend in London for other joyful urban mothers?
U – I always recommend the Southbank Centre (a short stroll from the London Eye) as there’s so much to do at any time of year, indoors or out, and a lot of the activities are totally free. We also love Big Fish Little Fish, who throw fun parties for adults and kids with real DJs! If it’s warm, you should check out one of the big parks, like St James’ Park where they have flamingoes. Of course, you can find loads of cool things to do with kids in London on Babes about Town blog all year round!
What do you do to relax when you have a little time for yourself?
U – It’s rare to get that quality time for myself, as when I’m not busy with the boys or the blog, I’m also hustling at my other gigs as a screenwriter and media consultant. I don’t read as much as I used to before kids, but I still enjoy sitting in cafes or public spaces and people watching. I also love dancing and when I can organise a night out with my friends, we always have a great time. Other than that I like just chilling with my husband on a sofa watching a movie or box set. Some evenings you’ll find me hula hooping in my living room to upbeat music!
> Visit www.babesabouttown.com to follow the Babes on their adventures, and to find inspiration for the best things to do in London with kids!