When we bought our current home, we were DINKS – dual income no kids. We were looking for a property t in walking distance of the tube, with plenty of shops and bars and restaurants to choose from. The cab trip home from a night out in West London shouldn’t be more than £ 15, and the communal garden at the back seemed to be inviting and lively, with the neighbours having garden parties and kids running around during long summer nights.
One year and a baby later, the proximity to tube, bars and restaurants has somehow lost its appeal. On the contrary, its nightly visitors freak me out when they walk past underneath our bedroom window, loudly singing at 2 AM on their way home.
The garden became less inviting with the neighbour’s little brat constantly hammering his football across the green and onto our terrace – despite my pleas to take it easy, especially when little L was having her nap in her pram. When I tried to explain to the brat’s mum why I think that soft baby head and hard football isn’t a good combination, she sent me away with the words: ‘Come back tomorrow, I am drunk’. The mantra remained for the rest of the summer, accompanied by disco beats coming out of loudspeakers installed on the neighbour’s window sills.
After a few fruitless attempts to agree on a shared understanding of respectful behaviour, the whole affair had to be sorted by the council. With a letter to its tenants and ‘No Ball Game’ signs in the garden. Which is saddening, really, as I would have loved to play ball with little L once she is big enough.
To cut a long story short – I don’t think we are making the most of living in such a central location. But the downsides that come with it suddenly really get to me. Antisocial behaviour never used to bother me, but with a baby to look after, I am much more concerned about rubbish on the streets or scooters being nicked.
I long for a little peace and quiet, a house with fewer stairs and maybe a private garden. Also, with little L growing fast and time flying, the question of good state schools is popping up more frequently in the Met Mum’s household, without a satisfying answer in sight. I find the whole prospect of choosing schools and influencing my baby’s happiness to a great extent rather daunting.
So the question is: where to live? In the back of my mind, things have been better in West London. But my pink-tinted memories stem from my pre-baby days. What about the Hampstead Garden Suburb? Can we have it all there? Or should I aim for a loft style flat in Battersea, or even somewhere in the Docklands?
I am reluctant to give up London completely just yet, but maybe the answer is more Harpenden than Hammersmith. Who would have thought that having a baby would change your life THAT much?!