couples

'Young mum' vs 'Old mum': who has it better?

What do you think?

Tomorrow, there will be an article about how much better it is being a young mum. Being a young mum is so fabulous, it will say, life will be so great, it will promote, why would anyone do it differently?

The day after, there will be an article about how much better it is being an old mum. You’re ready for kids, it will say, you’ll have no regrets, it will promote, why would anyone do it differently?

So we got two mums in the office to go head to head. To sort this out once and for all. Who has it better? The young mum who has her energy and youth to run around after crazy kids? Or the old mum who has lived her life to the absolute fullest before becoming house-bound with nappies and finger-painting.

Who do you think has it better?

Lisa – first child at 20.

I have never hidden the fact I love being a young mum, so much so I make a living by talking about it.

When I fell pregnant at 20, I had a number of people (the number is so large I choose not to mention how many) tell me I had ‘ruined’ my life.  How would I ever finish my university degree? Or have a career? Or travel? Or ever have any money to live?

In their mind, my life was OVER.

In my mind, it was only just beginning. And fortunately, I was right.

Of course when I had my son my life changed forever but it wasn’t in the bad way some of those around me had anticipated.

It changed in the way it does for all parents – you become less selfish, more sure of yourself, more grounded and you get crappy wreck-able furniture.

I took on the responsibilities some 40-year-olds say they ‘aren’t ready for’ and I took it in my stride.

In fact, I loved being a mum so much we went back for number 2 and at 22, I was a mum to two gorgeous little men.

And, for anyone wondering, I was also a university graduate.

Lisa and her boys.

For me being a young mum hasn’t meant giving up my life but instead it has meant I got to create one I could share with my kids.

Yes, as a young parent life is, and always has been, a juggle. I’ve always juggled study and work and parenthood and sometimes it’s been all three simultaneously.

I cannot remember a time as an adult when I wasn’t pregnant, or watching a baby, or doing school drop offs. I can’t remember it because it barely happened.

But when I get asked whether I would do it all over again  - and I get asked that A LOT - I can say confidently I absolutely would.

That doesn’t mean I don’t see the benefits of being an older mum, I do, but for me being a young mum was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Older mums often can’t understand that you can have a life AND be a mum. I study, I work and I travel; I just do it all WITH my kids (except when I escape for holidays without them, and yes, that happens too).

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When I’m 40 my kids will be 18 and 19, together we’ll be able to share our adult lives and for that I am truly thankful.

Helen - first child at 37.

I had my first baby at 37 and my second at 40. It's not like I planned to be an older mother. For a long time, I didn't plan to be a mother at all. But when I was hit with that late thirties "now or never" dilemma, I went for the "now". Thankfully.

I found a lot of the warnings against having babies later in life didn't apply to me. I was very lucky to fall pregnant as soon as I wanted to. I had two trouble-free pregnancies and, thankfully, two healthy babies. I haven't felt too tired to run around after my kids. I'm not feeling a massive generational gap (yet).

Helen with her two kids.

But do I ever wish I'd had my babies 20 years earlier? Sure.

Here is my honest truth about being an older mother.

The good.

I got to totally focus on my career, then totally focus on being a mother. For 18 years, my job was my priority, and I did everything I wanted to. Then, after my babies were born, I started working part-time from home. I didn't worry about my career suffering - I just wanted to be home with my kids.

I've never felt like I'm missing out on partying or travel. By my late 30s, I'd done plenty of that, and so had my friends. We're all ready to catch up over Sunday lunches.

I'm more patient and maybe a bit wiser than I was when I was younger. I'd like to think 20 years of life experience would teach me something.

I've got more money. I like buying my kids stuff without having to stress about whether I can afford it.

The bad.

My parents and parents-in-law are old now. I'm very grateful that my kids have got to know their grandparents, but they're in their eighties, and past the age of making scones and going fishing.

There are times I feel old, too. My kids don't care at the moment, but I worry that when they're a bit older that they'll wish they had a young, cool mum instead of me.

The decision about whether or not to have more kids has been made for me. There's still a chance I could naturally fall pregnant at 44, but that's heading into "miracle baby" territory.   

I've got less time with my kids. If I'm lucky, I'll  have 40 years with them. If I'd started 20 years earlier, I might have had 60 years. Sometimes, that makes me feel sad.

The verdict.

Neither loses. Being a mum is being a mum. There are advantages to both worlds and whatever one you choose is the right one for you and your situation.

So let's drop the competition, everyone gets a ribbon for getting through each and every day with kids.

Are you a young/old mum? What are your pros and cons of each?

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