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Babies should carry a health warning

I used to spend all my money on my hair. Now it's childcare. The roots on my hair are so bad now I'm considering going back to being a brunette. My hat is my saving grace. At least in winter I can wear my hat more often and save on getting my hair done.

After paying au pairs and childminders more than I would care to tot up over the past three years, my son is now off to playschool. I got the bill the other day and I nearly cried. They say sending your child to playschool for the first time is an emotional experience. Well, there were certainly tears in my eyes. Never mind about being a brunette, I'll be grey soon with all the bills coming in.

People should be warned about how much children cost. A once seasoned globetrotter, I now haven't had a holiday for more than two years. The year before I became a mum, I had seven holidays back to back. Of course, now I'm horrified at my extravagance but, at the time, I didn't see it that way at all. I remember my dad saying something like "it's well for you" when I announced I was off to the sun yet again. I thought it was a mean thing to say. Most of my holidays were last-minute deals so I actually was convincing myself that I was saving money.

I look back on the person I used to be, once spending almost f700 on a pair of shoes in Brown Thomas and thinking nothing of it, and I shake my head in wonder. If I could meet that person now I would tell her to open a savings account for the rainy day. My grandfather, a very wise man who had lived through the wars and rationings, had always gone on about the rainy day. But in my world the sun was always shining. What rainy day? I could never even see as much as a cloud! But the rain, when it came, came down thick and fast. And none of us were prepared for it.


I know I wasn't the only one to have been caught out in the whirlwind of spending. Nearly all of my friends were the same. None of us would wear the same dress twice to a function. We had designer shoes to match every outfit.

Now, I have reacquainted myself with a needle and thread. Buttons are sewn back on and hems are taken up myself rather than by alterations services. Nights out drinking cocktails are a thing of the past. I shudder at the thought of spending f17 on a cocktail now, something I used to do in the silly days of the Celtic Tiger. But I'm happier now. Less well off, but happier. And the joy of taking my son to the playschool to meet the other boys and girls of his own age will be worth more than any pair of designer shoes. I don't buy them any more. They're like handsome men. Lovely to look at, but can cause a lot of pain.