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40 is the New 30 - Le Coin De Mel
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40 is the New 30

On Friday, I turned 40. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a birthday since my 18th birthday and I genuinely believe that 40 is the new 30.

“How odd,” I hear the cynic in you mumble. “You’ve just turned 40 years old, lady, not 20 or 30! Wake up! If you’re lucky enough to live to 80, 40 is about the halfway point for your life. It goes down from there…” Well, you party pooper, I have very good reasons to feel excited about the big 4.0. Let me explain…

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me looking pretty pleased with myself as I am about to board Brigit's Afternoon Tea red bus with my closest girlfriends
Pretty chuffed about turning 40!
Thanks for the photo Donna!

Early years

Before you get to 10 years old, life is just about survival in a way, isn’t it? When you’re a small child, stuff happens around you and you just accept it as your normal.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is 6-month-old me in Canet Plage sporting a sombrero lying down on my front.
This little squish is 6-month-old me, in Canet Plage, France

You tend to find your ‘happy’ and to just be content with life as you know it, or at least accepting of your circumstances.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? Me at 11 months old, sporting curlers for my first Christmas.
Sporting my nan’s hair curlers at 11 months old. Also my 1st Christmas.

There isn’t much you can do to change your life.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me at 18 months old sitting on a potty and eating - multitasking at its finest.
18-month-old me sitting on the potty whilst eating – multitasking at its best!

Teenage years

My teens were formative, as are anyone’s teens.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me sat on Hadrian's wall when I was 16.
16 years old, Hadrian’s wall – school trip

You grow, you learn to fit in and slowly gain some life experience.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me at 18 years old in the Sergers area of l'Alpe d'Huez. I'd only had my driver's licence a few weeks and it was my first holiday 'on my own' (well, I was with my little brother and my boyfriend)
18 years old, l’Alpe d’Huez. First 8-hour drive and holiday without a ‘proper’ adult.

By the end of my teenage years, I’d left the village where I’d grown up and moved to Paris to study. I moved in with my then-boyfriend. We decorated our first flat. My dog moved in with us. I had a few part-time jobs, some not so successful (McDonald’s – I left after 10 days), some amazing (I loved being a nanny!), with holiday jobs to top up my cash flow. I travelled (by coach!) quite a bit around Europe.

Twenties

I started my 20s in Paris, moved to the South of France, studied in three different universities, relocated to North London and generally had a good time. I also vividly remember always seeking validation: from my university tutors, friends, grand-parents, colleagues. Heck, even from complete strangers! From 23 onwards, life was all about my teaching career, which was also my passion. I met my husband.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me at 26 years old, having fun during my hen do in Paris.
26 years old – hen do in Paris

We travelled a lot and got married. I was financially secure and it felt good.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me at 27 years old in Rwanda. I'd just trekked for hours to see gorillas in the wild and I'm right in front of a huge silverback
27 years old – finally seeing gorillas in the wild after a few hours trekking – Rwanda

Before I turned 30, we’d bought our home and had our first baby.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me in my beloved Mini, on the way to the birthing centre where I gave birth to my boy at 28 years old.
28 years old: in my beloved Mini on the way to the birthing centre less than 24 hours before I gave birth to my first baby.

Thirties

In my 30s, I was busy juggling family life with an evolving career, trying (and failing) to ‘do it all’ and also desperately hanging on to a marriage that was simply not working for either of us.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me on my 35th birthday in France. I am sat in an armchair opening presents and my 4 children are around me.
35th birthday at my mum’s, with my favourite people in the world

My four children were very small, I always had a newborn hanging on to a boob and spent my days dishevelled, walking from playgroup to café to preschool to school to work. I was in a constant daze but confident I was doing the right thing. Holidays were at my mum’s or my father-in-law’s 95% of the time.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? Im am 37 in this photo and we're spending the summer in France. My four babies and I are sat together, smiling
37 years old: summer holidays in France

Now

Fast forward a few years and I now have 4 pretty decent human beings growing up faster than I can blink. Instead of financial security, money seems to come in and jump out of my pocket straight away. In place of a marriage, I have a parenting partnership. I have the most amazing circle of friends. My teaching career has been replaced with writing and photography.

Working freelance isn’t always the most financially stable of careers, especially when you’re on your own with four children, but I am there every morning before school and every afternoon after 3 p.m. for my children. They get to read to me, they can call me when the bus is late, I can see their plays, go to every ‘meet the teacher’ and ‘support your child with their times tables’ meetings. My freelance career is still in its infancy and I have fun every day creating photos, videos and copy for campaigns I genuinely care about. The flexibility and the fun far outweigh the cash flow issues.

I remember my mum’s 40th birthday. She was ‘old’ (well, old to 18-year-old me). Now I am 40, I feel as young and full of potential as I have ever felt. I know anything is possible and the world is my oyster. My children are happily growing up and every single one of them can wipe their own bottom (time for a pat on the back, Mel, because THAT is an achievement!). Yep, there is always at least one child in my bed every single night, but the sleep thieves have now learnt to rest at night (Alleluia!) so I can sleep too.

10 reasons why 40 is the new 30

1- 40 isn’t actually middle age

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, middle age is between the ages of about 45 and 60. That’s when you’ve got to start watching your health more closely. Your body tends to slow down and might be more sensitive to what you eat, stress and sleep. Middle age is the period of time when you’re not seen as being young, but not actually old either. So when you turn 40, you’re still in the young bracket. Just like being 30, really!

I am well aware that a lot of people get depressed at the thought of hitting 40. It’s a major milestone, I guess, but I honestly don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Unlike people in our parents’ parents’ generations and those before that, we are still young at 40. People are living longer lives and with a decent lifestyle, there’s no reason to start feeling like we’re ageing.

2- Look at all those famous people in their 40s and older!

Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Look at people like Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith or Jennifer Aniston (they’re 50!) or Helen Mirren. They might all be well over 40, yet they all glow from the inside out.

Gwyneth Paltrow shared her thoughts in People: “I am no longer in my 20s and 30s, I am 46 and I love being in my 40s. I think there is this incredible freedom that comes with a woman in her 40s and understanding that this is who I am and I’ve stopped worrying so much about what people think of me.” (Source: People)

In an interview, Helen Mirren declared: “The best thing about being over 70 is being over 70. Certainly when I was 45, the idea of being 70 was like ‘Arghhh!’ but you only have two options in life: Die young or get old. There is nothing else.” (Source: AARP)

3- Age is just a number

Ageing really is all in our head, isn’t it? I know it can be tough to believe this when you actually see signs of ageing as you look in the mirror. Look again, though. Don’t you think you actually look better now than you did in your 20s? Seriously, look at old photos and see how much you’ve grown as a person, how much wiser and more serene you look.

4- At 40, you know who you are (right?)

When you get to 40, you know who you are. You tend to know what you want in life and you’re more in tune with yourself. If you have them, your children are probably no longer tantrum-fuelled toddlers. You can revaluate your life as it stands. If it’s time for a career change, now is the time to think about it. 40 IS the new 30, or maybe even the new 20!

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is me in Vienna at 39 years old, wearing warm clothes and my Ugg Boots (winter).
40 minus 5 weeks: Vienna

5- When you get to 40, you care a lot less about other people’s opinion

Self-confidence is key. If you’re happy with the way you look, it shows. Women are glowing and look younger when they’re not seeking external validation.

6- Time to make plans and tick things off your bucket list

Forty is a great time to start making the plans you thought would no longer come. The holidays of your dreams? Start planning them and saving for them instead of wishing they’d just happen as if by magic.

The job of your dreams? Time to work for it! Retrain, make that jump you were so frightened of in your 30s.

Start getting fit and healthy? Start exercising, eat balanced meals, join he gym and stick to it! I recently joined my local David Lloyd Club (gifted membership) and I have never felt better! 40 is the time to get going and work towards the life you’ve always wanted.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? This is the pool at my lovely local David Lloyd club.

7- New beginnings

I genuinely believe that life begins at 40. Find out who you really are. Don’t worry about your age, it’s just a label. Do what you want to do. Reinvent yourself.

8- Life experience

By the time you’re 40, you’re still young but you have built the skills and life experience to really start doing what you want with your life. When most people turn 40, they’re emotionally mature and have enough life experience to bounce back rather than feeling crushed by rejection or setbacks.

9- Wiser and less shallow

Youth is lovely, but feeling like you finally understand the world you live in and feeling wiser is a hundred times better. As you grow older, it’s so much easier to stop comparing yourself to others.

You realise that those perfect people with their perfect lives on Instagram are using filters, sharing only the best bits and generally curating their feeds. They’re not sharing real life, the struggle to get all the kids out of the door in the morning, the microwave meals or the cupboards of doom. They’re showcasing the fun times, the tidy corner, the perfectly behaved children posing in their colour-coordinated outfits.

Now just repeat after me: “I am good enough. I am pretty enough. My home is as messy as any normal house is.”

10- Be the best version of you

Share your skills, remain inspired and try to learn something new every day.

Be a joyful, fulfilled person who is constantly growing and evolving into the best version of you.

By regularly focusing on yourself and your self-development, you can become the kind of person you want to be friends with. How amazing would that be?

So is 40 really the new 30?

You know what? I don’t know for sure yet whether forty is the new thirty, but I can’t wait to find out! It all started with a celebration of the end of my 30s with a few school mums and neighbours, a trip to Gatwick to collect one of my oldest friends, an Airbnb in Shoreditch with 5 of my girlfriends and Brigit’s Bakery afternoon tea on a Routemaster bus with my closest friends. It was an amazing afternoon, filled with laughter, delicious food and pure joy.

Check my reasons why 40 is the new 30. Who said everything had to go downhill once you hit 40? Could forty really be the new thirty? Brigit's Afternoon Tea red bus with my closest girlfriends
40 years old: Afternoon Tea Bus Tour with my girls!

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That's me in Vienna, with shopping bag. The title, 'Is 40 really the new 30?' is at the top.

25 Comments

  1. Melanie williams
    28/01/2020 / 12:46 pm

    I hear you on this one and yes agree 40 is the new 30. I am nearly there myself and at 40 you have so much more life experience and advice to share x

    • Mel
      Author
      30/01/2020 / 1:31 pm

      I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Claire Stewart
    16/02/2020 / 7:15 pm

    40 is my next milestone birthday and I am looking forward to it x

  3. 27/02/2020 / 9:20 pm

    Wow, I’m sorry that I missed wishing you a happy 40th birthday… and I am soooo jealous of your trip to see gorillas in Rwanda; that is something that I would love to do. My forties disappeared in a flash, make the most of them. 🙂 xx

    • Mel
      Author
      05/03/2020 / 1:22 pm

      Thank you! I will definitely make the most of my 40s 🙂
      Seeing gorillas in the wild was one of the most memorable experiences in my life…

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