It’s clear from previous posts on here that I am a bit gushy. I am notorious for being a peace keeper BUT I also love a good rant if something really gets my goat. There are those few days in the month (my husband spots them a mile off) I am incapable of holding my tongue. I have heard a few statements recently that have really struck a nerve in relation to Mum’s or Dad’s who work at home. When I say work I mean parents who stay at home with the kids (yes this is work) and even more respect to those who stay at home with the kids AND do other work when they nap/are asleep at night/with a Grandparent.
I have recently either read or heard people say the following phrases:
“You have an easy life”
“It’s his money” – in relation to the man who works to financially support the family when the woman stays (works) at home.
“A stay at home Mum is not my kind of woman”
“Well if you want to stay at home in your slippers with the kids”
The postman told me I had an easy life a few weeks ago. I was sitting outside the front enjoying some sun as Charlie napped and Bonnie worked on her play doh skills. He actually looked frustrated when he said it, like he was having a bad day and it all looked too easy for me. This is what I call an ignorant generalisation. He had no idea how little sleep I had the night before or how stressed I had been just 10 minutes ago, attempting to get Charlie to nap as Bonnie jumped on my head begging for chocolate. Yes, there are easy and amazing moments in the day. There are also times that challenge me to the limit.
I am currently a Full Time Mum. I have a few loose plans career wise for the future, however even if I didn’t I never feel that I have to justify my worth. Being a Mum is amazing and also one of the hardest, most stressful jobs possible. It’s the one job that can be physically, mentally AND emotionally draining. It’s not “just business” – these little people are my world and can wind me up far more than any colleague or client could. My own Mum took a break from teaching for 15 years to raise my brothers and I. My Dad worked so hard to earn enough to support us all, however I am sure he will agree that Mum worked just as hard and some days harder at home. With the kids or away at work there are amazing days and really hard days. I have experienced both as a parent.
I have many friends with kids who go to work for a break (even if they are literally run off their feet). If they need to they can go to the toilet in peace, enjoy a coffee break and eat their lunch in one sitting. Working away means no tantrums, nappies, toilet training, a little person calling for you constantly, pulling on your clothes and often in my case pulling them off to annoy me. I am not adverse to having my clothes pulled off but from my 3 year old – no thanks!
My husband goes to the gym every day on his lunch break – 5 days a week without fail. Having become seriously passionate about exercise I would love to have this opportunity so readily available. He is an incredible Dad when he is at home – super proactive to the point my weekend can be a dream. He is a bit of a control freak but that works as being a 3rd child I am used to people wanting to do things for me and therefore more than happy to leave him to it. However, he still has not grasped that at home it’s just not possible to go to the loo in peace like at work. To expect this is completely unreasonable. The kids rule! These little people can challenge us like no other. Yes, you might have the boss from hell but do they jump on your head? do you have to wipe their bum as they scream and roll around everywhere? do they throw food all over you or throw up all over you? Do they often terrify you? Today I have a stinking cold and no voice. My 3 year old decided to run away from me on a busy road. I couldn’t even scream for her. She is pretty road savvy but there is always a chance that one day she could surprise me and I am not prepared to take that risk. I live in fear constantly and can’t relax for a second when we are out walking. My stomach flipped as I ran to catch her. I am trying my best not to smack Bonnie. She is 3 years old going on 13. There is research that demonstrating violence through smacking is wrong. I am not sure what I think but when she pushes me to the limits I am constantly having to take deep breaths or hold my tongue. If I swear it will now be repeated so I don’t have the luxury to vent and let off steam. This was possible at work. In high pressure situations I remember screaming numerous words that are just not acceptable around kids whilst at my desk over the years.
As for being in the house – I am constantly in a state of panic that my nearly 9 month old will hurt himself. He is attracted to danger – always trying to climb the stairs, I am checking I have locked both gates every 10 minutes. He can open drawers now, can pull himself up onto most things which means pulling things off. He has no fear which terrifies me. Why chew on a baby biscuit when he can chew on a live wire? I am always looking through the toys to make sure Bonnie has kept all her wee things he could choke on up high like she promises. Bonnie is going through a phase where she enjoys wrestling him, so I currently don’t feel comfortable to leave the room. There are days Scott comes home to his dinner on the table and asks why the house is still a mess??!! I do try my best not to go all Shirley Valentine and throw his dinner all over him. Tomorrow his steak is going to the neighbours dog!
I am not for one second implying that it is easy to go to work as parents. There were days I left Bonnie and felt really bad about it. Some nights she would refuse to come to me after I had left her. That was only working two days a week! Some days I would sit in the hot basement office and dream of playing with my wee girl in the blazing hot sunshine. Some days I had to sit at my desk and focus or entertain clients after only a few hours sleep. I just wanted to be snuggling my sick baby on the sofa. I know its tough for Scott and some days he would so much rather be at home. He works so hard for our family. Is it his money though? When I worked and got paid I viewed everything I earned as our money. Now I work and currently do not get paid. I am paid in seeing our beautiful children develop and grow. Being the hands on Mum that I am is priceless and I feel extremely lucky to have this option at this stage in our life. Scott gets paid. We are a unit and a partnership. If we have a big financial decision to make we will consult each other and decide what is best for our family. If I want to treat myself and get a nice bottle of wine or a new dress (providing we can afford it) I should never have to justify myself and I am entitled to spend this money as much as he is. Thankfully he agrees (well he says he does)!
I do get frustrated by those who make generalisations that parents at home are not ambitious and that they simply sit around all day in their slippers. This comment was made on a popular TV show during a debate. It actually amazes me that in 2015 some people still have this mentality. To all those amazing parents who have worked/work at home with the kids – add this to your CV –
- Skilled in patience and perseverance. You need the patience of a saint. Kids want everything at once. It takes a strong parent to not crack after hearing the word “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy” or “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” constantly. When they are babies and can’t talk the constant screaming is just as hard if not harder. Just when they see you are relaxing or in the zone enjoying a coffee, cooking a dish, cleaning, trying to go for a pee in peace….they cry, scream or pounce!!
- 100% attendance record – there are no sick days at home – even if you feel horrendous and have the sweats, the shakes – the kids come first
- Excellent negotiation skills – these little people are head strong, they know how to wind us up and negotiate a deal. Bon asks me over and over again for chocolate some days until I crack. Well done to those who can put up a fight
- Can persevere with monotonous tasks. Some days it is boring. When they are babies they don’t talk. When they can talk some days you wish they couldn’t. Some days I can’t be bothered doing arts and crafts and playing make believe – yes I loved this as a child and Bon has inherited my vivid imagination which is great to see but some days I just want to do adult stuff
- Can keep calm under pressure – a screaming baby or 2 or 3 screaming children – no pressure like it
- Experienced in working around the clock – yes they are unpredictable little people. Bonnie stopped napping at 1 and a half years old. She would still get up in the middle of the night too #whoneedssleep.
- Multitasking – feeding one child, playing with the other. Toilet training one child, whilst changing your babies nappy. As for attempting to leave the house – so hard. Such long lists of things to pack as your child runs away from you, trying to dress them can be hard enough, then you need change of clothes, snacks, toys, drinks, nappies for baby, wipes, baby food, bottles, muslin cloths … I could go on and that’s not even covering any stuff us adults need. The kids are finally in the car and 20 seconds up the road you hear “stop the car I need a wee Mummy”. This is after me telling Bonnie to use the toilet about 10 times. She claimed she didn’t need at all – even though she had just drank a huge glass of milk and a smoothie half an hour before that. When Charlie was going through his milk monster throw up stage there were days I would need to change him a few times when trying to leave the house. I finally got him out and then realised he needed his nappy changed. Ah the decision, should I just leave him in it until we get to the place??…otherwise we may never leave the house!!
- Attention to detail – you can’t miss a thing – especially when it comes to health and safety
- Empathy and compassion by the bucket load – being a parent gives us a new kind of softness. It is horrible seeing your child sick, in pain, upset. There is no hug like a Mum or Dads hug.
So there you have it. I am a gushy Mum but to those who are sceptical of the profession trust me…it aint all coffee and slippers! Yes, it hand on heart is my favourite job but some days I daydream of being a singer, a doctor, a fitness instructor, a writer, a food critic – a job away from the kids!! Then I remind myself of my moto in life I promised myself I would live by – the grass is not always greener on the other side. Contentment is key. I will be raising a glass to all the hardworking people out there this weekend – with or without kids x