Whoever thinks there is an easy option when it comes to working vs parenting is totally bonkers – and doesn’t have kids.
Both options have pros and cons, but neither comes out on top.
It’s been two months since I left my full-time job after taking redundancy. I am now a stay-at-home mum trying to get enough freelance work on the side to pay the bills.
I have no regular childcare at present. My children go to their grandparents’ home every now and then for either a day or a few hours, so that is a big help.
However I have roughly two to three days worth of work at present – so fitting that in around two young children is proving to be quite the challenge.
Since there’s thousands of other mamas trying to keep the kids entertained, stop the house from falling down and maybe attempt a little hustle on the side, I thought I would share the 11 things I’ve learned about being a stay-at-home mum.
1. It is relentless
Most days I’m on my feet from the moment my three-year-old drags me out of bed at 5.30am until the moment I crash back into it at 8pm.
The kids do not stop with their demands, at all. The constantly want a snack, a drink or attention. Toddlers do not compromise. They decide what they want, and will not stop until they get it, or exhaust themselves from crying over not having it.
2. It can be very boring
I wrote recently about how boring I find playing with my kids. It’s just the monotony of it all, coupled with the fact that I don’t want to spend all of my time helping an angry small person go up and down a slide.
3. There is zero alone time
They follow me to the shower, the fridge, the utility room and the toilet. There is no such thing as personal space. If my 18-month-old wants to lick my face, she just does it.
By the end of the day I don’t want anyone or anything anywhere near me. Even water from the shower is irritating.
4. There’s less opportunity to snack
This is good for the waistline but less good if you’re a chocoholic like me.
I don’t want my kids growing up to be total sugar addicts with rotten teeth and zero energy, so I limit the snacks in the day. This means my own snacking habits have been curbed – because they know if I have opened something sweet just by hearing a rustling wrapper through two solid walls.
5. There’s still plenty of guilt
I thought being around my kids more for “quality” time would make me feel less parental guilt. Instead I feel guilty for other things, such as not being able to keep up with their crazy energy.
6. People make assumptions
It might be that people think you’re not ambitious enough to have tried to “have it all” or that you’ve gone soft after having kids. Whatever it is, some people jump to label you when they find out you’re staying at home with your kids and not working a 9-5 any more.
They may also assume that your life is easy now.
“So you just hang out with the kids all day? Amazing, you must have the BEST time.”
7. Every day is Groundhog Day
It’s all a constant cycle of washing, cooking dinners and desperately trying to keep your house clean and immediately seeing your hard work ripped to shreds.
Trips to the park, the swimming pool and the shops occur on loop until the days all blur into one.
8. I miss the office
I don’t miss my job, but I miss the people, the banter, the inane gossip about Love Island.
Being in a regular job means seeing actually grown-ups and being able to speak to them for lengthy periods of time without anyone interrupting you.
9. It’s the little wins
In your old life it might have been winning big accounts, nailing a presentation or hitting a deadline with time to spare.
Now it’s making it through an entire day without a toilet-related incident, or seeing your kids eat their entire tea and lick the bowl clean.
10. Your house will still be a tip
I thought that maybe I would manage to keep my home more presentable without a full-time job taking up so much time.
It turns out that the kids have filled every hour of my full-time job and then some.
The house is still messy, there’s more washing up to do because the children are eating at home and not nursery and I let slip the F-word way to often because of all the sodding Lego on the floor.
11. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn great
Although being a stay-at-home mama has a lot of challenges, it’s also pretty amazing. You get more time with your kids and you don’t miss any milestones.
Yes I am knackered 90 per cent of the time, but I know I made the right decision by leaving my job.
Being a stay-at-home mum is a job with no pay, limited thank yous, a ton of responsibility and zero breaks. However the perks include hugs on tap, lots of big smiles and the odd moment that takes your breath away.