Stay at home parents should read this
Friday, 9 November 2018 | Mummy and Little Me
The evolving role of the modern mum
Recently, I have found myself questioning my role in the family dynamic.
Before I went to have Harlow it was quite simple, I took the lion’s share of the childcare, whilst working part time. I blogged as a hobby in the evenings and on my days off.
Then I made the decision not to return to work, and to go self employed nearly a year ago to become a freelance blogger/ content writer.
Working from home around the boys sounds like a dream come true right?
But, actually I found myself becoming more and more stressed thinking that the more I took on, the more money I made which meant I was bringing in ‘my share’.
I always felt as though as long as I contributed financially then despite Greg being the main provider I was still doing my bit.
Harlow began to sleep even less, and suffer from separation anxiety, Greg’s hours became more unpredictable and Elijah needed to keep busy to avoid him destroying the house.
I had less time to work, was constantly chasing my tail and felt I was letting down everyone with apologies of lateness.
The lines became blurred I began working with the boys around, and it just did not work.
I was burnt out, so I made the decision to cut back.
To focus on what I enjoyed writing about and what was feasible with the boys, and Greg’s rota.
I spent more time just focusing on the boys, and my work got wrapped up quickly but something was niggling away at me.
As much as I enjoyed the new found time, I felt I was perhaps not doing enough.
I wasn’t as stressed which meant I was getting on with the boys and Greg better, but I was feeling lost.
Not just financially, but I didn’t know how to define my role any more, it felt as though I was less ‘part time working mummy’, and more ‘full time mummy’.
I have known friends to be full time stay at home mums’ until there children went to school and they frankly did an amazing job.
I have known mums who get up at 5am work a shift and be back in time to pick their children up from preschool.
But, I was feeling lost.
I did all the washing, cooking, child admin, I did more activities with Elijah, and organised to see more friends, but it got to bedtime and wondering had I done enough.
I craved more and more validation from Greg that yes, I was doing enough throughout the day.
It felt as though doing all of this, it wasn’t important.
I looked at my friends who were ‘working’ and juggling children and felt as though they were achieving more than me.
I began to resent the fact that Greg was paying for most things including my own bills which made me feel as though our partnership was very one sided all of a sudden.
I wondered if I should apply for a ‘proper’ job then I wondered how it would work with childcare etc.
I know this is temporary and when Elijah starts school in a year things are likely going to be different and I can take more clients on again.
I started to explore writing fiction, and have begun to read again, something I haven’t done since before Elijah was born four years ago!
Still, I was feeling lost I just couldn’t recognise my worth anymore.
Then after me telling Greg I felt bad again that I wasn’t working enough and he was, he told me something that changed everything.
He told me that he felt bad I looked after the children all of the time while he worked.
Then I realised, it was because of me we weren’t paying hundreds of pounds in child care, it was me keeping us fed and in clean clothes. It was me planning our week so we knew where everyone had to be.
It was me who dedicated my time to help Elijah learn to read, and made Harlow feel safe and secure so he began to sleep better.
My worth couldn’t be measure in monetary value which I seemed so fixated on meaning I was achieving something, instead it was me keeping us ticking over.
We are a team, we are equal but in very different ways.
Yes, it is an adjustment, but I know that deep down as much as I might find it hard this is what I am supposed to be doing right now.
I don’t want Elijah’s last year at home before school as one where I am constantly on edge, shouting and stressed about work.
I also don’t want the stress of working with the boys around, as guess what, it just does not work.
Money isn’t everything, and sometimes my achievement of the day is managing to do the washing and cook tea but if me and the boys go to bed happy, fed and clean I guess I have done my job.
There is a lot of pressure on new parents to work and manage the children, one of the first questions you get asked is when are you going back to work?
If you don’t you are still perceived as lazy, or when you work from home it can be viewed as a ‘hobby’ rather than a viable career choice.
I still don’t think people view my writing jobs as ‘work’.
It is presumed that after nine months at home you will return to work and balance family life seamlessly.
I felt as though despite not returning to a physical office to work, working from home meant I was still ‘working’ and when that reduced it was hard to adjust to the new dynamic.
I enjoy working, I enjoy contributing, but have learnt a very hard lesion recently that perhaps the best gift I could give the boys wasn’t hat I could buy them or pay for.
It was about my time, my focus and me being a less stressed and happier version of myself.
It took some time to get there, but now I feel I finally understand what my role is again.
Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;