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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Bleak days of being a stay at home mum

I have 3 children and I still have not worked out how best to balance work, them and myself. I have tried all the options - full-time job, part-time job, own business and now staying at home again. I have found none of them satisfactory or stress-free.
If you work, your wages get eaten into drastically by childcare fees. The free sessions you can claim need you to have a PHD to understand the terms and since when did jobs involve 2 and a half sessions. If you are going to set up such schemes, please make the reflect the real world of work. Better still, bring in policies that insist that employers have family-friendly policies. In our society, it appears if you want to be a parent and particularly a mum, you will be penalised for the choice. Parenthood is hardly a minority sport so why don't we as a society support good parenting more?
Self-employment did not work for me because although I am a brilliant promoter of concepts, things and services, I cannot sell for toffee! Too much of a bleeding heart apparently.
Stay at Home Mumdom is OK on the whole in that it is at least flexible and you can plan when and how your children will do things to an extent. However, I find it very isolating. The truth is I can only do so much raving about Batman or whatever. Sometimes I don't feel like it and I know that makes me a terrible mother but there you have it. Sometimes I would like to talk to an adult. I know I am not alone and that many mums take refuge in the laptop twittering, facebooking, netmumming away for a little stimulation in an long and tiring day. Then when the little babies and toddlers develop an interest of their own in computers, you are doomed.
Yes, you can get out and about and meet other mums but then again, you might have nothing in common with them beyond obsessing about the smell of baby wipes which if I am honest, bores me rigid. You could volunteer but hardly any volunteering opportunities offer to cover childcare costs meaning you would be very much out of pocket for trying to do good and contribute to society in a way other than parenting.
So if you are halfway intelligent, you find yourself frustrated and all too often down in the dumps. You realise you have lost the plot when you turn on Lorraine Kelly on GMTV so she can tell you how pleased she is to see you and how really, really good it is to have you watching. You try to avoid Jeremy Kyle and sink your hands in washing up at which point the boiler malfunctions so your hands freeze and the pots won't wash. A bit of real thought provocation comes from This Morning although over the years that gets dumbed down more and more. World Cup and bee bugles takes over the afternoon currently and yes, it's not great to have the telly on so much. A trip to the charity shops for some bargain-hunting and light relief until your 4 year old decides he wants to buy the whole toy section and you have neither the cash nor the inclination to add to the clutter of plastic in his bedroom.
In the late afternoon, your school aged children and husband come home with stories of their exciting days. Usually, this is fabulous. Last night, I just resented that they have a life and I have a limited one. The one thing that does help loads is blogging - writing out the negative feelings and then moving onto more positive things.
Something needs to change for average mums like me but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime. I read a book with my daughter where a little girl is told she cannot be a knight. She asks why and all bloody King Arthur can say is that it is just the way it is. When are we going to challenge that and say, it may be the way it is but is frustrating and as the little girl in the book said "It's not fair!"


  1. I know exactly how you feel Kate, I stayed at home with my 3 and it's hard work, frustrating and often thankless. You feel like someones wife, someones mum, a waitress, a cleaner, a taxi, a personal shopper, etc. All this and you forget who you are underneath it all. I don't care what anyone says, us girls get the shitty end of the stick. But there are good times that you treasure and never forget. Make the most of the special times. (and the hard times run for the wine!)xx

  2. Wow, I can so relate to your post. After nearly 8 years of being a SAHM, I can say that I would be out of my mind right now if I didn't have my computer. It's like my little window on the world. I keep in touch with all my friends online, because you know what it's like when you try and make a phonecall when you have little children - hopeless! Since I discovered Twitter it's given me the boost I needed to get back in to writing, and along with that I got the confidence to try and be a more healthy person. I find doing a little for yourself for a change makes you happier, and makes you a happier Mum to your children as a result. It's so easy to put yourself last, and difficult to get out of the habit, but do try to set some goals for yourself to push your boundaries slightly, it does wonders for the self esteem.