The Stay at Home Mum Returns (To Work)

Home / The Stay at Home Mum Returns (To Work) - November 17, 2017 , by yvettelamb

sunset over fieldsI’ve been a bit… contemplative recently. Perhaps it’s with my biggest little one starting school (still not sure how this happened as I’m sure I just gave birth to him), and the newborn fog from my youngest’s arrival finally lifting. He is one and a half, but yep, it’s only just starting to shift. Anyway, I have found myself thinking about me and my life and the future, and I suppose, at the risk of sounding a bit indulgent: who I am.

The upshot of all of this is that I’ve decided to go back to work, as in ‘proper work’. Aside, from my freelancing, which I’ve done solely around the tots, I’ve been a stay at home mum for four years. Four years! It was absolutely what I wanted and what worked for our family, but I’m not sure it is right for me any more.

The luxury of being a stay at home mum

I have to say that, for me, being at home has been a privilege – and I realise I’m fortunate it was a viable option. My husband and I have been very lucky to not have the stress of juggling sick children and last minute days off. I’ve been able to throw something together for dinner time, and I’m around for food shopping, maintenance appointments, GP visits, and now school drop-offs and pick-ups and the various shows and sports days.

Plus of course, the freedom of spending so much time with the kids absolutely is a luxury – because a lot of people don’t have that choice. We’ve enjoyed trips out, plays in the garden and potters at home, various groups, and witnessing all of the firsts. I have really loved being a stay at home parent and have no regrets about leaving my old job to do so.

That is not to say they haven’t driven me to the brink sometimes, but I imagine this is still the case for parents who work. It’s what kids do, as I understand it.

I don’t know what has shifted in me, but something has. I now need part of my time to be dedicated to something other than being a mum. It will be busier, harder – and there will definitely now be loads of the aforementioned juggling – but I want it so much.

Missing me

I can’t compare how I would feel if I had returned to work after having my first son, I can only comment on my own situation. And what I have realised recently, is that pretty much my whole identity has become wrapped up in my children. I’m the default parent, because I am around much more. And while that has been lovely, I’ve ended up defining myself and my own worth against things like how I run the home and what I feed the boys.

woman with baby boy and toddler boy at a farm stay at home mum

It didn’t happen immediately, but somewhere in the last couple of years, I’ve gone missing. The dynamic has shifted in my relationship, too. This is not something people tend to talk about, but I fail to see how it cannot happen to some degree. Plus as a stay at home mum, the home has unconsciously become my job, and it’s one I never seem to be very good at.

This creeping sense of inferiority and lack of achievement is all self-placed, I should be clear about that. My husband recognises the positive impact me being at home has on his own career and life, and appreciates me being able to be there for every sick day, every appointment and everything else. He thinks I do an amazing job with the boys while juggling my freelance commitments, and gets that it isn’t all coffee shops and catch-ups. He knows while there is fun to be had, there is also much drudgery and traipsing upstairs holding a pile of washing, a squirming toddler and a large fresh bogey that isn’t mine. And, on another fish finger and beans kind of parenting day, he’s the first to suggest ordering takeaway and relaxing amid the chaos of our toy-strewn living room.

However, there has been a shift in our roles, and the fact is, neither of us really gets what it is like for the other one.

Real relationship dynamics

I can’t truly appreciate how it feels to leave a noisy, full-on house every morning, do a full day of work, and then come straight back to an even noisier, full-on and often grouchy house every evening. No nap respite, no fresh air in the park, no chats with friends over coffee. He also carries the entire financial burden on his shoulders. He stops work? We stop eating.

And of course he can’t truly appreciate what it is like to live another relentless day after another horrendous night with two inherently selfish and emotionally overcharged lunatics who Don’t Stop For a Minute. A baby who won’t sleep, a child who won’t reason or share or stop asking why. Plus being the person who is meant to know everything about what is going on with everyone and every task all of the time. I really hate that part.

I suppose once I get back to work {pauses to refresh email again and sigh because NOBODY SEEMS TO WANT TO EMPLOY ME}, things will change, we’ll find a new routine and the dynamic will shift again. I’ll miss some elements of being a stay at home mum, I’ll definitely miss the boys, but I hope that working part-time will be the best of both worlds in terms of me still getting to spend a lot of time with them. And on the two or three other days, I can hopefully create something else, and begin building a different kind of tower.

Did you return straight to work after maternity leave? Or did you take a career break like me? Or are you a SAHP and still loving it? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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4 thoughts on “The Stay at Home Mum Returns (To Work)”

  1. Brooke says:

    I returned back to work after only 6 weeks with both of my children. It was not what I wanted, but alas, I had no choice. I would have loved to stay home longer. At 6 weeks they are just starting to be little humans, not just these tiny crying slugs. I don’t think I could stay home full time, but would love the option to go part time. Best of luck to you as you move forward. It might not be easy at times, but you’ll find your “new normal” and it’ll work out great 🙂

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      That must have been really tough, Brooke. We are so lucky in the UK to get decent maternity leave. I hope your set-up is working well for you at the moment – I’ll probably be out of my mind after a few months of proper working and juggling! We shall see!

  2. All the best with the return to work. It has its pluses like hot drinks and going to the loo alone! Part time work is a good balance for everyone and you’ll really look forward to coming back to them after a work day. I am currently a sahm having decided not to return to work after having my second son. I think I will probably return to work when he’s a bit older but for now being around for him and his brother who spends so much of his time at school is working for us.

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Thanks so much Nic. It’s hard for me to know if I’m doing the right thing – as I know in some ways I’m choosing to make life harder! It sounds like you have been on both sides of the fence so can tell what works best for you and your family at the moment. I guess I’ll just have to give it a try and review!

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