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Being a Stay at Home Mum (SAHM): my advice to you
Through our Journey to Parenthood series, we are exploring various paths to parenthood and the journey of parenthood itself. Showing different perspectives of how there is never a straight-forward route and going through tough times, especially as a Mum, can be completely overwhelming.
There are twists and turns that many of our Dribble Community have been brave enough to share with us. There are some exceptional and inspiring stories in the series and we hope they bring comfort, understanding and acceptance to you, and maybe even open you to alternative experiences, as you hear what other parents have to say.
We are continuing with our story series with a story that many parents out there can relate to. After the birth of her second child, Clare decided she would need to take a career break in order to manage child care and the other juggles of being a parent. She shares her honest account of what becoming a Stay at Home Mum (SAHM) is like, her advice to others about to embark on the journey and how Instagram gave her an outlet to help others. Read her story below…
Becoming a stay at home Mum is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I wanted to share my story and advice for anyone about to embark on the same journey.
When I had my first daughter, Miss B back in 2007 I went back to work part time and I had a fantastic work/life balance. My Mum, Husband, and I did the childcare between us and it worked well. I was at the start of my career in HR and I was able to work my way up and gain the experience that I needed and also studied part time at night too.
The Tipping-Point: deciding to become a Stay at home mum
When we decided to have another baby I was at a point in my career where I travelled a lot and stayed away from home on a regular basis. As Miss B had started school it was getting more and more of a struggle trying to balance everything.
On discussing future plans, I couldn’t see a way to make everything work: working full-time, running a home, doing the school runs, pick-ups, assemblies etc, and taking care of a newborn. Unfortunately, flexible working wasn’t an option, so I decided to take a career break and become a stay-at-home-mum for a while. In my head, I had this romantic notion of doing arts and crafts, baking, trips to the park, keeping the house in order, and nice play dates. The reality was a million miles away from that image.
When Miss C was born, she had a bit of a difficult start and ended up in NeoNatal and it was a very worrying time. Over the next month, she developed an allergy to cow’s milk. When she was 6 weeks old, I ended up in hospital with gallbladder issues, and eventually had it removed when she was 4 months old. I discovered I was pregnant again with Little D when Miss C was only 9 months old. Once he was born and we got out of hospital life was manic. I had a 9 year old, a 17 month old, and a newborn baby who was a breastfeeding monster.
I had little support around me and felt isolated and lonely. I felt like a failure, like I wasn’t enough. The boy breastfed every three hours and refused to nap. I felt broken.
I love a list to keep me right and would write a daily To Do but each day I was crossing very little off and it made me feel worse.
Changing my mindset
After an epic meltdown I decided that I had to make some changes so instead of writing a daily To Do List I wrote a daily What I’ve Done list; it made a HUGE difference. I could see everything that I had achieved and completed. I shocked myself with what I actually managed to do at home with a baby and a toddler. Once I started shifting my mindset, I turned a corner as I didn’t realise how much pressure I was feeling and just how much pressure I had put on myself to be “perfect”. I would see other Mums online with their happy kids, days out, spotless houses and wonder why I wasn’t able to do the same.
Two years ago, I turned to Instagram to share my journey and to try and find like-minded people and hopefully feel less alone. It was around the time of the rise of The Mummy Bloggers and I was looking at their feeds, grids, and stories and realised I couldn’t relate to them and thought surely there were more people just like me! So, I started posting about Honest Parenting and not to shame or embarrass my kids but to share what I was dealing with and help anyone else who could relate. Since then I’ve made lots of great connections and chatted, cried, and laughed with people, who felt in a similar situation.
My advice to you as a new stay at home mum
As a Stay at Home Mum I have learned so much, but some of my top tips are:
- Be organissed
- Ask for help
- Be kind to yourself
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
- Get into a routine
- Meal Plan
- Budget and stick to it
- Factor in time for you
- Factor in time for you and your partner
- Self Care is vital
- Sleep as much as possible
- Accept offers of help
- Fresh air can work wonders
- GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
Looking to the future
I am now 5 years into being a SAHM and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. I’m now at a point where I’m looking to go back to work and I need to decide what I want to do and how to make it possible.
Being at home for that length of time has been amazing. I’m here for the kids and have been to every school and nursery event, baby classes, and all the play dates; but it has also really knocked my self-confidence. Before I took a career break, I was working in HR, which I loved and was good at and was a valued member of staff. Colleagues wanted my opinions and knowledge and I went from that to dealing with poopy nappies, weaning, and silent reflux.
Over the last year I’ve been putting myself back out into the world and making sure I’m using my brain again. I don’t know what the future holds for me and my career but right now I feel fortunate that I made it through the last 5 years relatively sanely and I’ve been able to be here for the kids. If anyone can relate and fancies a chat then please come over to https://www.instagram.com/its_upsanddowns/
If you can relate to this story and would like to connect with other parents in your situation, our Dribble Facebook Community is full of advice, support, chat, events and much more to meet other Scottish families. We also try to take the online offline too by arranging some Dribble events, including our monthly Breastfeeding Meet-up.
Remember you’re not alone.
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