The label of SAHM

Something really interesting happened lately that has prompted quite a bit of discussion in our house. I was tagged by a lovely friend of mine on the following meme, which made me chuckle. 20160725_204520

Not everyone saw the funny side though and the following conversation took place on my Facebook.

Now I’m not saying either of us is right or wrong and I’m certainly not criticising her for holding her opinion. But it did stay with me a bit and on a recent evening chat with hubs and a good friend I brought it up as part of a discussion about labels.

The trouble with the label of SAHM, or SAHD is that it implies that you stay at home all day, which let’s face it isn’t an accurate description, as just because we don’t work elsewhere doesn’t mean we stay at home all day. It brings with it connotations of laziness and an implication that we don’t do anything which is obviously not the case. As the lady above rightly says though, an alternative would be to be called unemployed, which doesn’t have the best connotations either.

So what would be a better label for a SAHM? My friend suggested full time mum, but then by comparison that suggests that working mums aren’t full time mums when of course they are. Going out to work doesn’t make you any less of a mum.

The conversation continued on and to the distinction of why there is even a label of working mum? You rarely call someone a working dad. A SAHD yes but there’s not label for working dad. My hubs is a dad but he is also a technical director.

The thing is though why do any of these labels matter? Why are we so defined by what we “do?” Generally when you meet someone new it is very common to ask or be asked “What do you do?” but why? Why is it so important to know what someone does so early on in forming an opinion of them. Your job may be a huge part of your character but it also may not. Your job doesn’t necessarily definitely e who you are. It certainly isn’t all that you are.

I’ve always hated being asked what I do, at all parts of my life, when I was a TV producer, when I was an estate agent, when I was a manager in a call centre for a concierge service for high net worth clients and now as a SAHM. Because whatever your answer may be you can see a judgement being made about you. About your wealth and status and honestly I really hate all that rubbish. None of it really matters, in my opinion, and they don’t equal who you are as a person.

I am a SAHM, yes, but that is not all that I am, which I guess is the point of the meme that started this off. I’m also a reader, a novice runner, a wannabe photographer, a lover of rock music. I’ve travelled the world, done a sky dive and a bungy jump and been white water rafting a few times. I have a degree in TV production and have been to Glastonbury 3 times. I love being with my family and right now raising my children is what is important to me and we are fortunate that we are in a position where I am able to do so. But being a SAHM right now shouldn’t have to define all that I am.

In the same way, my husband is a Technical Director. But that’s not all that he is. He is a loving daddy, who is hugely interested in politics and loves whisky. He loves to learn and likes science and experimenting. He is currently learning which red wines he prefers. He is also incredibly lucky to love his job and the business he helped to build, but he also hates when people ask what he does as they form an opinion based on what they think his job is.

This doesn’t just for for the labels for what you do work wise though, it’s all labels really. They pigeonhole us. Gay, straight, black, white, the label may describe a part of us but not all that we are. There is nothing wrong with embracing a label and being proud of it but I do wish it didn’t have to define us.

What do you think? Is is just a label and not something to be worried about, or does the label hold power?

And then the fun began...
Best of Worst

Burning Questions

I really enjoyed reading Helen’s post, over at All the Beautiful Things with her burning questions, and ever since I have been coming up with a few of my own. So instead of leaving her the longest comment ever I thought I would steal her idea share them with you here. Hope that’s ok Helen? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that :).

So here they are. My burning questions, things that I will probably never find an answer to, but that are fun to rant about nonetheless!

Where do the laundry capsules go? I hate these things and with every bottle of washing liquid we get one of these… but after one wash they seem to get eaten or go to a mystery world only inhabited by these capsules and miscellaneous socks….. We actually moved onto tablets for a while but the bottles were on offer so we are back with these again for now, driving me potty!

WP_20150618_08_14_26_Pro WP_20150618_08_18_17_Pro

Sticking with the laundry, why does the fancy digital timer on the washing machine say it takes 1hr 3 but an hr 3 later still says there is around 15 mins to go…. is it a set time or not? I would say maybe it depends on the load but I don’t think it’s that clever as it does it on every wash… Just be honest with me, if it is going to take 1hr 20, just say so!

WP_20150613_10_00_32_ProWhat is the point of crumbs? What purpose do they serve other than to annoy us and make us clean more? I swear I can hoover steam and re-hoover the entire floor only to turn round and crumbs have spontaneously appeared on my immaculate floor. And is it possible to get a slice of bread out without covering the worktop in crumbs? Not in our house apparently!

Dust is another one, what is the point of it? In general I don’t like pointless things. There are many things in this world that I don’t like, but generally I can respect the fact that as part of the grand scheme of things they have a purpose. As an example, spiders. I can’t stand them, but I know that without them we would be overrun with flies etc so can understand that they do serve a purpose, so, no rant about spiders. Flies, on the other hand, what is their purpose? Without them we wouldn’t need spiders… you can see where I am going with this.

In the same vein, Wasps. What is the point in them? Bees make honey, but more importantly, as any “The Bee Movie” fan will know, they make all the plants and trees grow. I do know it is not that clear cut but my point is, Bees, have a purpose. Wasps? Other than to ruin perfectly happy summers days and sting us? I can’t think of one.

If anyone can tell me the point of any of these things by the way, please feel free to do so. I fully acknowledge that I am not the master of all knowledge and am happy to accept that these things have a purpose. It may in fact make me less annoyed to find that they do have a purpose (as with spiders). Anyone? Please?

Another question, why do I lie in the middle of the night torturing myself with horrible scenarios like intruders and dog attacks, trying to think about ways I would protect my kids. is it just a Mum thing, or am I weird? Do you do that?

Like butter wouldn't melt... but is it really an act??

Like butter wouldn’t melt… but is it really an act??

Why is it that whenever I have a fun activity planned with Monkey for during LM’s nap, that that will be the morning when LM refuses to nap and won’t settle. Does she know? It also happens the other way round, when we are going out so don’t mind if she has a shorter nap, she sleeps for hours. I don’t generally prescribe to the idea that babies have got it in for us but sometimes….

Going back a bit, to the subject of crumbs, is there any such thing in the world as a useful bread bin? One that can fit two loaves of bread in (brown and white) not 1 1/2. One that doesn’t spew crumbs everywhere when you open it, or have such a heavy lid that you never actually bother to put the bread into it, meaning that there is bread all over the worktop rather than, you know. In. The. Breadbin?

Why, on the Kids setting of Netflix, is there no option to Play from the beginning? It just resumes, even when you are on the credits. There is a play from the beginning option on the other profiles but not the kids one…. why?

Why does inspiration for blog posts come when I am with the kids, then I can’t remember it later when I have time to blog? You can be sure I will remember it again either in the early hours of the morning or when driving or at some other completely useless time and then I will forget it again!

Why does our baby girl seem to think this is the best position to drink her milk. Love her, but, seriously? Weirdo child.


I am sure I could go on and on but will leave it there for now. What are your burning questions?

My WOTW this week is questions.

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Mama and MoreAnd then the fun began...

Breastfeeding in Public

I’m not a very big fan of breastfeeding in public and I feel really self concious about it. I feel like people are staring and judging me even when they probably aren’t. Stories like the ones in the news this week play a big part in making me feel like this. From the woman in Claridges who was told to cover up with a napkin to avoid making other customers feel uncomfortable (?) to MP Nigel Farage saying that a woman should sit in a corner to avoid being ‘ostentatious’ about it. His comments and the actions of the restaurant reinforce the idea that breastfeeding is somehow wrong or offensive and should be hidden away.

You are judged whatever you do as a parent and I know formula feeding mothers experience judgement too for the fact they are not breastfeeding so I know you can’t really win… But if you are bottle feeding, I’m sure no-one tells you to go and sit in a corner, or a toilet (as one mum was in another story I read) to feed your child. I don’t think anyone should be judged for how they choose to feed their child to be honest as everyone has their own reasons for doing things. But it seems so crazy that in a world where breastfeeding is rammed down the throats of every parent with the “breast is best” slogan, there is the flipside where actually you are judged for doing it in public. We should all breastfeed, but sit in a corner quietly, or hide ourselves away at home to avoid offending anyone! Barmy.

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Educational TV for Toddlers

Guidelines recommend that children under 2 watch no TV at all and toddlers watch no more than 2 hours of TV a day, but how realistic is this really? I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with a bit of telly. I’m not about to dump Monkey in front of the TV all day every day, and to be honest he is so full of energy he would get bored with it anyway. We get out and about a lot, read books, do crafts and all sorts of things, but there are times of the day when the TV is very useful as it keeps him entertained while I get on with some other things. This is especially true since Little Miss arrived!

Am I wrong though? Am I neglecting my child or being a bad mum because he watches a few hours of TV spread throughout the day? In an article I read a while ago, Dr Trina Hinckley said TV viewing can be ‘harmful to children’s physical and mental health’ speaking specifically about children under 4. She said that although parents think that TV programmes help children with learning language etc, that this is not true according to research.
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Subconscious Stereotyping

With baby’s arrival only a couple of weeks away, we are in preparation mode and are trying to get the nursery finished. The last thing to do is put up the wall stickers. There will be another post to showcase these gorgeous stickers in situ once they are up, but I blogged about them when we chose them here. They are gorgeous and so pretty. I love the swirling branches and the cute creatures but… I suddenly realised something… they are very different from the stickers we put up in Monkey’s room when he was tiny.

Monkey's wall stickers

Monkey’s wall stickers

He has Hungry Caterpillar stickers, which we bought for no other reason than the reason we chose these latest stickers… because we like them. But, as part of the set, his stickers could be seen as more educational. Along with the characters from the book there are the days of the week, and also a big display of numbers. It’s part of the story, 1 apple, 2 pears, etc. etc. but it made me wonder, have we subconsciously chosen such different stickers for their rooms because of their gender?

Have we given Monkey stickers with numbers in because he is a boy? Have we given more simple, pretty stickers to baby because she is (we think) a girl? Or am I overthinking things and over-worrying? Quite possibly!

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Pink is for Girls – #ThePrompt

The Prompt is a fantastic link up designed to inspire you to write, brainchild of the lovely MumturnedMom. This week’s Prompt is:

Pink is for girls.

I’ve written about this a little bit before – when I was musing about toys in particular in my post ‘different toys for girls and boys‘ and honestly that post opened up a whole world of ideas and thoughts and questions in my busy brain.

So many thoughts that it’s difficult to extract them one by one and write them down but I will give it a go. I apologise in advance for going off at tangents!

Gender stereotypes exist in our culture. They have ALWAYS existed. Will they always continue to do so? The nature of said stereotypes have varied from culture to culture at different times. There have been matriarchal societies and patriarchal societies with each gender fulfilling different roles and therefore the gender stereotyping in that particular culture has reflected this.

Yikes I feel like I am back in cultural studies at Uni, or worse my boring Sociology A level!

Our culture has a long history of the subordination of women. Of women not having equal rights to men. We have thankfully come a long long way forward with this and many things are much more equal now. But, even with the increased freedom and the rights that women have, we still have Gender Stereotypes. There are still ‘manly’ things and ‘girly’ things. It starts when you are tiny. Pink and Blue. Cars or Dolls. Etc.


A girly toy?

There’s a part of me that rebels against this, and as I have mentioned in my previous post Monkey plays with all sorts of toys, girly or otherwise. His bedroom is yellow. We don’t want to stereotype him. BUT we dress him in trousers and not skirts. Some of his clothes have dinosaurs or trucks on them because that is what is sold as ‘boy’ clothing. If we have a  little girl I’m sure she’ll wear a lot of his hand me downs (to save money) but no doubt she will have some prettier things too.

There was an article not too long ago about parents who dressed a little boy in a Tutu and said they were trying to raise him as ‘gender neutral.’ Part of me thinks ‘good for you’ while another part of me feels sorry for the little boy, because is it really possible to raise your child in a gender neutral way, when the society we live in is not gender neutral? Is it fair on them to expose them to potential ridicule by parts of society rather than to protect them from it?

I am all for men and women working having the same rights. I am all for stay at home dads or working mums, of female CEOs and male nursery nurses (I am just coming up with some random examples here). No I don’t like stereotypes that pigeon hole people, I don’t want Monkey growing up in a world where something ‘girly’ is bad. I don’t want him thinking that girls are less intelligent than boys (as a SAHM I worry about his female role models) or that boys are less caring or sensitive than girls. My hope is that I can nurture him so he feels he can be whatever he ‘wants’ to be, rather than what society tells him he should be.

But it’s not entirely up to me. I can’t keep him cocooned in a world of my making. He watches TV and will read books and magazines that portray the stereotypes I hate. He interacts with other children who have their parents’ values. I know of parents who use the gender stereotype of ‘boys will be boys’ to gloss over the fact that they are aggressive or hit other children. Or on the flip side when a girl turns on the taps at the slightest knock and are immediately cuddled and cooed over because they are a girl.

I don’t want monkey to be aggressive or over-sensitive. He usually laughs when he falls over (unless he really hurts himself) and he is learning that hitting is always wrong – even if someone else hit you first. But it isn’t my place to enforce my values on other parents and their children. (Who even says that I am right and they are wrong? I certainly don’t know for certain!) Everyone has to do what they believe is right and because of the gender stereotypes embedded in our culture, many parents teach their children (maybe even unintentionally?) that they are correct. I can try and teach him why I believe them to be wrong,  but I can’t choose what he believes or decide his opinions for him. 

Should our society even be gender neutral? Men and Women are different. Our bodies and physiology are different. In the broadest terms we do have ‘different’ skills. Men are often physically stronger than most women. Women have the physical ability to produce children and breastfeed. We are physically different, and men and women are ‘said’ to have different cognitive abilities. Such as multi-tasking, or spacial awareness (though of course things like this vary from person to person and can’t always be simplified down to one gender does this, another does this. maybe that’s the point?). We are different so why not celebrate that and be proud of the gender we are?

I also wonder where it ends, should we all wear the same androgynous clothing? Have the same haircuts? Should none of us (men or women) wear clothes that flatter our figures? Should we not care about looking nice? That opens up a whole other avenue of thoughts and do we only care about looking nice because of the objectification of bodies and the sexualisation of our culture and I guess the two are linked but I won’t go down that road for now!

I rejoice at the small steps taken by groups such as “Let toys be toys” which tries to take away some of the gender stereotyping that influences our children from such a young age. But I feel that these are just tiny chinks in a huge wall that will take many years to knock down. I also worry about what happens when the wall is down? What are we left with?

I don’t know the answers and if I’m honest what I think about it isn’t really fully formed. i guess some kind of middle ground… but what would that consist of and who decides?

Interesting debate though eh? What do you think? Is pink for girls?

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Different toys for girls and boys?

Just some random musings from me about this really. I read a few weeks ago that Marks and Spencer are removing all gender specific labelling and packaging from their toys, so there won’t necessarily be a ‘pink’ section or a ‘blue’ section in their toy departments. The comments I read about this news story were so varied and it got me thinking as it is also quite relevant to Monkey at the moment.

Does it matter if some toys are marketed to boys and others to girls? Does that reinforce gender stereotypes or does it just show that most boys prefer some types of toys, and most girls like other types? On the one hand boys and girls are different so what’s wrong with boys being boys and girls being girls? But then they are also all individuals and everyone is different regardless of gender. Therefore some boys and some girls may be interested in the same things sometimes.

Even though we knew we were having a baby boy we didn’t go and get everything blue. His room is yellow and multicoloured and his baby clothes were similar, a real mixed bag. We try to have the attitude that there are no boy colours and there are no girl colours, there are just colours. Not everyone feels this way though, my mum and step-dad have semi-jokingly moaned in the past that Monkey has ‘girly’ stickers because there are some pink ones in the sticker book that say princess, as well as ones of digger trucks and dinosaurs. My response is that they are the cheapest stickers I have found (£1 for 2000) and neither Monkey or I care what colour they are. Besides, Pink wasn’t even thought of as a ‘girly’ colour until about the 1940’s!

Then a few days ago I was out with Monkey at a local shopping centre with our cheap basic buggy (which happens to be a bright purple colour). He was playing by a ride on bus and another little boy was hanging around and talking to him. As we were about to leave he says ‘is that a boy or a girl?’ pointing at Monkey. I just smiled and told him he is a boy and then he says ‘well I just wondered because that (pointing to the buggy) is purple.’ He looked so serious as if a BOY in a PURPLE buggy was the most stupid thing he’s ever heard. Made me chuckle but also shake my head slightly.

It’s not just the colours of toys/clothes etc. but the toys themselves. Why should some toys be designated as for boys while others for girls. Can a woman not work on construction? Or a man not work in a kitchen? Of course they can. We are now much more equal as adults but seem to reinforce the stereotypes when it comes to children for some reason. Why shouldn’t they be free to play with whatever toy interests them at that time without them being labelled as for girls or for boys. When hubby was little he had a ‘home corner’ and loved his toy kitchen and iron etc. and what is wrong with that?

Monkey does love a lot of his ‘boy’ toys, cars and trains are two of his favourites. Then on a play-date last week he was obsessed with my friend’s little girl’s dolls house. He played with it for ages! It reminded me of the news story about Marks and Spencer. It also reminded me that I had a doll’s house stored at my brother’s  that our uncle made me when I was a little girl. I asked my brother to bring it round and Monkey loves it! It’s quite well worn and the door and a couple of windows are missing but Monkey has been finding it hilarious posting people through the windows and putting his Postman Pat and Mrs Goggins dolls in the beds and on the chairs. I guess you would categorise a doll’s house in the girl toys section but I don’t see any reason why boys can’t enjoy it too.



We’ve also been finding recently that rather than sit in his buggy, Monkey sometimes like to push it along (being a 3 wheeler one it then tends to bash into fences, bushes, people, etc. great fun…). So I decided to buy him a doll’s pushchair. Another traditionally ‘girly’ toy but again he loves it and is pushing his teddy round the house with glee. We also bought him a little tea set ages ago and he loves toy tea parties and pretending to pour the tea, stir the tea and drink the tea. It’s learning about life so why is that more for girls than for both?



It goes both ways and a lot of my friend’s little girls love cars and trains etc. so maybe I agree with toy packaging being less gender specific… though I’m not sure if that will suddenly stop people considering some toys as boys’ toys and others as girls’, but maybe it would be a step in the right direction?

What do you think? Should boys not play with girls toys and girls not play with boys toys? Or should they be free to play with whatever they enjoy most at that time?