Feeling saddened by the judgement we face as parents

I am linking up to ‘The Prompt.’ A wonderful Link up hosted by the lovely Sara at MumturnedMom.

This week’s Prompt is “I was Saddened by…” and I have really struggled to know what to write for this, or whether to write at all. There is a lot of sadness in the world, and for my part, I would say I have had more than my fair share of sadness at times, however I am not ready to write about those times, at least not yet and not here. I started this blog to chart my journey into becoming a stay at home mum, and whatever I write, I want it to be true to that theme.

So after a lot of thought about what saddens me in the world of parenting, I realised that one of the things that saddens me the most is that when you become a parent, you enter a whole new world of judgement. There is something about being a parent that makes people feel entitled to judge you, and no matter what you do or however hard you try, it always seems that somebody, somewhere, is judging you for it.

It starts when you are pregnant – and you can be judged on how much weight you’ve gained, what you are eating, whether you are exercising. And you can be judged either way by different groups of people. I have written about how I struggled with pregnancy and I have never felt so judged in my life, as I truly believe some people thought I was just putting it on. Then, when thinking about the birth, will you want pain relief, or will you ‘tough it out?’ If you want a natural, painkiller free birth, some will say you are naive, if you want pain relief, others say you’re a wimp or something. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I’m not even going to get into the breastfeeding/formula feeding debate! And it by no means ends there – weaning, with purees or babyled? Sleep training? How much TV does your little one watch? Are you in a routine? Then as they get older it becomes about discipline and how well they eat. There is judgement about whether you choose to go back to work – with studies about how being in nursery or childcare is bad for your child. Then if you stay at home you are judged for being a sponger or of lower intelligence for not wanting to go to work.

The judgement comes from everywhere. Well meaning family and friends. Healthcare professionals, midwives. The media, politicians. Everywhere you look there is someone who has an opinion about the best way you should be raising your child. It leads to so much worry and doubting yourself because it is so easy to take all this judgement to heart and feel that you are clearly not doing something right, when I think that all any of us are doing is trying to do the best for our children.

What really saddens me though is the fact that it is everywhere. As a society is this really what we are like? That we judge people for everything that they do? Do we all think that we are so perfect that we therefore have the right to judge others? Whatever happened to people in glass houses not throwing stones? Whatever happened to supporting each other? To respecting others wishes for how they choose to live their lives or raise their children?

I guess there is a flip side to this. There are always so many stories in the press about children being harmed. Harmed by family members, or parents whose job it is to protect them. Being harmed by the people they trust most in the world. I read something recently about how we should all be responsible to report something wrong when we see it. To step in before something dreadful happens. Of course I can see the logic in this, if making a judgement about a family and the way they treat their child may protect that child from harm.

I worry though, where to draw the line? Wasn’t there a story recently where somebody called the police because they saw a mother and child out on the seafront and thought the child was too cold? The police went, but was it a waste of their time? Should we put more trust in the mother that she is looking after a child? Or should we report every tiny worry? I guess it’s a case of the acts of the minority of bad people affecting the lives of the many,who would never harm a hair on their children’s heads.

Is this even the same thing though? Is judging someone for whether they wean with purees or do BL weaning really comparable to judging someone for something that may be a sign they are harming their child? If a parent chooses to go back to work because they feel it will enable them to provide a better life for their child, should we judge them for that? Likewise if a parent chooses to stay at home to raise their child because they feel that is the best option for them, do they deserve to be judged for it? Where does this judgement come from? I don’t believe that these judgements  are based on worrying what is best for the child, so where does it come from? Is it about protecting ourselves? Are we judging the way others choose to parent in order to convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing? Why can’t we support each other while accepting that we choose to do some things differently. Does there have to be a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way?

I don’t know what the answer is to any of this, I really don’t. Can you offer support to someone who you think is struggling without them feeling judged? I’d like to think you can, but in reality I’m not so sure. The more I think about it, the more I realise that this judgement isn’t confined to the world of parenting as throughout society people are judged. Judged by their looks, by how much money they make, by their gender or sexuality. Maybe it’s just a part of human nature. Maybe I just feel more judged now because of the weight of responsibility that is raising a child.

It saddens me…

Do you feel judged as a parent? Where do think it comes from?

 

mumturnedmom

BaSAHM Survival Kit – Resilience

The second instalment in the Becoming a Stay at Home Mum Survival Kit Series - All the things I think you need if you are going to survive becoming a stay at home mum! Next up, Resilience.

When I say resilience I guess what I mean is confidence in your belief that being a stay at home mum is the right thing for you to do. To not give in to doubts or be swayed by the opinions of others. Sounds simple but it can be very hard at times. The term ‘stay at home mum’ is a relatively new one, that replaces other labels such as ‘housewife’ and ‘home-maker’. In the not too distant past, being the housewife or the home-maker was the norm and it was much more unusual for women to continue working once they had children. We’ve come a long way since then. Working mothers are now much more common and stay at home mums have become the minority.

As I have said before I don’t know that one way is better than another, we each have to do what is right for us and our family. However being in the minority can be difficult as there seems to be a lot of people who struggle to understand why you want to be a stay at home mum. I am talking about mums as I am a mum but I am sure it is just the same, if not worse for some stay at home dads as they are even more of a minority group.

What am I talking about? Well when I speak to old colleagues and tell them I am a stay at home mum there is kind of an ‘oh’ moment and ‘ok, ‘sometimes a ‘what do you do all day?’ and recently ‘what will you do when the kids go to school?’ As if being a stay at home parent somehow tarnishes your record and you’ll never be part of the workforce again. Heaven forbid that you might not want to be part of the workforce, and that you might enjoy being a stay at home parent!

The opinion I struggle the most with is the suggestion that being a stay at home parent somehow means that you have a lower IQ or something. For example, when working mummies say that being a stay at home parent isn’t ‘enough’ for them and they need something more for themselves. That is fair enough and I understand they may feel like that and don’t think any less of them for it. Yet when it is turned around I have found some people are so confused why it is ‘enough’ for me right now. During a play-date conversation a couple of months ago another mum thought I said I was going back to work and immediately jumped in with an “Oh I am glad, you’re like me, you need something more.” It was really awkward having to say, no, um I’m not going back to work. I’m sure I will one day but not right now. I’m fine, and the fact that I want to stay at home to raise my children doesn’t make me any less intelligent.

Most of the time these things don’t bother me and people can think what they like. But sometimes it gets to me and the doubts creep in, so you have to be resilient enough to not let them get to you. To stand firm in your decision. I’ve written before about how hard it is to be proud of being a stay at home mum, to avoid risking offending someone so it’s not about saying that I’m right and other people are wrong. It’s just about having the resilience to listen to their opinions but not let them get to you or make you think you are doing the wrong thing or that you are somehow lesser because you don’t work .

Thankfully not everyone thinks like that. I also have mummy friends who say they enjoy work because it’s easier than being with the kids all day and less exhausting, who tell me they don’t know how I do it!

It’s not just about other people’s opinions either, a series of difficult days can beat you down to the point where  you think that maybe it isn’t the right decision. Going through a rough patch with food or sleep etc. can leave you wondering if maybe it would be better for both you and your child if you were at work and they were at nursery or a childminders, being looked after by people who know what they are doing. So you have to be resilient enough not to let the bad days drag you down. After all there is going to bad days no matter whether you are a working parent or stay at home parent. You have to dust yourself down, think about why you have chosen to be a stay at home parent and have the strength to see it through.

I’m not saying I manage this all the time – after all my blog is about becoming a stay at home mum rather than being one! It’s something I am getting better at though. Maybe if I reach the point where I don’t doubt myself or don’t care about other people’s opinions/comments that I will feel like I am a stay at home mum – rather than just someone who is trying to be one!

What do you think?

If you liked this post, why not have a look at the other posts in the survival kit: Perspective, Confidence and Creativity

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Battling boredom and keeping busy

As I have written before, being a stay at home mum is the right decision for me at the moment, because I am lucky enough that we can afford it, and because I like being the one to teach Monkey and to watch him grow. Even though I am confident that it is the right decision for me, it isn’t always easy and some days are definitely more difficult than others. Boredom is one of weirdly hard things about it. We live by a routine as it is the best way for Monkey to be happy and healthy and therefore the best thing for me. But  as with any routine, this can lead to monotony. Particularly as Monkey gets older and needs my constant attention a lot less.

Playtime with friends

Playtime with friends

With the grandparents

With the grandparents

 

I’ve known for a while that one of the key things to do as a stay at home mum is to get out of the house every day. To get some adult company where possible, to help Monkey burn off some energy, to get a change of scene, you get the idea. This helps with boredom somewhat as it keeps us busy. We go with friends and other kiddies to parks when the weather is good, and indoor soft play places/cafes with play areas etc, when the weather is not so good. We visit relatives and have relatives round. We go to the shops, shopping centres, garden centres (he particularly likes fish and pet areas) or sometimes just for a walk round the block.

Playtime with friends

Out for a walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

This does help a lot but doesn’t really solve anything, and on days where we have nothing planned and the weather isn’t great for getting out…. I can get quite moody and irritable. I just don’t always know what to do with him to burn off some energy and keep him going. We could obviously always go to a garden centre or shopping centre, but I am also not a huge fan of wandering aimlessly with no purpose so if I don’t need (or can’t afford) to buy anything then I don’t like going. So that is when I come up with all sorts of playtime ideas, but even those don’t keep him occupied for that long.

Yummy Red Velvet Cake

Yummy Red Velvet Cake

 

Having fun with crochet

Having fun with crochet

Even when we do keep busy  together, it’s not usually very mentally stimulating. I can absolutely understand why some mums want to go back to work, because they need something else for themselves. I understand that completely and because of this I do question my decision at times, though for me all of the reasons I chose to stay at home, outweigh this one thing. But I do also recognise that I need some mental stimulation. This is why I crochet and do other crafty bits. It’s why I bake and cook to challenge myself (when I am not on a diet at least haha). I think a lot about home improvements and do all the household budgets, manage hubby’s business account. I also read a lot and I do most of the housework too but that doesn’t stimulate my mind! haha

 

If we didn’t know we wanted baby number 2 within the next year or so, I think I would be looking to go back to work now, but as it is there isn’t any point trying to find a job at the moment so I will just have to keep busy and find new ways of battling boredom until number 2 comes along, and then we will just wait and see how I feel after that. I think about studying something or even doing some work from home part time, but again I am not sure that I am ready to commit to anything like that when I know we hope to have another baby at some point, as I am sure I will have much less opportunity to get bored with 2 little ones in the house! At least until number 2 is a bit older.

Any other stay at home mums get bored sometimes? How do you keep yourself going?

Remembering why I want to be a SAHM… for now

After my ever so slightly gloomy post from the weekend I thought I would check in and say that I am feeling much better again. My negative head is back in it’s box! I am in a really lucky position to be a stay at home mum and I know that, but I guess we all wonder what we are doing with our lives sometimes. Being a stay at home mum is what I want to be right now, but I guess it isn’t what I want forever. I know that once the little ones are older that I will want to do something or go back to work, of some kind or another! But I would like this to fit around my family life. We want to have another baby in the next year or two so I am going to be at home for a while longer but I am also starting to think about what I would like to do with my life after this.

For me, being a stay at home mum is really important. I like being the one to raise my child and teach him about the world.I am in a really lucky position in that I am able to do this as we can afford to live on my husbands salary. I understand though that this isn’t a choice for everyone, and that for some people, even if they didn’t have to go back to work, that they would want to. As ever I am not judging anyone else’s decisions, just thinking about what is right for me and my family.

After feeling so down I also had a chat with my mum about things, as she was a stay at home mum when I was little so it’s nice to chat from her perspective. She went back to work when we were at school. It’s quite a long time ago now but she says she remembers looking at us as adults and feeling so proud and confident because as she quite rightly says, “I did that.” And, well, my mum can be quite soppy and she said that if ever she has a down day she thinks of my brothers and I and feels really proud of us, and herself for the way we have all turned out, which is just lovely really! I hope I can look at my grown up children one day and feel the same way, and be proud of the way that I raised my children, because that is what it is all about.

As a stay at home parent you don’t get achievements in the form of pay rises, promotions, certificates etc, it’s difficult to mark successes. But at the weekend, when my little boy showed us that when asked, he can point to his nose, his ears, his tummy, his head, his mouth and his toes, I was so proud! It’s nice to see that he is learning what I am teaching, to prove to myself that I am doing a good job.

While I very much enjoy my time spent day to day with my little monkey, it also nice to be able to use my brain a bit more sometimes too. I do some accounts work for my husband’s business, I blog, bake and crochet but I know that one day, I will want something more for me. I’m also very lucky that I am in a position where I can really think about what I want to do. It’s quite strange and it’s not like we are loaded or anything, but we have been managing pretty well money-wise right now. When it does come time to go back to work I can try to do something that I really want, rather than doing whatever I can to get a job. So anyway, I need to think about what this is and I kind of feel pressure to be successful, but I think it’s more the pressure I put on myself, maybe I am more ambitious than I thought!

In the meantime though, I am a bit refocussed on making the most of the time with Monkey and enjoying being a stay at home mum.

 

 

Stay at home mum and … proud??

It’s a few months now since I made the decision to be a stay at home mum and yes there are ups and downs (as with any job I’m sure) but on the whole I am really happy with the decision I made. Monkey and I are very busy and we have lots of fun together and I love being the one to see him grow and learn day by day. Yet for some reason, I feel being a stay at home mum is a difficult thing to be proud of.

One of the mums I have been getting to know at baby class asked me the simple question of ‘do you work?’ and I really didn’t know how to answer it. I just said ‘no’ and then stopped. I almost felt like I should justify the reasons why I don’t work or be self deprecating about it. I daren’t be proud of the decision as I run the risk of offending them and their decision. It’s a really hard thing to talk about with other mums who do work, as they either can’t understand why you don’t want to work, or they would love to be able to not work but can’t afford to. Either way I don’t like getting into the conversation about it. There’s kind of an ‘oh’ and a taken aback look which makes me feel really uncomfortable.

Trying to justify my reasons for staying at home almost implicitly criticises their decision to go back to work, even though that’s not how I feel. As I have mentioned a few times, I don’t judge other people for their decisions, we all have to make our own decisions that feel right for us. But if I say ‘I couldn’t bear for someone else to tell me about his developments’, it comes across almost like I’m saying ‘how can you bear to have someone else tell you about your child’s development?’ So I don’t say anything and I don’t explain my reasons because I don’t know how to without it being taken the wrong way. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone.

One of my good friends is currently on maternity leave with her second child and is talking about when to return to work. She was asking me the other day about when I thought I would want to go back to work and what I would do, as if it was a given that of course I will go back to work at some point soon, even if not to the job I had before. It felt weird having to explain that no, I don’t think I am going to go back, at least not until after we’ve had baby number 2, and potentially not until they are both at school. It’s like it doesn’t compute why you would want to do that. I know I am not the only stay at home mum in the world but I don’t seem to know many who can empathise with me on this. Both my mum and mother in law were stay at home mums but they were different times then and it was much more common.

Society has changed so much and there’s always something in the media about motherhood. You’re criticised one minute if you work, then criticised if you don’t work and it’s hard to know which way to go. There’s a lot of pressure to be a supermum who works and is successful at work but also raises her children well and does the best things for them, but I don’t understand how you do that. I think being a mum is a really hard (though massively rewarding) full time job and I don’t know how I personally would manage a full time (or even part time) job at the same time. I think one or the other would suffer, and well if I am going to do something I would rather do one thing well than multiple things badly. And what’s more important than raising your child?

Again this is all my opinion and based entirely on me. I really don’t mean anyone to take any offence to this because we are all different and have different capabilities and are in different situations. I know that I am massively fortunate to be able to stay at home and I know that if I wasn’t able to stay at home that of course I would manage to juggle work and baby. Because if you have to do it, you just do.

I suppose maybe that’s it, maybe I can’t feel proud of being a stay at home mum because it’s really only luck that has enabled me to do it. I am lucky that hubby earns enough for all of us. It’s not my hard work that lets me live the way that we do. I can’t say that I earned loads of money pre-baby so now we can use savings to live off, I wish! Maybe all my talk about worrying whether I offend other mums isn’t the crux of it at all. Maybe, I just feel a bit humbled by the fact that they do manage work and children but I don’t because I am lucky and I don’t have to. Can you be proud of something you got through luck?

So, ok, maybe I struggle to be proud of how I can be a stay at home mum, but I wish I could feel proud of the fact that I am being one. But that brings me full circle to the beginning of this post. How can I proudly wax lyrical about how good it is for monkey to have me be at home with him, without implicitly criticising mums who go back to work? I don’t know how to do that.

It’s a difficult one and I don’t think I know the answer. This has been a bit of a rambling post I know, but it’s something that has been on my mind this week.