It’s Monkey’s birthday this week, which also means I have been a SAHM for 2 years. Technically not really as I was obviously on maternity leave to start with and I didn’t 100% decide not to return to work until my time was nearly up. But I have been at home with Monkey for 2 years so I am classing all of that time as SAHM time.
And you know what, I think I’ve come a long way from where I’ve started. I by no means have the whole domestic goddess SAHM thing down, but I think I’ve adjusted pretty well to life away from work. To life revolving around nappies, food, soft play, toys and tidying. With a bit of cooking and baking fun thrown in. (If you would like to read more about how I made my decision to be a SAHM, you can do so here. I have nothing against working mums at all, this is just about my decision.)
Here’s what I have learnt is necessary to survive over the last couple of years.
1 – GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Sorry to shout but seriously for me the most important thing is to get out of the house. Even if just a walk around the local area. Even if just a walk around a supermarket if it is wet out! A change of scene can work wonders and unless I have some amazing activity planned (and even then to be honest) I try and get out of the house every day. Even if only for a little while. Honestly, it keeps me sane. Most of the time this involves play dates or seeing grandparents or going to a baby group.
2 – Routine. This may just be a me thing as I am a planner by nature, but without the structure of going to work every day and doing things at certain times, it’s easy to feel a little lost. Obviously there are different opinions about routines for kids, I’m not going to get into that too much but routines work for Monkey and they work for me. We are both happier when we are on routine. I’m not talking strict, down to the minute rules, but a vague plan of rough times, and certain things on certain days. Again I know some people would find this too constricting, but for me, it really, really helps.
3 – It’s not easy and that’s ok. I spent a lot of time early on worrying about trying to be supermum, which I’m not, and actually I don’t think anyone really is. I sometimes feel that being a SAHM isn’t just about looking after your little one, as you suddenly feel that because you’re at home all the time, that you should also take the responsibility for having a spotless house. Unfortunately, at least when little one is a baby or a toddler, it is fricking hard work, if not impossible to keep the house spotless while entertaining/feeding them, and staying sane. It’s ok if your house often looks like a bomb site, but it’s also ok to try and keep it tidy. Or do a bit of both depending on how knackered you are!
4 – Mummy friends are so important. I’m lucky that a few friends from work had children a little before me, and we have gotten really close over the last couple of years. It is fab to unburden yourself with people who know what you are talking about. They don’t have to be SAHMs too, mine are all working mums, but they are still mums! They remind me I am not alone and when I am struggling with something it is so great to hear their experiences and share ideas! They may not always be able to help, but at least they can lend an ear. If you don’t have many mummy friends, it is worth trying to befriend some at baby/ toddler group of some kind. I’ve written before about finding confidence as a Mum/SAHM but it is important sometimes to break out of your comfort zone and get that support from other mums.
Blogging and the world of social media is also fab for this and I have loved connecting with so many other lovely, wonderful and supportive mums out there – and I wish I had joined this awesome community earlier!!
5 – Get some me time. It’s easy to feel guilty about taking some time for yourself, but when you are a SAHM and your whole life basically revolves around the house and your child, it is so important to take some time for yourself. I’m not saying it is less important for working mummies, and I can only talk about my experience, as a SAHM. I go for ages with no me time as weekends are filled with family time, or catching up on housework while Monkey has some daddy time, but it’s inevitable that after a while I become a grumpy mummy! And it’s because I need some time to myself. It doesn’t need to be a lot of time – just a wander round the shops sans-child, with just my own thoughts, or some good music for company is really restorative. As is sitting quietly watching a film. I suppose it’s just having the ability, even for a little while, to do what YOU want. Not what needs doing, not what anyone else wants to do, or what you think someone else will enjoy. What you want that you know you will enjoy, without worrying whether anyone else is enjoying it too!
On the whole, once I figured out the above survival methods, I have loved being a SAHM. It can be hard sometimes, and it can be boring sometimes. Not particularly the time spent having fun with Monkey, but the endless cleaning and tidying, and the quiet times. It doesn’t have the same mental stimulation that working did, if I’m honest. But, then that’s why I blog! And spend time trying to come up with fun activities for Monkey.
I have loved that I’ve been the one with him all time time. I’ve been the one who helped him learn to walk, and who heard his first words. I know all of his quirky habits and how much he loves numbers. I know him inside out and love the connection we have. He has a lovely relationship with his daddy of course, and he’s a toddler so he can be frustrating at times but on the whole I do find spending my time with him very very rewarding and I love being his mummy.
Now that he’s getting older I have thought once or twice about returning to work. With a new baby on the way it’s a bit of a moot point really and I’m not sure what I would do if we weren’t planning on another child, but I may have thought about something part time by now. Though returning to work would be a bit of a change again after this much time at home! As it is though I am happy at home and looking forward to at least a few more years as a SAHM.
To finish off the post I thought I’d pop in a few shots of Monkey and I together over the past 2 years…