MAKING THE DECISION TO BE A SAHM (Stay At Home Mum) AND WHAT HAS CHANGED?
I got my first job the same week I was legally allowed to. Since then I have worked, sometimes balancing it with my schooling, sometimes working 3 jobs at once and stretching the hours in the day to the extreme. I have worked shamelessly in fast food, customer service, retail and administrative positions. Working was just something I have always done, and prided myself in… Until now.
Falling pregnant certainly wasn’t planned or even a part of my thoughts for the near future, but it happened. When I saw those 2 little pink lines, one of the first things I did was sit down with my boss and discuss with her what my options going forward were. It was agreed I would take 6 months off work and then head back part-time before working my way up to full-time again. Excellent, I thought, I wont miss out on too much time at work and I will be able to slide back into my role with no worries.
Soon enough my little boy made his way into the world and plans soon changed. When he was 4 months old I found myself needing to go back to work full-time and I expected things to be much the same as they were before. I was going back into working with the attitude that this was my break from motherhood, my “escape” and a chance to be around adults. Instead I found myself sitting at my desk worrying about if my baby was being cared for properly. I was on the phone to his day carer multiple times a day. I spent endless hours online, googling everything that came to mind, doing all of our shopping, trying to organise our lives.
It soon became clear that I was struggling with balancing everything that I needed to. I felt extremely overwhelmed and wasn’t giving 100% to any aspect of my life. I was pretty much half-arsing it at work and felt like I was completely failing at being a good Mum. After many discussions with my boss and her offering an incredible amount of support and understanding it was obvious that I wasn’t going to cope trying to balance everything that I was at the time.
So for the first time in 10 years I was unemployed. To be totally honest I felt useless and like a failure. I was positive that I had made a mistake. But a week in, I realised what a good move it had been. Taking my little one out of full-time day care was an instant relief for me. It felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders as this was something I had always disliked doing and had always felt guilty about. I soon eased into my new role of full time mum and I felt like a new person.
I spent a lot of time ensuring I was getting out of the house, going on play-dates, taking my little one to new places, meeting new people and keeping our days fun. I find myself a lot more organised as I can take the time to plan things rather than rushing around like I was before. My house is (mostly) clean consistently, although the fact that we are home more means I spend a lot of my time with the vacuum in one hand and spray’n’wipe in the other.
I have a new love of cooking and am thoroughly enjoying having the time to cook healthy, yummy food for my family. The new relationship that I have with my son has also changed. We have become best friends. I know him on a much more personal level than I did before. I am able to see what his mood is and help him through his problems much better than before.
I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression not long after my son was born and the biggest change I have seen is with this aspect of my life. When I was working and felt like I was under an unmanageable pressure, my PND was in full swing. I would regularly lock myself in the work bathroom unable to control my emotions. I found myself getting unreasonably angry at those around me and even though I was on medication I was constantly on the edge. Since leaving work, whilst I still suffer from anxiety and depression, I have found myself much calmer, much happier overall and being able to control my emotions much more. I have begun enjoying my life again.
The other area that has changed dramatically and is the only downside that I have experienced to becoming a SAHM is the substantial change in finances. Going from a two income household to one has been a huge adjustment and budgeting has become my best friend. It has involved a lot of changes and it has meant that as a family we may miss out on some of the luxuries, but I am absolutely confident that these sacrifices are worth the difference the decision to become a SAHM has made in our family overall.
I’m sure it is clear by now, but being a working parent just wasn’t right for me. I have improved the quality of my family’s lives by doing what worked best for me and being able to dedicate my best self to them. I know that not everyone will be the same or have the same mindset and I have the utmost respect for any parent who can balance all the things that come with parenting, their career and their social life successfully. So please don’t feel as though I don’t think Mum’s should work as I would love to get myself into a position where I can make it all work.
Whatever your decision may be, the most important thing is to ensure that it is what is best for you and your family, as at the end of the day, that is all that matters.