My reality of being the stay at home parent

When I first went on maternity leave and became a stay at home mum two and a half years ago, I had grand ideas about what I’d do with all of the spare time I was going to have. I had hobbies I was planning to take up, new skills I was going to learn, and of course, my house was going to be pristine.

I completely underestimated how much time it takes to keep a newborn baby alive. And the reality of those first few months brought me crashing back down to planet earth…

my experience of being a stay at home mum

Wife guilt, mum guilt, life guilt…

In truth, I found being a stay at home mum pretty frustrating in the beginning. The huge responsibility of parenting a child didn’t feel ‘productive enough’ for me somehow. I begrudged getting to the end of the day and finding that the house was still a bomb hole – in spite of the fact that I seemed to do nothing other than tidy up all day.

It felt as though everyone else was carrying on living their lives and having fun without me, whilst I had been cast to this new privileged world of motherhood. I felt like I should feel eternally grateful – and of course I was – but for a long time I also felt very alone. I was constantly shattered and had no energy to do anything. And I selfishly felt as though I never had enough time to myself.

In all fairness I still stand by my earlier assessments that Taylor was a difficult newborn. My failed attempts to comfort her and quieten her constant crying left me feeling even more helpless. I was failing on every level and felt that I perhaps wasn’t cut out for this.

Justifying my existence

Despite the hubby always being supportive, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that he felt I had the better deal. And why wouldn’t he? I had no (tangible) stress to deal with, no financial pressure and ultimately, I got to spend all day with the child who he painfully missed every day.

And I agree. I would take those days spent at home with my daughter – no matter how testing – any day over my previous career. But in my experience, I found that with the privilege of being a stay at home mum, came the feeling that I constantly owed something. I felt I had to justify my existence.

I’d become obsessive about using every spare minute when Taylor slept to ‘get something done’. Whether that was to clean a bathroom, wash the dishes, write a blog post…Sleep when baby sleeps just wasn’t something I could allow myself to do.

Some days I would spend all afternoon cleaning and I would feel so deflated when the hubby walked through the front door and didn’t even notice.

Other days he would be met by an exasperated and exhausted wife who didn’t seem capable of holding it together. I felt like he or nobody else really believed me when I told them that she had cried the entire day.

But these thoughts were all my own, and really nothing to do with anyone else.

It’s true that I didn’t have the stress of work to deal with. But I can say that my patience has never been tested so much as in those days.

I’ve never worked so hard and felt so little gratification from all of my efforts as I did then. I’ve never felt so tired.

Cherishing these days

Following the newborn days, things got a whole lot better. I can’t remember when exactly, but around Taylor hitting six months life got far more enjoyable. I loved being able to interact and play actual games with her. And I loved being a mum more with each month that she became more independent.

stay-at-home-mum

With a much happier child I became a much happier mum. I started to take a far more relaxed approach. I managed to shake the mum guilt (and wife guilt!) and I realised that I didn’t need to be good at everything – as long as I was a good mum.

Following my planned maternity leave, I made the decision to go back to work part-time. This is the ideal scenario for me and makes those days spent with my daughter all the more precious. I love being able to dedicate set days of my week to her, without thinking about all of the other things that I should perhaps be doing. We have such fun together and I feel so lucky that I’m able to spend this time with her.

I’ve found my happy place.

Second time around…

As we wait for the arrival of our second baby in ten weeks time, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared. Scared about returning to those newborn days. Scared about becoming a full-time stay at home mum once again.

But I feel so much more prepared this time around and I’m looking forward to being far more confident and self-assured. I know that I’m a good mother and a good wife. And that’s all I can ask of myself.

Are you a stay at home mum? How was your experience of the early days? Did you find it took some getting used to?

Mummuddlingthrough

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12 Comment

  1. Reply
    Susie at This is me now
    May 10, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I’m a stay at home mum to a toddler now. I have to say I think I was pretty lucky with the newborn days. Mine wasn’t colicky and didn’t seem to cry all day. She slept fairly well and we had lots of feeding and cuddles to start with and then days out with nct friends for cake. But i have friends who found it much harder and I really think it does depend on the child. If we have another I worry it will be a lot harder!! I find being a stay at home mum to a toddler even harder now, as they require so much attention and entertainment. But the rewards are greater too as they share so much and we have so much fun (when I’m not being hit or told to “go away!”) x

  2. Reply
    Heledd @ yummyblogger
    May 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I hear you! I’m on my last month of maternity leave and I should be loving every minute with my two but find myself spending too much doing housework which makes me look forward to getting back to work!!!
    My second born was similar to your first born… very hard work for the first few months…. hopefully you will have an easier time second time around! Xxx
    Heledd @ yummyblogger recently posted…How to get a 6 month old baby to sleep through at nightMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Natalie Mudd
      May 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      I think we just all think maternity leave is going to be a breeze after working full-time – and then reality hits!! Nothing can really prepare us for motherhood and we’re just thrown in at the deep end. I chilled out with the cleaning in the end as I realised that nobody (but me) really noticed anyway 😉 xxx

  3. Reply
    Talya
    May 11, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Being a stay at home mum is HARD work. Honestly, I don’t think stay at home mums should justify their existence although of course we have all done at some point it’s so hard not to….but I think once baby 2 is around all of that will go out of the window but will be interesting to hear how your thoughts on that all change as the dynamic does darling. Thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub lovely xoxo

  4. Reply
    mummy here and there
    May 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I think it is one of the toughest things ever and guilt is constantly at the forefront X #coolmumclub

  5. Reply
    MMT
    May 11, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    A huge amount of this really resonated Nat – I’m having a bad week and no idea why! Hopefully just a blip…think I’ve been doing too much and need some down time.
    One thing I will say is that for a long time it felt very different with two – less lonely as you’ll have Taylor to be your buddy throughout. Far less silence than first time around!
    Good luck, you’ll find your balance ( I just need to re-find mine!)
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub
    MMT recently posted…#coolmumclub Linky week 65My Profile

    1. Reply
      Natalie Mudd
      May 25, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Hope your month got better lovely. Yes, I hadn’t thought about that – being less lonely. I’m looking forward to it being different this time around and being much more confident in my instincts x

  6. Reply
    Muffin top mummy
    May 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    I feel like I try to justify myself to my husband – even though he’s not even questioning whether the baby has been crying all day! I’ve found that blogging has really helped with the loneliness and need to do something ‘else’ with my time – but I totally get where you’re coming from. #coolmumclub
    Muffin top mummy recently posted…21 fantastic ideas to maximise your maternity leaveMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Natalie Mudd
      May 25, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Blogging was a godsend for me too and it gave me something else to focus on and aim towards. Probably why so many of us set up parenting blogs! x

  7. Reply
    The Hippy Christian Mum
    May 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Yes I can totally appreciate a lot of those thoughts and feelings, especially feeling you needed to accomplish something I totally feel like that too. It’s like if I’ve cleaned the bathroom I’ve done something. I’m a stay at home mum just considering getting a part time job too. By the time I’ve paid for chilcare I’ll basically be working for free but I think I might need to.
    The Hippy Christian Mum recently posted…Disney World – 3 Essential Planning TipsMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Natalie Mudd
      May 25, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      It is hard knowing what to do for the best. Personally working part-time has given me the structure and routine that I think I missed when being a full-time sahm. And it’s made me appreciate the days I have at home so much more. Yes, childcare expenses hardly make it worthwhile but it wasn’t so much about the money for us, just getting a sense of ‘me’ back. Good luck whatever you decide to do x

  8. Reply
    absolutely prabulous
    May 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Ah I love how you write Nat. It’s like you’re talking to the reader over a cuppa. I totally relate to the feeling out of control that first year but I must admit being the laziest person on earth, I never had that ‘must be doing something all the time’ itch and was very happy to watch trashy afternoon TV (I became very familiar with every line from Murder She Wrote and Sex and the City box sets). Congrats on the pregnancy (rather late of me which shows how long it’s been since I popped over to you!) and good luck with the adjustment to two. #coolmumclub
    absolutely prabulous recently posted…What Happened to the BiBs17 Awards? Doesn’t The Writing Matter Anymore?My Profile

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