Sometimes the stay-at-home-mum part of my life sucks. Not all the time, but sometimes it does. And lately it has been sucking more than usual, because my lovely, talkative three-year-old is really pushing the boundaries in what she says and does. She’s defiant, argumentative, non-listening, and has learned the word ‘whatever’. At three. Not cool at all.
It definitely hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. My husband has that whole ‘you just sit around and play and eat and relax while they sleep’ kind of attitude. He totally underestimates how incredibly hard it is to stay home with the kids. But secretly I think I may have had a little of that attitude somewhere along the way too.
Some days it is like that, we have a great morning playing, we eat lunch, we all have an afternoon nap, and dinner is on the table by 5.30pm. But actually, in reality, most days I am arguing with a defiant, confident, smarty-pants three-year-old and pulling a destructive one-year-old out of buckets of water, away from the dog food and down from places she shouldn’t be able to climb. I tidy up the same mess repetitively through the day, the kids don’t nap simultaneously so I actually get nothing done because I’m entertaining at least one kid the entire day.
And when I have just one of these rubbish days with the kids, all of a sudden the whole household is a mess. Piles of dishes, piles of washing to be washed, piles of washing to be folded (yea – my house is full of piles), and it’s just so overwhelming. It makes me want to just lock the door on all those piles and go to work.
To work, with my nice clean desk where I don’t have room worry about dishes or nappies or whinging voices (OK sometimes there might be a whinging voice). Where if I want a break, I can take one. You know – to go to the toilet, or to look at myself in the mirror for two minutes (long enough to realize I forgot to put eye liner on), or to have lunch in the sun, in the peace and quiet.
Then the moment I get that feeling of wishing I was at work, it is immediately followed by guilt. Because I should be enjoying my time at home. I should be grateful for having the opportunity to be able to stay home. Because other working mums would give anything to be in my situation. Other mums don’t have a choice. And I’m meant to love my children at all times regardless of their behaviour. I’m meant to cherish the moments because they’re only little once. Yea all that – wrapped up in guilt.
So I go to bed feeling overwhelmed by the shitty piles all over my house, the feeling for failure because I didn’t have ‘the perfect day’ with my little cherubs, wasting that precious stay-at-home time, and guilt for wanting to escape it all. Then I wake up the next day and I try again. Because it’s all we can do. We just have to keep trying to make it work best for us and our family. And if we get to the point where a change has to be made, then so be it. Add an extra daycare day, change your work structure, find a way to fix you work-life balance. Because balance doesn’t mean having a 50:50 ratio. It means ensuring you’re getting the best possible quality from both sides – whatever the ratio might be. I also give myself a few little reminders:
1. The guilt is unnecessary, I still love my kids with everything I have, that’s why I’m still trying, and that’s why it hurts when it’s not ‘the perfect day’.
2. Get rid of the notion of ‘the perfect day’. Because sometimes those crazy hectic messy days are actually pretty awesome too.
3. Relax. Lighten up. Get over the piles.
4. Remember that I am doing the best I can as a mum, and I’m doing a bloody good job of it.