Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest! #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate. I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family. If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! For now I will leave you in the hands of Jo from Cup of Toast!
Being a ‘SAHM’
I am a stay at home mum, whatever that really means. I’m saying it here purely for context.
The reality is that I don’t stay at home very much. I whizz about on school runs, grocery trips and visits to parks, farms and pet stores. I organise our household, including any work that needs to be done to the fabric of the house, the decorating, the DIY, the ironing, meal planning and more. I arrange extra-curricular activities for our boys. I attend health related meetings for Munch, undertake voluntary work and read relevant government policies and initiatives whilst simultaneously keeping little people amused (although nowhere near as professionally as the likes of Licia Ronzulli!). I budget all of our variable expenditure to within a penny. Birthday presents and parties are all left to me to arrange. I’m as busy as I was at the height of my career, but is that what being a stay at home mum is all about? I wager that it’s not. Surely every parent whatever their working status undertakes these matters?
So this is what it means to me. It’s a label. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s about as important as saying that I’m brunette. Or that I have freckles on my skin. That I’m female. It’s just a label. A form of identification for those form hungry companies that need you to say what you ‘do’. To them, I’m a stay at home mum. Sometimes I’m a housewife. Often I’m unemployed. I’ve gone past the point of being particular about which box I tick or what I tell people. I’ve largely given up mentioning what I did before I had children, or pointing out that I worked part time for a couple of years when Chief was young. I even brush a lot of my pro bono work under the carpet. If other people want to focus on my stay at home mum status that’s fine, but please excuse me if to me it’s just a phrase.
For a while it did infuriate me. That people assume that my husband earns mega bucks made me cross. Comments along the lines of what I could afford were all based on assumptions, not reality. One person suggested that I could donate a large sum of money to a charity in need of help because I must be able to afford it as I didn’t work? Another questioned my priorities when it came to budgeting our income. Not going out for meals but being able to splurge on my family.
I have mum guilt just as much as the next person. I always put pressure on myself to work harder with our budget and resources, to manage my time smarter. At the moment it’s trying to find quality one to one time with each of my three children, to make sure that they know that I’m interested in them, and that I’m listening to them. That I am there to support them with their school work, their hobbies, their development. Others might be struggling to fit in trips to see extended family around their regular weekend commitments, or staying up until the early hours slaving over a hot oven in order to support their local school at a cake sale. Some might worry every day whether or not they’ll be able to escape the office in time to get home and put their children to bed. We all have various pressures, and seek to find a balance in managing them. So really, regardless of what we do with our waking hours, we’re all the same. We’re all parents.
You see, here’s the thing. I don’t wear a badge telling others that I’m vegetarian. I don’t say that I’m actively trying to reduce my dairy intake. I don’t have a stamp on my head to say that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So why make a big deal out of being a stay at home mum? Why make it into a ‘thing’? We’re all doing our best, whatever that might look like. Whether we work full time, part time or not at all. Day shifts or night shifts, we are all making compromises. But there’s one thing that we all definitely have in common. We are all lucky. Lucky that we are getting to make these choices, or consider them. Lucky that we are in this position as parents in the first place. And that, surely, is all that should matter.
Jo blogs at Cup of Toast about her family life, food, adventures and everything in between. She is a mama to 3 boys (aged 6, 4 and 2) and several fur babies. Jo enjoys reading, writing and eating biscuits!
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