Welcome to the first 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 Helen from Talking Mums!
What kind of mum is best for a child?
When I saw the opportunity to take part in Zoe’s new series I really wanted to have my say. I feel like I can express both points of view. You see after my first child I went back to work when she was 10 months old. Doing what many families do and placed her in nursery 3 days a week from 8am until 5.15pm. Nursery cost us half my monthly income. This was a bill for approx. £600 per month. I did this because I had too. My OH had a full time job, we were looking at buying a family home, we wanted to go holidays and have a comfortable lifestyle. To do this, going to work was necessary. There was also the aspect that my career is something I have worked really hard for and I actually think I do a pretty good job too.
I don’t regret this decision either. Pops flourished at nursery. I hated leaving her for such a long day but she seemed to love it. I enjoyed going to work (mostly) and keeping that part of my identity. I gave up the monotony of cbeebies from maternity leave to actually having adult conversations and felt like I was actually helping people doing my job. I did feel like I had a nice balance of working part time and being at home.
Roll on to baby number two. About half way through maternity leave our eldest started school. This was the game changer. My job is a 1 hour and 15 min drive away. To start work at 08:30 I need to leave home at 7am. No school breakfast club at that time! At the other end of the day I don’t get home until 6 – 6:30pm, guess what no after school club open till that time. Could I find a registered childminder in my area – no! I asked around, I had lists from the council and checked websites too. The nearest childminders didn’t do drop offs and pick ups at the school Pops would attend. We also have no help from family.
So what to do? Fortunately, over the years my OH has worked hard and does well with his work. So the discussion of a career break came up. I would be taking a 5 year break in my career and not have my own income but yet I would be able to stay at home with Pud, not pay someone else to look after him and get to do all the school stuff with Pops. My career will always be there so long as I keep up my registration through a few shifts a year. I figured I may regret not doing it, but I would be unlikely to regret doing it.
I applied for it and got it. I’ve been a SAHM now for about 3 short months following maternity leave. Positives are as I said above. Downsides are the strange adjustment to not going to work, a loss of identity and my own income. I also feel this sense of needing to be superwoman. I’m at home therefore I should have time and should be able to achieve so much including a tidy house and attend multiple playgroups. But I don’t, having a clingy toddler inhibits this to some extent.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that most of make our decisions based on circumstances and necessity. Not often on choice alone. There is always a sense of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ but I think it’s only natural to miss what you don’t have. When you are a working mum you miss not spending time with your children. When you’re a SAHM you miss the social side to work and the professional identity you once had. It hard to have it all and find the perfect balance. Part time work is advantageous with flexible working to accommodate childcare but this is pretty hard to come by.
We all as mums want to do the very best for our children. An inevitable part of this desire is feeling guilty about what we feel we can’t or don’t do. This pushes us to justify the decisions we make, which can sometimes be construed as belittling the people who have made the opposite decision. There is no perfect solution in my mind, we just have to make the most of our situations. Whichever way our paths take us, being a working mum or a SAHM offer benefits to our children as do they have drawbacks. Neither one superseding the other.
Children will be thrive in whichever setting they grow up. So what kind of mum is best for a child? Well in my book it’s a mum who makes it clear to their child they are loved. Whether you are a working mum or a SAHM you do this all the time without thinking. So keep calm and carry on being a mum!
You can see more from Helen here!