Friday, 11 August 2017

How I Became A Stay At Home Mum

I never expected to be a stay at home mum. I have always wanted kids, but I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly maternal. After my first child there was never any question about me going back to work full time. I loved my job and even if I hadn’t we were dependent on my income. My daughter needed constant stimulation and I knew she would love nursery while I enjoyed the luxury of going to the toilet without company.

Roll forwards 4 years and my (new) partner and I made the decision that I wouldn’t go back to work after maternity leave with my second child. I now bring in a small income through blogging, but my primary role (at least in the daytime hours) is childcare. Most days I am happy and at peace with the world. So what changed?

A silly selfie of me and my youngest daughter

My youngest daughter is at a fantastic age. She is cheeky and a lot of fun, she makes me laugh and smile throughout the day. I don’t remember her big sister at this age and I feel I missed out. Big Sister went to nursery full-time from a year old so during the week I would only really see her for a brief period each morning and evening. That time was filled with the stress of trying to get us all out of the house or her to sleep. I remember thinking I was getting to see the worst bits of her, the parts of the day when she was tired and grumpy. Weekends were better, but they were rushed with so much to do. 

I loved my job and I worked hard to prove myself when I came back from maternity leave; I found I had to try really hard to re-establish my position at work. When I eventually got my daughter to sleep at night I would open my computer and do more work before falling into an exhausted sleep. It was all pretty pointless: almost a year to the day after I returned from maternity leave I packed up my belongings in the office and left. I had been made redundant.

A desk in an open plan office with two monitors, phone and other desk stuff

The stress and depression from losing my job didn’t help my already struggling marriage. I got another job quickly at a London hospital, but my marriage didn’t survive. I met my new partner and moved from one job at the hospital to another. I loved my new job, it was nearly my perfect job (if you ignore the massive pay cut, trying to provide improved services on an ever depleting NHS budget, unmanageable work levels and a manager who I didn’t get on with). Unplanned I got pregnant only 6 months into my new post. The pressure of trying to manage the job with the pregnancy exhaustion and my painful PGP meant high stress levels, anxiety and depression. I knew I wanted to go back to the job, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to keep working with my manager. And that was before he decided to leave it until my last day to do my appraisal. He knew I had been too busy working on my handover notes and tying up lose ends to prepare for an appraisal which wouldn’t matter anyway. In the meeting he surprised me by telling me I couldn’t manage my team and the other managers I supported weren’t happy with my performance. I had plenty of evidence to counter this, but hadn’t the time to collate it. It was my last day, I was 8 months pregnant, I just gave up and left.

Not long after my youngest daughter was born I started panicking about going back to work. In those precious few hours when my baby was actually asleep I would lie awake worrying about having to work with my manager again. I knew what he said about my performance was unfair, but as time passed I started doubting myself. I decided I would look for a new job when it got closer to my maternity leave ending. Work policy said I had to return to work for 3 months to avoid paying back my maternity pay so I prepared myself.

I visited a nursery and looked around with tears in my eyes. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my baby there. I hugged her closer and tried to enjoy the time I had with her. Looking back I don’t know how much it was the thought of leaving her, and how much it was the thought of working with my manager again that upset me. My partner and I talked about it and decided we would all be happier if I stopped working as soon as my notice period was up.

There are advantages of your manager thinking you are useless though. I went into work for a meeting and while my manager clearly tried to stay on the right side of policy he was keen to suggest ways that would mean he didn’t have to work with me directly. After trying to persuade me to take a lower paid position for the same hours we eventually agreed he would look to see if there were any suitable part time roles. He said that as a mum of two I must want to spend more time with my kids and I didn’t think telling him the real reason I wanted to leave would be helpful. Over the next couple of months he advised me that there were no suitable part time positions for me (in the hospital which employs over 10’000 people) and he proposed a way that would mean I could work out my notice period using my annual leave and avoid actually having to come back to work. 

Sitting on a sofa with an open macbook and a baby asleep in a Manduca baby carrier

I felt a huge amount of relief, but I was also slightly confused about my identity. I have always paid my way and I would be dependent on my partner financially. Blogging has played a big part in helping me find a new identity. I decided I wouldn’t be unemployed, I would be self-employed. It didn’t matter whether I made nothing or a £1000 in a month from blogging, I would still be working. 

My two girls are very different. I would always have struggled to have stayed at home with Big Sister because she was much more demanding and emotional.  Little Sister is hard work at times, but she is generally a happy and chilled out toddler. So while I sometimes think I missed out on a chunk of my eldest’s childhood I know going back to work was the right thing for me then. I can only be a stay at home mum now because of my supportive partner and the mental challenges, friendships and opportunities I get through blogging.


Am I a better mum now? Yes absolutely. It’s nothing to do with spending more time with my children though. It’s about being happier, more relaxed and more supported. There are days I crave adult company, days I need to have a break from my kids and days I think it would be nice to have a 9 to 5 job with a regular income.

Yes I sometime count the minutes until home time (when my partner gets home) or bed time (for the kids) whichever is first, but I don’t get that Monday morning dread. In fact I am excited that on Monday it’s just a quiet day for me and the little one after the busy weekend. I am grateful I get to spend more time with both girls now. I loved being a working mum, but I love being a stay at home mum too.
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9 comments

  1. This is a really nice post and goes to show that the grass isn't always greener. I've often wondered if I'd have fared better going back to work after having my kids but I don't really think there's a right answer to that. There's definately pro's and cons for each. x

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  2. Great post you have to do what works for you. I'm a stay at home mum too due to it working out that child care would be just too much of a cost to consider me getting a job. I do earn a bit from my blog which is always helpful.

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  3. This was really interesting to read as somebody who is about to leave work and go self employed with the blog. With three children it simply doesn't make financial sense for me to go back to work following maternity leave x

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  4. I love being at home with my little one, although I do a bit of private tutoring and am now working on building my blog which I recently started. I'm playing with the idea of going back to work, but this has definitely helped me with my thoughts a bit! X

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  5. I never thought I'd stay at home after my firstborn but childcare costs would have been more than I earned! I think I have the balance right now with 3 jobs and 3 kids and my blog :)

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  6. Great post . My maternity leave is up in Feb and debating what to do x

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  7. I went back to work after my first, and like you I really enjoyed the 'me time' and adult company. I didn't return after my second due to childcare costs, but I knew I wanted to be at home anyway. Experiencing my second growing up I realise how much I missed with my eldest! xx

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  8. Having bbqs enjoying life with friends and family

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  9. Had a lovely weekend away with the other half to Llandudno

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