‘I find it difficult that at the end of the day I can’t say what I have achieved’ is what a stay-at-home mum said to me recently. I agreed that sometimes being at home is as exciting as watching paint dry. The enemies of stay-at-home mums with young children are tiredness, frustration, impatience, discontent and boredom. They strike between the dead hours of 3:30pm and 5:00pm when you have exhausted your stock of games, you are tired and he is whining, your eyes droop closed but it is too early to start the evening routine. The days ahead stretch out relentlessly and you wish you were anywhere else but here with a pre-schooler. The idea of working seems especially glamorous if you can be removed from your dull routine. You pause to allow a new emotion of guilt to arise – shouldn’t you always desire to be with your child?
We all have days that we feel tired, lack energy and being at home is tedious. Recognise this and cut yourself some slack. Keep a few easy activities in reserve for dull afternoons such as jigsaws or board games. During my second pregnancy, I didn’t have energy to constantly entertain a boisterous toddler and it was then that I introduced ‘Bambi Hour’. In the late afternoon, we would watch a video for about 45 minutes. When I say ‘watch’, he gazed while I dozed comatose. As my energy returned, I reduced the length of time and regularity of television, but during a difficult period it was a helpful tool.
If you are feeling frustrated over a longer period of time, explore your feelings and try to decipher your difficulties with being at home. Write a list of everything that is bothering you and talk it through with a sympathetic friend. Sometimes sharing your frustrations will help, or it could galvanise you into action. Maybe you need to find activities outside the area of children or participate in a part-time course to gain personal space. You may even decide to try working part-time.
Remember that it is hard work to care for children and recognise that you will not enjoy every moment as it can be a struggle to accept your role and joyfully repeat dull chores. Remain calm and don’t chastise yourself if you feel grumpy at times but don’t allow a negative angry attitude to take hold. A sense of perspective and humour will see you through the next few years of mess and muddle.
This is part of a series of considering the positive and negative aspects of being at home. Choose the category ‘Why am I a stay-at-home mum?’ to read more in this series.