You’ve probably heard those words before, and when you did they probably sent an angry shiver down your spine as if someone just scraped a thousand fingernails over a thousand blackboards. Whether your spouse muttered it in a joking tone as he walked through the door from work or a clueless friend questioned your new role as a mum, these words form the phrase that every stay-at-home mother (SAHM) loathes.
If you’ve never been a stay at home parent before, chances are you find it difficult to understand what could make up a regular day in the life of one. Once you’ve lived it, though, you will fully relate to the old adage, ‘the days are long but the years are short.’ There’s no more bittersweet job than being the stay-at-home carer for your children, whether it’s one or four, but few of us would trade it for the world.
Expect the Unexpected
Before starting maternity leave, you probably thought of this motherhood gig as something pretty fun. You had images in your head of hanging out at shopping centres, drinking lattes, and spending days cuddling your baby in a cloud of love and happiness. While you might still get to do some of those things now, the reality might look a little different.
There is a shopping centre but you’re usually racing to find the nearest parent’s room so you can clean up the poo explosion that took place on the way there. You’ll drink a latte but it will likely be a few hours old and stone cold by the time you get to it. There will be times when you do nothing but gaze in awe at how much you love this new little person, but these moments probably won’t be as often as you’d like.
Being at home all day with a baby or child can be lonely, isolating, frustrating, joyous, and satisfying – all rolled into one. There is a plethora of emotions you can go through in a single day as a stay-at-home parent, and you’ll probably become familiar with them all.
This might indicate why women are now staying home past their maternity leave more than ever rather than heading back to the workforce. As recently as 2013, the ABS signalled that the rate of women between 15-64 in the workforce was lower than it was in 2009, with this number not shifting much since.
A Day in the Life
So, what does an average day look like for a SAHM? There can be any number of tasks that happen each day, and in between these larger jobs are smaller fractions of events and happenings that you just get done, without a second thought.
- Feeding the children: whether it’s cutting up fresh fruit and biscuits for a snack, reheating leftovers from the night before, getting something in the drive through, or breastfeeding your baby on the couch, this alone can take hours out of your day.
- Entertaining the children: this entertainment comes in any number of forms from arts and craft, reading, putting on the right movie that doesn’t cause a tantrum, telling stories, taking them to the park, letting them play with your phone for a moment’s silence, and lots, lots more.
- Keeping the children safe: often forgotten by many but the part that comes most naturally, we spend so much of our day catching falls, wiping up spills, keeping a look out, and handling with care.
- Loving the children: the most fun and important part of a SAHM’s day are those moments lost in cuddling, kissing, playing, staring, taking photos, and being amazed at the new and wonderful things they’re doing today.
- Having time out: you might not get a lot of it, but every little bit helps. Something as simple as scrolling through your Facebook feed, taking a hot shower by yourself, or zoning out to some television alone should be savoured for the miracle that it is.
How To Take the Load Off
Sure, there isn’t a lot you can do to make matters easier as a SAHM. Eventually, though, you’ll learn to make order of the chaos and figure out some handy tricks that help the days run smoother. Although you might hear warnings from other mums about how hard it can be, it pays to remind yourself how many women willingly choose this as their dream job, day in and day out.
The most common reason Australian women give for returning to work after the birth of their child is because they’ve felt pressure from their employer or are worried to lose their position. This indicates that given the chance, many women would stick with it and enjoy the lovable mayhem that is stay at home motherdom.
Want more articles on motherhood and maternity leave? Why not check out the rest of our posts here at Peachymama, and the next time you’re at the park and spot a solo mother going it alone, why not strike up a conversation?