Stay at Home Mum. Is It Enough?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have asked me “When are you going back to work?”

Sometimes I’m amused by this question. Other times I’m irritated and other times, it depresses the hell out of me.

Being a Full Time Mum

My Old Job

Five years ago I was an Online Marketing Manager for a clothing company in London. I had hoped to go back to work after the birth of my eldest, Alice. When the time came for the inevitable back to work discussions. It all went a bit wrong. I was told there was no scope for flexibility. I couldn’t work from home at all and it wasn’t possible to reduce my hours. At all.

I couldn’t bear the thought of dropping my 1 year old baby off to nursery at 7am and not collecting her until 6pm 5 days a week. The commute into and out of London somehow seemed to be so much longer and fraught with potential for more problems and delays than ever before. And so, with some reluctance, I quit.

I was lucky to find some freelance marketing and copywriting work not long after with 1 major client. And this gradually expanded so that I was working with several different clients.

Freelance Work

When It’s Good…. It’s Very Very Good…..

On the good days, when I’ve got work on the go and I can cope with juggling everything in around the children then freelancing is great. I enjoy the flexibility it gives me. I love the fact that I can work the hours that suit me.

…..But When It’s Bad It is Horrid

The are several downsides of freelancing but the biggest is the unpredictability. I’m often quiet with little or no work on. Which makes money unreliable. I frequently lose heart. I wonder what the hell I’m doing. Whether I’ll ever have work again or do anything more meaningful than referee my kids’ arguments and try and placate the toddler’s list of meltdowns. 

Can Being a Mum Ever Be Enough?

At the school gates, I’m well aware that along with 1 other mum, we are completely in the minority. I don’t work in the conventional sense. I don’t keep the usual office hours.  And when all the other mums ask me what I do, I feel the need to justify myself and talk up my freelance business. Why do I find it so hard to answer “I’m primarily a stay at home mum for now and juggling some writing work when I can.”

It’s strange isn’t it, but when did simply “Being a mum” become such a bad thing? Why is there always so much pressure to do something else?

I appreciate I’m lucky. Many other women don’t have a choice and have to go back to work for their family to survive. We can live on my husband’s wage, but during the slow times, I feel increasingly frustrated and weird about not being financially independent. I get frustrated that despite it being 2016, the “flexible” work options still aren’t really that flexible in most jobs. I’m frustrated that unless they choose to be the primary carer, most men don’t seem to have this issue.

Some of my good friends and my family remind me that actually being a full time mum is a big enough job in itself. The nursery down the road from me charges £55 a day. If I could charge that every day for looking after my two, I’d be happy enough! Plus there’s the issue of being on call non stop 24/7 and covering every role from teacher, supervisor, cook, cleaner, entertainer and referee.

Why Do We Want More?

There’s no doubt about it. Being a mum can be frustrating,monotonous and exasperating. I can understand why many mums choose to go back to work; to use their brain, to enjoy some adult conversation, to retain their financial independence or even just to have a lunch hour in peace.

My freelance work and this blog are my way of trying to gain some sense of balance. The blog is my creative outlet and to keep up my love of writing.  The dream is to increase the freelance work to make it more consistent.  But I need to learn to have some patience and not to get upset about it when things slow down.

And I know that next September when my youngest starts school, I will have suddenly more time on my hands to concentrate on driving this. I don’t want to wish this time away. Our children are small only for a little while and I don’t want to regret missing out on them. I need to keep reminding myself about this whenever I next feel exasperated. I need to remind myself that for now, this is enough.



Cuddle Fairy

0 thoughts on “Stay at Home Mum. Is It Enough?

  1. I always feel a bit guilty when people ask what I do and I say SAHM, it was what I wanted to be when I was little, a Mum, so I should shout it proudly from the rooftops, but I don’t!

  2. Whatever you do, someone will tell you it’s wrong. I got weird looks when I announced I was going back to work and Rev T was going to be a SAHD. As long as it’s working for you and your family, then it really is no one else’s business. (Hope that reads as encouraging as it’s meant to be!)

    1. Thank you Mrs Tubbs, yes it does read as encouraging. I think you’re right, you’re always going to be questioned by someone even if it’s just by yourself!! X

  3. We’re quite similar – I’m a content manager, but luckily my work offered the flexibility and I only work 6 miles down the road from home… had I been in your shoes, I would have made exactly the same decision. It is hard feeling the constant need to justify why you’ve made the decisions you have – even though there’s no need. Each person is completely unique in their decision and as long as you’re making the best one for you and your family then that’s all that matters. I love the idea of going freelance, but I don’t think I have the balls to ever do it! x #twinklytuesday

    1. Thanks Kelly. I don’t know why we always feel the need to justify ourselves and why we always end up feeling guilty! You’re right, every family is unique.
      Bet you could easily go freelance with your skills and connections!! Meanwhile do let me know if you need any freelance copywriters! (Sorry cheeky plug there!) x

  4. I would love to stay at home. It’ll break my heart when I go back to work and I’ll be leaving my little boy off to nursery (which is an absolute fortune!) I’ve often thought about quitting my job but we just wouldn’t be able to live. Don’t worry about what people think! Your doing what’s best for you and your family #bloggerclubuk

    1. Thank you. And I totally understand your point. I don’t want this to become a stay at home vs working mum discussion but I do think we mums often feel guilty whatever we do. It would help if we all supported each other more. X

  5. I used to feel guilty or embarrassed etc.. but now I just say it like it is. I am a mum and I love that I am lucky enough to be able to work from home now. Hard if you are in the minority but I am probably in the minority for actually doing work as half the mums in my area seem to have rich husbands haha!! x

  6. I get SAHM guilt too, my youngest started school in Sept but I honestly don’t think I could get a job that would be flexible enough or pay enough for me to cover childcare for pre/post school, plus holidays and sick days. We have weighed up the pros and cons and given the impact it would have on our family dynamic and the knock on effect to basically how everything just ‘works’ now, me not working is definitely the best option. It’s our choice, our business. I feel very lucky to have the option (we are NOT rich, we make sacrifices to enable us to live off one salary) and so I appreciate these years while they last. Maybe when the kids are a bit more grown up there will be more options re working and I’d certainly be up for earning some pennies! #BloggerClubUK

    1. Completely with you on this. We also looked into childcare to fit in around school (my eldest also started in September!) and pre-school for the youngest but it’s so expensive. I don’t know how it would work around summer holidays either. It annoys me that businesses still won’t allow flexibility in working patterns.
      Like you, we are lucky to be able to manage on one income but this has also involved sacrifices.
      Ultimately this phase of the kids being so little won’t last forever. I need to appreciate this more! Xx

  7. I agree, there is something about wanting to be more. It’s maybe the pressure to ‘be everything’ and ‘have it all’ I barely work but have come to realise that I do it for me time. It’s a few paid hours a month to be me. That’s probably what I like about blogging too. It is enough if you let it be xxx

  8. I wrote a similar post on being a stay at home mum this week. It was our choice and we shouldn’t feel that we need to justify or explain it to anyone. You sound like you are doing a fab job of working from home and being a stay at home mum, perfect balance. I would say ignore the doubt and make the most of it whilst you can #KCACOLS

  9. This is a big area of contention for me and something that I intend to write about one day. You have nailed it here – well done. Why anyone should have justify their existence for being a parent that doesn’t work is beyond me. I’m really terrible at the moment because I haven’t worked for 3 months and I’m blogging, having a fab time, parenting a 10 year old (not even a little one!) and sometimes I don’t cook and clean!! I love to hear people say that they are not working. I want to be able to say it without guilt too! Let’s do this! Thank for joining #KCACOLS – look forward to having you back next Sunday

    1. Thank you. There should be far less pressure to have it all and to be able to say “I’m at home looking after my children.” I find the role of mummy and carer harder than any other job I’ve had! X

  10. It is strange that being a full-time mum isn’t considered work & people think there should be something else coming. It’s really great you are able to freelance & work from home. You are working from home – you have your blog & freelance work. AND the hardest job of full-time motherhood. I find it hardest when you have an appointment or something to do – it can be tough to find someone to mind the kids. Full time mums don’t have a system in place. Thanks so much for joining us at #BloggerClubUK

  11. I’ve only just become a stay at home mum, and I found it really hard to adust. Finding blogging as an outlet has been invaluable for grown up conversation and support! #KCACOLS

  12. Definitely know what you mean when you try and talk up your freelancing business. I always seem to have a pang of guilt when I tell people that I stay home. But honestly, I know working moms get just as many judgmental glances. Everything you do as a mom is wrong to someone, so you have to do what’s right for your family! <3 #KCACOLS

    1. Completely agree! You’re doomed if you do and doomed if you’re don’t. I think those feelings of guilt are our issues which we must overcome. You’re right, we need to do what is right for us and not judge others about their decisions. Xx

  13. Its a total damned if you do, damned if you dont. We make our choices based on our situation, and we know nothing of other peoples lives , really. Its funny where I am, I feel like im one of the only mothers who works , full time anyway. Employers, really need to get more flexible too. I work in an office 9-5, but theres really no reason I need to be here very day. loved your post #kcacols

    1. Thank you and glad you agree. If employers were more flexible we all might find it easier to work around our families and this might ease the constant feelings of guilt! Thanks for reading. X

  14. I was a primary school teacher before my maternity leave and fully intended to go back. But when it came down to it I couldn’t reduce my hours and I also couldn’t find childcare which would start early enough for me to be in school by 7am. Adding in the paperwork in the evenings and weekends I started to suspect I may not have much time to give to my new little bundle if I actually wanted to do my job well and when I realised that almost all of my salary would go on childcare and traveling costs my mind was made up! I’d be a sahm whilst raising a family: my husband was totally supportive – he hated the idea of nursery and felt I would do a much better job. I did get lots of comments from some family members about the need for me to find a job and regularly got sent links to positions that were well beneath my current level just so that I could say I had a job. Unlike most of the people sending me these ‘opportunities’ I didn’t have any help at home – no one to stop by and help with the washing or cleaning, maybe make me a cuppa or take the baby for a walk for an hour. No one to hand over to at bathtime/bedtime(my husband works late or away) and not really anyone to just sit and debrief with when it all got a bit much! Being a sahm is hard hard work – rewarding and exhausting all at the same time and no less important than going to work elsewhere everyday. For me especially, I could choose to go and make a different to the lives of 30+ children by teaching them or to my own child by doing similar.
    When Arthur turned 9months old I started doing a bit of nannying for a little boy who was the same age – I go to their house in the morning and Arthur comes with me and I look after them both. It’s great for the boys on a social level and it’s great for me not least because it keeps certain people quiet now that I’m bringing a bit of money home. I am so glad I started blogging though – it reminds me that I am still able to use my brain for other things and provides a proper outlet. I only wish I had more spare time to do it! #KCACOLS

    1. Like you, my husband works late and I never get much of a break from 5am when the youngest wakes until gone 7pm. It is bloomin hard work!! I think it’s also hard for those parents who are juggling work, parenting and childcare. There is never an easy option and it would be great if we could all support each other rather than judging. It sounds like you have a great set up now. I would have been furious with the emails!! Thanks for reading. X

  15. Brilliant post! I do a similar job to the one you used to do, and I’m so glad they were flexible to let me drop a day and do fixed hours (7.30-4) so I miss the traffic and get a couple of hours after work with my boy!
    I salute anyone who freelances… And who is a SAHM… I think both are incredibly tough, I don’t think I could do either!
    So good on you gal, you’re doing an awesome job! Xx

    1. Ah thank you! It’s great when it all comes together and works, but hard not to beat myself up about freelancing or parenting when I’m being challenged by the kids or work is scarce. I’m so glad you got some flexibility with your hours from your work. If only more employers would do the same! X

  16. I too freelance home and can go a good while without a job. It is frustrating and makes budgeting a joke. I get embarrassed sometimes I am a SAHM, I even get embarrassed about the freelancing because the work and pay isnt steady. It seems to be hard to be Mom/Women enough to do enough that we can be proud. #kcacols

    1. Completely agree! I sometimes feel like I’m not doing either aspect very well. Freelancing is great when the work is there but it’s frustrating and difficult when the work dries up. I wish we could all stop feeling so guilty about it all! X

  17. I feel pretty much the same as you! I’m a stay at home mum and feel the need to justify myself. I’m hoping to start some freelance work too to work my brain a bit and earn some money so this was interesting to read, thank you. x

  18. I’ve just come across this post, it’s exactly how I feel, we’re just trying to work out if we can afford me to stay at home, as my return to work hasn’t gone very well, but I can’t get my head around not going out to work, I asked my husband last night if he’d think i was lazy! x

    1. I know, I think so many women feel the same. But look at it this way: 1) how much would you pay a nursery or child minder per day? You would be doing the same role but not for actual money! 2) they really do grow up so fast. They will be at school before you know it. So try not to panic (I know not easy) and enjoy the time with your kids. If you can afford it, there is plenty of time for work a bit later on….. Good luck! Xx

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