Stay-at-home mum, housewife, homemaker – we’re a special kind of species. Disclaimer – the following is not aimed at guilting working mums – I used to be one too. This article is for the mum who has chosen to stay home full-time, the mum sitting on her couch with a snot-smeared top wondering why she’s doing this. Well, guess what, mummas? We are important and what we do is hard work. So how do we not just survive, but thrive in this season of life?
- Why hanging out at home deserves way more credit
- Mum guilt doesn’t get the last word
- The life hacks I learned as a single parent
Sometimes I have a hard time with a perception I’ve run into a few times – that is, all we do as stay-at-home mums is drink coffee and eat muffins in our activewear. It’s this perception that has led me to feel like I need to justify our role. Here’s a conversation I’ve found myself in a number of times now –
“Oh, hi, I’m Mags and I’m a full-time stay-at-home mum.”
“Oh wow, you’re brave.” “Yeah, I could never do it – you’re really good!”
But why am I brave and good? Being home with my kids is something I’ve always wanted to do – my mum was with my brother and I till we were school-aged. But that being said, 18 months ago, I sat on my sofa, exhausted and confused, wondering, “Here I am living the life I always wanted – why am I still so discontent?” Next thing I knew, my aimless ‘gram scrolling served me a quote that hit me in the face. “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” Dr John Trainer
Here are a few things I’ve picked up in the last 18 months on how to thrive in this window of time where ‘conquering the world’ looks like being with my kids – because let’s be honest, it’s not all coffee and muffins. (There is a lot of activewear though)!
Realise your worth as a mother
Mumma, you’re it. There’s no one in this world who can do this job better than you. There’s no 2IC, no understudy – you are it! I’ve been learning a lot about the concept of ‘emotional energy’ lately.
I’m usually a ‘get lots done’ sort of person but emotional energy is a very different thing. Emotional energy is being capable of acting in a way that may not necessarily come naturally to you. For example, being patient, reacting to tough behaviour in a constructive way, choosing to teach instead of doing it yourself, picking up on cues from your toddlers when they might not necessarily tell you something’s wrong.
Everyone has emotional energy but as a mum, you have an excess of it. Especially those of us at at home full-time – we aren’t spending it on that deadline at work or that challenging co-worker, so we have it all in abundance for our families.
Have an outlet
I am all about the runsheets and the to-do lists. My biggest struggle when I stopped working when number two came along was that at the end of my day, I’d be lucky if one thing got done. That sense of lack of achievement was a really hard pill to swallow. Of course I knew I was doing important work but I realised that for my personality, I needed to start something, finish it and do a good job of it.
I came to realise that there’s no instant gratification in motherhood. So I found some little projects for me do – cooking MasterChef-worthy dishes every now and then, crocheting a bonnet, or setting a new time or distance on our daily walk.
I feel like if getting to do these little things means our kids go to kindy/care for a few hours, we don’t have to feel bad about it – we need this! I’m sure a qualified psychologist would be able to explain the why behind this but honestly, I feel like doing these projects for myself have helped me be a better mother.
Mumma, this season is going to pass. Someone suggested the other day that perhaps my son as a teenager won’t be as affectionate as he is now, and I honestly gasped – my brain couldn’t comprehend that. As much as we acknowledge how demanding this life can be, let’s keep in sight and celebrate just how amazing it truly is, and how blessed we are to be able to live it. Being a stay-home mum is a luxury not everyone gets to have these days.
I love the term ‘raising children’ because that’s what we need to do. Our job is to raise them into all that they’re capable of being. It’s no easy feat, especially dedicating our whole life to it for a period of time. But I’m sure the results will be worth it. Well, that’s what I’m holding on to anyway. Ask me about it in 10 years and I’ll let you know for sure!
About the author
Former city girl, Magdalene Paul, is navigating/fumbling through mum life in Rotorua. She loves a good yarn and is often telling stories about her two kids and husband over on Instagram. Mags is passionate about empowering mums and helping them realise their importance – not just in their families but society as a whole. When she’s not in mum or wife mode, you’ll find her experimenting in the kitchen or curled up with a good book.
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