I was on a first aid course today. This meant hubby taking the day off to look after the children. It meant me being child free from 9am-5pm. Similar to what a lot of working parents do several days of the week. I was also lucky enough that the course was being run a 5 minute walk from my house, so no extra time away travelling.
I had been quite looking forward to doing something grown up for the day.
I did enjoy the day. I did get to be a grown up all day. I put my coffee down at the edge of the table. I ate my lunch without getting up once. I went to the toilet on my own without anyone insisting on opening the door at inopportune moments. I learnt some new things and got to practise old skills.
I realised how much I enjoy being at home with my children.
I remembered just how lucky I am to be able to stay off work for now.
Being a stay at home mum can be a frustrating experience. Here are some of my regular frustrations:
- There are tears and arguments over the most seemingly ridiculous things. Did I mention the day I had to stop the cargo bike on the way to nursery because the children were getting hysterical over whose turn it was to throw the imaginary ball to the imaginary dog?
- There is very little peace. Between bottom wiping, potty emptying, crumb sweeping, lego building, sticker sticking, story reading, milk pouring, snack providing, clothes changing, etc, etc – somebody always seems to want something from me.
- The endless household chores. There seems to be far more laundry than could possibly be produced by just 4 people and far more meals to be made than we can possibly be eating.
- I am never alone. Never.
- I am never alone when I am on the toilet. Never. Somebody always wants something when I go to the toilet. Quite often, that is the very moment when one of them decides they want to bash their sibling with a toy doll.
- The tedious arguments. Seriously, just put your shoes on. Please, just put your shoes on. Just once, put your shoes on the first time I ask and don’t make me ask a hundred times.
All these petty frustrations can add up and start to drag you down.
Today gave me some perspective about the positives of staying at home with the kids, as compared to going out to work:
- I am the mistress of my own time. Ok, there are constraints – we have to get to nursery and playgroup on time and I have to collect them both on time. But my children are still young enough that the eldest is only away for three hours,and the youngest only for 2 hours a couple of days a week. The rest of the day is our own and we get to choose what to do with it. We can play in the garden, go for a walk, go swimming, build fantastic lego constructions, bake, go to the library, whatever we like. When you go to work, you have to be at work, until work finishes – even if you decide you’ve had enough of work now.
- I get to do all the things that were great fun as a child. It turns out that lots of these things are still great fun as an adult, I just forgot. Building lego is fantastic once you throw away the instructions. I love the challenge of using every piece of train track in building a mega track. As for chasing bubbles in the garden – brilliant.
- I get to move. Today, I mostly sat in a chair. By the end of the day I felt twitchy and irritable. When I’m at home with the kids, I often wish I could just sit down. Turns out that’s not what I want after all.
- I don’t miss anything about my childrens’ lives – good or bad. I am a part of it all. Sometimes it seems endless, especially when I’m standing in a play park which I would really like to leave now. Today, I walked past an empty play park and I felt like crying. I felt like crying because it made me realise that there will come a day when my children don’t want to go to the play park. And on that day, I will really really miss standing in that play park trying not to feel bored.
I’m not saying that staying at home is the best way. I don’t believe that there is a one-size-fits-all best way. I don’t want to spark a working parent versus stay at home parent debate. I think that every family has to make a difficult choice about what is right for them, and then try and find a way to make it work for them.
All I am saying is that today I counted my blessings.
Today I truly appreciated that for me, at this moment, the grass is definitely greener at home, with my beautiful, hilarious, fascinating, frustrating children.