A long, long time ago, prior to having Daisy, I naively wrote about how being a Stay at home Mum (SAHM) wasn’t for me. Not sure why I thought at that time I could have an opinion on it, given I wasn’t a Mum at all.
I wrote: “Personally I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a 50’s style household, where I stayed at home and was given handouts from my other half”
After I had Daisy and did six months of £135 per week SMP I had to revise my opinions on “handouts”. Gradually as the months went on they stopped feeling like handouts. I went back to work and over 50% of my wages went on childcare – and then there was the cost of petrol to get to and from work, I hadn’t budgeted that in when I did my sums. It took a while, but it started to sink in that the money we both earned was ‘our’ money. Phil giving me some money when I’d run out wasn’t him giving me his money, he was handing over some of our money. When I paid for repairs on the car, I wasn’t using my money, I was using the money I’d earnt for our family.
Moving aside from finances, I found being back at work with a baby very difficult – nevertheless I went for, and was successful in getting, a promotion. So I was proving myself in a new role, with lots more responsibility, on barely any sleep, with a quite demanding baby. Things were manageable until Daisy became poorly. I dreaded her being ill and me having to cancel meetings and miss deadlines. Then I’d feel guilty for worrying about work when I should be solely focused on my child. Phil and I took turns in being off with Daisy, but she was poorly a hell of a lot in those first six months of me being back at work.
We knew we wanted another baby, so decided to start trying at the end of 2013. Together we made the decision that once that baby arrived I would give up work, it was hard enough with one, without adding another in 4 days of childcare and all the illnesses they would get. Amazingly I became pregnant pretty much straight away, I’m not sure why I thought it would take a while. In sods law fashion Daisy started to build an immune system strong enough to cope with nursery germs and I was having to take less time off work with her being ill.
During my pregnancy it occurred to me a few times, was leaving work the right decision? It wasn’t as hard as it was in the beginning, I was doing well, Daisy loved nursery. Financially we could stand two in childcare, plus the petrol, but it wouldn’t have left much from my wages. I know, of course, you have to think long term, and yes my pay banding would go up another £10k over the years, but with the pay increase comes the stress increase. I worked a lot during the second and third trimester, I drove a lot, I did lots of early starts and late finishes. I ran myself ragged. I was very, very stressed. It didn’t seem like it at the time, I was so used to a stressful existence, that it was just normal.
I finished work in August and I haven’t looked back.
I love being at home, I love the simplicity of my life, I love not having to run the day over in my head before I go to sleep – what did I do wrong, what could I have done better, how can I improve. I still run my day over in my head, but now I think what activities did we do, would it be remembered as a nice day, did we have fun.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all glitter and rainbows, some days I have awful days. Days where I cry and wish I could go back to working, and being appreciated for the job I do, to be ‘me’ not just ‘mum’. But those days are few and far between.
In that post I wrote those years ago I also put that I hadn’t gone to uni and completed a degree to waste that by sitting at home. My university education wasn’t a waste, yes I needed it for my job – a degree being essential criteria, but not working hasn’t meant I don’t use any of the skills I learnt there. I just use them in a different way. I research new things for us to do, I think about how I can educate Daisy on different topics, I plan our days, I ‘project manage’ in the house. Even though I’m not in an office, I can still put together a mean spreadsheet. I defy anyone to have a better wedding spreadsheet than me…
I didn’t think that being at home would leave me fulfilled, I’ve always got that feeling of achievement from working. But I am fulfilled, our beautiful girls are the achievements.
I’m going to miss the money though….