An apology to stay-at-home mums

The Popple trying to climb on my head

Stay-at-home mums, I feel like I need to apologise. See, I started to get it into my head that you had it easier than working mums, despite the fact that only two months ago, I was one of you.

I went back to work in June after 12 months’ maternity leave, and I’ve found the whole returning-to-work thing a bit of a struggle – rushing out of the house to get the Popple to nursery, putting up with a whinge-fest of a morning commute, working a full day, rushing back to the nursery to pick up the Popple, repeating the morning’s whingy commute, and scrambling to do dinner and bath time before the Popple gets overtired and completely loses her s**t. All the while, I’ve been feeling like I’m not spending enough time at work OR doing mum things, and generally kind of failing at both.

“Stay-at-home mums have it so much easier,” I found myself thinking. “They don’t have to worry about all this work-life balance stuff. They don’t have to pay stupidly expensive nursery fees for the privilege of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. They only have one job, and it’s one that comes with a built-in nap break.”

And then it happened: the Popple got sick while Adrian was out of the country. I had to take three days off from work that week to care for her, and suddenly I found myself in full-time mummy mode again.

Guys, this job is HARD.

I forgot how much effort it takes to care for a small toddler on your own for an entire day. You need to fill the hours from approximately 6am to 7pm with activities. Come up with three semi-nutritious meals and at least two snacks that your child will actually eat. Change their nappy as they scream and try to crawl away from you with poo on their legs. Convince them that they want to take a nap, preferably in their cot but anywhere really, just as long as they f***ing sleep. Let them climb all of you and pull your hair because it’s easier than to put up with that than a tantrum. Make sure they’re not sticking their fingers into sockets, shoving indigestible objects into their mouths, or generally getting into fun-looking-but-super-dangerous stuff.

It’s exhausting work, and it is NOT easier than my job. Writing web content is a piece of piss compared to trying to clean blackberry juice off a toddler.

So SAHMs, I’m sorry I lost sight of how hard it can be. I won’t forget the lesson these past few days have taught me anytime soon.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to all the single parents out there. I was overwhelmed by having to care for a child on my own for four days – how you manage to do it day in and day out is beyond me. Seriously, you guys are superheroes.

34 Replies to “An apology to stay-at-home mums”

  1. Ah yes, I’ve mostly experienced both. After our first I went back part time on extended hours (working longer days, but less days to keep the pay per day up). Then was SAHM for two days. We now have three and I’ve whittled it down to working an evening a week during term time. This is gonna sound made but it’s like time off… because it’s work, but it’s just me. Once all three are at school, ill probably run the gauntlet again! Life is busy with little ones, whatever you do 😉

  2. I have 4 weeks left of being a stay at home mum. It’s hard being at home all day with a baby but I love it so much. We can’t afford nursery fees so my mum has stepped up to look after her. Poor mum, I’m sure by the end of each day she will be glad to hand her back to me. I’d love to be a stay at home mum. But that’s not going to happen.
    Xx

    #triballove

  3. Oh bless you honey! Hope the Popple is on the mend? I often ponder a return to work but I think that I couldn’t handle it now. I really admire the working mums for this very reason! X

  4. Awww lovely post. As a former working mummy I know where you are coming from. I really thought it was easier if you were a stay-at-home mum. I had visions of lovely coffee and cake mornings, arts and crafts etc. The reality was very different though! I would give anything to wee in peace now 😉

  5. Completely agree with you! Staying at home is so much harder, but for completely different reasons than going back to work. It’s exhausting. It’s hair-wrenching at times and it’s lonely. But I do also miss it sometimes when I’m at work and hear about all the lovely things she’s doing without me. Swings and roundabouts right?

  6. Aww this is lovely. I think you are a superhero too for juggling work with nursery drop offs and pick ups and everything in between. I guess the grass is always greener…loved this post. #triballove

  7. I’m sure both stay-at-home and working parents have their own challenges. For me, staying home sends me nuts! I wish I could have a part-time job because I like to make my own money and get out of the house. It can be tough.

    I originally thought staying home would be a doddle, but it isn’t. Sometimes I just can’t get any housework done because the little one will cry and scream non-stop.

    We all have our moments as parents. #triballove

  8. I am a single mum working almost full time, and I’m not gonna lie – it is EXHAUSTING! However, it’s just how things are, so I’ve got to get on with it. I do have the “luxury” of a whole weekend off every other week, when the boys go to their dad’s. I miss them but I really need that down time!
    #eatsleepblogrt

  9. It’s true that being a working parent is tough but I have to agree work is a little break. Speaking to adults and no changing bums…….bliss #fartglitter

  10. I have experienced both also, I will actually be going back to work from maternity leave (part time) next month, and I’m dreading it. I also think single mums are incredible, I don’t know how my mum did it, but it’s inspiring xx #EatSleepBlogRT

  11. So true! I’ve always thought that the two shouldn’t be pitched against each other in any sort of one-upmanship way that they often are. Both are hugely challenging – but at least at work you get to go to the loo on your own and finish a cup of coffee 🙂 Alison #FartGlitter

  12. Out of the two, I think being a stay-at-home dad is more exhausting than working, and Little Bear hasn’t got to toddler stage yet, only crawling around everywhere. At least at work you can focus on something without your boss changing his mind every few seconds and causing you a headache… Oh wait. 😉
    #EatSleepBlogRT

  13. It’s true. Being a stay at home mom is so challenging. But also being a working mom 😉 #fartglitter

  14. I have been luckily enough to not go back to work and have been a SAHM for over 2 years now and it has suddenly got very hard…the terrible twos are tough and can’t wait for little one to go to nursery next month, so I’m feeling ya pain but your doing a fab job! and yes single parents must have superpowers…how can they be bad and good cop!!!! wow! thanks for sharing and chin up x #eatsleepblogRT

  15. Amen! 🙂 A lovely and honest post.

  16. I kind of do a little of both as I work just two days a week and I must admit I think it’s just about perfect for me. By the end of my 5 days at home I’m desperate to go to work, but after 2 days at work I can’t wait to get back into my mummy cocoon. So with you on the shout out for single parents! I have a nose bleed if the hubby rocks up half an hour late? So much respect for those that are flying solo. Thanks for linking with #fartglitter x

  17. I’m a SAHM and it’s nice to hear you say that you appreciate how hard it is. I’ve never had to do the balancing act of parenting AND working as I gave up work when my eldest was born. I can totally imagine that is really tough. I think it’s time we all stopped worrying about who has the harder job and just accept that we’ve all got stuff to deal with 🙂 #DreamTeam

  18. I’m still on maternity leave and it is hard! But I imagine working is hard too! Being a mum is just a hard job regardless. It’s non stop! #familyfun

  19. I’ve always said the same, having had a full-time career in London up until my oldest was 10 and then I stopped – at work you can finish a thought process, pop out for a coffee, consume a whole hot coffee, pop out at lunch to do errands, use your brain, chat to adults and feel part of something – although I just love being at home now it can be lonely and I know others have spoken about that before but it really is so much harder than being at work so I wholeheartedly agree! #FamilyFun

  20. Yes, they definitely deserve respect. I’m sort of one of them at the moment, while still working (through the blog) and also looking for a job. A job that will take me away from my boy and I don’t know how hard it will be and what to expect. Thanks for sharing this. #bigpinklink

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  21. Definitely hear ya on the shout out to the single mums!! I really don’t know how they do it!! This did make me smile though, I’m a SAHM, and I’ve always been convinced in my head that working mums have it much harder than us!! I just don’t think I’d be able to be out of the house and ready for a certain time, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to focus on an actual job!! My brain is mashed! You definitely don’t need to apologise, there’s definite pros and cons to both!
    #bigpinklink

  22. Calling back in from #FamilyFun. Hope that the Popple is all better now. Thanks for linking up to #FamilyFun. Hope you can come back next week!

  23. I only work 12 hours a week so I pretty much see myself as a SAHM. I think being a parent is hard work – working or SAHM, I am pleased I don’t have the constant rush that working parents have it is such a juggling act. However SAHM it can be lonely. #familyfun

  24. The grass is either green or greener I guess depending on how you view it. As a former professional turned reluctant SAHM, I have lived both sides of the fence and see the pros and cons of each. I like the spirit of your post which I believe is to respect and appreciate the “choices” one has to make or has forced upon them. #familyfun

  25. Amen to that! That sounds like my day, x2 as I have two of the small people to keep alive and it is exhausting and frustrating at times. But and its a big but that’s not to say I think I have it any harder than those who go to work and trying to juggle all those balls of work and life and mum. Where the small people are concerned it is hard whatever. Thank you though it’s nice to hear that someone gets it and doesn’t think in sat drinking hot coffee all day. And yes to the single parents – massive respect! Thanks so much for linking up at #familyfun. Really hope you can come back next week xx

  26. I agree that being a SAHM is hard work, but I’ve also been a working mum and that definitely has it’s own challenges too – particularly when you’re as disorganised as me! #familyfun

  27. Ah I know how you feel – I always think that being a SAHM is a bit easier than my constant shift pattern juggle – but in all honesty after several days at home with both kids I am more exhausted than two night shifts with little sleep! #EatSleepBlogRT

  28. Oh I hear ya! I have so much respect for SAHMs. I work part time and I don’t know what I’d do without my job xx #eatsleepblogRT

  29. This is timely reading – I went back last week (4 days a week) after 12 months off for mat. leave and although I’m not a single mother, my husband is out of the picture Mon-Fri for work. Whilst this week has been the most exhausting I can remember for a while I think it’s just getting used to the routine. The ‘relaxing’ bits have been the ones in the office!! So I’m with you all the way 🙂 x

  30. Brilliant post and oh so true! I’m on week 4 of maternity leave and that’s with Zach still going to nursery two days a week. But three days entertaining an almost 4 year old (when 39 weeks pregnant) is way way harder than being sat at my desk! It might even be harder than being on site at an event with 200 people! I am of course loving (mostly) being home with him and it is way better than work but I do know how much harder it is!

  31. Rachel (Lifeofmyfamilyandme) says: Reply

    I have an 11 yr old and a 5 yr old. I keep thinking how easy they are to look after when i’m at work and they are at school and then the holidays arrive – eeek they are really hard work lol! #EatSleepBlogRt

  32. Both have their own difficulties. I currently work at my daughter’s nursery, and I find that brutal at times (especially when my daughter is having a bad day). I’m dealing with young children and have to be “on” all day. And I still have to be there for my daughter in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. Part of me wants to move into the actual school so that I have a bit more of a work/home separation. (But at least I get to have a lunch break in peace.)

  33. It’s easy to slip into that mindset of someone else having it easier! I work p/t so I do a bit of both. Both equally challenging in their own ways! And yes agreed about single parents – don’t know how they do it! #eatsleepblogrt

  34. I always thought the whole ‘going back to work for a break’ thing was a lame cliche. That was until I had a full week of all three and near constant demands for milk / food / terrible TV etc!

    At least a t work other people bring me tea AND it’s even hot when I get to drink it!

    #DreamTeam

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