My Reality as a SAHM is very different to how most people perceive it.
I got asked again last week, ‘So, what do you DO all day?’. Now, if this had been from a childless person, I would have understood (before I had kids, I also really didn’t get it). But this was from a full-time working mother (which I have also been).
How I didn’t scream, or punch her in the face, I don’t know. The decision to become a SAHM was more to do with losing the stress and gaining time to enjoy our young family. But there is no denying we would have been significantly better off had I returned to work
I frequently hear ‘you’re so lucky!’ I don’t deny I am in a privileged position. However.
I do week day childcare ALONE. My husband works in the family business, which requires his attention from 7am-7pm; he leaves before the children wake, and they are asleep by the time he comes home. I do everything. I have no family nearby, so I don’t get the chance for someone to have my kids for me to do anything awkward, like a haircut (that’ll be why it hasn’t been cut for a year), or school trips, or even just have my kids if I’m sick. My in-laws have the Big Little Man over after school on a Wednesday to see his cousins, but that is the only support I have.
I’m not complaining, just explaining.
Also, that pay cut means we live on a budget (read about how we managed that salary cut HERE). I don’t have spare money every week. I have a petrol budget that I can’t stretch. I can’t afford to eat out for lunch. My son never goes to soft play. In short, I don’t have the disposable income to do all the fun stuff that is normally associated with when you’re off work.
My week disappears, Mondays are spent clearing up from the weekend; washing, cleaning, ironing, bed changing, etc. Tuesdays and Thursdays pass in a blur of Playgroup, nap, lunch and then the school run. Fridays I take the Little Little Man swimming and do the food shop. It sounds stupid, but there isn’t much you can squeeze in between school drop off at 9am, midday lunch, and pick up at 3pm. When people ask what I do all day, I GENUINELY DON’T KNOW.
Well, that’s actually a lie. I do boring as batshit stuff like a 1950s housewife. But with less hairspray.
I have a list of stuff I want to do; make bunting for the playhouse, finish making cushions for the playroom, this blog, try out my new stencils, use my roller skates, make the seat covers for the garden furniture, paint my toenails, read some of the books in my bedside drawer…..but the actual reality is that I can’t do that stuff with a toddler around me.
And nor should I.
Right now, my ‘job’ is looking after him. If I can squeeze some of those things into nap time, I do, but usually I just do the jobs I can’t do with the Little Little Man around, like cleaning the bathroom. Or the ironing. Or making those phone calls that toddlers do not allow you to do in peace.
And don’t get me started on the time between 3.15p and 7pm. Over-tired, hungry, grumpy children are not great company. And trying to cook dinner with a toddler who instantly screams as soon as he realises food might be on the agenda is not a pleasant experience.
It is boring at times. It is most certainly repetitive. I often crave for a day ‘out’ at work (a whole lunch hour to myself! Adult conversation! A day with focus! Using a bag that doesn’t need nappies in it!). But it’s all smush. It’ll come to an end and I’ll be onto the next thing. Whatever that may be.
The reality of my life as a SAHM is that I do all the stuff in the day that I used to do in the evenings when I worked full time, but I also care for my children which is something I used to pay other people to do. So if I used to PAY other people to do it, it’s a job surely?
I also joke with my husband that I became a SAHM so that he can do Ironman this year. It’s not entirely a joke. If we were both working full time there is no way he would be able to do the training required whilst we have two small, very dependent children. And no family support. Because I am a SAHM, we have our evenings to ourselves (not doing housework and washing like when I was working). But the problem I have is that if I have spare time, I fill it. So I now run three nights a week, I go to Pilates once a week, I have bookclub once a month, the school mums do ‘wine night’ once a month or so, I try and catch up with my old work colleagues regularly, and I try and fit time with my husband in all of that too. That’s not even mentioning my husband’s schedule.
My ‘job’ is just like any other, there’s good and bad bits, repetitive stuff, and just like any other job there will be people who think it’s easier than theirs, or that I’m doing it wrong. People will also wonder ‘how does it take her so long to do JUST that?’ (they can just piss off). Mostly I like and enjoy my ‘job’. I just wish I got a lunch hour out of the house. And sick days.
But please don’t think I sit and watch TV all day.
I don’t have time.