I am a Mum. I am also a stay-at-home Mum.
Every choice you make as a mother comes at a cost; the equal and opposite alternative to your decision to stay at home or go to work will always be there, niggling a little on those tough days and always reminding you of what you have given up.
For me, dealing with the daily predictability of an unpredictable toddler and a pre-teen means I have to stay focused and keep my head in the game – the game may be as unglamourous as getting the laundry done and the beds made but that’s my reality right now. Getting stuck in my own head and focusing on the minutiae of everyday domestic life will no doubt result in a spanking clean kitchen but it won’t help ease the professional yearnings I left behind when I bid adieu to paid employment.
But, being present, visible and in the moment with my kids does and will fulfill me in ways that I never expected before I had children and that I don’t think I could replicate any other way. But, you have to be open to that fulfillment. Over the past week I’ve been practising a little trick I call Stop & Drop. Basically, I have promised myself that when my 1 year old brings me that book about diggers we have read 172 times already today, I will stop what I’m doing, drop the dish towel and sit on the floor and read to him. When my big boy wants desperately to show me his Minecraft creation that I have zero interest in, I will stop what I’m doing and sit at the computer with him for five minutes and simply look and listen.
Breaking the habit of saying “No, Mama’s too busy” is hard, it requires me to let go of my ‘perfect house’, ignore the crumbs on the floor, breathe through nap-time strikes and relish this time with my babies above all else. It’s learning not to sweat the small stuff, and radically loving the bigger picture, be it your kids at home with you each day, or the joy you feel when you pick them up from daycare. In both my prior role as a working mum and currently as a stay at home mum, one thing I simply don’t have time to worry about is excess sweating. Post-baby body issues and being spotted in your around-the-house uniform of yoga pants are enough of a battle without the stress of ruining your clothes with sweat stains. Rexona Invisible Dry has worked for me, the 48 hour protection keeping me feeling fresh, even on those days when a shower has slipped to the bottom of the priority list!
There are many areas where we can feel like we’re failing as parents, try sweeping the slate clean, cutting yourself some slack and getting real with the expectations you have put on yourself as a mother. Make some micro-goals and try and work them into your week; if you’re worried the amount of fish finger dinners getting served, allocate one night a week to try a new, healthy recipe, if you’re worried about screen time incorporate some outdoor activities or simply get down on the ground and drive toy cars around the house for half an hour. Simplify and you will be amazed at how your kids react, they will LOVE it!
Practise makes perfect but simply being a mother who is visible, present and accessible to her children is the best kind of mother there is.