I’ve been meaning to post about work (or lack thereof) for a while, but haven’t really been in the right mood for it. It seems like such a long time ago now that we made the decision for me to stay home with the boys. I used to work 3 days a week and on those days both boys went to nursery from 8am to 5-5:30pm.
My last day in the office was the 1st February, so I’ve been home for just over 3 months now and have a much better idea about what I have let myself in for 😉
The good things about being home are:
- A huge change in the confidence of my eldest (who is 3). This was the driving reason for me to give up work and I am so pleased to see that it has really paid off. He is more sociable, faster to join in with other childrens games, talking more and his behaviour is less aggressive and more cooperative. Overall, this is a big, big, win for me.
- The extra time I get to spend with my youngest (who is 1 and a half). He’s a very affectionate, kiss and cuddle loving baby and it’s been wonderful to be at home with him more.
- I find it easier to eat healthier food than I ever did working in an office. Mainly because we do not have a vending machine in the house.
- The mornings are less stressful (I say less, they are not stress free!). Now we don’t have to get four of us dressed and out of the house with food, spare clothes, baby sleeping bag, bottles, suncream/hats/gloves/coats/wellys, plus anything else we might actually need for ourselves, all by 7:30am.
- I don’t have to commute in the car for an hour on work days. Less stress, less personal risk.
- My two boys don’t seem quite so jealous of each other and the time they spend with me. This may be a progressive change as they get older, but it seems that they don’t fight/compete for my attention in a negative way quite so much.
- The boys are eating more food at home, so I don’t have to panic about the food that nursery are giving them (pudding after tea each day in the form of ice cream, cakes and jelly – definitely not something we do at home).
- I haven’t missed my work at all. I love what I do (I’m a programmer), and leaving work was a very tough decision. I was worried I’d be in tears after a few weeks, desperate to get back. My work was a huge, HUGE part of my identity and I think being home has made me realize that I’m not just a programmer after all. It has made me more accepting of my status as a mother and not once have I felt ashamed or embarrassed about my “lack” of occupation.
It’s not all great though, as you can imagine. The things that haven’t been so good (I cringe as I prepare to write down my failings) are:
- We have absolutely no routine at all. I take each day as it comes and do everything on the spur of the moment. I know how much children love routine, and I see this in my own boys, but aside from regular meals and a regular bedtime hour our days are totally unplanned.
- I find it really, really difficult to play with a 3 year old and a 1 and a half year old at the same time. I don’t know how to solve this and end up having to appease DS1 while I’m trying to do something with DS2 and vice versa. I get frustrated and no one really gets any quality time.
- I have no idea, generally, how to play with children (see point 6). I find I am at a loss as to how to amuse them for huge parts of the day. I don’t know any games, I feel a huge reluctance to play physical games (I think because my Dad was so adamant that physical running around and screaming was something children shouldn’t do and I have this Dad-ingrained fear that the boys will get overexcited, not know when to stop and be impossible to manage)
- The boys watch TV when I really need to get something done (like loading the dishwasher, or making food). I hate this and yet I have no idea how to avoid it. I literally cannot leave them alone for 10 seconds unwatched and TV is the only way I can do anything around the house. I even have to take them to the toilet with me.
- Because they get to watch TV at crucial times, they ask for it all the time. Sometimes I let them watch the TV just because they are moaning and whining and fighting and it makes my day a bit easier. Then I torture myself for being a rubbish mother who can’t entertain her children and wonder why on earth I would want another little person running around if all I’m going to is plonk them in front of the telly when the going gets tough 🙁
- I am the most unprepared parent that ever existed. I maybe held a baby once as a teenager. I had no experience AT ALL with children before we had ours. My own parents (a whole enormous subject that I can’t delve into right now) did the best they could but my personal feelings are that it was shamefully lacking and the combination of emotionally distant/unavailable parents and no close family and no exposure to children has left me with absolutely no idea what I am doing most of the time. I’ve dipped in and out of parenting books, used common sense and tried to do the things I wished my parents had done, but I still feel like I am woefully inadequate. I want to fix this. It’s high on my priority list, along with fixing myself…
- I never, ever, EVER get time for myself. We have no one that can help us out. Not a single person. I’m not joking, DH and I haven’t been out for dinner together for 2 and a half years. Work gave me some much needed time to be myself and think for myself but now I don’t get that at all. After 3 months I think I’m starting to feel the pressure. I cry a lot. I sometimes wonder if I just went under the radar for post-natal depression, but actually I think my emotions are more complex than that. If you have any weaknesses before you are a parent, your children will come along and crack those weaknesses wide open. Parenting is hard.
So there we go. Good and bad things over the last few months. The things that aren’t going so well though are all things that I think I can work on and change for the better.
Being aware of them means I can think about how to solve them and hopefully in 3 months time the list above will not be so bad.