Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

You’ve put your career on hold for a 24/7 parenting haul, but the full-timers just don’t get it. Instead of understanding you get judgement and opinions stuck to you: “but what do you do all day?”, “It’s good some can afford to stay at home with their children”. Yes Karen, thanks for your unwanted opinion.

It’s fair to say we all have an opinion on something, and it would be even more accurate to say that mums are some of the best ‘judgers’ judges. I’m guilty of it- I’ll put my hands up to that, but I recognise that everyone’s situations are different.Since using ‘Mum’ tinder, I’ve realised just how much your occupation can draw battlelines between you and other mums. Sometimes there’s resentment, anger, jealousy, disgust and also admiration, but always judgement.

Here are some common judgements about stay at home mums, and how you can verbally slay these bitter mother fudgers.

1.”So you’re a housewife”

A wonderful woman said this to me recently. The vision of me with rollers in my hair, wearing a cutesy little apron and treating the day effectively as one big preparation for my partner coming home made me reel. She looked at me like some dusty old artefact from the 1950s. No. My role is to look after my children, not the house. Let’s be clear, if my children weren’t here I’d be in work. Housework isn’t my job, running after my children is.

The slay: agree and tell her you’re a kept woman. Your husband pays for spa days every week and for you to get your hair and nails done. Watch her face screw up in jealousy.

2.”I’ve worked all my life”

Yes Karen, you were born working. That’s right, I sit on my bum all day watching Dickinson’s Real Deal drinking Pina coladas. I don’t at all run about after my daughter all day wearing sportswear and drinking the strongest and most disgusting instant coffee I can find. Doing the childcare yourself is working. Some people get paid to do it but instead you do it for free.

The slay: Tell her if she was better at her job she wouldn’t have to work all her life. Only joking. Or am I…

3.” It’s good you can afford to be a stay at home mum”

Yeah, because paying approximately £1400 a month on childcare is an affordable option for most: not. I cried when I realised the price of childcare, and for alot of people the cost of it wipes out what they’d be earning. So whats the point? Working has become a luxury for alot of mums.

The slay: go with it and tell her how you won’t have to ever work because you inherited a small fortune. Even though it’s a bald-faced lie.

4. “Don’t you have a relative who can look after you child ?”

Okay, firstly: it’s none of their business. Secondly, not everyone has that luxury. As well as the divide between working mums and those who don’t, there seems to be a big divide between those who have relatives who can do the childcare for free, and those who don’t. It seems unfair and shouldn’t be taken for granted. But that’s life… And luck.

The slay: just tell them that everyone in your entire family is willing to drop their careers at the drop of a hat to do your childcare. Again, a lie but it will infuriate them knowing that you’ve chosen this path for yourself and your child.

The bottom line:

People will always have an opinion- tale as old as time. I’ve always been brought up to believe that not spending enough time with your child is worse than too much. When I worked in schools, the most damaged kids I met were those whose parents were hardly there for them. Enough said.

Swiping Right on Mum Tinder🤰🤷

Swiping Right on Mum Tinder🤰🤷

You’ve been to the baby groups but you’re still on the hunt. Time to let technology do the talking. So you hit up the app store and stop swiping left: it’s Mum Tinder.

It’s really no surprise that becoming a First time mum is the most alienating and lonely thing that can happen to you; it is also the most brilliant. But like a snake sheds it’s skin, you will inevitably shed friends. You might also not be able to fit into your old skin for a while…

Losing friends is painful, you’ve just destroyed your body to squeeze out a human being and now suddenly your satuday night drinking buddies are running fast back into the woodwork. Ouch. You have also lost a big part of yourself; Your identity.

All this is necessary, however. Your life has naturally moved on. Rather than mourn friendships based on sambuca-fuelled Saturday nights, its time to buddy up with the most sassy and sarcastic mums you can find within a 5 mile radius.

Its hard to make mum friends, and you could well end up with some deja vu in the process. Just like anyone can get drunk after too many drinks, mums come in all shapes and sizes from all walks of life. On the flip side, there is something wonderful about this. But being ‘a mum’ alone is not enough to cement a friendship. Having a baby is not enough to keep the chat going- there’s only so much you can rattle on about teething.

I’m lucky that I do have some mum friends that I’ve made along the way- and I can safely say that having kids the same age is not the only thing that anchors our friendship. But I thought I’d give the apps a go.

I downloaded an app – it’s like Tinder but for mums. You can decide based on appearance and a short bio whether you want to ‘swipe right’ and connect or left and leave it. It felt weird treating other mums like a commodity but it definitely cut out the BS.

I bit the bullet and decided to arrange a local meet up. It was nice- but it was very clear that we all had absolutely nothing in common, all of our children were completely different ages. My daughter also made at least one of their babies cry by shouting ‘star’ too loudly. Not a great start.

I then went to another but I forgot to bring my scarlet letter; I got told repeatedly by one mum just how ‘young’ I looked. She then went on to ignore me for the remaining time. This was not the first time that I had been made to feel like I was a teen mum at 26.

Luckily since that debacle I have met and am talking to some lovely mums from all walks of life who are friendly, funny and not catfish[es?]. I have also spoken to some people who I just have not gelled with, and others that I can’t relate to at all. That’s just life.

The Holiday From: [insert here]

The Holiday From: [insert here]

I love a good holiday, who doesn’t. I love that infectious summer feeling that reverberates through me before we head off. I love ordering the clothes- sassy styles that don’t at all suit my body shape. I love that old worn out summer playlist that- yeah, you get it my stick. It’s pretty easy to enjoy a holiday, but when that plus one is your angry toddler you have to work for your fun.

Having a child has helped me appreciate The Staycation. Going far is a faff so staying somewhere where a Tesco is somewhere in the middle distance is very attractive. Plus, England is great.

So here we are in Suffolk. The weather is great- not too hot. Spirits are high, and the seaside is on our doorstep (10 minute walk). But going away with a toddler is hard. Last year we took a cute 3 month old away with us, now we have a temperamental toddler who just wants to run away from us all the time.

Here’s a few things I’ve learnt about going away with a toddler:

1. DO NOT forego nap time… But don’t be a rigid robot either

No one likes a routine-reveller on holiday. But sacrificing your toddler’s nap time could mean hours of screaming. Your choice.

2. Cut your toddler some slack.

Taking stuff off of your toddler all day can mean coming home with a headache. If you don’t want your ears to ring at the end of the day: if it’s not going to hurt them then it’s probably fine. Here is a picture of my toddler’s idea of fun ie throwing stones down the drains outside:

3. Expect to be a pillar of sand

If your toddler decides they enjoy the whole beach experience then be prepared to bring half of the seaside back with you. For me, this meant picking sand out of my hair for days… And days. The thick layer of sand on my face has acted as a natural exfoliant which is an added bonus. Go me.

4. You will soak up some rays but not in the way you thought

Fear not- you shall have that golden tan that you wanted. But you won’t be sunbathing. You will be chasing after your child on the beach making sure they don’t ruin some other child’s sandcastle masterpiece. A sun tent always helps.

5. Those silly windmills they always sell on the beachfront will become your new BFF

Remember those windmills that you forgot about? Yes. Those will become your best friend. Give one to your toddler and you’re guarunteed at least 5 minutes of mess-free entertainment.

FINALLY: enjoy your bloody holiday.

For god’s sake, enjoy your holiday. It’s all too easy to become a holiday buzzkill when you have a toddler. But don’t do it. I have learnt to leave my quibbles after the first G&T.

Ps. I’ve had a great time ☀️

Meanie Mummy

Meanie Mummy

You’re mean, nasty and a fur coat short of Cruella Devil. But you’re not out to steal anyone’s puppies. You’re a Mum who’s running out of patience.

We all go through numerous, countless times in our lives where we lose our temper. It could be a small snap remark; your colleague is doing your head in and it’s only 9.03 am. You haven’t had your morning coffee and you’re tripping HARD. It could also be a long term build up of bitter, bitter frustration that amounts to a spectacular outburst to the person at the recieving end. Usually someone close to you. I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to that. But when you’re a mum, all of that gets forgotten. Suddenly everyone is a spectator of your sport while you are prowling up and down in your enclosure. The ‘Angry Mum Museum’ is indeed open for all to see.

Before I get a torrent of crappy comments, I’d like to distinguish between letting off some steam verbally (appropriately, of course) and full on child abuse- hitting your child etc. This seems like a HUGE bridge to gap but people can be very quick to stick labels on things where they needn’t be. There have been numerous times at baby groups, shopping malls etc where I’ve seen Mothers losing their tempers with their children and you can actually cut the silence with a pair of scissors as people all around take a ‘moral’ high ground. I recently heard a Mum in an Asda car park screaming her head off at one of her children in the car. I judged immediately- how inappropriate, how could she?! But then I thought about bringing a Ford Galaxy full of kids to the supermarket on my own and I wanted to sit in the corner and cry. You’d sooner catch me hiding in the store cafe. Anyway, the point I was trying to make was on the ‘Heads’ side of things was an angry mum unnecessary losing her **** with her kids, and the ‘Tails’ of the situation was a poor woman with no control over at least six children in a car.

I have spent 25 years getting to know myself, and I know more than anything else that I have a fast fuse. I’m hot-headed- in a ‘British’ way and suffer with chronic impatience. Managing a class and dealing with kids in school was a whole different kettle of fish- you’d put your professional face on and keep your opinions to yourself. When it’s your own toddler who you’re with for the better part of 24/7 it’s tricky. Simply because I’m being myself the whole time.

I feel a huge sense of guilt when I feel like I’m losing my patience. It is almost definitely never my daughter’s fault, but she sure knows how to push my buttons. What no literature, only family members can tell you is that it would be weird and unnatural not to feel frustrated with your child at times. That’s because people are so quick to parent shame as soon as that smile turns upside down that it’s almost become a taboo.

On one of my more hormonal days I read a blog from a ‘Mom’ in America. She was honest enough to say that she was not naturally maternal and was never a ‘kid’ person until she had her own. She said that she had to work on her patience after the kids almost had her in tears at bedtime. This was probably the first honest blog piece I’d seen about dealing with ‘anger’.

We are all people with different personalities and undesirable traits. When we have children we don’t magically transform into Mother Theresa. The journey to patience is a long, dusty road for most of us and some of us will never get there. But at least we tried.

Vexxinations

Vexxinations

As with any normal parent, I will do anything to stop harm from coming to my daughter.

In 1980 childhood killer smallpox was ‘out-vaccinated’ and apparently more recently Polio too is on its way out. It’s very easy today to forget about the old childhood diseases that you usually associated with the 19th century- because of vaccination. It was only when I read a BuzzFeed article about iron lungs that I thought, holy crap. That happened.

I am as pro-vaccine as you can get. If there is a way to stop my child from catching a big nasty then I’m down for it 110%. If could vaccinate my children’s way against depression, destitution and awkward Sunday dinners then I would in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t cry a River Thames every time the needle is near. It gets no easier.

What no one tells you is that when you take your baby to their scheduled vaccines you will have to rule out the next 48hrs. Any plans? Hahaha. Really? Cancel them. You shall not go to the ball, Cinderella. I first learnt this after the meningitis B component of the 8 week jab left my baby screaming for hours, and then some. Thirty six hours and half a bottle of Calpol later we had survived. My little bundle was fine and though I’d taken a knock, so was I. But it was still bloody difficult, and it was every time. I managed to work out that there were different ‘phases’ to the post-vaccine period:

Phase One: Everything is Hunky Dory

You are lulled into a false sense of security as your baby is fine and you don’t know what everyone is banging on about. Clearly they’re deluded.

Phase Two: Panic and Freak Out

There is actually no reason to panic. However, Your baby’s leg lights up like a teletubby’s tummy, and bright red too. Your baby is in pain. Your little heart is broken but they will be fine eventually.

Phase Three: Wednesday Night Fever

Your baby breaks out in a fever though John Travolta is nowhere to be seen. This phase tends to last for a while but not forever.

Phase Four: Off Key

Your baby is tired and not themselves. You are also tired and a mess. You want to hibernate in a wine reserve. The fever has gone.

Today I shudder when I think about what will unfold in the next few days with the MMR and Meningitis B Jab being imminent. I will cry a thousand rivers again but at least I know my daughter will forever be protected.