A journey from stay at home motherhood to family breadwinner

I am flat out today, but wanted to publish a short, simple post in celebration of friendship…..

These are just some of the things my friends have done for me:

Chinese lantern released at our wedding

  • Styled my hair
  • Dropped in with a takeaway coffee when I’m too busy to make myself one
  • Babysat my children
  • Driven me to my wedding ceremony
  • Allowed me to bore them to tears when I have a problem to share
  • Met me regularly for coffee and a chat
  • Asked how my day has been
  • Invited me over for drinks
  • Helped me to move house
  • celebrated special occasions with me
  • Formed close bonds with my children
  • Embraced my blended family
  • Held my baby so I can finish a drink
  • Collected my children from school when I have been ill
  • Helped me to put together my cv

I am very lucky to have such wonderful friends in my life, and every day they inspire me to try be the best I can be and to do something selfless for somebody else. When I return to work, I know I will have to work harder to maintain these friendships. I know I will have to make the time to make contact and ask about a friend’s day. Meetings will not be daily at the school gate, but will need to be planned in around other commitments. It will take more effort to stay in touch and to find out about what important things are happening in their lives.

I wrote this post today, to remind myself of why it is so important to make the effort and keep in contact with the people who have been there for me and supported me, through good and bad times. I hope it also reminds others to look at the list and think “is there something here that I can do for a friend today?” 

Our wedding cakes, made by good friends

Today I feel supported in my decision to return to work.

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One of the things people seem to think I will miss the most when I go back to work is the freedom to come and go as I please. “At the moment” (they say) “you can do as you like, come and go as you please, organise your day just the way you want. You’ll miss that, when you’re stuck in an office from 9 til 5”

I think they’re wrong. On two counts.

My day today has gone as follows: Walk to school, drop off eldest, walk home from school. Take younger kids out of the buggy – put them straight in the car, drive to baby gym, play, drive to new place of work – drop off documents, drive home. Take younger kids out of car and put in buggy. Walk to school to collect eldest child (early) and walk home. Feed children lunch ( while I shovel  a sandwich on the run). Drive eldest child to pyhsio appointment, observe appointment and drive home. gulp down a coffee. Write blog post as quickly as possible with a child hanging off each leg. Drive children to a party, Supervise, Drive  home. Put children to bed. Start ironing……….  you get the drift.

The point I am trying to make (as quickly as possible!) is that actually I don’t have the freedom to come and go as I please. I don’t get to organise my day exactly as I want. It’s a common misconception that a stay at home parent has all the time in the world but the reality is a little different. My day is dictated to by the school start and end times, doctor/dentist/hospital appointments, parties and play dates, pre school and after school activities,  nap times and bed times, feet measuring and shoe buying …….. then you need to add in  helping with homework. Reading aloud. Spellings. And don’t even get me started on chores! Me time? Never heard of it! Free time? Never heard of that either!

Of course I take pleasure in doing all (well MOST) of those things with the children, however it has to be said I am very much looking forward to being able to drive to my office, sit at my desk all day and drive home. A whole hour to eat my lunch without interruption is also a bonus!

How do I feel about our decision today? Excited about going back to work for a rest! 😉

Our home made kite in flight

“YES!!! More boy time!”

This was my eldest son’s reaction, when I told him that I would be going to back to work and that my husband (his Step Daddy) would be at home with him after school. My step son, even before we told him the news, informed me that his new years resolution was simply “to do more things with Daddy”.

Don’t get me wrong, I do plenty of “boy stuff” with them – we make lego models, kick a football around, make and fly kites and watch “boy” films such as Star Wars and Transformers. I let them get muddy, ride their bikes through puddles and create masterpieces with off cuts of wood. No matter what I do though, there is always one thing lacking – I do not have a willy. Our older boys seem to have reached an age (7 and 8 ) where this matters. They both crave time with my husband and want his approval far more than they want mine. I have a great relationship with them and I really enjoy their company……but it is my husband that they want to impress the most, with their intricate lego models or latest achievement at school.

With this in mind, I think the role swap is going to be so good for them. Our current set up, means my husband gets home just as the children are going to bed, and then the limited time available with him has to be shared between 3 children. My step son fares even worse in the boy time stakes – most of the time he lives in an all female household. Even when he and his sister stay with us in the holidays, my husband has often had to work so the time available for “boy stuff” has been restricted.

Going forward it is all going to change and the boys will have much more time with my husband. They are already planning projects together – building a bird table for the garden, visiting Duxford musuem and working on even more intricate and complicated lego models. It’s not just about typical boy stuff though, but about just hanging out with him. They like it when he reads to them, or cooks with them or helps them with their homework. They love just hanging out with him and getting his perspective on things.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that a Mum cannot have an incredible bond with her sons but I do think that for a long time the importance to boys of their Dads has maybe not been recognised and celebrated enough. I feel excited that this is changing, not just in our household but also out there in the world at large. Every day it seems there is a new report in support of fatherhood – from the increase in shared parenting arrangements for separated families to the recent announcement that paternity/maternity leave here in the UK is changing.

Taken on a previous trip to Duxford

Today I feel very positive about our decision.

If you liked this post, here are some links that may be of interest:

http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/

http://www.fnf.org.uk/

http://life.familyeducation.com/boys/fathers/55299.html

http://web.me.com/stevebiddulph/Site_1/Home.html

On the face of it, nothing earth shattering happened today. A typical manic monday morning, unremarkable when compared with all the other school runs I have emabarked upon with the children. It was this normality, this familiarity with the routine we have followed since my eldest started school that caused it. By it, I mean the wobble.

It hit me, full force today, that as things stand now, I know everything important in my children’s lives. As my son handed out his party invites I realised that I know all his friends, I know the teachers and TA’s and I know the vast majority of the other parents too. I know exactly which spellings he is struggling with this week, I know which days he has PE and which days he has assembly and what he prefers to have in his packed lunch. I know what time and for how long my younger children need their daytime naps. I know what they like to eat, which are their favourite toys and how to encourage (or wrestle) each of them into their coats, hats and gloves.

As I stood chatting idly at the school gate with a couple of other Mum’s, with no urgency as he we had nothing to rush home for, I realised just how much my life is going to change in 2 weeks time. I will no longer get to host the themed playdates that have been such a hit with my children and their friends. I will no longer get to feed the ducks and swans on the way home. I will no longer get to walk the long way home and see the excitement on their little faces when we see a digger at work or when a cat strolls up to us to be stroked and patted. When they fall over, it will be Daddy they are running to and when my son gets a certificate at school, it will be my husband he rushes to first, holding it proudly aloft.

By the time I got home I was in floods of tears. All I could think of was all the things I will be missing out on, and as the morning has gone on the list has grown. No more jumping in muddy puddles like Peppa Pig, no more encouraging the little ones as they explore the baby gym, no more 6 weeks of long summer holidays at home with the children to fill with adventures……..

After a good cry however I am starting to realise that all this has been a reality for my husband for the last 10 years. He has never had 6 weeks off with the kids in the summer. He has never had the chance to organise a themed playdate or really get to know the children’s friends. I have had those chances and have enjoyed and cherished them, but now it’s time to let him have a go. Besides, I can still take the kids jumping in muddy puddles or to see the diggers or feed the ducks at the week end, and the chances are I will appreciate it so much more.

In an effort to counter my wobble, here are 5 “no mores” I can celebrate:

1/. No more walking to school in the wind/rain/snow/all of the above

2/. No more wearing nothing but casual, practical clothes and flat shoes

3/. No more boring people to death by talking about nothing but my children

4/. No more doing the lions share of the housework

5/. No more feeling guilty about not bringing any money into the household.

Today I feel tearful and anxious about our decision.

Selfish shopping!

After months of procrastinating, the decision was finally made when I got the previously elusive job offer – I am officially going to back to work, full time, and my husband is going to become a stay at home Daddy. To say we are both terrified is an understatement, but is also an exciting time. A change is as good as a rest, or so they say (who are “they” by the way?) and we are certainly going to experience some changes.

After three years as a stay at home Mummy, this week end I discovered one of the major plus points of being the breadwinner. I NEED new clothes and it is an actual need, rather than just a “want but trying to convince myself it’s an essential” need. I can’t remember the last time I got to go shopping without the children in tow let alone the last time I bought more than one thing for myself in one shopping trip.  Ok, so it wasn’t a total splurge – like many families with only one parent working, we are on a tight budget, but even so it felt good to leave the kids with Daddy and hit the shops in a totally self indulgent way.

Once I started though, panic set in. The dress code is “smart casual” but what does that actually mean in real terms? I gazed in confusion at the array of smart casual offerings – should I opt for a floral dress with a jacket or a pinstripe skirt, shirt and a cardi? Without knowing what everyone else in the office wears, self doubt and worry quickly set in. The more I looked the more I panicked. In the end I had things put by in most of the stores I had visited and I still had no idea what to buy. Unable to decide, I called my husband, subconsciously hoping that he would declare that there was chaos at home, I had been far too long and he needed me to rush home right away. That would give me an excuse to escape from the shopping centre without admitting defeat. Of course, things were fine at home and my husband urged me to take as long as I needed and enjoy my shopping trip – bless him!

Plan b, was to head to a coffee shop with a copy of Glamour magazine (trendy and only £2!!) and seek inspiration. Over coffee, which felt super indulgent without children to entertain, I wondered “what would Gok Wan do?”. I realised that what I needed were pieces to complement what I already had in my wardrobe. I remembered that I do still have some suitably smart clothes lurking at the back behind my Mummy casuals, so I made a list of those to help me decide what I needed to buy. Suddenly it made sense! Suddenly I felt excited about my shopping trip again and I hit the shops again with a renewed sense of purpose.

So what did I buy? A grey shift dress from Dorothy Perkins, a red cap sleeved top, a Cobalt blue short sleeved top (according to Glamour, cobalt is going to be big news), a couple of shirts and some purple tights. In my defence regarding the latter, a lot of what I already own is black, so if I am brave enough, I may add the coloured tights to make a statement. If I’m not brave enough, they were only £1 in Tesco! It was hardly the shop of the century but it did feel so good to shop a) alone and b) to only buy things for me!

Today I feel: Confident and excited about our decision.