Friday, April 22, 2011

Stay at Home Mama, Racheal

Continuing the 'Working to change attitudes'... The next mama giving insight to her choice and lifestyle is the lovely Racheal, a stay-at-home mother.

Hi, my name is Racheal. My partner Joe and I have a 21month old son, Michael and I am 19 weeks pregnant with our second child.  I’m a proud stay-at-home mum.

Since becoming a parent and meeting other parents, I have grown to learn that what works well for one family may not work so well for another. As far as the role a new mum chooses, (stay at home, work from home, working mum, etc.) there are pro’s and con’s for all of them. I believe, despite any criticism, we each make that decision based on what is best for ourselves and our families.

While I was pregnant I had a full time job as an office administrator. Being new to motherhood and not quite knowing what to expect, I wanted to wait until the baby was born to make a proper and informed decision about whether to return to work or not. Once Michael was born and we had settled into our home, I knew I couldn’t bear leaving my son to return to work so early, if at all. Thankfully, my employers were quite relaxed and supportive of my choice.  Joe and I agreed that we could live off a sole income and that it was probably better for Michael if one of us were at home with him. There are always going to be oppurtunities for me to study or go back into the workforce once the kids are school age.

There are sacrifices that come with living on one wage. While Joe and I aren’t struggling financially, we still have to be careful and organised with what we spend after the bills, groceries and other essentials are taken care of. I did start working casually for 2-3 nights a week and several hours every Saturday when Michael turned a year old. However our town was affected by the QLD Floods and the place where I work was inundated with flood water. We haven’t been able to return yet but I’m looking forward to going back. Not only for the bit of extra money, but to interact with other adults again.

Personally, I haven’t received any criticism for being a SAHM. Though, I am aware of the misconceptions that SAHM’s either sit on the couch all day watching talk shows or go out shopping and have lunch dates often with other mothers. We don’t work; therefore we have a leisurely life. I have even heard of people saying mothers who stay at home mustn’t be skilled or educated enough for the workforce. Such comments make me wonder if the people who said them have children of their own. On the days Michael and I venture to the main streets of Emerald, in favour of shopping and lunch at the local coffee shops, I do a lot of window shopping and make a packed lunch for us to have in the park. I may buy the occasional coffee and cake when meeting with other mothers at playgroup. As for sitting on the couch watching TV all day, I’m lucky to go to the toilet without hearing a “Mum. Mum, mum. Muuum. MUM!” at the door.

A typical day for us means we are up and out of bed by 7am.  After breakfast is eaten, I like to put some music on and start with the daily list of chores I have written for myself. Having a list makes the menial task of housework seem more manageable and gives me a small goal to achieve. I’ve found that letting Michael ‘help’ me with cleaning is best.  It might take 5minutes longer to do, but it keeps him happy and occupied when I let him pass me clothes from the washing basket or give him his own cloth to wipe down his activity table. Apart from the housework the day is made up of keeping Michael entertained, fed and happy. Playing with blocks, reading books and any game that involves running around are some of Michaels more favourite things to do. Colouring and play dough are good for about 5-10 minutes, time enough for me to sit down with a cup of tea.  After lunch it is nap time and if I don’t have any chores left (chores I need to do without my little helper) I make time for myself - Reading a book, practising my guitar or doing something crafty.  Michael sleeps for around 2 hours, so it is plenty of time for me to catch up on anything I need to. Joe normally comes home at around 5 and we usually take it in turns to make dinner. He likes to cook and doesn’t mind helping me out most nights.I am extremely grateful to have such a wonderful and supportive partner. Joe baths Michael after dinner to spend a bit of time with him, before it is time for Michael to go to bed at 7-7.30. 

Staying home, there are good days and there are not-so-good days. The not-so-good days are the days where I just don’t have the motivation or energy to do much at all. It just feels like I am doing the same thing day in/day out and I feel very disconnected from the outside world. I question if what I am doing is good enough, and if I should be doing more for my family. Joe comes home to an unkempt house and cops the brunt of my bad mood.  Luckily those days are few and I find that cuddles with Michael or Joe and seeing them smile are usually enough to make me feel more positive. A talk with my parents or close friends cheers me up as well.

All in all, I am happy with where I am in life and treasure all the time I am able to spend with my son and with this next child. They aren't going to be little forever, and I want to be here for thier every giggle, tantrum and milestone.

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