It’s been almost two weeks since I officially became a stay-at-home mum. In reality I’ve been doing it for almost a year being on maternity leave but my last official day of employment arrived this month. It has been a busy year with the new baby, moving house, moving schools and Seán starting big school.
When I was pregnant with Cian I knew I wanted to be at home for the three of them. Life with two kids had become stressful as we both worked full-time so three would mean more pressure for everyone. It was also financially the better option for the family. Despite this, I was still somewhat anxious that I wouldn’t be happy at home and regret my decision. Limited adult conversation, three kids all day every day and the monotony of housework was daunting.
So a year in here’s some of the big and little changes to our lives since I’ve been at home full-time;
Rise and Shine
Mornings in our house are less chaotic. Like many other families, our mornings were the most stressful time of the day. Two years ago it felt like we were constantly rushing the kids. It was always “quick eat your breakfast”, “where are your shoes?”, “GET IN THE CAR”. We never all ate breakfast together and we hardly had time to have any conversation before hustling out the door. Usually forgetting something.
For me getting to work on time depended on making it to the motorway by 8am. Which meant the kids had to be up at 7am, out the door by 7.40am and over to their separate childcare facilities. Most mornings I was late for work despite my best efforts.
Now we have a later school start time of 9.20am which makes a big difference. We’re up at 8am and have plenty of time to get ready. We’re very rarely running late and my commute is a traffic-free six-minute journey to the school drop-off area and back. We chat over breakfast and they have time before school to prepare for the day ahead. I have noticed the kids are more eager to get up now, they are less tired and definitely happier going to school every day.
Healthy body / Healthy mind
We eat healthier, we get more exercise and are less stressed. I now have the time to plan and cook healthier food for the family. I eat better at home than I did in work. I go for more walks with the kids. I go to a weekly ‘bring your buggy’ exercise class.
At work I would often sit for up to six hours at my desk and three hours sometimes in the car. At home, I’m always on my feet. The most I’ll sit for in an entire day is probably an hour including the time I spend in the car for the school runs. We have more family time at the weekends as the bulk of the housework is done before Saturday.
I suffered from anxiety in the year before I became pregnant with Cian. Something I had never experienced before. It started with heart palpitations for no apparent reason at random times throughout the day. Then I would get claustrophobic in strange situations like grocery shopping and feel the urgent need to leave. This developed into more obvious panic attacks which started to affect my work. I realised my lifestyle had become unhealthy and the anxiety was induced by the constant stress. Now it’s been almost a year since I experienced any of the symptoms of anxiety.
Appreciating the now
I know there will come a time when I will want to return to work so I’m taking this time now to be fully present and enjoy all the little moments with the kids. If they are chatting to me I sit and listen to them. I’m not sneaking a look at emails or distracted thinking about work. If they want to play I abandon the housework and plonk myself down in the middle of their mess to join in. I’m there every day to collect them from school, bring them to after-school activities, friends houses or birthday parties. I’m there to help with homework, to do baking, crafting or pop down to the beach for an afternoon walk if the weather is good.
The only downside to this is there’s not a lot of ME-time. The one thing I do miss about work (ironically) is time for myself. My old commute to work was a pain but I did enjoy the time in the car each morning to myself. I could go for a walk by myself at lunchtime, enjoy eating by myself or catching up with colleagues without being covered in baby food afterward. Carving out me-time is something I’m still working on but I try to spend at least an hour every day where I disappear somewhere by myself; a long bath, reading, writing or catching up on TV.
So when my last day in work arrived I didn’t have one regret. I wasn’t sad or envious leaving the job. Being at home full-time is demanding, you’re always on duty but it is also fun. Life is busy, it’s never boring and I feel very lucky to be in a position to be at home with them. Best of all I’m happy and content and I don’t crave the other life just yet.