Gosh, that heading leaves a lot to the imagination doesn’t it.

I’ve written about my experience as being a stay at home mum back in November 2015, 3 months after Baxter was born. It wasn’t for me as horrible as that sounds. I wasn’t coping and I missed the adult interaction. I loved my child to bits but it really wasn’t healthy for me. Baxter ended up coming to work with my until he was 8 months old and then we made the decision that Reuben would stay home. It was an adjustment for all but Reuben really loved (and still loves) being a stay at Dad. It’s a conversation thats for sure and I feel like I am judged a lot because our situation may not be the norm but it works for us.

Being a stay at home Mum is tough, people often what you do and assume its an easy role. It’s not, I may have only done it for a short period of time but I know how tough it can be. How the days can feel so long and lonely.

Being a working Mum is really tough too I tell you. I think some people think (and joke) that I get to leave in the morning and just walk away from the drama and work almost acts as a hiding place. While some days, the break may be nice – I miss them all like crazy. I know what I am doing and I know the reasons behind why I am doing it. I know that by being at work I am able to provide a better future for my family but it doesn’t make the decision any easier. Last night Baxter ended up in our bed and Reuben went and slept in his bed, it’s not something that we make a habit of but he generally only does it when he is unwell. I woke up about 1am to him vomiting through our bed – goodie. He was sick again a few hours later.

Getting up in the morning was not only difficult because I was tired but it was tugging my heart strings because I knew I had to leave him when he was feeling his worst. I knew that all he wanted was me and that I couldn’t be there because I had meetings I really needed to be at. While I knew that he would have been fine with Reuben, it still ate away at me all morning. I kept messaging Reuben for updates and couldn’t wait to get home to him.

As a Mother you’re going to get judged no matter what you do. Whether you stay at home, go to work, put your kid in daycare or feed them with a bottle. Do you know what though? Every single decision you make it tough, cos being a parent is tough.

I find being a Mum who cares about her job and career is often skoffed at, like I value that more my children – bullshit. I just have a strong desire to do well and I am bloody good at what I do. Being out each and every day working my ass off actually makes me a better Mum. Now please don’t look into this and assume that if you’re a stay at home that you don’t care – that is not the case at all and I honestly, whole-heartedly take a bow to you because I couldn’t do it. Some don’t have the choice and that breaks my heart too.

Coming home each night at the end of a long stressful day only to have 1 hour with your kids before they need to go to bed is tough.

Today I really struggled, today I felt like I failed as a Mum. Seeing your kid/s is one of the most difficult things as all you want to do is help to fix them but 9/10 you can’t and it hurts.

Every Mum is walking a different path, struggling in different ways. Lets ease up on the assumptions and just be kind x

GUEST POST BY MELANIE HALL.

  • Parenthood is the most hotly debated topic in the world. Even more so than politics, religion, and which team will win the next English Premier League. Listen to all the advice (smile and nod – it usually comes from a good place), and take from it what you please. Lean on a handful of people that you trust most, and save your questions for them.
  • The only constant is change. I thought I’d “cracked” a routine with my newborn baby until she cried incessantly for 3 days straight. It took me that long to realise she was just more hungry than usual – her feeding “routine” had suddenly changed from 3-hourly to 2-hourly, with cluster feeding in the evening. Babies grow and develop every single day, so you just can’t expect any day to be the same.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. You’ll make mistakes (like the above) many, many times as a parent and I’ve been told that those “parent guilts” never go away. I have to keep reminding myself that the best i can do is your best.
  • Leave your ego at the delivery room door. It’s true that everyone’s a perfect parent until they have kids! A dummy may be your life saver, and you might be too busy or too tired to ever use those cloth nappies you bought. You’ll find yourself doing things you said you’d “never do”, but those little things (yes, they are little things) really aren’t a big deal as long as you and your baby are both happy and healthy. And don’t concern yourself with what other mums are/aren’t doing either – every baby is different.
  • Always get a second opinion. Actually, get a third. It took that many to figure out why my baby was struggling to latch – she was finally diagnosed with both tongue and lip ties. She had laser surgery at 4 weeks old, and now feeds perfectly. If something doesn’t feel right, keep asking until you find an answer.
  • Read your baby, not the book. Babies develop at their own pace, in their own time. Some will be below the curve, some will be above it. That’s how bell curves work. Most of the time it’s nothing to be concerned about. In the early days I was told that my baby MUST feed for at least 20 minutes, and must feed off both breasts in order to get enough milk. I stressed us both out trying to force this, until a 320g weekly weight gain proved she was getting more than enough from one breast, in a 10 minute feed. Our babies haven’t read the textbook, they’re just following their natural instinct – trust them.
  • Breast feeding is hard. You already know pregnancy is hard, everyone tells you how awful labour is going to be (I came out of it looking like I’d had an affair with Edward scissorhands), and you know to prepare yourself for sleep deprivation. But when it came to breast feeding, I definitely went into the whole thing with rose-tinted glasses. Black and bruised nipples, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples. They happen, and they really, really fucking hurt. With the aid of Lansinoh cream, hot showers, hot and cold compresses, gel pads, some expressing and syringe feeding, I managed to battle (yes, battle) my way through those first few weeks of breastfeeding with gritted teeth. If you are battling, just remember it will get better. It got a hell of a lot better for me after my milk came in, and better again after my baby had her lip and tongue ties treated. If it’s not getting better after a week or two, go and see a lactation consultant (they’re free through the hospital until 6 weeks, and free through Plunket after that) and have a look for a breastfeeding support group in your area (wharekai Pepe in Wellington is amazing).
  • You can’t spoil a baby. It’s true that babies aren’t wired to manipulate you. If they’re crying, it’s usually for a reason. Check the usual things – wet nappy, hungry, over-tired. If all else fails, give them extra cuddles, let them sleep on you, feed them for comfort – whatever works to give you both a break. And don’t sweat it. If everything you did at this early stage was “creating a habit” then they’d still be shitting in diapers when they’re 20!
  • Find your village. My village is a modern day one – it comes in the form of the New Mum Club Support Group on Facebook, it comes from my antenatal group girls who I meet with regularly for coffee, it comes from group classes at Lower Hutt Parents Centre and it comes from friends and family. They’ll guide, listen, deliver hot meals, and babysit while you nap. Parenting is a tough gig, and no one should have to go it alone.
  • Enjoy it. Some days you’ll bake cookies, do 7 loads of washing, and vacuum the house. Some days you’ll be glued to the couch wearing puke covered pyjamas. Embrace them both. And find a really good series on Netflix (shameless will make you feel better about your life). Before you know it your baby will no longer want those cuddles that stopped you from hanging out that load of washing today. Each stage is over far, far too quickly. Every day I try to find time to cuddle, sing, read, laugh and go for a walk outside with her in the pram. Whatever you do, just remember to enjoy it.

I’m just going to come right out and say it – it’s not for me and I don’t enjoy it. I love my son with all of my being but I am not cut out to be a stay at home mum. I know those who are unable to do so for various reasons will most likely get pissed off by this post but as I’ve said a million times, this is my blog, my thoughts and feelings. Don’t like it – don’t read it.

I am not choosing to go back to work for financial reasons, I am choosing to return to work for me, so I am able to provide an even better future for my child. Yes, I worry I will miss important milestones but I try not to think about it while coming to terms with the decision I’ve recently made.

The intention never was to not return but I kept my plans lose so I could see how I felt about being a SAHM. I went on maternity leave back in July, my boy was due in August. He is only 11 weeks old now and I’ve already made my decision – does that make me a bad parent? No, but after reading various articles online people sure act like it. There seems to be a lot of guilt associated with making the decision to put your children into some form of care, especially when they’re under 12 months old.

I am going to admit, before I became a parent I used to always wonder what SAHM’s did, I used to think they had it easy. Um, they don’t. Caring for a small human day/night is fucking hard work. My decision to return to work is not because I can’t hack it, I know many don’t have a choice and simply have to return to work because they financially can’t afford to stay home. In the industry I am in, I am lucky to be able to work 1-2 days from home and will look to find suitable care for my child 3 days per week. This is going to be hard for me, due to the guilt I feel from others responses such as “oh wow, you’re going back to work?”, “but he will only be 6 months old”, “what if you miss his first steps?”. Yes, thank you captain obvious.

I am doing what long term is the best option for me and my child. I need adult conversations, I need to be challenged and I want to continue building my career whilst providing for my family.  For some people, like me, being at home all the time can get really lonely, yes – you have your wee one there but if you’re accustomed to the camaraderie of being around other adults, the drastic change can lead to bad feelings. Endless dirty nappies and washing becomes frustrating and its hard to find a sense of accomplishment.

I know I have a few close friends who have found themselves in similar situations. We’re good mums and our children will thank us one day. If you’re facing the tough decision and are weighing up your options, do what feels right, if you enjoy being a SAHM – I take my hat off to you, do whatever possible to stay home with your little one, look into work that you can from home. If you aren’t enjoying it, it’s OK to return to work, your child isn’t going to love you any less.