I think whether you are a stay at home mum, or a working mum, you will always question whether you are doing the right thing for your children. The truth is we are only trying to do the best for them, whatever we decide to do. I think some mums feel the need to get back to work, for their own sanity or to keep up with their career, and I can completely understand this. As childcare costs in the UK are ridiculously high; it makes more financial sense for me to be a stay at home mum, than to pay for James to be in nursery. I always wanted to be a stay at home mum. It is very difficult for me to have a career when I follow my husband around with his job, and we are usually on the move again after a few years. I see looking after James as my responsibility and I want to be in control of it. It’s something I want to do, and most of the time I do enjoy it.
My days are frequently spent wiping snot off my clothes or listening to his constant whining, but other days we have some really lovely times together. Some days I am counting down the minutes until bed time or wishing I was walking out of the door to work like my husband. Sometimes I wish James would leave me alone, so I could at least go to the toilet in peace. It is incredibly hard, but it is also very rewarding when I am there to see him learning new things. My favourite thing is when I make him laugh. I could listen to his laugh all day. It melts my heart.
We split our day into two parts – pre nap and post nap. Pre nap we have more of a routine of toddler / music groups, which he usually enjoys. On days we haven’t got anything pre planned we either arrange play dates or go swimming. In the afternoons, we again arrange play dates, go to a park, or for a walk somewhere. Staying in the house for a long period of time with James is hard. I think this comes from a lot of frustration from not being able to express what he wants to do. He isn’t interested in any craft activities, or play-doh, but he is very good at independent play, which is lovely to watch and think about what is going on in his head.
He loves being outdoors, especially in good weather. However, we are currently experiencing screaming every time we open the front door to put him in the car. I seriously worry that our neighbours think our child spends all his time screaming. Then there are the swing tantrums, which I am hoping have just come to an end in the last week or so, as he has finally realised there are other things than swings in a park. Dealing with these things all day, every day can make being a stay at home mum extremely wearing and hard. Luckily I have some wonderful mummy friends that I can share my frustrations with.
I sometimes think how James might be different if he was in nursery – would he be less clingy? Would he eat more foods? Would his speech and understanding be better? Would he be more independent? Would he learn more? Then I come to the conclusion that he is still only 19 months; he has plenty of time to learn. He interacts with other children at toddler groups, where he has to learn to share toys and play nicely. He will go to playgroup or pre school when he is 3, but in the meantime he will have to put up with me.
I think we are always questioning and trying to justify our choices when it comes to day care and children. I think whatever we choose there will always be mum guilt about whether we are doing the right thing, but I think the most important thing is not to judge each others choices. We are all only doing what works best.