Now that I’ve been back at work for more than 6 weeks and my staring-at-computer-screens-related-headaches have started I am looking back at my maternity leave days with longing. To celebrate my luck at having 11 months of break from professional work here are the 5 things I learnt while being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).
1 Being flexible with your day is the ultimate freedom
I like planning. As my husband said, I look to the past and the future, but never the present. So when I said to him “I love you” he jokingly said, “No you don’t. You only loved me or will love me.” He’s a clever one, my husband.
Anyway, being a mom left alone with a baby during the day I had to face the present and just learn (slowly) to let go of my need to control of what’s going to happen next.
It was a revelation when I finally let go of my imaginary commitments to time. We have a mother’s group catch up at 1PM, but baby decides to nap or refuse to get in the car… No problem. You want to play at 3AM? No problem. I never really understood those who adviced to “follow the baby’s schedule” until I consciously gave up all other schedules! Accepting that the baby is the only one who can dictate the schedule freed me from being the time dictator. How liberating!
2 Parent forums are gold
I’m a second-time mom. You’d think that I would be an expert by now having brought up a baby 8 years ago. But the parent playing field has changed in that span of time! When I had my first child Facebook only had a handful of users and status updates were still written in the third person.
I had no source of advice but from the mothers and nurses I see in person. This means I brought my first child up making a lot of mistakes, and using unnatural, non-sustainable, chemically-tarnished products! But now, I am on 3 different parent forums on Facebook and have thousands of moms and dads to discuss every single baby product you can think of.
My husband comes home from work and I’m armed with a hundred different arguments why Moogoo is the best bath products for our baby; why baby-led weaning is good, but messy and wow! I just noticed that many families in Australia do go to Bali a lot.
It goes without saying that I am addicted to these forums. Not only was it my only connection to the outside world, it also was a connection with thousands of other mothers experiencing the same things as me at the same time. Plus we don’t have to change out of our PJs to communicate. We can type and share even while breastfeeding!
How did I raise a child without these forums?
3 Finishing just one house chore per day is more than enough
I would like to say that I was “ambitious” thinking I would re-organise the entire house, re-file papers, regularly clean the bathroom while the baby slept during the day. But really I was just naive. I was blessed with a great sleeper the first time around, but this second baby? Well, as I said she’s the dictator of my schedule. She slept irregularly and she also liked to be carried – all.the.time.
So, if I actually put the dishes in the dishwasher that day I’m winning.
4 There’s no point wondering how other parents find the time to exercise/blog/try out every single baby bath product
This is in direct relation to 3 above. Some parents have babies who are great sleepers, and are “easy”, some parents don’t. Parents who don’t (me) read forums and wonder when all the other moms find the time. But then read later on that the same time-rich mom has a different problem balances the universe and makes me think that really I shouldn’t compare.
5 Don’t even try to be a super mom and volunteer for older child’s school activities while second child is less than a year old
#mumfail alert here. The main aim of spending more time with older child was not met, but also the main aim of helping the school won’t be en par with someone who actually has the time and sleep.
This also goes with planning to be a super entrepreneur, super children’s book writer, super crafter and super charity volunteer.
Looking back now it was such a great time to be a new mom which is exactly what the maternity leave is for. Yep, not for anything else but just being a mom.