Come September, I will celebrate my sixth year of being Mum and stay-home mum. It will also be my fourth year as mum of two – two boisterous boys.
While I wouldn’t count myself as an experienced mum, I would say I’ve gotten a better grip on what this mum-business is about.
Looking back on my almost six years as mum, I realise that one of my greatest fears has been that I would lose myself, lose my personal identity, lose all that I used to love to do and….just be a Mum.
A boring Mum.
A dull Mum.
An unkempt Mum.
I’m a person who is restless and filled with wanderlust. I also love to work. In fact, I love work so much that I remember scribbling editorial content in the dark while my new baby snoozed. The whole month right after I gave birth, I would work instead of sleep. Looking back I wondered why I was such a work addict that I couldn’t set aside all those freelance projects to enjoy time with my newborn baby.
I took on all those freelance jobs that distracted me from fully focusing on my children because I was afraid that I would lose what I loved to do, and my relevance to the world. I was accustomed to having my sense of self and identity tied to all the work I did, but I was totally lost in this new domestic world of being Mum. I love my children. They are adorable and I do enjoy being them. But they fight, they cry and they always seem to perfectly mess up the home right after I’ve cleaned it.
And so ever so often, these questions would pop up in my head:
Am I doing the right thing staying home?
Why did I go to graduate school to just stay home and be Mum?
Am I not wasting my talent and my parents’ investments in my education by just staying home?
So I would often run back into my comfort zone and seek my security in work.
As the years rolled on, and I had my second baby, I stopped taking on freelance editorial projects.
However, I found a new work addiction – community projects. Community projects were not as intense as previous work with stiff deadlines. They gave me the creative outlet I needed, but they still demanded my time and energy. Commodities that I seemed to be in short supply!
I slowly morphed into a Momster – a Monster Mum. I was snappy, irritable and yelling at my boys incessantly. I would be trying to rush to complete one project after another, and I had no patience for their little boy’s needs.
Finally after some months of feeling daily angst, exhaustion and exasperation with my children and household demands, I realised I had to re-evaluate my life.
With much help and encouragement from my husband and my inner-circle of mummy mentors and friends, I started to streamline the activities in my life. The process is still ongoing.
At the end of last year, I determined in my journal that I would like to work towards being a wholehearted, undivided Mum and Wife.
I felt that I’d let too many years slip by with my lack of intentional focus on giving my best to my family. Though I have been at home, I’ve been barely more than a shell than a joyful, inspiring and nurturing presence because I was so often distracted by my desire to work on my own projects.
I’m still learning to let go of things that do not fit into my current life goals. It’s especially painful sometimes when I see my peers getting their national awards or going places.
But I remind myself to look at all the wonderful things I have and to count my blessings.
When I count my blessings, I realise that while I’m not leading my ideal life, the life I have now far exceeds what I could have engineered for myself.
Learning to focus on meeting the needs of my family, I feel I’ve been given a second chance at learning things I have never been able to learn before or have not yet mastered previously.
As a homeschooling mum, I am excited by the frequent opportunities I get to research new topics I’ve never learned before. My boys love the outdoors. I’m learning more about nature with them as we go for our walks and zoo trips.
As a homemaker, I am also developing new skills like cooking, sewing, embroidery and cleaning. The best parts are that I’m not doing these just for the family, but these are things I really do enjoying doing. (Okay, I’m still not really enjoying the cleaning bit. But every time I manage to clean and tidy the house, I do feel very accomplished!)
So to all of you other Mothers out there, I would just like to say:
Don’t be afraid.
You see, sometimes letting go of who you were before the baby may mean that you will find the new and improved you.
I know I did, and I quite like the person I am becoming.
Transiting from working to a SAHM? Here are a few tips:
1. Find out more about what it means to be a SAHM (Stay-at-home Mum).
Talk to other mums who have made the transition from being a working mum to a SAHM. Have them share with you the challenges and also the joys of being a SAHM. Don’t be afraid to constantly ask them for tips. They can be your efficient source of information.
2. Write a vision statement for yourself as a SAHM.
You will likely not be able to live out this statement every single day but the purpose of it helps to give you focus and resolve during tough times, and will encourage you to keep on going.
3. Build Your Sanity Support Network
No mum is ever meant to mother alone. Being a SAHM doesn't mean you are stuck at home all day and that your entire life revolves around house and family. You may not be working anymore but you are still you. You still have your personal identity, interests and needs. So build yourself some sanity networks you can draw upon to meet these various needs. They can be with other SAHMs in your neighbourhood or a virtual community hobby group.
4. Give yourself time.
Give yourself time to find your feet in your new role. Be kind to yourself when it has been a rough day. Reward yourself when you know you've done well.
5. Don't forget your beauty sleep!
With a gazillion things to do around the house and for the family, you may be tempted to stay up late into the night. But don't. As you know, sleep deprivation is truly one of the greatest contributing factors toward turning Mums into Momsters. So make sure you give yourself enough time to rest and recharge!