My nails are painted and my hair is dyed, but I do those things when Adam is asleep, so no one can accuse me of being lazy. Mercifully Adam still naps during the day, which gives me a chance to do household tasks and have a few hours peace from CBeebies and Adam chiming "mummy mummy mummy".
Disclaimer: Now, in no way shape or form is this post my way of saying that a women's place is in the home or that it gives men a free pass to sit on their backsides playing WoW all day. No way. What I'm saying is in this household Andrew has the biggest earning potential so he goes out to work, and I stay home tending to the family's needs. But I do support other families wherein the women has the biggest wage going out to work and the man staying home as a SAHParent.
Daily I do all the cooking - cook most things from scratch and usually once a week I cook a few different meals and freeze them. I haven't bought bread in months as I just make my own. When Andrew is leaving work in the evening he rings me and I put dinner on so it is ready for him coming home. The 3 of us try to eat dinner together every night and do a small Bible study after. Adam is too young for this, but it's influential for him to see us do it.
I do all the laundry - I have a toddler who sometimes needs to have his outfit changed twice a day due to spills and general messiness, so having clean clothes ready to grab is a must!
I do all the cleaning - now, before I come across as boastful, my house isn't sitting like a pin. I do not have a cleaning rota and I'll just clean what needs cleaned. But I do like to keep a good level of cleanliness, especially as we have a cat who sheds all year round. I am considering wrapping her in clingfilm when she's in the house, but can't get her to sit still long enough.
|Matilda, AKA Princess FuzzyButt|
More important than all the above tasks is my role as primary caregiver to our son, Adam. It is a blessing to be at home with him seeing him develop and learn every day. It is also relentless in the attention he needs, the encouragement he gets from me and relentless in that even when we're asleep I'm still near him and I'm still 'on call'.
Every weekday we go to a different mums and tots group in our local town - he gets to play with toys we wouldn't have space for at home and gets to mix with other kids all with the reassurance that I'm in the same room. I'm still amazed at how many grandparents are there looking after their grandchildren and also childminders. Stay at home mums are in the minority, but a good presence.
He comes with me when I get the groceries - trying to eat things out of the trolley and grab things off shelves is his forte - he sees all the chores I do and tries to help out.
|Adam, November 2011|
He is influenced by me as his primary caregiver, his mother who stays home so he doesn't have to be farmed out to paid strangers, or put-upon relations. In the very early days of having him I considered putting him into daycare and went as far as touring around centres and even chose one that I liked. But when it came down to it, I just couldn't make the break and leave him there as just another child in a big room filled of other children. I do know some nursery workers and know they love their job and are attentive, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Plus it is daylight robbery how much they charge. Almost £40 a day!
My parents both work full-time in jobs which have odd shift patterns, so they aren't around to help out much. Typically they see us a few hours one or two days a week and when they do they are very attentive and loving. When they are not working they make a real effort to see him, take him places and have taught him words and actions to rhymes. There have been days where my mum has rung me up and told me they want to take Adam to such-and-such a place on such-and-such a date. He loves them very much and kisses pictures of them and pretends to ring my dad on his toy phone.
But that's it.
I am sad to say that no one else bar me, bar my parents and bar Andrew see Adam with any regularity. Closest to that frequency are the members of our church congregation whom we see weekly during Sunday services and my friend H and her son T who we see twice a week at parents and tots groups.
So when the "what do SAHMs do all day?" is posed again that is the answer: we shape the world of our child. Adam's vocabulary has come on leaps and bounds in the past 3 weeks or so and I'm there for every new word, every new action to a dance, every new milestone and have been there since his birth. I'm thankful that Andrew does go out to work and can support his family with his salary. He isn't a lazy father and is very hands-on in his care with Adam when he's home. His three main household roles are: 1) ironing, 2) bathing Adam, 3) earning money to pay the mortgage and bills.
I'm saddened that others don't take time out to spend time with him, but I'm not getting ranty at anyone who lives in a different country (like his aunt and uncle and some of our friends) or anyone who works everyday (like most of my childless friends). Some things such as geography and employment just can't be argued with.
Often it seems that people don't want to babysit as they (as adults) think they won't enjoy it, which is unashamedly a selfish view. What about realising that we all do things that aren't always fun and that is part of being an adult too. Being around a child is a chance to teach that child something or to impart wisdom to help the child as he/she grows.
Even a walk in the park or to feed ducks can be a useful way to spend time with a toddler, teaching them about nature, creation and tell stories.
In a week there are 7 days of 24 hours. I am with Adam for all of these hours, generally anyway. Once a fortnight I work for 6 hours, which is a change of scene! If you are related to this child via blood links or your friendship with either of his parents and don't do anything to the way of trying to be part of his life then you are seriously missing a trick.
Support your local SAHM, tell them you love them and all they do. Take their child out for an hour, or even just read the child a storybook.
Who knows, you might even enjoy it if you suspend your disbelief.