Just say no!

One word....NO! It reminds me of a petulant toddler, refusing to conform. Nevertheless, it's become a powerful weapon in my protective arsenal. A few years back, I would struggle to say no to people. I have been (and still am to some extent) a people pleaser and a yes man. Whilst generally there is nothing wrong with this, when you have young children it doesn't always go to plan.

Saying yes to every request for help and assistance from those around you, can leave you spent and exhausted. Motherhood is challenging enough without carrying the onerous guilt of not doing enough to 'help out.' Ironically, if you lend too much of your time to others, you then become the needy one, the one struggling to drag yourself to the end of the week without feeling like an all round shit.

As a 'stay at home mum / full time mum'....whatever contentious title you wish to give me, I often feel a silent expectation from others that I should be giving up my time to help out more regularly. After all, I'm at home all day aren't I? I have so many hours to fill don't I? What on earth must I do to occupy my time?

In reality, this is far from true. With two children at school and a young baby, I am never still (except when sleeping, which is rare these days!). I am constantly cleaning, cooking, ironing, sorting, preparing, driving to appointments, doing homework, bathing babies, feeding babies, trying to write blog posts etc etc. The list is endless and incessant. I work jolly hard and I am never lazy.

I have also worked outside the home (as a teacher) whilst having a young family and that too is hard and non stop. Yet this silent assumption surrounding mums that have to / choose to stay at home, is a prevalent issue. Simply because we are at home with our children does not mean we are lesser humans, or are no longer interested in furthering our careers and broadening our minds. In fact, I feel more compelled to focus on my future than I ever have done before. I want to prove to others that just because I am not in paid work, I am not brain dead and I most certainly do not spend most of my day chanting nursery rhymes whilst rocking in a corner!

Talking to other mums in my position has made me realise that I am not alone in the way I feel. I have heard stories of friends who are finding it so hard to say no, that they are rendering themselves exhausted and struggling to 'parent' effectively. 'But I don't work', they say. So what? You may not work for a wage but the work you are doing whilst bringing up your children is priceless.

I have such huge and boundless admiration for all mothers, working mums are amazing too. Nothing we choose to do as mothers is the easy route. However, none of us should back ourselves into a corner where we are unable to refuse extra jobs that we could most certainly do without.

Everyone has a reason for their family choices. For us, my husband holds down a very demanding job which involves extremely long hours. One of us needs to be here for the children each day, so we had to make a hard choice for me to forgo my paid job for a while, so childcare wasn't an increasingly awkward and expensive issue. I haven't chosen to stay at home because it's the easy option and my life is not a constant stream of fun social engagements, drinking coffee and reading magazines! The glamour is not real - cue shitty nappies, crumbs everywhere, dirty prints on windows, pee on my toilet seat (boys), long-forgotten cold cups of coffee....you get the picture!

Anyway, what I want other mums to know (whether you are a SAHM, or a working mum) is that it's OK to just do what you do. You don't have to give extra time to anyone or anything if you don't feel like it. Getting stressed about taking on jobs that are an added burden at the end of a crappy day is just not worth it. Silence the haters, they will get over it, I promise. You are not lazy, you are wonderful! Like I always say....you are doing the best you can and that my friends, is enough!



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