Mum: the identity crisis

I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis recently.

It’s a work thing. I’m a freelance journalist, see. This means that sometimes I am “Working Mum”, putting on my smart clothes and leaving the house to do a day’s work in radio. Other times I am “Work At Home Mum”, writing articles while wearing a dressing gown covered in half-chewed banana and crusty milk. Then, when I don’t have any bookings or commissions to finish, I am “Stay At Home Mum”. On these days, my uniform is a mouldy dressing gown followed by a pair of muddy jeans. And my main activity is playing.

The thing is, I don’t know which Mum I prefer.

So I thought I’d do a little exercise.

Working Mum:


  • Wearing a top that’s not covered in half-eaten food.
  • Drinking a cup of tea before it’s gone cold.
  • Talking with other adults about things that don’t involve babies or poo.
  • Being able to listen to the radio on the way to work, rather than Humpty Dumpty’s Greatest Hits.
  • Getting through a good chunk of the day without wiping someone else’s bum.
  • Focusing on one task at a time, rather than juggling at least seven – all to the background noise of Rasta Mouse or Mr Tumble.


  • Getting dressed before 9am.
  • Planning the military operation that is packing for a day out of the house.
  • Guilt (this is a big one).

Work At Home Mum:


  • Getting dressed after 9am.
  • No guilt.
  • Having the time to play and earn money all in one day.


  • Juggling of epic proportions.
  • Very late nights.
  • The computer winking in the corner during play time.
  • Cold tea.
  • A rather dirty house.

Stay At Home Mum:


  • Play time lasts all day.
  • No guilt.
  • Having time to cook a delicious dinner.
  • Having time to clean the house (this is debatable).
  • No juggling.
  • No military-style packing.


  • Humpty Dumpty’s Greatest Hits on repeat.
  • Wearing clothes constantly covered in half-eaten food.
  • Cold tea.
  • Wiping a dirty bum that is not my own.

I don’t think this exercise has particularly helped, rather than to remind me how much I love a hot cup of tea and hate the “G” word.

So help me out here – which Mum are you? And what’s the best and worst thing about it?



Filed under Family, Work

29 responses to “Mum: the identity crisis

  1. I am a working part time Mum, I think it’s the happy medium for me, although I would like to do 2 days rather than 3. I would like to be a SAHM (in my perfect rosy world) but I also see how I could go crazy. Lots of bum/face/hand wiping, preparing/fetching food on demand and constant clearing of demolition site (formally lounge) ALL day and every day. You missed off a massive pro for working – going to the loo alone. This damn guilt has a lot to answer for x

  2. I am a BOTTOM honey, as you know *bugger off to the office mum*

    but with daddy daycare at home, house is never tidy, and always stuff to do!


    • Becs

      Ha Ha! Love that – never heard that one before. Can relate as hubbie was unemployed for a while recently so at home but he wasn’t much cop as a house husband!

  3. I am a stay at home mum and sometimes feel lost in that world. It’s a never ending shift of pooey bums and wiping faces whilst being constantly at someone elses beck and call. 98% of the time I love it but I do sometimes long for clean clothes and being able to do what I want when I want!

  4. I’m a work at home mum with all your pros & cons but without the luxury of getting dressed after 9 as I have 2 others to get to school……..and a massive con is that others see you as a stay at home mum and ask you to look after their kids on Teacher training or Strike days!

    • I think the work at home mum is still a difficult concept for lots of people to get their head round. When I tell people I often “work from home” they always say “oh, that must be nice, so you’re a stay at home mum then?” They don’t realise the huge amount of juggling involved! x

  5. cherbing

    I can relate to you and I am so glad to read your article, Mum: the Identity Crisis; This is I think the dilemna of the typical mother nowadays of this era. I feel bad at times or even feel guilty thinking I am a failure when it comes to parenting. Also the thought that, “mom is always right” I feel like not saying anything anymore and just adhere to the adage, silence is golden or less talk less mistakes. This happens when I make a say on whether regarding: demeanor, money usage, driving, time management, going out etc.. So the sixty four dollar question, really what must I do? Haayay, gosh help me….

    But thanks anyway, at least I am not alone. You have animated not just me but perhaps others too. The power of media with this positive message will create something good….Goodluck

    • It’s a tough one – I don’t think you can ever win really, there’ll always be someone who disagrees with your choices. All you can do is what is right for you and hope for the best. That’s my motto anyway.

  6. clarekirkpatrick

    Ditch the labels 😀 I go for ‘I am me and I do mumming, writing…’ I’m always still me though 🙂

  7. This is very interesting for me as I’ve been having a bit of identity crisis too. I am a SAHM to two preschoolers. I used to be a teacher and I did go back one day a week after having my first, but never really felt I could get ‘stuck in’ and therefore didn’t really get any job satisfaction. Unfortunately this is also a job where you only ever drink cold tea! I don’t feel I can justify going out to work to look after other people’s sprogs when actually, we can (extremely luckily, I know) afford for me to be at home with our own little whirlwinds. But as a consequence, I am feeling slightly frustrated and unchallenged at the moment and it is getting me down. I would say to you, enjoy each ‘role’ you have for what it is, the pros and the cons. It sounds like you have found a good balance, but the grass is always greener , huh?! x

    • Never has a truer word been said. I think the best thing about my job is that I have to really make the most of every day at work or at home or working at home, because I don’t know a) how much work I’ll get next month and b) how much time I’ll get with my baby next month. As a consequence it makes every moment worth savouring. But yes, the grass is always greener. Funny that.

  8. I’ve been all of those mums and sometimes all in one week. I struggle with stay at home mum on account of boredom! Boredom is about equal to guilt in my book.
    Lord knows what the answer is, but I’d say you were quite close to getting a balance if you can do all these things. I worked full time for many years and in the end it’s just exhausting, depressing and guilt-making. Now I think I do similar to you working at home with occasion trips out to work in an office. This is as good as it gets!

    • I agree – when you don’t go out to work every day you appreciate the time in the office. And after a few days in the office you appreciate the time at home. Balance is still a word I’m not too familiar with though, I’m wondering if I’ll ever feel completely 100 percent “balanced” in my life. But I think that’s more to do with the type of person I am rather than the choices I’ve made regarding work. If I’m at home too much I’m bored or feeling guilty that I should be doing more and “achieving” more, yet if I’m working too much I’m feeling guilty and missing spending time with my daughter. I know I know, poor me. I’ll stop with the violins now!

  9. I am a stay at home mum at the moment but I feel like I need something else in my life so I am going back to college in September. Its only for 2 days a week but I know what you mean about the guilt, I feel awful thinking that she’s not going to be young for very long and do I want to leave her for two days when its not essential but at the same time I know that I will be happier on the days when I am with her so maybe it will be worth it. Tough one, it sounds like you have a nice mix of everything though! X

    • It’s really tough but, ultimately, I think the best mums are ones who are happy. So, if that means doing a college course and getting a bit of yourself back then enjoy it! For me, even I won the lottery I still think I’d need to work at least a bit. I didn’t work my bum off and train this hard not to use my skills. I’d love to be a contented SAHM, but I just don’t think I’m cut out for it! x

  10. granny from the north

    GUILT is the main thing to get rid of! You still have it might as well deal with it whilst your little frog is young! xx

  11. I am student at home mum….always frazzled as when I am playing with kids I feel like I should be working and vice versa…

    A mum can never win!

  12. Katie

    I’m a full time at work mum and it does break my heart thanks to the guilt thing i’v missed so much but I have got two understanding kids but today is a bad day as i’v missed them due to a sleep over at grandma’s from 5 yesturday and an 11 hour shift at work, I could have squeezed the life out of them when I caught up with them at bed time but I got a big squeeze in return. They understand mum works to pay the bills and have holidays, which isn’t helped by the ” I don’t want anything today please stay at home” comment my six year old makes. Ultimately my wish is that if I do all this they will be in a position when they have a family they can afford to be stay at home parents to their kids, obviously with grandma’s help.

    • Sounds to me like you are a lovely mum. I completely “get” what you say about “squeezing them so tight” when you get home. I gave F a huge hug when I got back today. Do you know what she did? Yep. Cried. *sigh*

      • Katie

        Haha there we go with that guilt thing again lol. We really need to kick guilts a**e !! And thanks x

  13. I am a work at home mommy, a freelance writer. I am so glad you posted this…I get the “oh, so you are a stay at home mom” thing all of the time. It is very hard to wear all of the hats that come with being a work from home mom. I right now am juggling my “me” time of reading your blog, typing this one handed while breast feeding!

    • It is tricky isn’t it? But I think once people understand what you do it gets easier. My problem is that I “do” a bit of everything which leaves me just as confused as everyone else!

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