Should all mums be of the Stay At Home variety?

This morning I got up at 3.45am and drove to work. I worked until 1pm, drove to the childminder’s to collect my daughter and eventually arrived back at home at 2.15pm. In a fit of Mother Guilt I decided to try and cram a million and one activities into the afternoon, culminating in making homemade pizza with my 19 month old.

I’ve written about the Mother Guilt before. It tears at me every morning as I leave the house, knowing I won’t be the first person to say good morning to my baby. It tugs a little more as I put her to bed at night, wondering if I have done all I can to be a good mum to her that day.

The thing is, I work because I have to. If I didn’t do this job I would be doing another one. I’d either be working from home (as I was before), continuously trying to check emails as my toddler hanged off my leg, or I’d be working in a newsroom somewhere, juggling the childcare run, packing of nappy bag and all the rest that entails leaving a house with a small person.

When I say “I have to” work, it’s not just a statement based on financial reasons. Yes, we need the money. What family doesn’t at the moment? But I also enjoy my job. I want to make the most of every opportunity that I can, as well as making use of my degrees, training, work experience. I want to be an example to my daughter. I want to retain some of the me that existed before she arrived.

But there’s always that guilt.

So imagine how miffed I was to read that, apparently, if you decide to be a mother, you should also decide to give up work. That’s according to Gwyneth Paltrow anyway.

The Beautiful One gave an interview to Harper’s Bazaar recently, in which she shared words of wisdom for women and mothers across the globe. According to Gwynnie, we all have to cook a fulfilling meal for our husband when he gets home from work. And we have to give up work and any sort of career when we have a baby. (That’s if we want to be the very best mum, you understand.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing either way for being a stay at home mum, work at home mum, working mum or anything inbetween. As far as I’m concerned, whatever your choice is just that – yours.

I’m not going to sit here judging you if you go out to work and put your children in childcare, just as I’m not going to sit here judging you if you give up work to look after your children full time.

It’s nothing to do with me. I’m doing my best just to keep my own head above water and do as good a job as I can of being a mum. I’m doing what my own mum did before me, and her mum did before that. I’m doing the same as every mum I know. Trying my hardest.

I may not make my husband a homecooked meal every night. I’m either too knackered or working to try and earn money towards that sacred deposit on a house. So I’m sorry for not being as perfect and rich and wifely as you Gwyneth.

But I’m doing my best.

And if that isn’t good enough well, Gwyneth, you can just rod off.

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26 Comments

Filed under Being a mum

26 responses to “Should all mums be of the Stay At Home variety?

  1. Chelseamamma

    I do believe that Gwyneth also works (well if you can call acting work). She probably has nannies galore too!!
    I wish I could afford to stay at home and not work, but needs must. I’m doing the next best thing and setting up as a childminder, but is my baba going to want to share mummy??

    • We all do what we can to survive – and I’m sure your baba will be fine! I was worried sick about leaving mine. Turns out she’s really not that bothered (treacherous child!).

  2. How do you make home made pizza.with frog, how how how?

  3. You can be a stay at home Mum who is rocking in the corner going insane with the relentless domestic drudgery or work a little and be a happier Mum for it. I’m mostly a stay at home Mum and run my own business from home. I also work bank shifts when I can which I enjoy as it gets me out of the house and I really like my job. It provides us with some much needed cash and me with some much needed mental stimulation and interaction with adults, even if some of them behave like overly spoilt, trantrumming children LOL

    Good old Gwyneth, her of the “eat raw stuff, workout like a demon and have a microbe free home”. Betcha her personal trainer, cleaner and cook are all knackered! LOL Don’t feel guilty for doing something you enjoy, you’re a much happier Mum for it xx

  4. What about when there are two mums? Is one of them doing less of a good job mothering? What about dads? No questions about whether or not they should work?

    I think you’ve nailed it – it comes down to individual choice and circumstance. Personally, I just can’t hack leaving my baby yet so I’m writing around her. Two weeks in, it’s really hard work! And it does mean a lot less time to be the perfect wife of the homemade dinner cooking variety. I doubt I’ll be doing it this way forever!

    • I was in exactly the same situation as you this time last year. In fact, I only started leaving her for the odd radio shift in the summer. And I only started working full time again a month ago! Even then, my full time hours are so early, she’s only in childcare half a day. But it’s all COMPLETELY down to personal choice and circumstance. I just wish I hadn’t worried so much about things this time last year. Enjoy your time with Baby T and relish it! xx

  5. There is no right or wrong answer to this. Financial circumstances dictate the situation to most of us. For those lucky enough to choose, then it’s often down to personallity types – some mums want to work; some dads want to work; some mums want to be at home with the kids; ditto dads. I’ve long advocated earning-and-parenting sharing. But it ain’t gonna happen. Gwynnie has choice. Most of us don’t.

  6. She is obviuosly talking out of her arse again.I remember another interview she did where her advice was not to switch the computer on before the school run because you never get anything done *rolls eyes*.I am a single mum with 3 kids and I was self employed and worked at home mum until it fell through last August.It was hard work, juggling work, kids and household but it gave me some self respect and worthiness (I may have just made that word up).

  7. Ahhh Molly, the mother guilt is there whether you work or not, I think its just part of being a parent. We all just do what we need to do and try out best, what more can you do?

    Hugs xx

  8. I’ve worked since my eldest was 6 months old, in some form or other because I needed to, Id ahev gone amd if Id been a stay at home Mum, and now have 2 boys that are 15 and 18. They’re well adjusted (I hope!) happy kids, in part because they had happy parents. The guilt is inevitable, but don’t waste too much energy on it, be comfortable with what’s right for you and your family, whatever that is – it take stime but I’ve learnt to!

  9. How can she sit there doing an interview saying you should be a SAHM… when an interview for her, is work? I’m pretty sure she would have got paid a hefty sum for that, and did she take her children to the interview? Doubt it.

    Does she want to be the kettle or the pot?

  10. I realised very early on that parenting was the biggest guilt trip I was ever going to go on. ‘Guilt’ is a dirty word. ‘Guilt’ should never be allowed in the realm of mothering. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
    I agree with all of the above. If you are making a choice which works for you, you’ll be happier being a Mum, and your kids will too.
    When my boys were small and I was working they would pull on the old heart strings, moaning about holiday clubs, daycare, etc. I would tell then that I worked so they could have nice things and holidays and the like. When I gave up work for a while when my daughter was born, they pulled on the old heart strings and moaned about not having nice stuff. I would tell them that we could not have a what-ever-it-was because I was at home, not at work. Do you know what they said?
    “Why can’t you go out and GET A JOB?”
    Need I say more?

  11. My Mum told me that the guilt started as soon as you fall pregnant and it never leaves. What a voice of positivity I thought at the time but low and behold she was quite right. It’s all a balance, all a compromise but it’s as you say, a personal choice and how each of us makes it work as best as we can is up to us and only us.

  12. Ooh Gwynie you’ve riled us! I think what she forgets is (as lots have said) that she can breeze in and out of her kids lives when it suits her. As you said she was clearly working in that interview but she probably doesn’t see it that way. As long as she is available for her children she sees it that she ‘around’. She is forgetting about all the time she must palm her kids off on the hired help! I think the the guilt is there whatever our situations. You may be at home with your kids but feel the same. Like the days you can’t be bothered to go out and feel bad for your little one and the days that you would rather just sit in peace and stare at the wall than play! x

  13. Ummm, why didn’t the interviewer point out the obvious. Gwynnie works! Things like that really get my back up. How very dare she? Likewise VB’s ‘new’ post baby body 6mo after giving birth. *walks off grumbling & eating another chocolate biscuit.

  14. I love my boy to bits but if I didn’t work at least part time I would go mental. I need that stimulation and need to be able to earn too. That wouldn’t be the best mum I could be. I think you have an excellent way of working where you get to spend part of the day with Frog.

    • We’re all different and you’re right, some mums need work to remain happy. I think it’s a case of what makes mum happy will make children happy ultimately. No one should judge anyone’s choices in that respect.

  15. This question arises very often. I’m sure some SAHM question their choice to be at home as well. I think we all have the find the best fit for our family situation. I’ve my time as a working mom was short lived and I never thought it would come to an end, at the time I didnt’ want to make the transition but I’m getting into the groove and I’m happy for the time being. I think its good try and be ‘flexbile’ if we can. When being at home or at work is no longer working try something switch things up a bit. We should be less hard on ourselves there are enough people out there to do it for us.

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