Measuring Success and Missing One's Past Self: The Telltale Story of a Stay At Home Mum

Apr 17, 2020

Interviews & Inspiration | Lauranne Heres

Kate is a 32-year old mother of two (a girl aged 4 and a boy aged 2) living in Tunbridge Wells. After studying English Literature, she started working as a Wish Granter for Starlight Children’s Foundation in London and worked up until 6 weeks before the birth of the eldest. She’s a keen actress and has been in several amateur shows.

Femie Magazine's very own Lauranne Heres interviews her to give you an insight on the busy life of a stay-at-home mum of two!

Did you always want to have children?

I knew I’d always like to have children. But I did go through stages of thinking that I’d be content without them, as I loved my job and my life in London. I also very much wanted to adopt children and if my husband had been on the same page that would have probably been my preference.

When/how did you decide that you would be a stay-at-home parent?

Unfortunately, the commute to work plus the set-up of the role/organisation meant that home working or part-time was not an option for me. This meant I would not be able to return to my job. Pre-children I was leaving home before 7am and returning home after 7pm and I knew that I could not do this every day with a baby. My husband was also working long days in London so he couldn’t assist all that much, and he was on a higher wage so would cover the loss of my salary.

What have been some major challenges you've faced?

So many challenges! I couldn’t have imagined how difficult I would find it. One of the biggest ones for me is feeling like I have lost part of my former self. Leaving my job meant missing London, my friends, my career. It meant that I now don’t really know what direction to take. Before, all decisions I made were for me. If I wanted to work somewhere, move somewhere, take on a hobby it was purely down to me. Now I have to consider the worth of it and the impact on everyone else. I also feel I have lost a lot of my identity. I’m now ‘a mum’ - as I’m not working, I don’t have another identity and I find that does leave me feeling a little lacking in worth. Of course, I know my importance to my children, but they are often very challenging in themselves and there is very little appreciation or sign of success like you might get at work.

Do you think you will return to work once the children are older?

I really hope so. When Annabelle was little, before Eli was born, I had a part-time role for a local charity. After having Eli, it was much harder to work with two children and justify childcare costs versus the salary. I haven’t worked since. I desperately want to work though, but it needs to make sense for us all. I’d like to do some further training, perhaps in counselling; or pursuing my interest in interior decorating.

How do you structure your day?

Good question. I’m not a very structured person. I work from the essentials and pad around it. So, for example on nursery days, I know I only have an afternoon to fill and organise an activity for it. Most days I just work out mealtimes, nap times, if a bath is needed, what the weather is like and work from there. It does serve me well during lockdown as we don’t have lots of expectations, we just take each day as it comes - like normal really!

Do you still have me-time?

Not nearly enough. But it’s virtually impossible! I try to carve out time for being in shows and doing exercises, but it has to fit around my husband’s commutes. I definitely miss alone time/quiet time the most. Being able to just go out an evening or to the shops without thinking about the children is ancient history.

Have the children been difficult at all?

Annabelle in particular has been very reliant on me. She struggled to breast feed, struggled with sleeping, would not be separated from me and has suffered from night terrors and nightmares. She now will always come into bed with me when I go to sleep. It’s the only way she will get a restful night. Eli has always been easier in that department, but he certainly has moments of clinginess. They are also both extremely fussy eaters which makes mealtimes very challenging. They will often refuse any part of the meal whatsoever.

How have the children impacted your couple? If they share the bed, that must make intimacy difficult; and if your husband works long hours, I guess you get little time for a date night?

We have had to kind of learn to accept it. In the past when we worried about it, it made things worse. But I think now we know that it’s the only way we can all rest. Trying to fight it just causes us all upset and exhaustion. And we kind of figure that when she is ready, she will make the decision to sleep alone.

Does your husband still try to be involved a lot with them on weekends? Did he get up at night too when they were babies?

He would always help with nights when the children woke more frequently. As a baby, Annabelle would never sleep longer than 90mins at a time. It was completely exhausting. Sadly, most of the time he couldn’t do all that much as she always wanted mummy. With Eli he was able to be much more involved as he was happy to go to both of us equally. And we decided fairly early on to combine-feed him so I could have assistance with feeds.

Annabelle was still waking for me when Eli was a baby - and I couldn’t be in two places at once.

What kind of activities do you organise for the kids? Do you like to take them places, or do you do most things at home?

Normally I mix the week up with activities at home with going out and about

I don’t work to a routine as such. Routinely we will visit the local care home on a Tuesday and go to a Church toddler group on a Thursday. It’s a nice way of getting out and about and I can interact with other adults. On other occasions we go to the playground, the garden centre or we have play dates with friends. Equally we spend a lot of time at home, we watch kids’ TV, play in the garden: on the scooter or bike, with the slide or sandpit, or just games like what’s the time Mr Wolf.

Anything they like doing in particular?

Annie is a big fan of drawing and colouring and she loves to learn so she loves the iPad learning apps or reading books. She also loves imaginative play and her dolls. Eli loves his cars the most and anything to do with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is his favourite. They both also love to dance and sing!

If it had made sense financially, would you have considered a nanny or full-day nursery?

That’s a really tricky one. I think we possibly could have justified either if we were dead set on it, but I felt that I wanted to be the one to be with the children the most in their formative years. I knew I couldn’t return to my job and with Annie being so clingy I couldn’t consider sending her to nursery. Previously we lived in a two-bed flat, so a live-in nanny was never considered. Eventually we settled on using the government hours when Annie turned three to put her in nursery. And it was a great move as she became a lot more confident (although she really hated it at first). We followed with Eli as we trusted them and knew I would benefit from having two mornings a week without the children. If I ever had another child (which we have no intention of) I would definitely consider the nanny/au pair option.

Do you feel like other women, friends, family, society, are judging the choices you made?

Oh, there are definitely people in society that make judgements. To be fair I think we all do.

Every element of parenting leads to options that people feel are better or worse for a child. I think because it all weighs out equally you really have to learn to trust your own judgement and what’s best for the kids as really you know your child the best.

Do you think there is more or less pressure on women now to be the perfect mother?

I think perhaps more because you have to be personally successful as well as successful for your family to feel like you are really achieving something.

Do you ever use online resources like mummy blogs?

When Annabelle was little, I had a book that was sort of a new-born - 3-month-old baby guide and I would look up online to see baby milestones to check she was reaching them. But I’ve never been a big follower of mum blogs. I don’t like to compare to other mums, and I don’t feel they show a true well-rounded view of motherhood - just the bits they decide to reveal to their readers.

Have you got many friends with kids?

Yes, I’m very lucky that a lot of my close friends are at a similar stage of their lives. I also have a very strong group of girls from my NCT who I speak to regularly and have play dates with. I am also part of a church with a lot of children! So, I have some lovely friends from there. It helps also that I have three older sisters who all have children.