Women at work: SAHP or ‘working in the home’

Rebecca is my cousin and, since writing this post, she has had another daughter. She answered my questions last year about her decision not to go back to “work” (she feels strongly about the fact that most people do not see staying home and caring for your children as proper work) and I totally forgot about them (sorry Becky!), But, I want to publish them now in the hope that when she writes another guest blog about how things have changed since having two daughters you can see the difference in her answers!

Name

Rebecca Norburn

Current profession

Stay-at-home parent (SAHP) or ‘working in the home’

Town or county you live in

Sevenoaks, Kent

What was your profession before you had children?

Fundraising Consultant

Why did you decide not to return to work?

I didn’t have a job to return to! I was working on a fixed-term contract when I became pregnant with my first child, which in hindsight was great as it enabled me to work flexibly up until my daughter was born and then enjoy being at home with her without the pressure of a “return to work” deadline looming. Once she arrived, my husband and I looked at the cost and logistics of me returning to paid employment and decided that I would stay at home to care for her during her early years and look at setting up my own business in the meantime.

Briefly describe a typical day…

At the moment I’m six months’ pregnant, so trying to get periods of rest during the day is quite important. Luckily my daughter is a late riser and happy to come into my bed for cuddles and breakfast first thing, so I’m making the most of that before she starts preschool in September! We have certain classes and activities we attend during the week to socialise with other children and I’m fortunate enough to have most of my family living close by, so try to visit them frequently. She’s also at a childminder for a few hours a week, which gives me time to get important chores done and also, occasionally, a bit of me time. But I try to keep my daughter at home for her lunchtime nap to give her some consistency, and we’re usually at home for her suppertime at 6pm, followed by going to meet Daddy on his way home from the train station if it’s a nice evening!

What is the best part of being a SAHP?

Undoubtedly getting to spend so much time with my daughter and watch her grow up! I feel so lucky to be able to spend this precious time with her and I do try to appreciate it every day, even during the challenging bits. It’s a big advantage not having to juggle employment with childcare – I can take my daughter to the dentist or keep her at home whilst sick without having to worry about taking time off, for example. I know I’d find this incredibly stressful and am in awe of parents who have to manage this.

And the worst?

How little SAHPs are valued by our society in general. As someone who has always taken my independence for granted, it came as a huge shock to suddenly feel so disempowered – I can’t apply for credit or even to open certain bank accounts, for example, as I have no income. And it’s disheartening to be constantly asked when I’m “going back to work”, as though what I do now isn’t valuable or important enough to be fulfilling. Most of my friends are now back working full-time outside the home, and it can be very isolating when it’s just you and a small person day, in day out. Sometimes I feel guilty having a moan when I’ve had a tough day, especially when I know so many parents who would love to be in my position and can’t be. I do also worry about the impact taking this time out will have when I return to the workplace, and I definitely miss adult conversation and after-work drinks!

How many children do you have?

One daughter aged two and a half, and another child due in November. [NB: since writing this blog post, Rebecca has given birth to a second daughter. Her eldest is now 3 and her youngest is 4 months!]

What advice would you give to mums on maternity leave?

Start keeping a journal for your child – noting down my memories of those precious first years, my daughter’s milestones etc is the best thing I’ve done, as the stages pass so quickly!

Do you have any tips for other stay-at-home mums or dads?

Definitely be kind to yourself! Some days it may feel like all you’ve done is fed and soothed your child… and actually, that’s ok. I also try to get out for some of each day, to get some interaction with others and fresh air for us both!

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