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'Have I damaged them for life?': 9 irrational worries every stay-at-home parent can identify with

‘Should I be making all my meals from scratch while also penning a bestselling novel?’

Image: Shutterstock/Josep Suria

AS A SELF-EMPLOYED freelance writer, my schedule has been relatively flexible for the last several years – and my salary has long been dwarfed by my contractually employed husband’s.

So when our first child was born there was never any question of who would be staying home to mind him.

I really wanted to be at home with our new son, to see those first gummy smiles and tentative steps, and was happy to be at home with him during the week.

But I also still needed to work. Nearly five years later (and with a second child added into the mix), life continues to be a juggling act.

Carrying out interviews and writing words during naps is standard procedure, and there have been many more prolonged stays in my parents’ house to avail of the crèche of granny and grandpa than I care to think about.

“Oh wow, you have the best of both worlds!” is the phrase I often hear.

Yes, in many ways I do, hence the fact that more and more parents are trying to come up with ways to work while staying at home to be with their kids, be it online business, writing or consultancy work. But being a stay-at-home parent isn’t without its worries. 

Worries like… 

1. ‘Am I wasting my education?’
I used to sit in lecture halls discussing wilful obscurity in TS Eliot, but now there are days when my main achievements are remembering all the names of the engines on Thomas & Friends and making sure everyone’s bottom is wiped. I periodically (and pointlessly) recite lines from various literary texts to my four year old just to reassure myself that that English Literature degree wasn’t just three wasted years.

2. ‘Have I damaged them for life?’
“Oh I wouldn’t be enough for my child. Nursery/the childminder/the crèche is SO much more stimulating.” I’ve heard this refrain from several parents. Each time, a wave of worry hits me that mine are somehow missing out by spending most of their time with me.

3. ‘Am I fulfilled?’
“I’d be bored. I’m a better mum for NOT being home with them all the time.” Another common refrain from fellow parents. And so my worries roll on: Is quality time better than quantity of time? Am I a big loser for enjoying sitting building blocks with the kids? Is it bad if sometimes I DO wish I was out working? Am I living my BEST LIFE?

shutterstock_587483735 Source: Shutterstock/mamaza

4. ‘What are we going to do about money?’
“It’s well for you, we couldn’t afford to lose a salary.” Um, yeah we can’t really afford it either.

5. ‘Is everyone else doing it differently?’
This thought usually creeps in when I’ve been indoors all day with the kids and start looking on social media where parents seems to be having it all, raising beautiful youngsters, making every meal from scratch whilst also writing a book at the same time. Meanwhile, my biggest feat has been getting everyone washed, dressed and fed.

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6. ‘Should *I* be a mumtrepreneur?’
This one is usually inspired by the fact that I’ve read about someone writing a book during their maternity leave (seriously, HOW?) I start to think that I should be doing more. Perhaps, I then think, I could set up a handmade card/cake making/ghostwriting business, thus becoming more fulfilled and solving my financial crisis. Instead, I usually choose to sleep.

7. ‘Why don’t my fun activities turn out like the photos on Pinterest?’
Finding yourself as the main provider of stimulation for your kids will inevitably steer you toward Pinterest where you’ll be wowed by finger painting, homemade slime and (*shudders*) papier-mâché. Never in the history of soggy newspaper has one of my creations ended up like in the picture. This usually results in an existential crisis and a lot of washing.

shutterstock_237899263 Source: Shutterstock/SARYMSAKOV ANDREY

8. ‘Er, when is my break?’
I’ve spent all day with a baby attached to me and haven’t so much as had a pee by myself – so forgive me, other half, if I propel the baby into your arms the second you come in from the outside world. Woe betide the fool who says “I’ve been working all day, can you give me a minute?”

9. ‘Why is no-one paying me for this?’
Once you factor in childminding, cooking, cleaning, shopping, taxi-driving et al, the average stay-at-home parent is worth tens of thousands to the economy. Is my cheque in the post?

More: 10 new parent firsts that the baby books definitely don’t mention>

More: ‘At 4am, scared, she was what I needed’: One mum on how a doula helped her through a tough labour>

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