Is it okay to not enjoy being a mum?

Not talking to an adult all day, drinking cold cups of tea, struggling to go to the loo, forgetting to eat and drink, constantly feeding a baby and/or dealing with toddler meltdowns; does this sound familiar?

Is it okay to not enjoy being a stay at home mum?

A question I have been asking myself for a while now. I know after having our first child, I honestly did not enjoy motherhood.

I’m not sure if it was the premature birth, the constant screaming, the breastfeeding struggles, the reflux, allergies, bowel problems or the 29 min nap during the day and waking every hour at night.

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At least that’s what I thought it was. Or was it the transition to motherhood? Being consumed by a little person or losing my independence and former self in an instant.

Being honest

I know this subject seems rather negative, but I think it’s important to speak honestly and openly about the reality of being a mother or motherhood. Not just to give other mum’s permission to share how they truly feel but also to help new expectant mums who are soon to make the transition.

The definition of a mother (noun) is a woman in relation to her child or children. As a verb, it means to bring up a child with care and affection. Yet today the role of being a mother has never been so grey.

What does being a mother really mean?

Is being a mother about giving up on your own life until your children go to school? Is it being successful in your career so that you can be happy in your own skin and provide for your family? Is it acceptable for a mother to focus on her own happiness so she can be the happy parent for her children?

Mum guilt

You may be a stay at home mum, work part or full time, have a nanny and/or have children in childcare. There is one thing that you have in common with mums who are in different situations to you, that is mum guilt. 

I’ve come to accept that mum guilt is a part of motherhood. But, when is it okay for mum’s to suffer with guilt because of today’s societal views of what motherhood should be.

Even worse, your close friends and family’s opinions based on what their role is/was as a mother to their children.

Struggling is real

In my personal experience of motherhood, if you are not coping with the struggles, then there is something wrong with you. There appears to be this unspoken rule that if you put your own needs as high priority as your children’s, then you are selfish.

Yet it is perfectly acceptable for most dad’s to put themselves first. That is not to say that fathers have it easy or don’t suffer, as they have their own set of challenges.

However, do you feel that fathers feel this guilt as much as mothers do? Are they judged for putting their happiness higher than their children’s?

Spinning plates

I have learnt a hard lesson recently. I have been trying to be the mother that is not true to myself. I fell into the trap of doing what I thought was expected of me.

I have been aspiring to be the perfect mum, being at home, always remaining calm during toddler meltdowns, putting my dreams aside, prioritising my children’s needs before mine, providing the best experiences and opportunities to benefit their development.

In fact, I’ve actually been trying to be the full time stay at home mum and the successful business woman.

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In reality, this has led to exhaustion and unhappiness. I wonder if you can relate to this.

Your self-care is important

It’s no wonder that Post Natal Depression rates are so high. I mean who wouldn’t be depressed if you lost yourself, your hobbies and your dreams overnight? It shouldn’t be a given that mothers are just expected to cope with this.

It is well documented that self care is vital for developing mental wellbeing and happiness. Yet how many mums, have the time, energy, or money to do this?

Do what makes you happy 

A wise woman recently said to me, “Kathryn you cannot be everything for your children, because if you are, when you die, they will have no idea how to survive”.

Wow! I really resonated with that. I thought that being a mother meant I had to be and do everything for them. I thought giving up on what makes me happy was a given. Have you noticed what type of parent you are when you are unhappy? I have, a snappy and miserable one!  

From this realisation, I have made the decision to do what makes me happy. For me, that is developing and growing my business.

Supporting sleepless parents with their challenges makes my heart sing. Being a full time stay at home mum whilst attempting to squeeze my passion into small pockets of time does not.

Quality time over quantity

Does this mean I don’t love my children? No. I am a better mother if I am happy first. If you want your children to be happy, it makes sense if you are truly happy, allowing them to follow in your footsteps.

Surely, if it makes you happier to spend 2-4 quality hours during the day with your children, rather than 12 hours feeling miserable and resentful, then this is a no brainer. Quality time rather than quantity.

I am not suggesting that you feel the same as me. You maybe hating your part or full time work and know being your children would make you happy.

The beauty of motherhood today is that it’s completely unique to you. You can decide what you want to be. I know making it happen isn’t as easy as deciding. But, what small steps could you take today to boost your own happiness and feel happier as a mother today?

Small steps to improving how you feel

If being a stay at home mum is making you miserable, here a few small steps you could do to turn things around:

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  • Know it is okay to feel like this and it doesn’t make you any less of a mum

  • Talk to a trusted friend who gets you

  • Invest any savings or spare cash into childcare (seeing it as an investment for your own emotional wellbeing or to boost your income which makes it easier to justify)

  • Consider starting an at home business to gather further funds for childcare (to buy you more time)

  • Find a part time job which fits in around your family

  • Become a freelancer on freelancing website such as peopleperhour.com or fiver.com

  • Sell any unused or unnecessary items that “don’t bring you joy” and put the money towards childcare

  • Ask a friend, family member or partner to babysit for a few hours a week

  • If you have a partner, ask them to have your children for some time when they are not working

  • If you run your own business, invest your earnings into a nanny to give you the time to grow it.

Is it okay to not enjoy being a stay at home mum?

For me, life is too short to be miserable, I feel as mothers we should be doing what makes us happy and our happiness should be as high or higher than our children’s. After all, how can we show our children how to be happy, if we are not happy ourselves?

If this resonates with you, then feel free to share, comment or tag a friend