To everyone who thinks stay-at-home-mums have no right to complain or cause to take some time out, understand this. The love we have for our children is everything. It is all-consuming. It is overwhelming and exhausting and intense. It’s that intensity from which stay-at-home-mums need a break, for their own good and the good of their families.
Being a stay-at-home-mum was the hardest time of my life.
For some reason, I’ve never been allowed to say that, but I’m sick of not being able to say things because I’m worried someone is going to accuse me of not loving my kids or of being a good mum. Being a stay-at-home-mum was the hardest thing I have ever done. It challenged everything I knew about myself, my goals and my identity as a mother and as a woman.
I was meant to love being a mother, every single second of every day. Except when you are with your kids every single second of every day, it can completely drain you and rob you of any chance to think about yourself.
Stay-at-home-mums need to take breaks. The more I think about it, the stronger I feel about this. I want to be a voice for all mums who need time off from being a mum but feel to ashamed to admit it. I want stay-at-home-mums to be able to put their hands up and say, "Hey, I need a time out from this. I love my kids, but I need a bit of time out." I also feel empowered, because I'm not the only stay-at-home-mum confessing to this.
Lauren Apfel from The Washington Post felt exactly the same way I did. She, like me, thinks stay-at-home-mums should be entitled to annual leave, just like working mums, just like all workers in the developed world.
She said, "The longer I spent on the job, however, the more acute the symptoms of fatigue became and the less resistant I grew to the break that was clearly in my best interest. I left the second child at 18 months old to attend a close friend’s wedding; I left the third and fourth at 14 months old to celebrate surviving their babyhood."
But Apfel found a solution, explaining, "Since then, I make sure every year to plan some sort of trip that is solely about me. And I expect my husband to accommodate it, as I do his travel. The average worker’s holiday lasts just over four days. Don’t stay-at-home parents need a comparably unbroken period of annual leave?"
I chose to be a stay-at-home-mum for four years after my first child was born and I had my reasons. It was a decision we made as a family. I spent another two years being a stay-at-home mum after each of my additional children were born. It was a hard decision, but it was the right decision.
If I could go back and do that time over again I'd put them all in childcare earlier, one or two days a week, and spend that time making sure I was okay. I'd take annual leave, or even bi-annual leave from the job of being a stay-at-home-mum, just a few days here and there with some girlfriends.
It's not about stay-at-home-mums vs working mums. It's about the fact that both roles are hard, and we need a break regardless of our decision.
Do you think stay-at-home-mums need annual leave from the job of being a stay-at-home-mum?