• Meghan Douglass

Becoming a Stay at Home Mum

Updated: Feb 17

Hi everyone, I wanted to talk this time about a big life decision I recently made, becoming a stay at home mum. This is a bit about why I made the decision and why it was right for me but might not be for someone else. I want to make sure everyone understands I don't judge anyone else for their decisions, what ever is right for you is right for you. I thought it might be good to talk about some of the hard decisions parents make for their family but also why they can be the best decisions.

I have been on maternity leave for over 15 months now, since about a month before my son was born. I had initially decided to take a year off of work and at the time that seemed like forever so I thought I'd be fine to come back part time afterward. Well turns out I was wrong, but I was in the very fortunate position were I was able to request an extension of my maternity leave for another year which was granted.

I needed this extra time, we had spent so much of the first year of our little man's life in and out of hospital, juggling different aspects to his condition (if you want to read more about that go to Demystifying Rare Diseases: Imperforate Anus/Anorectal Malformation). The thought of leaving him in childcare after all of this was a real struggle for me. But there was more to it than just that.

His care needs are slightly higher than that of most children and more complicated than most. I feel a massive responsibility and pressure managing these daily, I don't feel like I pass this responsibility to someone else yet, and I don't think it's fair of me to expect that he should get extra attention in childcare when the workers are already stretched making sure so many tiny humans stay alive everyday. I know if something went wrong I would be angry and blame already overstretched workers.

There are things like staying on top of the many poopy nappies (this can be a lot some days) and making sure nappy rash cream is slathered on his bottom after EVERY change, not just the ones where it looks a little rashey. There is the constant monitoring of the amount of poo, the consistency and working out if he needs more laxatives or if this is a day he needs an enema. All these things are hard for me to juggle so I feel a huge level of guilt expecting someone else to help me cope and manage this.

Even with all this in mind, making the decision to become a stay at home mum was not easy. There are so many factors that come into play and have to be discussed. This decision has made us a one income household so we had to look very carefully at our budget and make sure we could get by on one income with our mortgage and bills. Not to mention medical bills and medications that come with having a child born with a severe medical condition.

We took our time, weighed up the pros and cons of me working and not working, and in the end, for us, becoming a stay at home mum won with a landslide. It's the best thing for my son but also for me and my husband. I don't have to stress and worry that he isn't getting the level of care a child in his situation requires. I didn't think I would be the most productive worker if I was constantly calling childcare or my mum and checking on him. It may sound overly traditional but it also means I can free up time on the weekend where the three of us can be a family and not worry about some of the household chores. This means more time for my husband and son to bond as well.

One of the other hard things for me was giving up my career, this was something I needed to weigh up. I had worked hard for years at university to get a degree so I could get a good job. Then I had a great career and worked hard to build up a good reputation and build up a wide range of skills, building a solid resume for the future and now I'm walking away. I know walking away now does not mean I have to walk away forever, I also know getting back into the workforce after an extended break is not always the easiest. I'm still choosing to take this risk and rather than sacrifice my career I'm hoping to reinvent myself again.

I love writing and writing is something I can do from the comfort of my home in the small windows when my tiny human is asleep (and I should probably be cleaning the house). I've started this blog which has been fantastic practice for me, but has also made me feel like I have a voice. Every read I get is a small part of me going out into the world and I'm proud of myself for putting it out there. I have a couple of other writing projects on the go too and if they ever get anywhere I hope I can share that victory with all my readers. I know not everyone wants to write and not everyone can work from home out of normal working hours but lucky for me I can attempt to forge a new path for myself in this direction.

One thing that made the decision a little easier for me was my own poor health. I was born with the same condition as my son but I have a number of other health concerns as well that leave me in pain and with significantly less energy than most. The thought of trying to juggle work, commitments at home and caring for a sick child was just way too daunting for me. I was never going to be able to fit in looking after my own physical health too.

This can be such a difficult decision to make for any new mum and for some, maybe it's an easy one and others not so much, either way like I always say, what ever is right for you is right. Don't make your decision based on what other people around you are doing because their situation is likely nothing like yours and they aren't you.

I'm looking forward with excitement to the new adventure in front of me. Maybe one day I'll find myself back in the work force, maybe not. Who knows, maybe I'll become a wildly successful writer and without my son I may never have found out. For now what matters most to me is I've reduced the stress and pressure on myself to be everything for everyone, so I can focus on being the best mum I can be and I needed that.

Whatever decision you make will be hard for so many reasons and you'll feel pulled in every direction so all I can say is good luck! Thanks for reading, I'm sure I will be posting more in the future about my adventures as a stay at home mum, I'll try to include both the ups and the downs because I'm sure there will be both. If you do want to read more please subscribe so you can stay up to date.

Below are a couple of links to some of my related posts:

Coping with loss of ego

5 Lessons from my first year as a mother

Mother and son

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