“Mum, Mum. Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum. Mum. Mum … MUUUUUUUUUMMM!”
Modern mothers are expected to work until the very last moment of pregnancy. Like growing a human isn’t an exhausting job in itself. We are then meant to devote ourselves solely to our children and enjoy every single moment for exactly as long as we have paid parental leave.
Mothers are then expected to return to work force with gusto, contribute to the economy and pretend nothing has changed – despite all of the software updates and pin codes changing in our absence.
What’s worse is that we expect it of ourselves.
I have a friend who was literally in labour at work, biked home (in labour) to give birth later that night. The next day, she felt bad because she had missed an important meeting.
A lot of women will identify a little too closely with this story (except the biking home in labour bit – because that is just flipping superwoman behaviour).
I don’t know about you but my mothering/paid-employee switch doesn’t just flick on and off as easily as society expects me to. I needed pregnancy nanna naps before I went on leave. I resented being left out of planning meetings due to my pending leave. My body couldn’t keep up with what my brain had to offer. And after the birth, I needed some intellectual stimulation and adult company – you know, until I needed a nap.
After 8 months of devoting myself to ‘homemaking’ and running our house, I’m starting to feel a little underemployed as a PA to an 8-year-old, 3-year-old and infant just emerging from the smiling amoeba phase. Yes, I know it’s a privilege. Yes, I know the fresh hell waiting for me in balancing fulltime work outside of the house with a family of 5 and one mildly dumb but very affectionate cat. Yes, I am enjoying some of the time and freedom I have committed myself to. Yes, I know not everyone is so lucky to get this time with their children.
Yes, I am also a little bit bored. However, it’s not the best thing for the family unit for me to return to my all-or-nothing job just yet.
So here are my solutions for home boredom:
Exercise, exercise, exercise
This mostly comes in the form of walks. Every once in a while I do 10 press ups and 6 half-hearted crunches. I also ditch my family at least once a week to go skating with the local roller derby league. It’s one of the few sports I’ve found totally welcoming as a novice in my 30s. However, I recently tore my MCL (in a freak, non-violent accident) and have had to add more solutions to my list.
Re-arrange the furniture
I was getting pretty sick of staring at the inside of my house and starting compulsively trolling the real estate apps. Moving around the furniture quelled this restlessness nicely. So far the new peace I have found has lasted a whole 72 hours!
Commune with nature
Husband left for work around 8am. Instead of my usual tidying up the kitchen, waiting for the first baby nap of the day and general hairbrushing/kindy-waiting game, I packed the girls up and went straight to the park. Vitamin D! Hurrah!
Recognise our success as my success
No one is paying me to do this home gig. I receive very little validation from the external world for just meeting my kids’ basic needs. However, my husband’s promotion is a reflection of the time I’ve given him by picking up some domestic slack. My stepson hasn’t missed a hockey game or a homework sheet this year. My 3YO knows how to crack an egg because we’ve had time to do so much baking (and eating) together.
Phone a friend
I’ve been Skype-dating my lunches with friends across the globe. I’ve put an open invite for a regular walk session (and met some new, lovely ladies). I’ve adopted and been adopted by my daughter’s friends’ mothers. As a result I’m ending up in some interesting places. Today I’m off for a gourmet lunch at the local polytechnic student-run restaurant. A very affordable way to scoff three courses.
Read a book during naptime
There is something infinitely more satisfying about reading than watching TV, listening to radio, cleaning the bathroom or folding laundry. Infinitely.
Post the “B-word” on Facebook
Just wait for the opportunities for social interaction and/or judging outrage to roll in. Controversy is not dull, that’s for sure!
Ultimately, break the “mumnotony” by trying to be a whole person, not just a mum.