“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 was 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 knew it was a privilege. Yes, I knew 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 was enjoying some of the time and freedom I had committed myself to. Yes, I knew not everyone was so lucky to get this time with their children.
Yes, I was also a little bit bored.
So here’s my tips on beating boredom when you’re a SAHM…
Exercise, exercise, exercise
This mostly came in the form of walks. Every once in a while I would do 10 press ups and 6 half-hearted crunches. I would also ditch my family at least once a week to go skating with the local roller derby league. It was one of the few sports I found totally welcoming as a novice in my 30s.
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. The new peace I found lasted at least 72 hours!
Commune with nature
Husband would leave 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 would pack up the girls and head straight to the park. Vitamin D! Hurrah!
Recognising our success as my success
No one was paying me to do this home gig. I received very little validation from the external world for meeting my kids’ basic needs. However, my husband’s promotion was a reflection of the time I’d given him by picking up some domestic slack. My stepson hadn’t missed a hockey game or a homework sheet and my 3YO knew how to crack an egg because we’d had time to do so much baking (and eating) together.
Phone a friend
I would Skype-date my lunches with friends across the globe. I’d put an open invite for a regular walk session (and met some new, lovely ladies). I’d adopted and been adopted by my daughter’s friends’ mothers. As a result I ended up in some interesting places.
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.