Another day at home

This morning I dropped my daughter off at school for the beginning of a new week and wrestled my toddler back home through the rain. After we had gotten through the door and taken our coats and shoes off, I put the kettle on while my son went to go and play with the knob on the washing machine for a bit.

I’d like to tell you that it was nice to just be at home or that it was lovely that it would just be me and my son on our own for the day.

The truth is, I just felt myself sinking.

Another day in this house.

It’s a nice house. We are very lucky to have it. It’s a three bed, 70s ex-council type place with laminate floors and double glazed windows. The kitchen and bathroom are fairly new, the heating works. I have nothing to complain about.

Also, I’m very lucky to be at home and to be able to be the main carer for my son. I work two days a week. The rest of the time I am at home or at the odd playdate or toddler group. This is how I wanted it. This is just how I always wanted to do motherhood.

So why does it feel sometimes, like after we have finished with the hustle and bustle of the school run and walked or driven back home, as if this house contains a silence that will deafen me.

The humming of the freezer.

The clicking over of the electricity meter.

The clack-clack-clacking of the zips hitting the inside of the washing machine as it turns over and over.

I stand at the fridge and drink some apple juice from the carton. My son appears at my knees. He reaches up and makes an ‘eeeeee’ noise. I pick him up. He points at the cupboard where the biscuits are.

‘Adgsh!’ he says and points at the cupboard.
‘Mummmah! Adgsh!’

Not a silence then but a wordlessness. There are no words spoken in this house but my own. I talk and talk all day to my son, hoping that he might pick up a few more of mine.

No one is making me stay at home. I could find a full time job if I wanted to, could put my son into childcare. I am no prisoner.

There is also a wealth of baby/toddler related activities available for a small fee and a short car ride. We could go trampolining, swimming, signing, shopping, gymnastics, play gym, playgroup, music time, bounce and rhyme, rhyme and rhythm, story time, etc etc.

Sometimes we do.

If I wanted to I could fill all our time up, but a day at home alone with my son should not be so hard. I should be able to do this. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

I have a coffee and we watch a few episodes of Bing together. The I turn the telly off because I feel guilty about it and start going through the toy boxes in the lounge, putting the duplo all in one box and cars in the other and broken stuff in a pile to be thrown away. He likes this and starts to play with the broken stuff.

We find all the bits to his duplo train and we put it all together.

There are now toys all over the lounge floor.

Every now and then he stops playing and gets onto my lap and we have a lovely cuddle. He rests his warm head on my chest just under my chin and says,

‘Mummmmah!’

He is having a very cuddly day and it’s so lovely.

Outside the window a thick fog has fallen. The view from the lounge becomes more and more whited out. After an hour or so of us playing, only the first few metres of grass in our front garden is visible and from the other side of the street I can only make out the faint outline of the houses and a lamppost.

We have lunch and we sit opposite each other at the table. I talk to him about things and he says ‘yeah’ and smiles and giggles at me when I pull faces at him. I smile back. He is adorable. He points at the cupboard for something,

‘Mummah! Mummah! Ugsh!’

‘What’s up honey? What are you after?’ I ask him.

‘Ugsh!’

‘Do you want some squash?’

‘Ahhhhhm? Doh!’ he replies, shaking his head.

‘No squash?’

‘DOH!’ He shouts quite emphatically.

‘Ok, ok, no squash! How about some water? Do you want some water in your cup?’

‘Ugsh! Mammah, urgsh! URGSH! UUURGSH!’

‘Shall I put some water in y-‘

‘DOHHH! DO! MUMMAH!’

‘Ok, so you do want squash?’

‘Errrrrrrr . . . .YAAAAA!’

‘Ok, I’ll do you a squash.’

I pour him a cup of squash. I take it to him. He shouts ‘DOH!’ again and then throws it onto the floor.

Let’s talk for a moment about a different scenario. The scenario is that I have a full time job. I go to my job everyday 9-5 and use a childminder to do school runs and to look after my toddler. I am at work and other people look after my kids. While I am at work my two-year-old does a lot more ‘activities’ and spends lots of time with other children being stimulated. In this scenario he probably has a more interesting day than he has at the moment with me at home.

He has a more interesting day. I have a more interesting day. The only thing is, we are not together.

Is it greedy of me to want both? To want to be with him but to also not feel so cut off from the world? To not feel so bored or so lonely?

Sometimes I feel that boredom and loneliness creeping up on me as the day goes on, just me and him in the house doing normal stuff; hanging up the washing, playing cars, watching ‘In the Night Garden.’ It’s like a kind of silence that gets louder, a kind of white noise, or a maybe a kind of cold which freezes at the corners of the building first before moving into the centre.

Whatever it is I can feel it pushing in, filling up the unoccupied space in the house on a day like this. Like the fog outside the window, its threatens to obscure all else.

Boredom and loneliness isn’t quite right though. Those aren’t quite the two words to describe it. My body is busy playing, cuddling, wiping, walking, tidying, scrubbing, chasing, tickling and my mind is constantly churning, constantly telling myself I should be doing a better job at being a mum; that I should be tidier, more energetic, more patient, more compassionate, better organised, more lively and that I am always falling short.

Can you be bored and also be in a kind of mental overdrive?

And loneliness isn’t quite right either. I am with my son. I do see other grown ups for the odd coffee. I connect with people. I go to a toddler group. I have friends and most of all, I love to be by myself, to be left to my own thoughts and to be able to do my own thing. It is my best luxury.

So what is this thing I feel myself sinking into on days like this?

It is . . .

a kind of unhappiness I suppose

and also a kind of struggle to accept myself as a mum and to believe that I am doing a good job, that I can do this, that I am doing it, that my children are happy, that I am doing ok.

I find it hard to be at home with a toddler on my own. I find that day long and tiring and frustrating and mentally unstimulating. But I also would rather be there with him than anywhere else in the world. I want this time with him. So this then leaves me to ask; was motherhood meant to be like this? Is it normal to feel so cut off on days at home? And without going to every single baby/toddler group going how the hell can we make it feel better?

Sometimes I wonder what you would see if you took a slice through all the houses on my street. How many others mums on their own would you see? How many carers? How many elderly people who have not spoken to anyone all day, all week? How many out of work or too sick to work? How many metres away am I from someone who feels they are a million miles away from anyone else?

And I guess I am writing this because I feel this is important, just to say all of this out loud or not quite out loud. Just to put it somewhere.

I started this blog to create a space where I could write what I was really thinking and feeling about motherhood, but if you want to write how you feel too you can do that here. You can comment on my facebook page or you can leave an anonymous comment on this blog post if you want to.

I could end this post by explaining that I’m actually ok and by telling you how much I love and enjoy spending time with my children, but you know what? I don’t feel I need to do that anymore.

Those are the kind of things that go without saying.

These are the things that often go unsaid.

At home with a toddler
Check out my ‘arty’ black and white filter skills

71 thoughts on “Another day at home

  1. Anon November 2, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    Someone put my feelings into words. This. A million times this. I’ve just started mat leave for my second and I feel the sinking starting, that feeling that I’m going to be trapped again but that I should be so grateful to be that way, all my friends will think I’m having “a lovely break” while in fact I’m lonely as hell. Thank you for writing this.

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 11:01 pm

      I know those feelings. I often feel so similar. I actually toned this blog post down and left out words like ‘prison cell’ and ‘trapped’ but I often feel that way which sounds crazy but it’s true and it makes me sound such an unhappy mum when actually I am not.

      One thing I would say is that with my second during the baby days, I embraced being a slob much, much more. I knew I wasn’t going to get much done as I was so sleep deprived and tired. I set myself up with snacks and drinks and all the remote controls while I fed the baby. I rewatched every single episode of lost through the night feeds and pumping. I watched every decent documentary on netflix, the bbc pride and prejudice series with colin firth in it and also started writing this blog with an app on my iphone.

      My daughter watched a LOT of disney films when I had my second baby. It definitely hasn’t done her any harm!

      I recommend embracing the slob within if you can stand to!

    • C November 8, 2016 / 2:33 pm

      I’m feeling exactly the same – maternity leave for second starts next week and despite everyone saying how exciting it is, excitement is honestly the last thing I’m feeling. I know it’s going to be lonely, challenging and boring and that I won’t feel like I’m me again until I go back to work. So then the guilt kicks in for feeling those things, and I have that to add to the list too. Am just hoping it’s a different experience second time around; that I’m more relaxed, and can just embrace the baby cuddles knowing we won’t have another child after this one.

  2. K November 2, 2016 / 8:38 pm

    Like failing a bit every day? Not massively, not that he’s sitting drinking bleach and smoking fags, but just small failures every day. Not quite giving him enough stimulation, not enough fresh air. Too much tv. Just not quite good enough. And waiting for the day to finish then feeling guilty for wishing yours & his life away instead of living it, knowing that this time is so short lived and feeling like you’re coming up short.

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:55 pm

      Yes. I hear you. Those are my thoughts too; the failure, the countdown to the evenings and then the guilt for counting down to the evenings and then someone tells you that you should treasure this time because it goes so fast. Thanks for sharing your feelings here. So many other mums feel like this but we don’t often say it to each other.

      • K November 3, 2016 / 8:35 am

        Also, been thinking of a phrase I hear a lot: “but you wouldn’t have it any other way”. An immediate way to shut someone down, you can’t say “well, I would actually!”. Even if you just mean, I would have them sleep through every night and enjoy their food. Thank you so much for your writing, it must be so hard to open yourself up like this but it makes such a difference, makes me feel a lot less lonely!

        • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:35 pm

          Yes, I know just what you mean. I would ‘have it another way’. I would definitely have it with more sleep and more as part of a wider community rather than doing so much on my own!

    • O November 3, 2016 / 11:12 am

      That’s amazingly accurate

  3. Nicola November 2, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a full time stay at home Mum and feel very similar to you. I love being with my son but have an inner struggle with myself everyday that I should be doing more, I see friends juggling a job and motherhood and I flip from being jealous to happy with the decision i made to stay at home. It’s frustrating that I don’t get the same sense of job satisfaction from being at home all day caring for my son that I did when I had a busy career.

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:52 pm

      I know what you mean about not getting that same job satisfaction. You don’t feel like you are ‘getting things done’ and being productive and no one gives you an appraisal and tells you you are doing a great job. That inner struggle is horrible. I also beat myself up about stuff. I know that I am doing an alright job but those doubts are horrible. I think we naturally push ourselves to give more and more. I hope you can be kind to yourself and know that you are doing a good job, even if no one tells you so! x

  4. Anonymous November 2, 2016 / 9:00 pm

    I think you are totally right if you could see inside the homes of other mothers you’d see a mother who feels the same as you. My son is 9 months and I’ll be returning to work part time in January. I totally feel this way. Nice to know I’m not alone.

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:46 pm

      You are definitely not! I hope your return to work goes well! x

  5. Christina November 2, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    How many grandparents? I feel your pain. A mother’s lot is never to feel you’ve got it right. But if you love your children – they will know – whichever route you take x

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:46 pm

      Yeah, I think that knowing you are loved is the most important thing for a little one x

  6. Saira SAH_Grumbler November 2, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Oh my goodness….you have just put my everyday at home with my kids into beautiful words. You are definitely not alone in feeling those feelings. I don’t go to work yet but I have plans for doing that in a few months time. It’s actually something for me to look forward to!!

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:44 pm

      I know what you mean. My days at work are a nice little break for me!

  7. Mama Dubem November 2, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Thank you for always sharing. Honestly I just wonder when I read your blogs if we’re living the same story! I never knew motherhood would be quite so isolating, even when we’re surrounded by other mums! My son also has a distinct lack of vocabulary and that just adds to it. Thank you for writing, I find it hard to.

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:42 pm

      It’s funny because my daughter talked from so young and started using sentences very early but with my son he just couldn’t be more different! It’s my job to try and interpret his various ‘Oshe’ and ‘Ughst’ sounds and work out what he wants!!

      • Kristi November 3, 2016 / 12:06 am

        It’s like you’re in my home living my life!!! Though my eldest is not at school til next year and she can be a welcome relief with her chatter. I was struggling just this morning with Mr 21mo’s insistent “Mummah! Ah’wan ogshe!” “You want what, sweetheart?” “Ogshe! (imperious pointing at the fridge) OGSHE!!!” Still don’t know what he was after. :/ Berries seemed to work! Thanks for articulating the not-quite sadness and not-quite happiness that fills these days.

  8. Laura williams November 2, 2016 / 10:16 pm

    Oh goodness – this is just me. Just how I feel everyday! Only I just can’t face being at home all day. I have a kind of terror of that silence and “boredom” and when it comes I can feel a rising panic in my chest and just have to leave the house, come rain or shine. Go for a walk around the block or just browse my way around Tesco (which generally ends up being quite costly!). It’s such a strange feeling. But like you say, I wouldnt be anywhere else. So nice to read this from someone else – always nice to know you’re not alone! X

    • Like Real Life November 2, 2016 / 10:40 pm

      I do the same. Sometimes I just grab my keys and a spare nappy for the bag and we just go somewhere, anywhere. Tescos is a favourite

  9. RoseAnne Cleary November 2, 2016 / 11:10 pm

    Hello, My sons are in their 30s but I remember feeling just like you describe as if it were yesterday. I was married at 35 and wondrously surprised at becoming a Mommy when I’d nearly given up my dream of it. I also was deliciously free to stay with my babies full time. Yet although I began each day eager to greet them and share their lives, the feeling of “sinking” was always there. Your article made me understand it tonight for the first time! I had always been an active person, working, taking courses, spending a lot of time on the cutting edge. My calendar was crammed to the level of feeling oppressive but I’d kept going. Marriage and motherhood were SO welcome, and yet I went through a kind of culture shock wherein I needed to allow for de-pressurizing, for re-acclimating, and for becoming acquainted with my new persona. Years of misplaced over-compensating and guilt, accompanied by deeper self-knowledge, finally have brought me along in the cycle of growth that each of us – if we are aware – goes through. I’m still in that process! I do hope that you will be even more tender to yourself than you are to your children, and that you will be beloved to yourself for all of your life.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 5:04 pm

      Thank you, that’s beautiful x

  10. joanne stone-moore November 2, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    I understand all of the above I truly do, but it comes down to personal situations and I count myself lucky that I have only felt this a couple of times in 12 years….the reason being…..i had my first child at 38 and my second at 40. I say 1st and 2nd but they are actually my 6th and 7th !!! My other pregnancies unfortunately ended in miscarriage……so for me every single day even now that I am back to work is the most rewarding, precious and simply magical…….i never thought I would have moments with a child , quiet, loud,inside, outside…..so you see I am eternally grateful 😍 xx

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      Thanks for your comment and I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for your losses. Miscarriage is such a cruel thing and some of us draw the short straw over and over again. I had two miscarriages in between my pregnancies with my son and daughter. Such a difficult time. I am so glad that you are enjoying each moment x x x

  11. Lizzy November 3, 2016 / 12:06 am

    I can relate so much to what you have written and know exactly how you feel as I was once there but for me now my baby/toddler days are gone with them going to school. I now have to get used to a different lonliness with virtually no interruptions or noise except the dog barking occasionally and washing machine when it spins ….. it’s weird. 6.5 hours of virtual silence. Good or bad I’m not quite sure. Yes I could and am trying to find a job that will facilitate school hours and also term time only to boot, to enable me to feel some what useful again but these jobs are hard to find so silence for now is what I’ll need to accept.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      It’s weird isn’t it because there’s this idea that as soon as your kids are in school you can work full time again, no problem but actually there is so much to consider around hours, childcare and school holidays. How the hell can you cover those six weeks in the summer with two parents in full time work? So tough. I hope you do find something soon if that’s what you want. I miss my daughter when she is at school. She is such good company. I always feel sad on the first day after a half term.

  12. Suzanne November 3, 2016 / 1:00 am

    I think this is incredibly well written and sums up how many of us feel. I work part time (well 3/4 time) so mostly I am at work and often the kids are in daycare even on my ‘at home’ days which I feel so guilty about. I feel guilty that I think they get a better deal at daycare than they would with me (more stimulating etc), then guilty that my boys is off to school next year so I won’t have the opportunity to have him home. My 2 year old is a much easier child so I am hopeful I will feel more able to have her at home and get all the things done I need to do (we have a lifestyle block so there is always lots to do but tbh no more than every one else). I almost never have the two of them together during the week as I attempt to spend quality time with one or the other! I think the big issue with feeling so isolated is social media (we are convinced everyone else is doing it better or having a better time) and our loss of functioning as a society eg knowing your beighbours and being a community (watch the opening segments to ‘Call the Midwife’ to see how people used to live in communities. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think the life of a SAHM was easier then – far from it- but at least the streets kids would play together, other people around to watch kids whilst stuff got done etc.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:55 pm

      Please don’t feel guilty about the days when you are off without them. It’s so good for you, and in turn for your kids. I know what you mean about ‘Call The Midwife.’ Is it unrealistic or were communities really much more close knit back then? I wonder if we might ever get back to that sense of community, without starting up some kind of weird religious cult, which seems to be the only option for organised community living.

  13. Laura stanistreet November 3, 2016 / 6:43 am

    Wow. It helps soooo much to hear that other people feel exactly the same as u! Because u really do convince yourself that it must only be you that feels the dread and what a bad mum you must be to feel like that.
    It’s also very hard trying to explain this feeling to your other half when they constantly say how nice it must be being indoors!
    Thank you!

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:47 pm

      Yeah, sometimes I think it would be really helpful to so many couples to swap roles for a couple of weeks. It’s hard to understand what it really feels like to spend so much time alone with little ones and it would be a nice break for the stay at home parent to be able to drink a whole coffee or go for a poo without anyone watching you or trying to get onto your lap.

  14. Imogen November 3, 2016 / 6:52 am

    I could not have said it better myself. Word for word how I feel. Thank you for writing it. Stay at home mother of a 2yr old, reporting for duty!

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:44 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It does make me feel a lot better to know I am not alone xxx

  15. Sue November 3, 2016 / 7:01 am

    This is me. Day in day out. But, I have taken the ‘keep busy’ route – swimming, Tumble Tots, playground, play dates – and I still feel the same. We do these things alone – we don’t make more friends do this way, so our days are still lonely. My chap goes to nursery all day on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and I live for those times, just to be able to be me in my own space. I usually end up running to the shops, doing things that are quicker without a 3 1/2 year old. But, the house is a mess and I can’t always bring myself to do anything about it. I have mild depression and, even though this was my choice, I feel the loneliness has contributed a bit to it. But, we struggle on, in the hope that what we are doing is for the best. We’ll have all the time in the world to clean when they are at school. Then it’s going to be a different struggle…

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing how you are feeling here. I am crap at keeping my house clean and tidy. I don’t mind doing it so much when I’m on my own as I can just listen to music while I’m doing it but getting it done while a little boy tries to climb up your legs is so annoying. I did the ‘keep busy’ route for quite a while but I do struggle to make friends at groups because I think I come across as a bit weird. Ha ha! I really hope that things get a little easier for you soon. Depression is awful and so tough to deal with, even without a little one to look after too. Lots of love to you xxx

  16. Jodie November 3, 2016 / 7:57 am

    Although I think it will be amazing to be home with my kids, I think I’d go absolutely bloody nutty!!! I think for me, it’s the lack of adult company and conversation and also, not having to use my brain. Although, you say that you do interact with enough adults so hmmm, I don’t know what to say or what advice to give you 🙁

  17. ANON November 3, 2016 / 9:06 am

    Perfectly captured.

  18. Steph November 3, 2016 / 10:07 am

    I’m not sure there’s a mum in the world who doesn’t have days like this. Saying its “a kind of struggle to accept myself as a mum and to believe that I am doing a good job, that I can do this, that I am doing it, that my children are happy, that I am doing ok.” You read my mind on most days. But the day you’ve described says you are all these things and more.

    My house felt like a prison during mat leave and I worried about everything you have just said. Still do sometimes but I’ve made a note to check my thoughts when they start like this. They are just thoughts. Not reality. And to leave the house for some fresh air. Always helps 🙂

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:32 pm

      Yes, I did use the word prison in this post originally but the edited it out in case I got too trolled for it! But the feeling of having your world shrunk and no freedom, the feelings of isolation and the crippling sleep deprivation . . . yeah, I think that my mat leave felt like prison sometimes too. You are so right about the fresh air thing though. A ten minute walk can make you feel so much better, even if it’s just up to the shop to buy some chocolate buttons.

  19. Jess November 3, 2016 / 10:22 am

    Great blog. Don’t feel like you have to tone it down, like you mentioned in the comments. Women are always toning this stuff down. Bugger it, why should we feel bad about speaking the truth? I share the same feelings when I’m at home with my two. Brain-numbing is the word I sort of use to sum it up. It’s not enough stimulation for an adult brain to just interact with small children all day. I honestly think it’s related to that whole “village” idea – that people used to live in villages & help each other raise all the kids etc. & now that structure is gone & we are left to do allllll of it alone. I can relate to the non-verbal toddler too – they’re bloody hard work. My second is using so many words so early & it is a giant relief. Reading blogs like yours have helped me immensely when I’ve felt alone in the relentless grind of parenting. Thank you.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:27 pm

      Yeah, I always feel a bit weird about how people will react when I say anything vaguely negative about motherhood. Heaven forbid I should describe any of it as boring or depressing. Well, it just is sometimes isn’t it? The non-verbal thing is so hard. I think we will have to start thinking about speech therapy 🙁

      I think that is a sad face emoji.

  20. Janet November 3, 2016 / 10:25 am

    I think you might actually be inhabiting the inside of my head. I can relate to all of this.

    It’s days like this when I wish I lived nearer to my family and my oldest friends. My sister has two young children and I’d love to be in the same house as her for part of the day, managing our three children between us. Activities, my in-laws and my new ‘Mumfriends’ are all fine, but it’s not the same as sharing the load with someone who knows you inside out. You’re still putting on a front on some level.

    I don’t think our grandparents felt so isolated. My Gran would have been chatting to the local shopkeepers, visiting her neighbours and relations and spending time with friends she’d known since her childhood. And my Grandpa used to come home from work for lunch!

    We work too hard as a nation, we move around too much and we don’t feel it’s socially acceptable any more not to ‘treasure every moment’.

    Thank you for putting this into words and helping me realise I’m not the only one who feels this boredom, guilt and emptiness sometimes.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      Yeah, I agree. I think there is something about how we have changed as a society which has left some groups including mums to young children feeling particularly cut off. We do work a lot and move around a lot and it’s not so great for cultivating those easy friendships and family ties that you describe. Things like the local playgroup are a bit of a lifeline to me. You are certainly not alone in how you feel. In fact, so many mums feel like this that you wonder why we don’t do more about it.

  21. Bel November 3, 2016 / 11:30 am

    Awesome blog!

    You are so right the ‘truth’ about motherhood is never really communicated – hence why I believe so many mothers and women loose themselves in the hype of attending every single activity to find ‘happiness’ in their new or ‘mundane role’ (as some would call it.)

    It’s totally ok to have ambition, drive & want more as a mother but I think we all need to know those times of frustration are actually times our children r thriving, learning boundaries & loving the experiences we can offer by just letting them ‘make a mess’, ‘whinge for stuff’, ‘hang out at home’ – everything for them is big and it’s not them who need the daily activities I think it’s actually the mothers these days to keep sane!!

    Thanks for speaking the truth!!
    Bel x

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:15 pm

      Yes. I so agree. I think that the kids actually need lots of nothingy days at home. My daughter has always loved this. Having me play with her at home has always been her favourite thing to do and you’re right, I think it is actually good for them to just find ways to entertain themselves. I went crazy for baby groups when she was tiny because I just couldn’t deal with staying in all day on my own with a baby but slowly we have come around to not rushing here there and everywhere. I think that the best thing is to have friends around with similar age kids for a play and a coffee. Those are the easiest days for me.

  22. auriolburgess November 3, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    Oh my God!!! someone has finally said it, someone has finally owned up to the feelings that aren’t able to be expressed because we aren’t ‘unhappy enough’ – we have homes, we have jobs and chose to go part time, we want to be with our children so what is there to moan about? but this undramatic day in day out not feeling at one with yourself is possibly the hardest to live with or express but then I hear but there are people in Syria with no homes and so I feel to guilty, to ashamed to speak up. that I feel sad. Sad about a lot of things that I don’t have time to feel sad about because I have the house to look after and my job but and now the menopause. I am at the other end of the scale to you. My daughter is 14 but what you described totally sums it up. I tried full time work when she was 12 but then I found I couldn’t cope but can’t enjoys off because once again I feel guilty. My daughter needs me in a different way and I want to be there for her and your description of boredom and lonliness and it also not being quite that totally summed it up. plus the need for mental stimulation and to be a person other than a mother, but there is no time…….so you just keep going and even when you do voice these thing it doesn’t help because you still feel this way and feel that you shouldn’t. It is my writing that has got me through and will continue to get me through – keeping me in touch with my feelings and trying to be true to myself – thank you so much for posting this ….it’s amazing the positives that come out of lonliness and boredom because eventually you have to do something about it…….thanks for the nudge!!!!!!!!!

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:10 pm

      Yes, we are so lucky and I realise that all my woes are nothing really as we are so privileged to even have a home or a safe place to live. I think that it’s still good to speak up about how you feel, whatever your background. I think that a lot of other mums feel like this so thank you for sharing a bit of your story here. xxx

  23. Anon November 3, 2016 / 6:22 pm

    This totally sums up my life; I too, have a part time job but also two girls, 4 and 2. I hate being at home but I hate taking them places as I can’t handle the youngest child’s behaviour!
    I feel like I am failing everyday. I’m no good at playing and being silly, I get far too frustrated and fed up with them. I spend most of my days screaming and shouting for them (mostly the 2 year old) to just behave! And to leave me alone for just five minutes!
    Their Dad is absolutely useless and would rather spend time with his new girlfriend!
    I hate to say it but most days I actually resent being a mother. I’m completely exhausted from it.
    I love them with all my heart and spend most nights in tears watching them sleep. I know I should be treasuring the time I have with them but most of the time, I actually hate it!

    They deserve so much better than I can give them.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 3:57 pm

      I’m so sorry it’s like this at the moment. I feel similar with the playing thing. I often find it hard to be silly and really get into their pretend games and I definitely feel that I snap at them too much. The thing is, it takes energy to be silly and it takes energy to have patience. If you are not very well supported as a parent this can be almost impossible. Also, this thing of treasuring the whole experience can actually be really unhelpful at times. You love your kids to pieces so you do treasure them, it doesn’t mean you have to pretend you are enjoying every moment. I don’t enjoy a lot of moments if that makes you feel any better. You know what? You are probably doing so much better than you think you are. I hope their Dad wakes up and starts being more helpful and I hope that maybe there are some friends or family members who you can be really honest with and say that you are struggling and ask if they can come over more often to play with the kids and take some of the pressure off you. You deserve some more support. Thanks for sharing how you are feeling here. I think it helps for others to read that there are mums out there that feel the same as they do. That it’s not all plain sailing. xxx

  24. Amy Beecroft November 3, 2016 / 7:37 pm

    Definitely this. This was everything I wanted. All we wanted. He offered to be a stay at home dad but I wanted it to be me. Felt it should be me. And then it wasn’t as shinny as I hoped. And it was a wee bit dull. So I put the radio on (always 5live) to fill the silence and made us go to every group going. I filled 10 sessions a week. And now he is at school and she goes next year and the light at the end of this tunnel is coming. But. But I can already feel the sense of loss coming. Not babies anymore. Went too quickly. But was hard work on the way. All very conflicting.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 3:41 pm

      The radio is a real life saver right? I love 5live too. I used to listen to it all day in the kitchen when I was cheffing, and sometimes the afternoon play on radio 4. It helps you to feel so much more connected to the world because you can follow the thread of the debate at the same time as doing other things or playing. I need to get into podcasts a bit more too as everyone is raving about them and at the moment I don’t follow any.

  25. Sarah Rooftops November 3, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    Yes, I’ve had these days – we’re stuck indoors this week with hand, foot and mouth and there has been A LOT of children’s TV which I’m telling myself is “medicinal”. Every time I leave my daughter to entertain herself I feel guilty for not joyfully joining in with all of her games – which is crazy because I firmly believe that kids need to learn to deal with boredom and find ways to amuse themselves; it’s a vital skill for later in life but it goes against all the “be present at all times” parenting advice I’ve somehow absorbed!

    I’m in a good place now because we have a loose routine – local families we tend to meet up with on the same days each week. I wonder sometimes if knowing we’ll most likely have a park trip together on, say, Tuesday is as important to the other parents as it is to me, and if it’s as crushingly disappointing for them on the weeks it doesn’t happen. I actually usually love the days when it’s just my daughter and me but that’s because I’ve got this vague timetable in my head and I know that TOMORROW there’ll be someone else there.

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      I think kids illnesses can land you with a real tough patch of being stuck indoors, especially if they take turns in getting it. The only trip out is a quick walk to the local shop to stock up on more calpol and the odd pint of milk. I hope yours are better soon! We are in a bit of a routine but often the odd nothingy day at home gets me quite down. I just don’t do too well without chatting to another grown up!

  26. Jess November 3, 2016 / 10:20 pm

    Thank you for writing this. You have beautifully articulated exactly how I felt in 2013/14 when I was at home with my second child. He’s nearly four now and life is entirely different – but reading your words brought back to me the bleak intensity of those feelings. Motherhood is the hardest and best and worst job I’ve ever had – with the least recognition, most confusing job description and most impossible objectives!

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 3:38 pm

      Exactly! It’s such a confused jumble of feelings and the isolated nature of the work is definitely the most crippling for me. I know that things will get so much easier. When my five year old is around things are a lot easier because at least we can have a conversation or play a proper game!

  27. AK November 4, 2016 / 2:23 am

    Love this, I feel like this esp with my third one these days, eventhough he is at preschool 3 days a week I feel emotionally drained at times. And while I love all three, at times I wish for a weekend in a hotel, just me own my own and a good book. was just the perfect day to come across this post!

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 3:35 pm

      Ah yes! A day alone would feel like such a luxury. I am going to London for the day next weekend on my own and I am most looking forward to the train ride there and back on my own. I just want to look out of the window or read a book and not have to think about keeping anyone else happy.

  28. Susie at This Is Me Now November 4, 2016 / 8:27 am

    I can totally relate to this. I decided to leave work to be a SAHM in June. love it some days but the days we are home alone I struggle. I have just started to feel lonely. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the boredom creeping in. In the summer it didn’t matter because I could go play outside or sit in the sunshine but now it’s cold and grey it’s harder. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way… I want to be with her. We were up in the night for an hour as my daughter has a temp and we won’t go to a class today. Had I not left work I’d have been tired and feeling awful leaving her today at nursery, or more likely having to take careers leave. But yes although I’m still tired I know I’m here for her today when she needs cuddles and medicine (and peppa pig!) You are not alone in feeling this way x

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      Good old Peppa Pig! If only each episode was a little longer though eh? Sometimes a bad night can just make it too much of an uphill struggle to get out to any baby classes. I do really struggle with my days at home but in a way it helps for all to all admit to it.

  29. Mama Loves November 5, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    I know this feeling exactly, thank you for sharing this post. It’s had me wondering if I’m depressed / feeling slightly depressed and constantly agonising over whether I’m doing the right thing by working 3 days a week to stay home the other two. I identify with the idea that they might have more fun at the childminders. Saturdays are the hardest for me because my husband plays rugby most of the day and everywhere is busy which puts me off taking my son out. Plus he has his nap right in the middle of the day which can make it tricky to meet people before getting him home for dinner, bath, bed. It’s all so tiring even though you aren’t doing ‘that’ much. Then I’ll often just stay in during the evening too because I’m tired! But then I think, it feels like forever now, but one day it will seem like such a short time… doesn’t always help though!

    • Like Real Life November 6, 2016 / 3:20 pm

      That’s so true. One day can feel like an eternity when you don’t quite know what to do with yourself and your kids. Thanks for sharing a little of your experience here. I think it really helps other mums to know that not everyone else is out having lots of fun. One thing that I hold onto is that what might feel like a really tough day for me might actually be the perfect day for my kids. Sometime that is quite comforting to me. Still so tough though.

  30. Hanna November 7, 2016 / 10:14 am

    This is so well written! I don’t have children yet, but I have a job (as an academic researcher in a university) which means I spend the majority of every day on my own; if I want to have a conversation with someone else (that’s more than just paying for something at a till or whatever), I have to make an effort: to text someone for a coffee date, or go to a seminar and try to start a conversation with strangers or whatever. Even though those things aren’t hard to do, I still end up spending most of my time working alone, and it has an effect on the way I feel: I am so critical of my own work, and I become convinced it’s rubbish and I’m not doing it well enough, or not as well as everyone else. So I totally relate to your description of days at home and judging yourself harshly, and I think it’s totally understandable that a non-verbal child, however much you love him and want to spend time with him, can’t obviate the effects of that isolation from adult interactions. Humans are such social animals: I think even those of us who enjoy solitude need to feel like we exist in a web of community relations in order to stay sane. It’s so good that you’re talking about this because it helps to bust the myth that material comfort and a happy family are sufficient ingredients for happiness – we need our tribe too. Or to put it another way: maybe the reason it takes a village to raise a child is not because children particularly need 25 extra adults in their life, but because parents do!

    And seriously, do be kind to yourself. Obviously I only know you through your social media, but it’s clear that your (adorable) children gets lots of time, love and attention from an intelligent, reflective mother who really earnestly cares about doing right by them. That sounds like pretty excellent parenting to me! A few TV programmes more or less or finding their games a bit boring will make absolutely no difference in the long run.

    • Like Real Life November 21, 2016 / 11:59 am

      Thanks so much Hannah for your kind words and your empathy. It’s interesting to hear your perspective as someone who works from home. We are more hard on ourselves when we are alone I think. There is more time and focus to overthink everything. xxx

  31. Lottie November 8, 2016 / 6:46 am

    Thank you. Reading this whilst feeding the baby in the dark hoping he will go down to sleep again and accepting that even if he does, I won’t, as the toddler is stirring.
    Trying to find the strength to make it through another day. Hours and hours of it. The house is oppressive, it’s not big enough for all The Stuff but trying to leave to go anywhere is a herculean effort and I wonder what the point is as The Toddler will moan, constantly. Nothing makes her happy. Nothing is quite enough. I feel stressed thinking about it and the stomach pains ( these are new) reveal themselves for the first time today.
    Last week someone asked if I was enjoying being at home, away from paud employment. I couldn’t answer.

    • Like Real Life November 21, 2016 / 11:56 am

      I hear you. It is so hard. I think that the key thing is that no one can do it alone. I hope you have family and friends who you can lean on a bit to give you a break from time to time. You are not alone. x x x

  32. Beth November 12, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    Oh my goodness this is exactly me!

    I feel like I have all the time and none of the time- I can’t keep the house clean or write or sew or really any of the things I feel like I want to/ought to do because the toddler needs constant supervision- I got a crazy one this time round. But equally she doesn’t actually need me too do that much so I sit around and play on my phone and feel like I’m wasting the time.

    I don’t really think humans were meant to live like this and I’m pretty sure the people who truly enjoy being home still have their ‘tribe’ around them

    • Like Real Life November 21, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      All and none of the time is exactly it. It’s so frustrating some days!

  33. Vicki November 12, 2016 / 6:25 pm

    I “get” you! I feel guilty about the perceived lack of stimulation my toddler daughter gets when we’re together at the weekends or on a day when I work home with her as I have to fit so much in on those days as well and am constantly thinking “quality time, quality time” but only switch the TV on. When I listen carefully to my inner dialogue the only pressure for this is coming from myself thank goodness.

    Great blog. Glad I found it 🙂

    • Like Real Life November 21, 2016 / 12:05 pm

      We really beat ourselves up about TV don’t we, but everyone needs a bit of downtime. Trying to work from home can be such a nightmare too. Sometimes as you say you just have to get things done! x

  34. Sue Denim November 17, 2016 / 11:08 am

    Also…. I think getting out of the house is massively helpful but sometimes I’ve found those days can also be sort of like killing time until bedtime, depending on what you actually do with the time. Another thought – the Internet is amazing and not least for finding articles like this, but I can feel more isolated for spending time online, too. And with that in mind, thanks again so much for your article, I’s switching my smartphone off before it sucks the remainder of my day dry! ❤️

  35. Johanna November 22, 2016 / 10:27 pm

    The only thing more that I feel is that NEED for the little one to nap. That relief when I walk out his room. Free!!
    Free. For now. Just with enough time to recharge so I honestly smile at him when he wakes, and say “I’m happy to see you!”
    I used to do all my cleaning during the naps but now the house is messier. Only emergency cleaning gets done. Then I treat myself to a video game or a tea. I find I am more sane that way.
    Thank you for your words.

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