Mum-of-two Sophie Hamilton always thought she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and be a stay-at-home mum, but after six years at home, she's finally admitted being a SAHM isn't for her. And you know what, that's OK!
Everyone has their own idea of what a ‘stay at home mum’ is. I always imagined relaxed days at home with my kids, endless cuddles and playdates with other mummies. After six years at home with my two children age six and three, who are my world, I now know that the fun, loving times are just part of the package. Sleep deprivation, never-ending housework and an identity crisis are the less glamourous sides of motherhood that I really wasn’t prepared for.
Before kids, I was a showbiz writer at a women’s magazine. My life then could not be more different to my mummy life. Exciting celebrity interviews, launches, parties - there was never a dull moment. I got married to my wonderful husband and we enjoyed our young carefree days with zero responsibility. Back then I took lie-ins and me-time for granted.
Soon we were expecting our first baby. When our son was born I fell head over heels in love with him. Hours would roll by where I just stared at him. Suddenly life had a new importance and work was the last thing on my mind. We had a hard first year, with our son suffering some serious health problems, so I decided not to return to work. I couldn’t imagine leaving him, even for a day. We were in a lucky position to be able to cover costs with one salary, so I threw myself into looking after him and loved every minute. I went to tons of baby groups, meeting a great group of local mums.
When my son was 18 months, I fell pregnant with our daughter. I’d always wanted two children so was overjoyed. It was toddler-baby chaos but I was happy – they were adorable and I felt so lucky. The longer I stayed at home, the more I felt out of the work-zone. I didn’t miss it though; I was happy to swap commuting and meetings for nappies and weaning. My own mum had stayed home to bring up me and my brother, and I had always wanted to do the same for my children.
As time went on, the exhaustion set in. I loved watching the kids grow but being a full time mum to two kids is hard work! I could barely remember my old glamourous days as a journalist. I’d gone from wearing cool clothes and heels to my slummy mummy uniform of jeans, trainers and any top I could find without kiddie stains on. You can’t underestimate the 24/7 task of keeping everyone clean, fed and happy.
A year ago I reached a turning point. Up until then being a SAHM had been great. I was fulfilled. Then it changed. I suddenly felt restless every time I sat still sipping tea at a soft play. I love my children more than anything, yet I also missed my job and using my brain creatively. It was more a part of me than I’d realised. I had a huge identity crisis. Who was I now?
Things had to change. I gradually started freelance writing again. To start with the kids were perplexed by me tapping away at the laptop; now they love asking me about my latest story. Working again is life changing. I love having another focus, my mind is challenged and I appreciate being with the kids more.
Being a stay at home mum is a rewarding, tough job and it suits some mums more than others. It’s not a better or worse choice than working - because it’s work too – but a different path that should be respected and recognised. I’m pleased I stayed at home when my kids were tiny but working again has given me a new lease of life.