The Guilt Story of a Working-Stay- At-Home Mother.

GRAB A CUPPA. It is a long read.

Before I started blogging, even before I become a mother, my married days were all about sleeping in really really late (think 4pm) and then sleeping after the sunrise. In between, I was just a regular mess. Drinking endless cups of tea and eating all kinds of junk food without having any kind of goal in my mind. I was just a stay at home wife with nothing to look forward too. Except, well dinner time.

After I had Azlan, my days passed in a haze. Being a first-time mother, trying to grasp what little was left of my sanity, I didn't know where the time went and within a blink of an eye, he was one. It was a little later after that, I started sulking and kept wanting to do something. I couldn't go out and work because I had child care issues and honestly I wouldn't have been at ease thinking someone else was taking care of my child. So, I started blogging.


When I started blogging, I didn't really think of anything. Just endlessly read blogs, and tried doing what I could do best. I started to find my passion. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to do something with words. I sucked at art (even though I have spent two years in an art school) and I knew blogging was my only channel of creativity. 

Very slowly, blogging took off and I started earning a little. Hardly £30 a month, but I had that fire in me to aspire for more. I still don't earn in 4 figures and I am far away from that. But blogging for me was never about money. I know you will say how clich├Ęd that is? But it really wasn't. Yes, money got involved but I never really started blogging to earn money. I wanted to channel my creativity somewhere!

2 years later, I am a proud work from home mother. I won't even get into the whole debate about how mothers are frowned upon. Whether you are working from home or working from an office, or whether you chose to be a SAHM, people will always find a way to talk shit about a mother. 

But today, I really want to talk about the guilt that overpowers when you are a mother who works from home. Firstly, there is this conscious effort to start your day early with a proper routine. Like you spend 20 minutes extra in bed and bam! You have to miss out on one or two chores. Your eye is always on the clock. Literally. Especially when you have a school going kid(s). From morning school runs to pick up school runs. From taking them to the park or other extracurricular activities, you have to do it all on your own. There are days when I feel so guilty about taking a 30-minute tea break because I needed to de-stress from all the workload and not do anything for those 30 minutes. 

Then, of course, there is the guilt that you are not spending time with your child. I am extremely guilty of this. There are days when I let technology do babysitting for most of the hours during the day and that literally just kills me inside everytime. The moment they come around the table asking you to play with them for 5 minutes and you have to push them away saying 'just give me 10 more minutes and I will come play with you' and when those 10 minutes turn into an hour or two, you just want to cry and wish there were more hours in the day. And then to cover up that guilt, you make random plans throughout the week with your child so that they have more time with you while you side glance at the clock and the laptop wishing you could just at least proofread the article that you have written. Can you imagine, my child hasn't been to the library as yet? He is FOUR YEARS OLD and hasn't seen the outside of a library leave alone the inside. I keep thinking, this week, I will take him to the activities happening in the library and that day actually never comes and maybe hire him a physics tutor someday because this kid literally WANTS to learn! 

The strain of always staying online is draining me completely most days. Who would have thought blogging could be competitive? The fact that you always have to stay on top of your game is exhausting. You cant stop blogging because either your domain authority will drop or your readership will reduce or you will lose a few subscribers here and there. And no matter how much you say that blogging is not about numbers, mate, you need a reality check. How hard we deny it, blogging is about numbers. Brands seek influencers who have a vast interactive audience. Brands have a domain authority range from which you could apply for opportunities that would fit perfectly with your blog. You need to be online 24/7 on Instagram and your blog, trying to get more readership and interacting with the audience otherwise, what is the use of a few thousand followers when they won't even interact with you? And that's when it hits the most when people say 'oh you blog' 'that is such an easy lifestyle to have' 'oh man, I wish I could quit my job and blog but that won't pay the bills ha ha' and you just stand their dumbfounded wondering if you have actually made the right choice?

In the end, you end up working more hours than a normal person would. You don't have to just work from home, you have to look after your home too. There are kids to be fed, a whole house to be cleaned, food on the table thrice a day and a man-child who wants steaming hot food when he comes home from work because apparently, you are sitting at home all day. And then, I actually have had my mom call me after a week and tell me that I haven't talked to her all week. That guilt is the worst. To not talk to your parents when you know that they are miles away from you and that their voice can actually be a source of comfort to you. There are days when you decide that you will start working at 9pm after your child goes to sleep and they end up staying up till 11pm or when you pop down into the kitchen to get a glass of water, you notice all sorts of grub and end up soaked in bleach instead of meeting a deadline. 

How do you ever get over the guilt of not giving enough time to your family? Do fathers ever go through the same guilt that us women go through? Why is it that we are designed in a way to put family first over everything?

For the past two or three weeks, I have been following a pattern to get above the guilt if not completely over it. Of course, there are days when my plans fail. There are days when I will roll out of bed at 12pm (Saturdays are for a lie in, right?) and see other mothers snap about going to the park at 10am and already have done various activities with their kids. But I won't let that guilt overpower me because I don't know what went after their happy snaps about playing with the kids in the park. Maybe they wanted a lie in like me? Maybe they just wanted to have a cuppa in peace without having paint splattered all over their walls?

At the moment, I am making a conscious effort to switch off my internet and data for at least two hours in a day. Whether if it's in one go or one hour at a time, those two hours, either I will get my work done or spend more time with my child. If you are in the same boat as I am, you can also delete the applications for that designated time. I sometimes do that when I know I will give in to the temptation and check my Instagram for just five minutes while my son tries to make that tricky alphabet.

Planning has been one of the reasons, I am a little sane right now. Everything that is high in priority is done first. If washing can wait for a day provided we don't end up staying naked the entire day, then it can definitely wait. If scrubbing the dishes can be done at night while peace is restored in the house, then I don't mind doing it when my son sleeps. If a deadline isn't hammering on my head, it can wait. 

Learn a little and live a little. You can't have it all. You cant have a fed family, deadlines completed, homework done, housework done and a little playtime with your child(ren). Of course, there will be days when everything will be a breeze but it is important to prioritise yourself. If you don't look after yourself, you will always be in a state of grumpiness. When you actually take care of yourself, you will feel positive from within and that positivity will radiate from within to actually make you feel at ease. 

Lastly, kick all that negativity out of your door. Don't pay heed to what other people talk about you and your juggling skills. You know as a mother, you are doing the best you can for yourself and your family. You know that your kids are happy and that nothing else really matters.

Next time, if you see a mother trying to bare it all, smile a little and tell her that she is doing an amazing job. You have no idea how much these words will mean to her and give her the boost to raise confident and happy children while taking care of her house and herself.