KILDARE PARENTING COLUMN: I have no clue how I managed full-time work and kids

It's Just a Phase

Ruth Chambers


Ruth Chambers


KILDARE PARENTING COLUMN: I have no clue how I managed full-time work and kids

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I have absolutely no clue how I managed to go out to work full time. And to those mothers who do, well ye are all just amazing, and I mean that. It’s seven months now since I left the daily grind behind and I’m genuinely more busy than I have ever been.

When I think back to my life before this I am truly baffled as to how we managed as a family.

For a start and with the value of hindsight, our house was filthy. It never looked filthy but if you scratched beneath the surface it was.

For a time I had a cleaner but when she left the scene I never replaced her. I always remember tidying around the last house but I never had time to get down to the nitty gritty.

And I know in the grand scheme of things what does cleaning matter, but it’s nice to have a home that’s clean. I mean properly clean.

Dusting was rarely done. The garden was ignored. The bathrooms were skirted around. I didn’t have the time to do much more to be honest.

I also have no clue how I managed to cook proper meals for us all. I did, mind you, but by God they were done in a panic. My life back then was one big panic.

Looking back, I genuinely believe that my stress and anxiety disorder was hugely down to having to juggle everything.

I was always in a panic. I was in a panic to get up and out every morning.

I rushed to work. I rushed home from work. I rushed to cook a dinner and rushed to clean up after it. Then I rushed the kids to bed because I wanted to keep them in their routine. It’s just what working parents do, and I guess some cope with it better than others.

I thought I could cope with it, but truth be told I was just one big ball of stress trying to get through every day,

I used to think it was the kids who stressed me out. Many times I questioned if I was cut out to be a mother at all. My head was absolutely all over the place.

The kids bore the brunt of my anxiety and as a result I thought work actually kept me somewhat sane. Looking back, however, work was the very thing that was driving me mad.

I totally and utterly enjoyed my job. I loved my colleagues and I never ever had any intentions of becoming a stay-at-home mammy. In fact, even the thought of doing it sent a shiver down my spine. Of course, we weren’t in a position to do it financially anyway.

I remember at the weekends I always wanted to be somewhere with the kids. There always had to be a family day out or an activity every Saturday or Sunday, or even both days.

We’d go to the zoo or to Imaginosity in Dublin and I always remember the kids, Aidan in particular, saying he just wanted to stay at home and play but I didn’t take heed.

I felt like I needed to do nice things for them or entertain them because I wasn’t there during the week.

Daddy Chambers has since admitted that it used to drive him mad. All he wanted to do was stay at home and have the craic with the kids but he went along with me because, well let's face it, I was a bit neurotic then!

When I finally made the decision to give up working full time, I didn’t do so because I had an epiphany. I didn’t suddenly realise that juggling everything was affecting my mental health.

I did it because the time was right financially and because we were moving to a different county so staying in my job wasn’t really possible.

My mind then went into overdrive again. I questioned if I would be cut out for being a stay- at-home mammy. I feared that I would be even more unstable if the kids were with me all the time.

I’m now seven months in to my new job. The first few months were a bit maniac due to the move and settling in to the new house. However, now we are all settled, I feel I am best placed to really comment on how life as a stay at home parent is.

It’s not an easy role. I’m a taxi driver. I’m a cook. I’m a cleaner. I’m a nurse. I’m a negotiator and I’m a diplomat to name but a few of my roles. I’m a busy mammy. But just a mammy.

I’m not downplaying the role either. Before this I was a full-time employee and a mammy. Granted I was mammy and an employee with an anxious mind, but I was the best I could be then.

I’m busy but not rushed. The kids are happy playing in the house or in the garden, and I’m happy to be there with them.

The house gets dusted. I’m enjoying cooking and I’ve even taken up a spot of baking, would you believe.

The anxiety raises its ugly head from time to time but I can recognise it now and shoot it down.

I have time to do that. I never did before. I let it engulf me and, like myself, it raced.

And while being a stay-at-home parent might not be for everyone, it certainly is for me.

Until next week, folks.