Podcast | Finding balance as a stay-at-home mum, opting out of a career path and valuing a mother's presence
I was recently interviewed by Dalya at A Fine Balance: The Podcast discussing my choice to be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) but I've struggled to find the right words to start this blog post about it! I want to share my story and my experience of deciding to give up work 24 years ago to be a full time SAHM, something I am extremely proud of and a decision I have never once regretted. So why do I find it hard to write about?
Being a SAHM was just something I knew was right for me and my family and I just quietly got on with. I didn't know any different and it felt like the most natural thing in the world. But I worry that whatever I say might be seen as being judgemental of others choices, even though I haver never been judged! Maybe just going publish feels brave!
I've never hidden my decision to be a SAHM, and among family and friends, I talk openly about it. Anyone that knows me knows how nurturing and caring I am and that family came first but that I also kept very busy with lots of other projects - volunteering at nursery school and school, setting up and running all the admin for my husbands business (a paid role from home during school hours), overseeing the care and fighting a fair few battles for my late brother-in-law who had Downs Syndrome, and of course in more recent years setting up my blog.
Back in the autumn I met Dalya at a blogger event, Dalya writes a blog called A Fine Balance, which is all about celebrating the diversity and multi-faceted complexity of work-life balance choices.
Dalya had featured Nadine on her blog, Nadine is a SAHM mum, and just like me, she is confident that her choice to be at home with her children full time is the right one. But for the blog post she chose to remain anonymous.
It is still very rare for me to come across any mothers that have voluntarily given up their careers to stay at home with their children. According to Nadine, there’s a reason for that: women who have made that choice often feel peer pressured, for many reasons, to keep it to themselves.
My blog is all about celebrating, and learning from, the diversity and complexity of work-life balance choices. So I am delighted that Nadine chose to break her silence (albeit anonymously) by allowing me to interview her.
You can read Nadine's story here: Stay at home Mum”: Nadine’s Story – on opting out of a career path and valuing a mother’s presence. Because Nadine preferred to remain anonymous, she was not comfortable with being interviewed on A Fine Balance: The Podcast so Dalya asked if I would share my thoughts instead.
Dalya and I chat about my story and discuss my views on some of the issues that came up in the blog post that Dalya wrote following her interview with Nadine, which may resonate with stay-at-home and working parents alike.
I believe our children need us even more the older they get, especially in the teenage years! I am convinced that being available to chat or just being a reassuring presence was invaluable in helping Alex and Emily to feel supported and together we navigated the challenging times, coming out the other side the best of friends. Children don't make an appointment to talk, they talk when they feel they need to, often at the most inconvenient times. The concept of 'quality time' just doesn't work, spontaneity is far better.
And I am certainly not unfulfilled neither do I feel inadequate. I was doing, and still am doing, the best, most natural thing for me and my family. At 24 and 21 both my children are grateful I made that decision, they feel they benefitted hugely from having a SAHM, they knew they never needed to worry about disturbing me at work and they are proud of my achievements both as their mother and with my numerous other projects.
Dalya says ...
Nadine’s intention is by no means to offend or stoke divisions, but rather to share her perspective and express her view that women should be free to choose – without admonition – to opt-out of pursuing a career.
What’s more, she seeks to encourage the child’s perspective to be considered more in the debate around work-life balance. She advocates for children not to be the “after-thought” that she observes they often are; and for women – and society at large – to realise and acknowledge the value of a mother’s presence.
If you have some time, I'd love you to listen to my interview on A Fine Balance: The Podcast Episode 4.
I should also add that being a SAHM was a balance between good days and difficult days. I loved it but of course there were challenges! We tend to only remember the good times! But overall, it was amazing, even if I did breathe a sigh of relief when the long summer school holidays ended!!
I'd love to hear from you, do comment below or send me an email. But everyone is unique and it is the right to choose that is so important and to understand everyones perspective. I do not say my way is better, I just feel that my way was the right way for me and my family. But if you are contemplating your own choices around work/life balance and returning to work or not after having children, maybe my experience will help and I hope you find the wonderfully well written content Dalya shares on A Fine Balance useful.
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about style, beauty, health and fitness with a focus on the over 50's. I am based in Marlow but work across London and the South East.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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