Five tips for stay-at-home mums

Five tips for stay-at-home mums

The decision to stay at home with your child can turn your life upside-down.

Daisy Dumas shares some helpful tips on being a stay-at-home mother. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


"The worst thing you can say to a new mum is 'What do you do all day?'" says Meg Mason.

"Each day with a newborn is a wasteland of hours - it's the first time most of us feel we are off society's radar and it's a real art form to learn how to manage that time."
The answer to that dreaded, on-repeat question, as Mason writes in unapologetically droll terms in her new book, Say It Again In A Nice Voice, is simple: "I 'do' that", she says as she points to her newborn.
"I wipe it, I read to it, I feed it, I rock it, I change it, and now I even bathe it."
The mother-of-two, 34, learnt how to deal with vast swathes of endless new mother duties but empty diary pages the hard way: on her own, aged 25, thousands of miles from family and in the far-from-salubrious confines of her west London home.
Part memoir, part parenting guide and wholly self-deprecating, unmitigated anecdotal pandemonium, the book, out today, is a string of mishaps, faux pas and un-PC clangers that only a new mum with a "despotic little toddler president" could get herself into.
"There are so many shocking things that happen to you in terms of body and life and career, but to me, the most surprising thing was this absolute surfeit of time to fill.
"The days are 'boneless' and have no innate structure," Mason, now living in Balmain, NSW, said.
"That's why I wrote the book. Whether you're a working mum or you plan to never go back, you're going to have to learn how to fill your hours."
But there's a heavyweight superlative involved, too - and that is that being a mother, in Mason's opinion, is the hardest graft around.
"I still think", she writes, "a stay-at-home mother looks forward to the weekend more than any other person on earth."  
And, yes, that includes hospital cleaners on night shifts and "people who sit in toll booths five days a week".
New mothers, enter five tips to survive the seemingly interminable build-up to a Friday evening glass of wine...
1. Days are a product of your invention.
And inventions are completely legitimate. Fill your diary, make work for yourself - even if just a simple outing.
"Often our outings would be pegged on some kind of errand... 'Buy stamps' or 'Get some of those felt circles that go under chair legs' I'd write on a blank diary page." 

There's a fine line, learnt Mason, between a day punctuated by a refreshing outing and a day crammed with over-ambitious plans, but a rule emerged: "I would never go to bed on a Sunday night without at least three firm fixtures, real or invented, in my diary for the following week."
2. Don't hate on your husband.
"You've got to laugh... or you'll end up hating the one person who is legally obligated to help you."
Andrew, aka Shab, finds himself on the receiving end of sleep deprivation, mood swings and over-enthusiastic yearnings for adult conversation - it's perhaps no small surprise then, that the couple soon had to master the art of "diffusing the landmines that a new baby plants in the domestic realm".
3. Have a shower.
Simple as it sounds, says Mason, having a shower is the holy grail when a newborn suddenly takes precedent.
"It's a good idea to have a shower before your husband leaves. Leaves in the morning, I mean. Not leaves leaves."
It's as much about your sanity as it is of those around you.
That would be your husband's, then: "The last thing a new mother needs is a nervy, hyper-vigilant life partner who keeps threatening to take her to the GP for a depression questionnaire, just because of lazy dressing."
4. Rally.
"Rallying is an indispensable, fundamental survival skill for the currently-at-home," writes Mason.
She explains more: "That feeling of waking up, feeling gross, having an empty fridge and dirty hair... You don't have the luxury of indulging in that feeling.
"Open the window, look forward to coffee, fold the blanket so that you're not staring at the barrel of a gun that is your day."
5. Embrace other mothers.
"That braying, intimidating pack of stroller-pushing mums is a port in a storm," Mason said.
"Learn to manage women and deal with comparative parenting. You must break into that circle as it can be very valuable.
"So what if they were all 40 and I was 25? You are only as old as your baby."
Navigation of "mothers of super-advanced babies", the "failing mother" and the "shameless maternal meat market" that is playgroup are, she says, essential lessons in survival.



Catherine Graham on 03 July 2012 13:28
Ive been a stay at home mum for 2 yrs now and i love it, yes some day can be extrenely draining! But its all worth it to watch ky son learning n growing. To keep myself sane.. i get all the chores etc done while hes awake with his help. Have our outings then once he is napping i have free time to relax, read, play games , browse the computer. :)


Shelley Wood on 03 July 2012 13:04
It may sound silly but going to the toilet - seriously I only need 5 seconds and my two girls can not even give me that they follow me in there. Just having some breathing space now that they are both only having one sleep a day if that.


Amy Mckay on 03 July 2012 12:54
i have been a stay at home mum for 8 years now and loved every minet of watching my kids grow and develop my youngest of 4 has just started kinde and feel really lost without her during the day,i think all mothers find it hard at times working or not been a mum is the best and some times not so best job to have but i know i woulnt change it for the world


Amy Mckay on 03 July 2012 12:53
i have been a stay at home mum for 8 years now and loved every minet of watching my kids grow and develop my youngest of 4 has just started kinde and feel really lost without her during the day,i think all mothers find it hard at times working or not been a mum is the best and some times not so best job to have but i know i woulnt change it for the world


Tamryn De Laborde on 03 July 2012 12:16
I have been a Stay-at-home Mum for 6years and have 4 girls. My eldest will be 6 in September and many youngest is 8 weeks old. My days are full on! I have learnt to have a routine and stick to it. Somedays are better than others and sometimes you just have to go with the flow and not sweat the small stuff. Before we know it out kids will be out the house and we will be bored stiff with nothing to do.


Eva Stryder on 03 July 2012 12:10
I like the " Don't hate on your husband" part. Its very important. I love to be home with my son. I little outgoing like walking the dog or going to the supermarket sometimes turns into a big mission. But Its all manageable.


Helen Shields on 03 July 2012 11:30
I love being a stay at home mum, and wouldn't have it any other way, but it definitly has its moments. It always fascinates me how quick the day goes by tho. I miss having time to myself, esp with two little ones who don't nap during the day anymore. I think one of the hardest things is when I'm not feeling my best and all I want to do is sleep...I can't. Unfortunatley the house wont run itself. But I love watching my girls grow and being there to see it all. Wouldnt change it for the world :)


Candice Debruin on 03 July 2012 10:36
Ive been a stay at home mum for almost 2 years, and each day has its own set of challanges but I wouldnt trade it for the world. I find that the worst critics are other mums that look at me as if my bran must have fizzeled up and died the day that i decided to stay home with my son. I dont judge them and they shouldnt judge me- each to their own. It is a lonely job that has few rewards BUt those rewards are the best I could ask for


Jules Buri on 03 July 2012 10:27
Im a stay-at-home mum to two girls (20mths & 3yrs & one on the way) I make a mini-mission each day with the kids so that Im leaving the house - even if its just the supermarket. Makes you get out of trackpants and put some makeup on. That works wonders for me. (Hardest part was when I didnt drive with baby #1; once I found out I was pregnant with #2 it motivated me to learn to drive and made life so much easier!)

I disagree with the abovr article - "..going to have to learn to fill the hours" Time flys at home!


Maria Beatriz Cassineri on 05 July 2012 01:00
I recently gave up my 45 hour + a week job to stay at home with my 2 year old and my 4 year old. And i love it, i never realized how much i was missing on and the quality of life that stay at home mums give to their children, my kids are SO happy. We can do a lot more stuff than before. Of course i miss the income, i even had to give up going to the hairdresser, but hey, money is not the important thing in the big picture i know that my kids are going to be grateful for having a mum that was able to take them to learn to swim, be there when they are sad, or happy and play with them. I think that being a stay at home mum is a privilege and we are all really lucky. I know because i had to leave a 4 month old at preschool full time, and that was the hardest thing i had to do in my life. Being with my children is pure pleasure and my biggest tip is everyday I will commit 100% to keeping positive!


Malandrob Whiteley on 04 July 2012 05:57
if you can stay at hoe with your kids that is awesome, but not all failies an afford to do this now...


Serena Kelly on 03 July 2012 16:36
Being a stay-at-home mum is wonderful! It's exciiting to be there for all the changes in your child's life but I find the hardest thing about it is getting out, not just to do something, but to meet with other people and have so adult company.


Kim Sanderson on 03 July 2012 14:11
I've been a stay at home Mum now for 10 months. One of the hardest things has been other people questioning why I'm not working, when my husband and I made the decision for me to spend the time at home with him. We know we've made the right decision and just seeing how happy he is reinforces this. Of course the appreciation of a job well done at work, but I'd rather be there for my boy's milestones and couldn't face missing the giggles and fun we have.


Annette Hynes on 06 July 2012 07:22
I have been a stay at home mum for 2.5 years and love it most days! There are days when you just need 2 minutes to yourself though and cannot seem to get it, especially when your child starts to drop their day sleep.


Sheetal Prasad on 18 July 2012 13:52
I will give birth soon and i look forward to stay home with the long as i can......i think it will be amazing listeing to all mothers who stayed home and look after their babies........


Tania Riddell on 31 July 2012 15:34
Until I became one I never imagined how busy life is as a mum. Drives me nuts when people ask what you do all day..


Ashlee Tapa on 03 July 2012 10:10
Iam a new stay at home mommy! My beautiful baby girl is just four months. Iam Twenty and have looked after her everyday since she was born pretty much by myself as my partner works full time. I love being a Mommy it makes me so happy and proud!! She is
just the best baby i could have asked for. She does take up alot of time thou, the days just fly by. I still manage too get house work done, but breakfast for me becomes branch.. and shower time is in the afternoon. These tips in this article have helped, i do like to read alot. I live in the country also.. it does sometimes feel lonely like your in your own world. I love being a Mommy and cant wait too have more babies. :)


Julie Mcdonald on 03 July 2012 10:02
The hardest part for me is actually getting out and about and dealing with adult conversation.. I find the only thing I really talk about is the kids because thats my life (seems to bore some people). I find what helps me keep my sanity however is the mums group I joined on facebook because we all have similar aged kiddies.


Melissa Ferguson on 03 July 2012 09:53
im a stay at home mum of 2 girls, ages 5 and 3 and a half, right from day one the hardest part i found was the lonelyness, as we live out in the country and i didnt drive when they were born,, being a stay at home mum has definetly had its fair share of downs, but also so many ups!:) i wouldnt change my job for anything in the world:) i love the fact that i was there for all my girls milestones, and i am really proud of the job i have done raising them into the happy lovely little people that they are now:)

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