That is my title I am a stay at home mum. People try to dress it up like “homemaker” or whatever but I’m a mum. My husband works full time and we make do with his wage and the pittance I bring in for being a carer. We’ve looked at the numbers and to be able to pay for childcare and care for Max while I worked – well I couldn’t get a job that pays enough. It costs us over £80 a week for 15 hours of nursery care for Popples, mainly to socialise her. Having 2 non verbal brothers we thought it was important to have time to play with her peers and not just be reliant on mummy for company. She still lacks confidence a little but she has fun with her friends and is ready for Nursery School (FS1) in September. She is going full time, and a couple of children from her nursery are going too so she’ll have familiar faces.
Anyway, I am getting off topic. Being a stay at home mum is often thought of as being a soft option, I don’t have the pressures of commutes, deadlines etc etc but on the other side of that I don’t get holidays, time off sick or paid! My day starts when one of the adorable children I have wakes. Currently that is Oliver……at 3.30 am……. every morning! The research suggests that 80% of children with autism have “sleeping difficulties” and how I hoped we were in the 20% this time that didn’t. We aren’t. So he gets up and has to be wrestled back to bed, often holding me in a death grip in case I think about leaving to get some sleep in my own bed. Then Popples wakes around half six and immediately starts jabbering on about what we’re going to do today or to ask if I “had a good sleep mummy?” or to talk about yesterday or last week or……you get the picture. Breakfast then getting the little ones dressed. Oliver is allergic to clothes at the moment which is fun on a school morning where you have to try to get him dressed whilst he is trying to get undressed at the same time and get him into the car (whilst he is writhing in my arms ) and remember book bags etc. After various drop offs I get a chance for a quick coffee and tidy up before pick up from nursery. Then its a couple of hours working with Popples until Olivers pick up and Max gets dropped off. Then, on a good day I get to make 2 lots of dinner, Max is extremely fussy, Oliver is mainly into Italian and Popples will eat almost anything so she’ll either eat what one of the boys is having or what me and daddy are having. In between all this there’s washing up, washing, drying, folding, appointments, making/changing beds, decorating our ramshackle house, walking the dog, speech therapy programmes, education programmes to follow and general playing with the kids. After dinner it’s supposed to be free play where I get ten minutes to look at the accounts or sort out the schedule for the next week but I inevitably get dragged into dolls house (everyone just poos and sleeps) or doctors (I’m the patient who is too hot and needs a blue plaster?!) or saving the olive tree which Oliver has never seemed to like and attacks at every opportunity. If daddy is home on time he helps with the baths- his commute is awful so often I take this on and he joins us if he’s home on time. Apparently the best game to play in the bath is shouting “Hoppity Voosh” as loud as you can whilst throwing water everywhere. If all jug type implements are removed then hands work just as well splashing fiercely. Bed time reading then the “I need a wee” “can we do this tomorrow” “I can’t find my cat/duck/witch” and Popples is asleep. Oliver as has been stated is not sleeping so he stays up a bit longer while one of us does dinner and the other tidies up- do you know how far stickle bricks can get?
Max is in bed by 10, lights off at 11. Oliver is having a hard time so it can be anything up til midnight before he sleeps, and cannot be left unattended at the moment due to his exuberant death defying activities. So I don’t get much time with my husband at the moment, or time to do much at all. Don’t get me wrong Leon takes on a lot after a full day at work helping out where he can but I don’t like him doing the nightshift then having to work all day and travel in commuter traffic on the motorway so I try to do as much as I can because my job is to look after them while he earns money to look after us so I can look after them. At the moment it feels like we never see each other, we are both working flat out trying to do the best we can for our family and we are losing ourselves and each other. It’s a few weeks away yet but I’ve arranged my mum and eldest to look after the other 3 while I take him away for our first wedding anniversary. Just to have 2 nights together, a meal we can talk to each other through and just have some peace and together time. I know it’s not a long term solution but it’s something.
I’m not moaning really, I know I am lucky to get to raise my kids and be there for them all the time. I’m just saying it’s not easy. I got to sleep in til half past nine this morning! That’s how I know Leon still loves me “you look like crap, I’ll get up with them tomorrow” were his actual words but I know he loves me really. I think what prompted me to write this was a few things people have said to me. They seem to think I sit at home watching day time tv and eating bon bons. “some of us work and have children too” yes and I admire that but some of us also get time off or get to watch a film once the kids are asleep or get to share a meal with their family. And no, my kids are not spoilt brats. You can’t discipline the autism out of a person. I discipline my kids of course I do, they have boundaries but there are somethings you just have to roll with because nothing you can do, at this moment in time, will change anything. Things will change, but at this moment this is our family. And we’ll cope because we have to. Everyone’s family works differently, some a little more differently than others.
Getting a bit rambly now due to lack of sleep, and I know theres a chocolate cake with my name on it downstairs- it’s a “hooray we survived the first week of the holidays” cake.