Over the last five and a bit years, since having my first baby, I’ve switched between being at home full time and working part time, usually in one year stints. After my first year at home I was keen to get back to work. As it turns out the admin position I took up at a university wasn’t quite what I had hoped. While it ticked the box of not having work to bring home, it wasn’t professionally fulfilling and the woman I worked for was not all that pleasant to be around. At the end of the year I had my second baby so it all worked out for the best. After another year at home I opted to return to teaching, the job I loved. I struggled to get the balance right. When I didn’t bring work home my classes and my teaching suffered, when I did my kids suffered. There was also no flexibility in hours and I had to work a minimum of three days which was a lot with two little kids as well. Add on the travel time from home, to child care, to school and then back again and the days were long and stressful for all. It was this that prompted the move to Ballarat, with more affordable housing and a smaller community. And it’s been good for us, but having spent a third year and a bit at home, I have a feeling of losing myself which I just can’t shake.
It seems I’m not cut out for long periods at home with only children for company and that is once again beginning to make itself known. I wonder if in a time when this is what women did I would feel the same or if a neighbourhood of other mothers and children all in the same position would alleviate this urge to escape that I get. For me the isolation of being alone with kids day in day out leaves me frustrated, bored and unsatisfied. I guess it’s now compounded by the fact that I have fewer close friends nearby, but I felt the same in Melbourne. I’m not implying that there is nothing good about my days, I enjoy lots of things with the girls. I also appreciate the fact that I have been able to have these years at home, not everyone gets that opportunity. The girls are definitely more secure and settled not being in long day care (and I mean long, 7.30am-6pm three days a week). I love the Kinder Miss Five goes to, but the hours wouldn’t work if I wasn’t at home all day. I have a much closer connection with Miss Three (but we also butt heads a lot). These are all advantages to being a stay at home mother.
It’s probably no co-incidence that this feeling has built up to boiling point towards the end of a cold and dreary winter. Whether it is a lack of Vitamin D or just the stir-craziness of being stuck inside too long, I am definitely susceptible to the Winter blues.
Knowing I am like this drove me to enrol in university. The course certainly gives me a level of professional satisfaction and stops the grey matter from turning mush, but it’s still me on my own with my laptop. Not exactly the human, adult interaction I need. So now I am on a mission to fill the gaping void before the blues turns into something worse. I would love part time work, but I can’t quite get my head around the logistics of that. Childcare arrangements would be complicated with one child in Kinder four days a week. Relief teaching is pretty unpredictable and only comes in whole days which adds to the complications. In the meantime I’m thinking of some volunteer work for me giving me the contact I need and some occasional care for Miss Three which would give her the stimulation and socialisation she’s not getting at home. I do, however, wish it were easier. To find, to co-ordinate, to use my skills and intelligence without compromising the other side of my life, my family.
I feel like I’ve written this post before – in fact I’m sure I did write something similar two years ago as I was making the the move from home to work last time. Life really is all swings and roundabouts.