Monday, 30 January 2012

How I came to be a stay at home Mum

Hmm ... Maybe I should start with a little recap of happenings so far. I'm Anwyn, a stay at home mum to Evie, who is 16 months old, and wife to Joe. I wasn't supposed to be a stay at home mum. I was supposed to have a year off and then go back to my well paid job as a consultant/account manager to the auto industry. I hated my job. But I'd been stuck in it for 7 years on the basis that I earnt a lot of money for not working very hard at all. The downside was that I didn't like my boss and it took me an hour and a half to get to the office and a bit longer to get back home again. I was supposed to go back 4 days, but they messed me around and treated me unfairly and so I quit. I'm taking them to a tribunal over it and keeping everything crossed that I win. In the meantime, they actually did me a big favour, because now I'm out of there and can start living my life the way I want to, instead of being stuck in that horrible job. The downside to that is, we are skint!

It has taken me a while (and some nice pills from the doctor!) to come to terms with the whole job thing. It happened in September and I've only really got my head around it since Christmas. In fact, I'm probably still working on it a bit. It wasn't that I really wanted to go back, obviously. I've already said that I hated it. I was always relieved that I didn't have to go back there. It was such a soul-destroying place. I used to actually feel the life drain out of me as I walked through the door. However happy and motivated I was as I walked in to work, I would feel depressed within minutes of being at my desk. But I earnt good money and was always going to find it hard to walk away from that. So it's just as well that they forced me out!

The problem has been that a lot of my self esteem was tied up in my job, being successful in my career and earning a good living. It was pretty hard to see it all come crashing down around my ears, just because I had dared to have a child! It has taken me a while not to be embarrassed or ashamed when someone asks me what I do. I'm not quite sure how to answer. I still seem to feel the need to tell them what I used to do, and that I'm now a stay at home mum, but that I didn't choose to be. It's like I think it's more acceptable that I ended up here through no fault of my own and that I didn't actually choose it. What's that all about?

The fact is, I am still working. It's bloomin hard looking after a toddler all day. On top of that, I'm starting my own little business as a Jamie at Home consultant. I love that job and I really hope that I can make a good job out of it and earn a decent living. I hate being skint. I currently feel more skint than I have ever felt in my life and I don't really like it! There are Jamie consultants out there earning very good money, running successful teams and most importantly, fitting it all around their families. I don't see why I can't be one of those people. I just have to work hard to get there.

In the meantime, being so skint is having its advantages. It's forcing me to think about money, how and what I spend it on, more than I ever have before. I really have never been very good with money. We grew up reasonably well off, could afford everything we needed, so weren't exposed to any kind of budgeting. I went to uni in the time of grants and loans and student overdrafts and worked through the summer to pay off last year's debts. Since graduating, I always worked in sales, with a defined career progression ahead of me, so I never worried about the odd bit of credit card debt, because I always knew that there was a commission cheque or pay rise around the corner to pay it off.

Since quitting my job, things are different. Joe and I have agreed that the priority is that I stay at home and look after Evie. We both had our mums at home as we grew up and we've always said that was what we would ideally like for Evie. Although I hope to grow my Jamie at Home business, nothing is guaranteed, so I no longer know where the next pay increase is coming from! It has taken us a while to adjust to our new, lower income, so we've run up a little bit of debt. For the first time ever, that worries me.

But, the good points ... I am paying a lot more attention to what we (I) spend. I set myself a challenge at Christmas - to go as long as possible without doing a major food shop. Since the day before Christmas eve, I havent spent more than £10 in a supermarket. I have bought milk, eggs and fruit and pretty much everything else has come from what was already in the house - either in the fridge, freezer or cupboards. I reckon I can get us through a couple more weeks without buying anything major (although meals will start to get a bit weird!)

The other good point, and in fact the main good point, is that I'm getting to live a much calmer, slower paced life. I'm spending lots of lovely time with Evie, which let face it, is the most precious time in my life. I'm getting back into doing some crafty stuff, which I really enjoy and find very relaxing. I've joined a hip new branch of the WI, called the Scone Roses and I'm very excited about that. I've only been to one meeting so far, but everyone was really nice and I loved it. I'm meeting and making friends with some of our neighbours - we have created a toddler group and a craft circle and I am chairwoman of the local events committee. I feel very hopeful that we have a lovely little community growing and I'm making sure that we are involved in it.

So, despite all the crap with my job, and the worries about money, I feel quite happy and content right now. Some of that might be the pills, but who cares? It doesn't matter what makes you happy, as long as you are, right?