I’m kicking off the New Year on mother.wife.me with a guest post on the perils of trying to be a homemaker from the blogger behind the wonderfully named Cocoa Powered blog. Why is her blog named Cocoa Powered? Because she is a stay-at-home parent who relies on regular doses of 70% cocoa solids to get through most days!
The Cocoa Powered blog is her outlet for grown-up thoughts amidst a sea of domestic chores and the challenges of a stubborn and itchy 3 year old, which leads me on to mention her other blog, My Itchy Boy, where she also blogs about her experiences with her son’s eczema and allergies. Find her for a chat on Twitter @MyItchyBoy.
This post came about as a result of a comment CP left on the Motherhood, Work And My Issue With Self-Worth post I wrote in December. A post where I lamented wrestling with my self-worth since becoming a full-time mum. In her comment she talked about how women are no longer schooled in homemaking and I thought, hmm, there’s a great post around that subject and asked her if she would mind writing it. So here it is. Have a read and do leave her a comment with your views and experiences of homemaking!
What page of the stay-home parent manual are they on?
Starting a new career path was simple. I had no qualifications for it, no training and very little experience. But, getting the job was easy: no forms, no interview. All I had to do was sleep with a future colleague. Shocked? Don’t be. It’s probably the same way you yourself ended up in the role of Mum.
I do spend some days marvelling how I haven’t yet got fired from this job. Thankfully there is no Balanced Scorecard keeping track of my constant failings on time management, resource planning and general lack of performance.
The days when the washing comes out pink, I spend an hour shouting at my son, am late for nursery pick up, have run out of milk and we watch too much TV, I am sneakily glad that I am (at least in theory) my own boss and there’s no annual review looming. There are also the days when I realise that being a stay-at-home parent is as much about running a home as it is the parenting and how badly I was prepared for this homemaking role.
No one is going to send me on a development course to improve my cooking or washing sorting skills. But, just sometimes, I wish they would. I learned a little about childcare and household management from my mother but as a mum of four herself she actually had very little time to pass on those skills. She was mostly taught at school where they had a mock-up home on site to gain practical homemaking experience. It seems outdated now, but back then, they and she knew that she would need parenting and homemaking skills. My school barely mentioned either. University certainly never touched on them.
Early on in my role as a new Mum I remember standing at the kitchen sink cursing the one parenting book I had bought and read for not including a practical chapter on how to get blood out of my son’s favourite bear. It also didn’t mention at what point you designate a particular bowl in the house for catching sick. Or, how to find NHS resources at 2am on a Sunday morning for an ill child. Or, how to find the time to regularly vacuum, wash up, cook, dry laundry in winter, design the perfect train track layout or how many days you should keep a casserole in the fridge for. Nothing really that is actually useful in daily life as a Mum.
Did my mother’s generation deal both practically and mentally with motherhood because they were better equipped with the tools of the trade? Are women who love being a mum and seem to have hordes of well-groomed and well-behaved kids just naturals at this homemaking lark? Or, did they pay more attention when their Mum was trying to teach them how to clean honey porridge off the carpet, instead of rolling their eyes and flouncing off to revise for Economics? Or are they simply more committed to learning these new skills than me?
Years of academic study are not helping me in what is the hardest and most important job I’ve ever done. I am someone who believes that UK society should value parenting a lot more than it seems to right now. Yet, it didn’t occur to me to get trained up for this job. I didn’t prepare myself for this role or research it the way I would have if it was in an office. I crazily expected to slide by on my ‘mother’s instinct’ and willingness to give it a go.