Where did everybody go? The changing landscape of life as a SAHM

In the six years since becoming a parent, I’ve been through a fair few different phases and social circles.

My weeks routine changed with the situation; I worked part time, enjoying two busy days off with Tigs a week and three at work. I became a Mum for the second time and juggled a newborn and toddler,  surviving mainly by leaning on the Mum tribe who made playdates a team event. I was made redundant and became a stay at home Mum, a curveball which left me with seven days a week to fill with the kids, until Tigs started pre school. For a while I was slave to the nap / preschool schedule but free from any afternoon time ties. And then, I became school run Mum, tied to the constraints of 9 and 3 with a whole day to go places with the Mouse. Until we started pre-school for the little one, increasing mornings from two up to five, and for a while now we have been on that schedule.

As the girls have grown and become settled in their early years settings, the toddler groups we used to rely on for our sanity became less frequented until we stopped going altogether. The constant rush between nursery and school ‘the two hour window stage of parenting’ leaves little time for trips to soft play or the farm. It makes socialising a little tricky.

Some midweek activities ceased – mother and baby swimming, toddler gym – as we outgrew the class and replaced with weekend sessions, and friends moved on from some groups too. Some of our pals kids had nursery in the afternoons, whilst mine had mornings, some did a few long days with whole days off, and as such the playdates became all so much tricker aside from the school holidays (in which it always seemed to rain this year).

The people in our networks changed too. Some never had second babies and returned to work whilst we started the cycle over again. Some returned to part time work, leaving days filled with stuff they needed to do, and sometimes the group dynamics were left out of sync by varied work patterns that no longer aligned. Some great friends just fizzled out, with no hard feelings, just moved on with their lives, as did we.

Starting school of course brought new people; the school Mums, the class parties, the new friends. The toddler group whatsapp chat has fizzled right out and been replaced with a buzzy constant chatter from the class Mums group. Of course the friends we’ve made didn’t just fade away, but they now have to fit in around a new crazy school world of classmates and our kids insane social lives. As we do too, in theirs.

And so now, as we approach the end of another school year, one that has felt so different to any other before, I’m feeling a little reflective about where we are, and what happens next?

The Mouse, an October baby misses the school start for 2018 and as such has another whole year of pre-school. She’s moving to the school nursery and will leave her existing pre-school pals behind. we’ll still be on that two hour window stage of parenting for another year, albeit the pick ups and drop offs will be at one central location. Tigs is well established at school as she enters year two and is always more than happy to just be at home or the allotment, playing with her little sister and drawing to her hearts content. Of course we have to fit in homework and spellings, reading and maths, which I can only imagine will intensify with each school year.

Most of the Mouses little friends, both in and out of nursery, start school this year, leaving just her and one or two friends on the pre-school circuit. Of course, they all have totally different pre-school times. Figures.

More and more of the Mums I’ve hung out with are child free during the school week, and more are increasing their work hours, looking for new jobs, moving off the scene where I remain.

I suppose, whilst I’ve been busying myself at home, the allotment, in the blog and generally loving the slower pace of life we have had this year, I realise now, that I am also on the brink of being pretty isolated as a stay at home Mum once more – something I was always so passionate about not becoming as I stepped into my role as a new mother six years ago. In fact, I’ve written wholeheartedly about how to combat loneliness as a Mum and how important is to get out more and find your sisters. I’ve also spoken about the fact that not all bloggers are able to be out at events, the whole childcare thing can be tricky for a blogger as much as it is a woman working in science.

In reality Dad Muddling Through works from home more than ever, and we have had a house full of workmen and a building project to manage this past three months. The days whizz by in a blink and I also have regular commitments each week and blog work to thrash through. I do still occasionally text round for somewhere to plonk myself for a few hours to change up the scene, and I do still try and arrange playdates, albeit far less frequently than I used to as the Mouse is pretty shattered after a morning going loopy at nursery. We have loads of people around us we could see, we just seem to have gotten out of the habit of doing so as much? I still see friends at after school clubs and we chew the fat whilst our kids swim / gym / party for an intense 30 minute catch up. And of course, during the holidays (which come round so quickly) we have plenty of time to fill together. In general, I can see that all of our lives are more manic than ever.

Breakfast dates every Thursday may have become once a month, but far from feeling lonely, I’ve loved being in our home more and letting the mouse be here with her toys, and her Mummy. In fact, I enjoy the girls company more than ever, perhaps why I haven’t prioritised being around other people. Time goes way too fast on a daily basis, let alone in our motherhood roles. I’ve been so busy embracing it, that perhaps I’ve not realised that I’m somewhat cutting myself off from the world going on around me.

But next year as more of the Mums claim back some of their independence and career, I’ll be claiming that one last year with my youngest and last baby. I will have to make more of an effort to get out and see other adults more regularly, as I know it’s good for me, my mental health, my wellbeing as an individual, not just as a Mum. The obvious answer may seem that this is the time to think about a little job? Although I’m not sure many have a two hour shift pattern, plus I’m pretty sure I want to get both girls in school before that – after all we have come so far, and we are after all, happy.

I guess for many of my friends, maternity leave ended five years ago, and sometimes as a stay at home Mum it can feel like you are the only one still left there, in some kind of weird maternity leave parallel universe. It isn’t forever, and I don’t know what the future holds, but one thing is certain, life as Mum never stays the same for long.


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23 thoughts on “Where did everybody go? The changing landscape of life as a SAHM

  1. mummyswaisted Reply

    What a great post, it sums up the situation perfectly. I’m slowly learning to be satisfied with my new routine of part time WFM…until the summer holidays start #coolmumclub

  2. Wendy Reply

    This post is so honest and relatable. Motherhood changes all the time and sometimes the friends you make in baby groups at the beginning aren’t still around years down the line. I have an October baby too and I will be making the most of every second at home with him as I know from his older brother, once they go to school you miss them so much! Life is chaotic and busy and I totally get that it is hard to make time to meet up with friends. I hope you have a lovely summer with the girls xx #coolmumclub

  3. oldhouseintheshires Reply

    Such an honest post, Sarah. Motherhood does bring changes as you know I have written about! The points you have made resonated with me too. I have worked part time, been at home and worked full time. I know as a teacher I have the holidays with my children but it’s such a juggle and what I didn’t really appreciate is that everyone is also juggling! There are moments on our parenting journey where we have tense friendships with other parents which then fizzle out once we move on. I’ve experienced this too; especially when my ‘closest’ friends with pre-schoolers choose different schools to me and at the same time I return to work full time. We occasionally text but 12 years later, we are no longer living in each other’s pockets or friends tbh. The one thing I did find was that working full time whilst my children were at primary school meant that I didn’t get to meet any of the other mums at the school gate. Once they get to secondary school the school gate no longer exists! My advice? Wait and, if you can, give yourself time before getting that job. The pre-school year is precious yet so is their first year at school. Enjoy and savour those moments but also hang on to the friends you do have as they will come in handy later on in life. Xx #coolmumclub

  4. Maria Reply

    This is so relatable! It happens very gradually, but all of the mums I met at the ‘under 1s’ group went back to work some time ago and I am still at home with my three year old. I still see some of them in passing but we’re all busy living different lives!

  5. Life Love and Dirty Dishes Reply

    I’m a year ahead of you. Little’s last year with me is coming to an end and he starts school in September. I have lots of plans for moving my business forward and getting the house sorted, but I do worry about feeling isolated and lonely. #coolmumclub

  6. Jacqui Bester Reply

    I just loved this! I have just stopped working full time and now have a half day job, so that I can experience my children more. Be more present in their lives. They grow up way too quickly! #coolmumsclub

  7. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    Nothing stays the same for ever does it? The ebb and flow of motherhood and the relationships around us always keeps us on our toes doesn’t it? Enjoy your summer my #coolmuclub lovely xoxo

  8. Navigating Baby Reply

    Totally relatable to me. I have lots of friends who will be friends for life, but I never see them. As my youngest start nursery in October I am realizing more and more that I need to carve out more of a life for me separate from them! I am looking forward to making some of my school mummy friendships stronger. #coolmumsclub

  9. Navigating Baby Reply

    I wrote a comment, but it seemed to vanish… Anyway I really connect with this post. Things do keep changing and sometimes that is daunting and then other times it is exciting #coolmumsclub

  10. An Ordinary Mom Reply

    “life as Mum never stays the same for long” Truth!

  11. viewfromthebeachchair Reply

    It is great that you are home with them. So important. #coolmumclub

  12. Kate on thin ice (@kateonthinice) Reply

    Hoping you find the right route for you and please don’t put undue pressure on yourself. Isolation can be such a killer but you know it is a threat and now you have talked about it openly, the universe may well turn up with an opportunity that seems magical – you will see it when you believe it perhaps. Good on you for talking about the struggles as well as the joys #CoolMumClub

  13. oldhouseintheshires Reply

    I loved this so much I added it to Lucy’s linky:

    1. MMT Reply

      Ah thanks so much! Xxx

  14. Debbie Denyer - Squidgydoodle Reply

    You have captured how I often feel, as a stay at home mum. I juggle my craft and party box business around my kids, 1 at school and 1 at home/nursery part time.

    I created my business to be able to spend more time with them, making a decision to leave the Corporate world. It wasn’t something that I’d ever thought I’d do. However, losing my husband to cancer made me re-assess the importance of time with the kids, particularly whilst they’re young.

    I think the school days of being a SAHM can be some of the toughest and most lonely. As friends return to work you realise how important the workplace friendships and banter were. They get replaced with snippets of conversations between school mums whilst passing at the school gates. Those conversations are often less meaningful though, they usually relate to the stresses of getting out the door on time, or the current school project. You may want to talk more, but everyone is in a rush.

    It can feel like you’ve lost touch with the friends you survived teenage life with, who knew your first love, held your hair when you drank too much, the friends who worked through the night with you, to hit work deadlines, the friends who you shared the miracle of the birth of your child with, who gave you reassurance when it all got too much. They would all be there though. If something happened, if you needed them, they would be there.

    I think that sometimes we have to force ourselves to make time for each other. As hard as it can be to juggle life, kids, each other’s work commitments. We need to make the time, for ourselves, for our friends, because as much as we’re having these thoughts as a SAHM, they probably have the same thoughts as a working parent. Someone needs to be the one to make it happen #BlogCrush

  15. pambill Reply

    Love this honest and thoughtful post! My Little is going to college in a month, but I remember these days as clearly as if they were yesterday. Yes, motherhood = constant change. I often wondered if I prioritized home/kids too much over time with friends, but after all these years, I would choose my kids every time.

  16. mummyhereandthere Reply

    Yep your right parenting is the never ending changing adapting to that moment in time X #coolmumclub

  17. Daydreamer mum Reply

    It’s constantly having to adapt isn’t it this parenting lark. My elder 3 are teenagers and really it’s only the last year or so I’ve found myself embracing the freedom that comes with that rather than just sitting about wondering why no one is ever home anymore!!. Congratulations that someone added your post to the #blogcrush linky as they loved it so much

  18. Tubbs Reply

    This is so true – it’s all a season and life keeps evolving and you evolve with it. Enjoy this last year

  19. Charlotte Stein Reply

    Such an honest post. I can totally relate to this as well, our role, dynamics and social scene changes over the years with different challenges each step. I hope you find a good social network out of preschool hours this year #coolmumclub

  20. The Queen of Collage Reply

    I didn’t realise there were so many different ways of educating our little ones. #coolmumclub

  21. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... Reply

    Our lives certainly change a lot too! I used the children’s centre and took lots of classes with my eldest so met other mums but we have drifted apart as the children are at school and we have gone back to work. #coolmumclub

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