Hello, it’s been a while, where have I been? I have been hanging out with two, pretty cool kids.
When my son was six months old, I found out something that would ultimately shape the way I would parent for the rest of my life. I attended a seminar by a leading neuroscientist (Nathan Wallis, link at the bottom of the post) about the development of children, and as a result, I realised that even though I thought that getting back to work to earn money for our family was the most important thing to do for the success of our kids, science said it actually wasn’t. Being a stay-at-home Mum was a very unique position where I could directly affect Liams entire brain development, simply by staying home for the first 1000 days of his life. The first 1000 days is from conception to two and a half, or to stay at home for at least the first year.
“The number one intervention that is more associated with positive outcomes and high qualifications at 32, more than anything else we can measure, is having a parent stay at home,” Mr Mikaere-Wallis said.
Who knew that eye contact with a primary caregiver could affect so much?
So, immediately after this seminar I started saying no to job opportunities. It all seemed too much to do both; have a career and work from home and also be fully present with my children. Maybe in hindsight I could’ve maybe said yes to a few, but I went all in. No work until Liam was one.
During that time it was really nice to be able to choose kids with some scientific knowledge to back me. Without the pressure from society to have to ‘do it all.’
I told myself that I would have the same opportunities when he was a year old. I also knew from experience that working from home with a six month old baby adversely affects my mental health. My anxiety goes through the roof when adding deadlines to an unpredictable day.
How incredibly lucky I am to stay home for the first 18 months of Liam’s life.
I was on a roller coaster of emotional decisions because even though I knew that what I was trying to do the best thing for Liam, I still yearned to create. To get my one-year-of-savings DSLR out for a play with all my concentration. To immerse myself in the problem solving process of designing. To be by myself for a little while.
Not to mention that my business was still paying subscriptions and hosting fees. With no income, every month I watched my account bleed savings – causing many late night panics and research into residual income streams.
I tried to combat this when Liam was sleeping, time on the computer split between unpredictable naps. I worked on stock photography when I could, as a result the housework suffered. I ended up working in a house that a bomb had exploded in. I find mess very hard to work in because looking at tasks that I don’t have time to do causes feelings of failure and there’s no end to it, the mess is constant.
The house collects time you see, the time she played here, the time he played there, and me moving in slow motion, collecting the play, tidying it all up, only to find they’ve moved in fast forward to the next play. It all seemed so overwhelming, the unending details of it all. Even with a supportive husband, I felt like I couldn’t add deadlines to an unpredictable day.
Then I said, enough is enough. I needed to feel like I’d finished something.
If we lived near grandparents, or aunties or uncles, any of them would be a good substitute for Mum or Dad, according to the neuroscientist. The next best thing, for us, is finding a daycare that implements a key teacher system. Which is what we were lucky enough to find.
After all that agonising about doing the right thing… Covid-19 Lockdown was like heyyyyyy.
So I changed my entire mindset and started working on my YouTube instead, since you can kind of do that with kids.
After lockdown finished, with an uncertain life – I needed to be smart about money, catch 22, pay for daycare without earning an income or try and earn an income and then start daycare. Our daycare let us be flexible and start on one day a week as a casual, which was awesome in the middle of winter, as I wouldn’t have been able to afford sick days on top of that. Liams daycare, if you’re reading this, thank you.
With Liam in daycare I could comfortably meet deadlines. Soon enough I had enough work to warrant sending Liam for two, five hour days. I cut Ailia’s hours to match his so that we could enjoy the last six months of her being four, before the intensity of having to go to school every day.
Ailia likes to guess the words for Liam from the pictures.
The little slice of time I get now is just enough to make me feel like I have a little bit of myself back and not resent what I’ve given. I don’t want to have any more than that at the moment. I want to be the mum that picks up her kids from school and takes them to their sports games, yelling embarrassingly from the side. “Youuuuu can doo ittt!”
Unfortunately 10 hours is not a full-time wage. I want a life that is 70% MumLife 30% work. Hence my drive to figure out ways to earn money whilst sleeping.
Thank you for reading my story about where I have been the last year and a half. Liam is two now, we are on a pretty sweet schedule with a mix of play for both Mum and Kids. My work and my children are so intertwined. I might wake up with them during the night and rush them out the door in the morning to get my 10 hours, so I can cuddle them at 3 and appreciate them all the more.
I welcome the new season.