Many article and blogs I’ve read talk about how being a stay home mum is not easy at all. Over tea and other meet up sessions with friends, the corporate workers and the SAHMs sometimes compare with each other regarding which job is harder. The common topics brought up are no time for baths, no time for toilet breaks, no time to eat, no time to drink, no sleep, no me-time, etc.
One thing that I’ve yet to encounter reading is the physical deterioration of the stay home mother. So I’ve decided to contribute this to the cloud.
Ever since I started being a stay-at-home-mum (SAHM), the first deterioration that began was not bladder damage but the soles of my feet.
The skin became hide.
The smoothness became like the jagged edges of cliffs.
And oh… that splitting flesh!!! Yes. You read it right. My flesh around the toes began to split and they hurt like hell. I walked around with toes wrapped in bandages and often tip-heeling (as opposed to tip-toeing).
And then came the spine. My lower back started to hurt at first. Then I started feeling tingling sensations in my legs over weeks until one day, I felt a diminished control over my legs. It frightened me so I laid down as much as possible that day. But it didn’t make any difference. The next day, I did some stretching exercises for the lower back. Fortunately, the situation reversed. Within 2 days of the exercise, I was back to normal. Phew!
My hands did not turn out as bad as my feet but it wasn’t too good either. My flesh parted from the nails (just 1 finger of each hand) and cuticles were painful from drying out due to washing stuff (and bathing kids) all day.
The most recent dreadfulness that came upon me is itching legs…
ENTIRE. ITCHING. LEGS.
I have no idea what the cause really is but I suspect it is due to over-drying from bathing my kids. On avg, my legs get bathed 4 times a day (more if I mop the floor and such). Twice for baby. Once for preschooler and the last for myself.
Another possibility is being over-bitten by bugs . Was bitten all over my sand-flies at first. Then as those bites healed, I had another round from mosquito bites. Been cycling my kid to and from school almost everyday (instead of sitting in air-con meeting rooms) and probably the exercise + sweat sweetened the meal for these bugs.
It’s been more than 2 weeks and I’ve not found a way to get rid of the itch (just got a new mosquito bite last night). I now have some “50 cents”, “20 cents” and “10 cents” marks on my legs from over-scratching.
I’m pretty sure there are other sorts of deterioration for different people, depending on one’s fitness level.
Maybe for some SAHMs, they do not really get these because they have an extensive beauty regime (done with kids clambering around), have others to help out with the house and kids, or are just very fit to begin with and manage to maintain that fitness level (with kids in tow).
There you have it.
Besides knowing that being a SAHM may actually mean more work and challenges than other city-life jobs, now you know it also takes a toll on your physical body as well. Do you still want to be one?
Do share your own experiences… especially if you had itching legs before and found a way to recover.
I’ve been a parent for a little over 4 years… not much hands-on experience… but I’ve been observing parenting styles and their outcomes since I started having long-term memory.
I’ve adopted the “love them fiercely, play with them and be the parent” style. (Sorry, I have not yet come up with a cooler phrase). This was recently affirmed as an effective style when I met an old friend with teenage kids – gentle, loving, kind, good-spirited, God-fearing kids. For her, she said “Never pass your authority as a parent to another person” and “give them LOTS and LOTS of love”.
What I mean to “love them fiercely” is to tell them daily that I love them, give lots of hugs and kisses, give my time, my listening ear (and heart) and if we could afford it, a gift here and there once in a while.
When I say I “play with them’… it’s just that… play with them. Play doll together; play pretend together; play catch together; play hide and seek together; play wrestling, etc. Through playing with them, many things will happen, including undesirable behaviours. I will then correct them on the spot. Even when nothing negative seems to be happening, lots of positive things are happening. For example, I demonstrate how to be gentle and safe even when apparently playing rough (e.g. wrestling or sword fighting). I use my Ps and Qs. Etcetera.
“Be the parent” means that even though I seemed to have gone bonkus, I am still the adult with responsibilities and the parental authority over their lives. When it is time to bathe, they have to bathe. When it is time to eat, they have to eat. When it is time to sleep, they sleep. When they are ill-mannered, they have to be corrected.
My eldest has been mingling with older kids here and there (she is usually the youngest no matter where we go because we had our children late in life). Kids who were parented with theories found in parenting books usually bullied her, were mean-spirited, and did not exhibit behaviour that I would like her to imitate. These kids usually could read at an early age and seemed to have “discipline” such as keeping still to feed themselves or colour or write. For older ones who were in school, they seemed to be academically “up there”. They have become book-smart but lacked age-appropriate maturity and love.
Whereas kids of parents who let them PLAY and PLAY and PLAY all day through their preschool days (and even into primary school) were, while rowdier, nicer, kinder, gentler and friendlier to younger children like my daughter. Of course, kids being kids, there will be moments when they get rough and dangerous. But I did not have to be put on the spot because for this group – their parents were always present to catch teaching moments. And such parents are more often not, very others-centred and disciplined their kids a lot stricter to be nice to others and to share. I did not have to discipline their children for them or feel the need to protect/defend my own.
Before you think that these kids are out of control and ill-disciplined… be informed that their parents set physical, emotional and behavioral boundaries – all age-appropriate. And when caught outside these boundaries, the kids are immediately disciplined according their their age and personality.
In other words, these parents are building character over academic achievements. They contextualise and treat each child uniquely, yet fairly. They teach them to put others above themselves. This is the group of parents I belong to. With character, academic achievements can follow (with humility). But with academic achievements, character seldom follows (pride tends to set in instead).
It’s so true that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1)
But I must admit that the parenting style I adopt is getting harder and harder to do as I notice more and more self-centred parents teaching their kids to be self-centred. Around such people, I have trouble teaching my kids to be others-centred because they are only going to be bullied (both by the other parent and child) and keep losing out and she will keeping commenting that it is unfair. In such situations, I normally have to think on the fly on how to handle each unique situation such that my child is not unfairly treated yet the other party is still respected. When in doubt, I walk away with my child.
Fortunately, such kids also usually have absent parents. I usually take the opportunity to teach that child to be kind and gentle.
There are schools of thoughts which think that the child should be left alone to struggle through experiences. Too much parental intervention would cause the child to be over-reliant on adults and not develop self defenses. I also believe that – but I believe in applying age-appropriateness for everything. A pre-schooler is too vulnerable and malleable to allow natural forces to take over. She needs to feel love and security amidst life’s challenges.
Sometimes, recently when my child is older, I watch her hurt herself or get bullied… but I just watch to see her reactions and not intervene. If she can manage, I let her work it through with her playmates. That’s when she tests out the values and skills that she already has and reaps the consequences accordingly.
Everyday, I pray for wisdom as a parent – to do what suits my family and child.