When you become a mother your whole world changes in the blink of an eye. You survive childbirth and the aftermath of your body taking a beating to then, muster the courage and strength to take care of the most precious thing in the world, on little to no sleep. Throw in the fact that you have no idea what you’re doing most of the time, or even what day it is, those first few months are amazing but, hard work.

For the majority of us, maternity leave comes to an end and we are able to find some version of independence through work. At first, you hate being away from your child and your anxiety levels reach an all time high. But after a few weeks, you secretly look forward to work.  Investing in some work attire, it’s the perfect excuse to do your hair or wear make-up. Have a conversation with a person who can talk back, drink a cup of tea in its entirety. The ability to use the bathroom without your mini-me!  But for some mums, parenting is their full time job.

Now, I’ll be honest. Pre-parenthood, I’ve definitely made comments to friends and family, along the lines of, “she’s at home all day” (makes me cringe just typing it) and I’m certain that I wasn’t the only one, nor will I be the last to display my ignorance. I simply had no idea about parenthood or how isolating and challenging it really is.

I’m sorry and I cannot begin to express my respect for stay at home Mums.

With the current Covid 19 forcing countries around the world to grind to an abrupt halt, millions of us are now full time, stay at home parents. Some of us are also expected to work from home, as well as look after children?! So whilst I scroll through social media reading memes about being off work, I sigh loudly and deeply, as another indoor 12 hour shift with a 15 month old toddler begins.

I’ve only been a stay at home mum for one week and I’m all over the place! Don’t get me wrong, I love George and I am really enjoying spending this time with him. They grow so fast and despite the horrendousness of the situation, this has provided me with intimate moments that I will never get back and will hold onto for life.

But, I can feel my sanity and patience slowly crumbling, as I experience my 30 th melt down from my son, for something as simple as moving a book. If I don’t get up 20 minutes before George in the morning I would be spending all day in pajamas. You literally don’t get a minute until they have a nap. When I was maternity leave it was epic, because George was just starting to walk so I didn’t really have to worry or watch him too much.

Now he is into everything. I follow him around like a paranoid, annoying stalker to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or stick the wrong this in his mouth. I am in the process of forcing myself not to intervene every time, which is stressful but, necessary as he needs to explore independently. At times I find myself thinking, “imagine doing this every day?” and I don’t know if I could.

It’s not about ‘I don’t love my son,” it’s more about accepting the loss of freedom or personal time that comes hand in hand with staying at home. The lack of interaction with peers, the constant worry of your child hurting themselves, or the pressure of multi-tasking a child and running a household – that’s what I don’t think I could manage.

I admire stay at home mums, whether it be through choice or circumstance.

On a weekend, I am 100 percent invested in spending quality time with my child and partner and I love it, because I know that come Monday, George will be in nursery. So I am totally okay with neglecting my household duties, ignoring work emails and just focus on being a “present” parent. But could I do that for the foreseeable future? Am I a bad mother for looking forward to when I can go back to work?

Stay at home mums, I salute you. The tenacity, patience and resilience you have. I will never again judge you or make comments that are detrimental or insulting to the challenging job you have. When I see you at the supermarket, looking exhausted and I’m on a lunch break from work, I will make a point of smiling and try to exchange words of positivity.

Being forced to stay at home is a blessing, and has really prompted me to reflect on how lucky and grateful I am to live the life I lead. Parenthood has unlocked a sensitivity and respect for women and other parents that I couldn’t previously access, until I had shared experiences that words simply cannot express. We are too quick to judge others, and speak without thinking about the consequence ours words can have on others.

We can only aim to be kinder to each other.