I once quit a well-paid job in healthcare marketing to cycle 4,000 miles round the coast of Great Britain.
The decision to leave was simple. My boss was a bully and the company turned a blind eye to workplace bullying.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the role and the work load, I couldn’t condone working for a firm that didn’t value my mental health.
Life is too short to spend so many hours in a day doing a job that doesn’t add a sparkle to your eye.
I had my heart in my mouth as I handed over my resignation. The nerves of an uncertain future had begun to set in. But instead of feeling dread – I had never felt more alive.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that heart-in-mouth feeling.
I’ve been made redundant twice in my relatively short work life, and rather than feel angry and resentful, both times I was left feeling hugely optimistic and ambitious to find the next opportunity.
Bear with me.
When redundancy struck I was fresh out of university, finding which way to go with my career. Every job was a learning curve, giving me valuable work experience and an opportunity to find out what I did – and importantly – did not like in a company and job.
It felt great to be pushed out of my comfort zone, challenging and exciting.
I’ve always been ambitious and like to grab opportunities and bleed them for all they’re worth. I don’t like standing still, I like to challenge myself and do the best I can do in *ALL* that I do.
My career is a reflection of that.
Every time I’ve moved jobs, I’ve enjoyed and thrived in each new role. I’ve grown better at picking the right companies to work for, with roles that I could really get my teeth stuck into.
My career has been about working hard, enjoying the ride and pushing myself.
Wheeling back from that cycling trip 4,000 miles round the coast of Great Britain, I trained as a bike mechanic to give me some standing in the next chapter of my career as online editor for Total Women’s Cycling.
I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in such a short work life and I’m sad that it has come to an abrupt end.
First off, know that I CHOSE to be a stay at home mum (SAHM) and at times I thoroughly enjoy it.
Apart from two mornings a week where my eldest is at nursery, I look after both children and run the household full time.
Anyone who is, has been or lived with a SAHM will understand, it’s hard. It’s definitely the hardest job *I’ve* ever had.
I’ve thrown myself head first into the role of SAHM – like all my previous jobs – all while ignoring some niggling feelings of wanting more for myself. Is that selfish?
For the past 2.5 years I’ve been busying myself with life as a SAHM, I can safely say that ALL of my day is filled with looking after my kids, the house, the dog, the finances and the husband. I’ve slipped into the 1950s without realising it.
It’s been so easy to do and no one, but myself, has forced my hand.
My kids didn’t tell me to stay at home, they weren’t physically here when we made the decision. My husband has been fully supportive throughout our entire relationship and makes it his lifes mission to help me acheive anything I want to.
But, choosing to accept the role of SAHM has come with consequences for me and my family.
Too much time with our kids
I’m with them ALL the time, I know EVERYTHING about them and with few external inputs to share my attention, my focus is purely on them.
So much time with them leads me to analyse everything, which means I FIND things to do and worry about. This is neither healthy for my kids or me.
If I work I will undoubtedly still worry about them, that won’t go away, but I feel I’ll be able to put things into perspective.
My marriage is suffering
I’ve some how let myself slip into the role of a 1950s housewife and it’s makes me – at times – resentful of my husband.
Before the kids came along both my husband and I worked. Admittedly he has always earned the big bucks in comparison, but we’ve always been supportive of our respective careers. He also made it clear that I didn’t have to be a SAHM if I didn’t want to be.
I CHOSE IT.
Perhaps I didn’t think it through enough, perhaps I thought I had to prove something to myself that I could relish the role of SAHM.
Then there’s the fact that my Mum was a SAHM and I guess it’s what tradition in our family dictated.
I’m at a point now where although I love being a mother, I yearn for more.
In the two and a half short years that I’ve been home our marriage has become rather traditional. Through no fault of my husband, I’ve slipped into being what I think the best mum, the best wife, the best homemaker.
To clarify, my husband doesn’t expect me to do all the cleaning, cooking or weekly shops, I’ve taken that upon myself. I’m at home surrounded by it all day, so why shouldn’t I do it! It’s as if I’ve gone on automatic pilot and stumbled into the life my parents had.
It may have worked for them, but it doesn’t for me and it’s left me feeling angry.
This anger and resentment, brought on myself has impacted our relationship. I’ve turned into the nagging, emotional wife and it’s awful. Awful for me and downright horrific for my husband.
It’s hard to look in the mirror and not like what’s staring back.
My confidence and ambition has dwindled
I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with my kids to date, they’re turning into confident, happy little sprogs. I’ve not regretted the decision to become a mum, I just feel I have underestimated my capabilities in making the move to become a SAHM.
The constant focus on my kids and family leave me lulled into a sense that I’m accomplishing enough, because essentially I am.
It fills every hour of every day. I cook, craft, play, read and laugh with my kids, all the things that parents the world over do with their kids.
But what about my personal ambitions? The dream to set up my own company?
If it takes ALL my day to look after two kids, how can I juggle a start-up business as well?
And then what happens when my children get older? When my kids no longer need me? Will I regret not keeping a toe in the water, will I then resent my decisions?
When I was juggling jobs with multiple hobbies, side projects and a busy social life I never stopped to think I wasn’t capable of things. I feel I’ve lowered what I’m capable of and let the role of SAHM seep into every crevice of my being.
I’ve almost built walls around my capabilities. Yes it is hard juggling work with kids. It’s hard, but not impossible. It requires some creative thinking.
I’ve bullied myself into thinking that I should be happy with my lot, be happy that we’re able to afford the luxury of being a SAHM. But surely I should be confident enough to admit that I want more.
I’m slowly starting to see that the SAHM part of me being a Mum has been a step in my career. A break from the ‘traditional’ career trajectory, but it’s given me clarity.
The emotional rollercoaster of becoming a parent has made me realise what’s important in my life.
I may have made the decision to become a SAHM and it was right at that point in my life, it’s just now I feel I’ve outgrown my house – not my kids – and want to spread my wings.
I’m eternally grateful for the time I’ve had with my kids, but I want to have that twinkle back in my eye, a passion outside my children to share with them.
At times it is going to be hard, the balancing act will take imagination to be a success but I feel parenting my children and my career should not be mutually exclusive.
My future roles will be different from what has gone before in my career, but that doesn’t mean I will be unhappier for it. I won’t be able to put in as many physical hours, but I want to find the time and space for it.
Only now – if after realising all of the above – do I decide not to take action would I suffer regret. I don’t want any regrets, life is too short.
I need to re-energise myself, adjust my daily priorities and find a way to make things work.