Why we need to feel guilty in order to feel happy

I don’t cook, I don’t iron, I don’t clean, I don’t wash, I don’t scrub, I don’t sew, I don’t change sheets, I don’t do washing up, I don’t babysit. And that’s because I am on maternity leave. I look after my baby and I feel extremely guilty about it.

When I had my first child I had no idea what maternity leave really meant. I didn’t know that I couldn’t get any sleep after a sleepless night, because there was no one else to look after my baby. I didn’t know that after I’d spent an hour cooking the most organically delicious made-from-the-scratch meal, it would end up on the floor and my child would be wailing from hunger. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to look at my iPhone(I admit) whilst walking and pushing a stroller with a baby inside on the street  because I would be intimidated by disapproving looks; I didn’t know I would never again have a cheeky relaxed boozy lunch with a friend on a Friday. I didn’t know that for hours I’d need to pretend I was half of my size and sit at a child’s table and sip an empty tiny cup of tea! that I would need to clean, wash, tidy, sweep, scrub (and whatever other verbs there are) not just my baby but the whole two floors of our flat. The added challenge was to be as quiet as not to wake up a strugglingly fallen asleep child, and to do it during the precious 2 hours I got to myself when the baby was asleep.

I wish I had read Esther Walker‘s Bad Mother, or Why Stay-At-Home Moms Should Earn A $115,000 Salary so that I’d felt more confident saying no to the things that left me exhausted, tired and with a feeling of never wanting to have a baby again.

It took years to figure out that I actually earned a lot as a stay at home mum. And a lot more than what I got paid at my job.

I added the cost of ironing,  washing and tiding, cooking and babysitting and decided to “slash” some of the costs and outsource the other duties. As no one actually paid me £100K a year it was rather easy to do.

I hired an au pair who cooked for the baby and us, I hired a cleaner to scrub our very precious wooden floors, I took sheets and shirts to a laundrette, I signed up for Monkey Music Classes and a local singing group (they do the same but the difference in price is £130).  And I still “virtually” earned for looking after my baby, reading and playing with her, picking up my other child from school, helping her with homework and taking them to bed. But the difference is that now I can enjoy it all.

The only disadvantage is the constant feeling of guilt! But I hear that comes with motherhood.