The WAHM conundrum

Allison Tait blog
Posted on March 23, 2012

As I write this, Mr5 is in the next room, talking to the television as he watches The Smurfs, snuggled under the slanket (it’s a family garment, you know…). His hair is sticking up straight, giving him that ‘cocky’ allure, his face is sleep rumpled and his soft, dark-blue dressing gown makes his eyes look like the ocean on a stormy day.

I could eat him.

And yet… His little voice breaks my concentration as I try to think of what to write. Papa Smurf’s high-pitched tones are like fingernails down a chalkboard. Mr5 calls out at regular intervals for drinks and snacks and cuddles. All of which I am happy to provide – while part of me thinks ‘deadline, deadline, deadline’.

He is sick. I am on deadline.

It’s just like the old days.

Just weeks ago, I was lamenting on Facebook how much I miss him. How his presence at home two or three days a week gave a rhythm to my week. Procrastination is not possible when time is limited. Now, with him at school and five days a week stretching before me, it’s all too easy to say ‘I’ll do that tomorrow.’

But I had forgotten about this. This feeling of anxiety and stress when you have two pulls on your time. Two demanding pulls. When your heart is torn between wanting to lie down on the sofa and be with your child, and wanting to do the best job that you can. So hard to ignore either when they’re both in the same room with you. Walking away from either is not an option.

Sometimes being a work at home mum makes you all too present.


  1. Robyn

    yes-can totally understand why the smurfs is putting you off…where is the chalkboard

  2. Cate Bolt

    The child always comes first. For me, at least. It hasn’t always been this way, quite the opposite, in fact. I guess it’s because I’ve seen so many five year olds slip away from me. One after the next – gone. This is my last chance at five. What if I miss something? The fact I made deadline won’t compensate. As with most of my comments, I realise it’s an overly simplistic view. You find time to do what you need to do.

  3. Alison P

    I can really relate to this. I have one home now for a month (week down, three weeks to go) for Easter holidays and the other at nursery two days a week. I’m used to having Thursdays and Fridays at least to do paid work and I hate having to say ‘Well, I’ve just got to finish this work and then I’ll be with you.’ We did some fun things (pier, ice cream, beach) but my mind kept flitting to my deadline. Then I took on another piece of work because I didn’t feel I could say no. I wish I could get my time more compartmentalised – I feel I’m shortchanging everyone all round sometimes.

  4. Yvette Vignando

    Hi Alison – this sounds like a lazy comment but I love how you write this stuff – beautiful – and too get this time warp thing going on when the routine changes, the beginnings and ends of holidays, sick kids, anything really. But you are amazing – you always get stuff down. Kudos to you.

  5. Penny

    Yep!! 4yo was in hospital last week. I’m quite used to setting up a mobile office there now. But could only do admin and catch up work there. Could never write because of all the beeping and Ben 10 cartoons.

  6. A-M

    I was only muttering about this, this morning. If it wasn’t for the ironing, washing, shopping, cleaning, mothering, nurturing, I’d have a smokin’ business. Time, time, time. Wouldn’t have it any other way though…. I know that feeling of needing to eat them. A-M xx

  7. Lipgloss Mumma

    Working and motherhood is tough full stop. Lucky we women have to do it, if it were up to the men of this world God knows where we would be 🙂

  8. Mrs Catch

    Yes, torn is right. Hope he’s better soon

  9. River

    I hope Mr5 is soon well enough to play without you needing to be there for him so much, then you can work towards that deadline.

  10. Lisa @ Home/Work/Mum

    Yes, yes and yes!! It can be so hard when they’re both calling, especially when one is offering warm cuddles on the couch. Hope he’s feeling better soon.

  11. Kelly Exeter

    Ohhh damn the deadline that doesn’t wait for a sick child. I would be wanting to cuddle with him too. I had the same dilemma a few weeks ago and ended up having to de-camp to my mum and dad’s for the day so dad could look after Mr 2. And I spent the whole day being resentful of the work that HAD to be done while dad got to play nursemaid and give all the cuddles that I should have been giving 🙁

  12. therhythmmethod

    Poor Mr5. School does that to a boy. We’re limping toward the school holidays. We’ll *just* get there.
    My youngest is at home with an ear infection today, which means no class for me. It’s quite nice being at home in our bed socks and trackies just cruising, having tea, making a cubby. I can imagine the strain of having a deadline on top of that. Good luck, you’ll get there. Both of you.

  13. Vicky

    My Mr 5 is ill as well. and now he’s at prep I miss him. Yesterday was so lovely to have a PJ day, just him and I like we used to….

  14. Rachel

    I know the feeling so well. If only we had several clones of ourselves to be in all places/purposes at once.

  15. Wendy H

    I can SO relate to this! Thanks for posting.

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