STAY AT HOME MOM VS WORKING MOM

As an adult mom with responsibilities and purpose, there is this big question we ask ourselves as soon as we are even thinking about starting a family. Do I stay at home and look after my kids or do I go back to work, get someone else to look after the kids, earn a living to look after myself and the kids and achieve my own personal fulfilment?

There is no one answer to this question and no right answer too. Regardless of what you choose to do, that decision is perhaps the best decision for you. Here is my personal experience and how I came about choosing the best option for me and my kids. Our personal situations and experiences does impact what we decide to do about going back to work or not.

I am a stay at home (I work from home, I have my own small business I do from home) mom. When the two older kids were very young, after my maternity leave (England is better than America for that) I was working full time, schooling full time and parenting full. I had a live in nanny, their dad worked in the London branch of his company so we always leave home together in the morning and come back together in the evening. The kids were between 0-2 and the live in nanny also helped with cleaning. I never allowed anyone else to cook for my husband and kids and I took the kids for swimming and their activities. This was going on ok until my husband changed job. We all want financial stability. If you are an immigrant you would understand the honesty. We always joke, that we did not leave our countries for the English weather. So when an offer that almost triples his wages came up, it was unwise not to take it. However, such lucrative job comes with lots of sacrifices and challenges. One of it being that he traveled a lot, so he is often not around. When the kids were younger, we always traveled with him sometimes but the older they got, the more we wanted to create stability. We can’t have the kids growing up with both parents not around.

I was raised by a single teen mom so basically her immediate family raised me. My mom went back to school and started her own successful business. We were comfortable but we never sat around the table to eat together – she would come home late at night when I was already sleeping, hell we even missed so many christmases together. Probable why I love Christmas with my kids so much. I could go on about the emotional and physical abuse I endured as a child from closest family members who were more than happy to bully me because they knew my mom wasn’t around to hold them accountable and my dad was never around anyway. Although I am healed from it, but I never forget about it. This really affected my choice in raising my kids.

Call me traditional, but my philosophy is that at least one parent has to be at home to look after the kids. I cannot stress how important this is. Money is not everything. You will not allow anyone to look after your most expensive assets. why allow strangers or even family members to look after your priceless kids? I say even families because, I worked in social service for over six years and from professional experience, 90% of the abuse to children, comes from people closest to them. We warn them about stranger danger, the most dangerous people to kids are their primary carers.

My husband being a typical African man, even though he is British, took the job hoping I would automatically love to stay at home. Anyone close to me, knows how much I love kids. I literally love them so much and mine are not exception. I love being with them. I don’t love the work part though, the cleaning etc. When you are a working mom, you are still a full time mom but someone else do the hard physical part. But when you are a stay at home mom, you do EVERYTHING and that is exhausting and tiring, the aches and chills. I can’t remember the last time I don’t take 200mg of pain medicine at night. Unlike how I may come across, I am also very career oriented too. To be honest, not necessarily career, but I am financially minded. I have been hustling, selling things since I was a kid.So yes I am maternal but I am also a firm believer in personal financial freedom regardless of how blissful your marriage or relationship is. Have your own personal bank account and keep putting small amount into it. Me allowing my husband to go work in this new company without opposition wasn’t because I was a submissive or gullible wife, it was a calculated decision. One I did with the happiness and comfort of my kids in mind.

Remember that at least one of the parents always has to be with the kids. How I chose who that would be was a simple calculation. Who earned the most? Unfortunately a lot of men still earn more than their wives. This means a lot of women HAS to be the ones to make the decisions to stay at home. I would love to be the one working but his wages was more than enough to cover all our expenses. If on just mine, yes we might have gotten by but it won’t be enough for holidays or anything else. That was how I allowed him without complaint.

You have to be pragmatic about these things. Yes we live in a more sophisticated world were women rule, girl power, feminism and all that, but this is your family we are talking about and you have to make the best decision ( not political decision) for your family.

Despite choosing to stay at home to look after your own kids yourself, you can still make some income. The truth is that it may not be self fulfilling or financially rewarding as if you were 100% committed to working outside the house. But it is something. My only consolation is when I see the kids striving. I am not talking necessarily about education alone but in terms of the values you wanted them to have. The bible says “raise up your children in the way they SHOULD go”… Your children, the mandate was to you the parent(s), no one can truly want the best for your kids as much as you do. There is also a way you might want them to grow. What value do you want them to have. No amount of detailed written down routine for the carer can instill that into them. Sooner or later the kids will say, you are not my parents why are you asking me to do this or do that. Which is true. We tend to listen to our parents more than our carers.

One thing I also remind myself when I feel like I made the wrong choice is that these years, are investments. They will not be kids forever and by Gods grace, once you get it right with them, you will never have to pay for therapy for them to undo years of abuse they may have suffered. Don’t get me wrong, kids who were raised by at least one of their parents are also messed up ( we are all messed up one way or another), there is just a good messed up and a not so good messed up.

I cannot over emphasis how important it is for you to look after your kids. I know some of us may not have the choice to make, especially if you are already a single parent or you honestly just don’t have it in you. I respect people who know themselves and are true to themselves. You have to do what you have to do. If this is your case, by all means do not feel bad about having to make the decision to go outside and work and have someone else look after the kids. Have that conversation with them, kids are not stupid, they will probably not like it but they hear you. I cannot attend this and that because it is only mommy that has to work so we can have food to eat, house to live and clothes to wear. Even be able to buy you that toy you wanted.

I tell my kids this when I have deadlines and yet they want me to do something (despite working from home, we also get guilt tripped so don’t worry). I also want you to know that by reading this, asking yourself the question of what is better for my kids, you are already an amazing parent. You won’t bother if you didn’t care. You want what’s best for them and sometimes that is good enough.

If you are 50/50 about it, you should know that there is also the option of taking temporary or lesser roles. You may not have as much money as you would have, but at least you will be able to spend more time with the kids. I have seen moms changing careers to become teachers or nurses so they can have that flexibility.

Lastly, that “life – career balance” is a myth. You can not joggle those two things successfully. One has to give. I hate seeing women on newspapers and social media, “mom of three running a Fortune 500 company, or when they say “she combines motherhood and running a successful business etc” Yes the fact is that she birthed three kids but the silent message that she’s a hands on full time mom and still able to run her business is all BS. The truth they don’t tell you is the amount of help, nanny(ies) they have, their mom and sister who regularly take the kids for piano lessons and swimming. Forget the one they had to pose for the camera for, their husbands who is fully involved. Their possible cook and cleaner.

They come back from work tired but the nanny is there to give the kids their bath. But the few days they do it they capture it for the camera on social media so that they can prove they do it all and are involved. If you truly do it all by yourself then you will know that the reality is that you don’t even have the time to get a camera to take a photo when you are busy giving them a bath, helping the older ones with homework, making dinner, reminding them to brush and floss oh let’s not forget you. You have to take off your makeup and drink your water and moisturize. It never ends. These are all staged photos. I am a blogger and and instagramer and that is the truth. When you are in the moment of motherhood, you don’t have time for photos.

When the world found out that Beyonce had three nannies for just the twins, there was a lot of gossiping. I loved her honesty. How do you think Kate Middleton in the royal palace does it? They don’t tell you the amount of servants they have and when people who are honest do, they crucify them. I think it is important that people know the truth. That because you do not have time to go to the gym and loose that baby weight doesn’t mean you are lazy, that because you didn’t get that promotion doest mean you didn’t put in the hours (what hours when you got kids). No one can have it all. Do not set yourself up to fail. Know your own situation and work with what you got. Putting the children first, choose what’s best for your family.

On The 10th Day of Christmas

Me and my daughters all ready to go see and smell some fresh Christmas trees while my son takes the photo

On the 10th day of Christmas we went shopping for Christmas tree. If you follow us on social media and watch our stories you would know that we already have a tree and seeing that we live in a small New York City apartment, we don’t have the luxury of having several Christmas trees.

Our Christmas tree

So why go shopping for trees when you don’t need one you may wonder. It is simple really. It is all for the experience. Although I love the idea of taking the kids to the farm to cut a tree (sorry my eco warriors) but I don’t like the actual real trees. It’s weird and confusing I know. I like the idea but not the reality of actually owning one. For one I don’t like the short lifespan. They are high maintenance. I can only grow and nurture children right now and that’s about it. We really want a puppy but I can’t handle extra responsibilities right now and watering a tree every morning in addition to solo parenting isn’t really appealing to me right now.

Also, they shed on the floor and attract bugs. You get this beautiful tree, decorate it. Hang your baby’s first Christmas ornaments. Take baby’s first picture with a tree. That tree has now become part of your family. It is part of your stories and memories. I don’t want to chuck it away after we are done. I want to keep it. I know I may or may not have attachment issues but I love sentimental things especially when it comes to the family. I got our last tree in London when I was single living in Manchester. It followed me all over the UK. I had my first Christmas as a married woman with my husband with the tree. My first born saw it and so was the second child. I know I don’t have a psychological attachment with the tree because when we had to relocate, I left it behind and moved on. Now we got another artificial one and we are creating new memories with it. Come to think of it, I think we should give her a name. Anyway moving on, so I wanted to give the kids the experience of a real tree. Just to see it and smell it. Feel it and we can go back to enjoy our faux tree.

Being that we live in the city with no farm and I don’t like to cause myself undue stress by traveling out of the city just to cut a tree, we made do of the ones that are sold on the curbside street markets. They promise to be freshly cut and I take their words for it. In fact we should thank them for doing all the hard work for us already.

After the experience we went for a walk saw and waved to a police officer riding on a horse. My kids love horses and police officers so it really made their day.

We then came back home to continue our tradition of watching a Christmas movie after homework and dinner. To add to that tradition, I have set up the google home mini to wake us up to Christmas songs every morning. And this morning was the first time and I must say it was beautiful. If you haven’t done this, try it. It sets the tone for the day and you find yourself walking around humming to jolly songs, smiling and looking happy. I particularly love the Beyoncé Christmas songs it played today. I’d forgotten that she did one. Was always used to the Mariah Carey’s one. I can’t wait for the 11th day of Christmas. I already know what this one will bring because it was a pre booked one but I’m hoping it brings many more adventure with it.

5 Tips for Sunny Hot Days In NYC

Are you visiting New York City this summer? if so you are in for a good time – you just have to learn to cope with the hot weather first especially if you are coming from a much more cooler region. Temperatures can go as far as 83 F and even more. Having originally come from a warm climate but later acclimatised to colder weather when we moved to Europe, I find the New York weather very hot, too hot in fact. perspiration is high and I am constantly looking for shades or indoors with cooling system. Hear are few tips on how we have being coping with the heat.

  1. Keep your cool. Quite literally you should try and stay cool. Fan, air condition, cold shower, pool. Open windows for fresh air to come in, go to public places with cooling systems. The shopping mall, go see a movie in the cinema (theatre) or read a book at the library. Drink lots of water. In extreme case put wet flannel/towels on forehead to cool temperature down.

playing in water fountains and sprinkles to stay cool

  1. Wear lighter clothing. This may look like a no brainer but some of us who love to stay modest and cover up (even in summer) may find it hard to wear lighter clothes. Bear in mind that there is difference between wearing lighter clothes and wearing revealing outfits. Sometimes the heat will supersede modesty! Linen material tends to be summer friendly. even if you want to cover up, try using net like material of soft silk like kimonos for example. For work suits, try blazers with little or no under lining.

  1. Use sun protections, including suncream – when you are going out. Top it up after few hours, sunglasses to protect your eyes and an umbrella for shade. Finally add a little style with a sun hat!

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How to cope with having a new baby after a long time in-between kids

I remember when we found out that we were expecting a baby boy just 9 months after our daughter was born. we were excited, we felt contented, grateful and a sense that our family was now complete. No need for another child we thought. I’m done I said. How was I wrong!

Fast forward four years later, our last born started primary school and I felt like ‘now I can focus on my career’. spend quality doing what I always wanted to do, then the yarning for a another child began. I suddenly became all broody again. I was getting older and I felt it was either now or never. I guess it was easier to say never initially because, firstly it wasn’t happening anyway, I mean I was able to get pregnant straight away after the first time but not this time. Secondly, my husband got reassign to a different country – continent, so we hardly saw one another and I am not Mary so no hope of an immaculate conception there! Lastly and most importantly, because the older two kids were so close in age, I struggled in those first two year. I had two under two, working full time, schooling full time. Saying it was difficult would be an understatement. So I was not going to give much thought to adding another baby. But as soon as they were both in full time education, I felt free and could think rationally. I’ve always loved and wanted a big family and if judging from my mom and grandma who gets to menopause early , it was now or never.

Its always nice to plan and do things with logic and analyse every decision however what we failed to realise is that while we were debating weather to have more children or not, time was going. our last born was nearly six years old. meaning it was six years ago since I last had a baby. I had gotten ride of all our baby things, I have forgotten what it was like to be pregnant or have a little baby. I am now at a different stage of parenting.

Some people told me that it would comes back to me, that it was just like riding a bicycle, although that is somewhat true. maybe it isn’t so much as coming back to you but your mama instinct does immediately kick in. you begin to know and remember what to do. what you don’t know however is that each pregnancy is different, each baby is different so what you already know or read may not be applicable anymore.

The age gap has its disadvantages and its advantages. having a big gap between kids isn’t all bad. I have come to appreciate it and thought it was a situation that turned out to be favourable to us. the kids are older and wiser. I could explain things to them and they would understand it. like why mommy was always so tired when I was pregnant. why mommy keeps forgetting things and sending the wrong things to school or signing the wrong school trip letter. they know about mommy having baby brain. We could involve them in the family decisions like what would we hope the new baby would be, a girl or boy? how about names? and so on.

Being older also meant I didn’t have to buy and wrap gifts from baby which they would have figured out because they know a new born baby can’t go to the shops and buy them gifts. one major worry I had was coping with the demands of the older kids versus the demand of the newborn. with the older kids, I have to take them to school, attend PTA meetings, help them with school projects and homework unlike when I was last pregnant, where I didn’t have to do any of those, they were a year apart. after the birth of my second child, three of us stayed at home together, went out together, they are just one academic year apart which means most of everything relating to school was done at the same time.

My favourite part about having an age gap is that the older kids are now very helpful. I have told them time and again that I do not know how I would have coped this few months with a new baby, new apartment, new city and new continent without their help. from helping to change the baby’s diaper to holding her while I take a quick shower. they sing to her, talk to her, read to her. they can see when I’m over whelmed and either give me a back rob or offer to hold her while I close my eyes for 5 minutes – quite literarily.

Its not just the benefits to you, its what it does to them too. my first born daughter was not as excited about having another sibling as she did with this new baby. it was simply because she is older and more mature. not only that, it has led to wonderful conversations like exploring other means of having a family such as adoption and fostering a child because they saw all the pains I went through and instead of it to discourage them from having kids, we looked at other means of having a family. they are more caring, gentle, kinder, compassionate and considerate. they have learnt and matured so much over the last few months.

Personally, the benefit of spacing kids out weighs the negatives. Yes it would be nice to have them all at the same time and get it done with but that maybe too much for some of us. Spacing them out gives you a few moment to catch your breath while you dive in again. If you already have kids and you are thinking about having more kids but are worried about the age gap, don’t worry. so far your doctor has cleared you, go for it. it won’t be easy but having and raising humans isn’t easy anyway, but it would be fun! I always say ” don’t let fear stops you from your dreams”. Go for it!

How to cope with the age gap

  1. Make the most of the situation, see it as a blessing. Having the age gap means you have had a breather, you are wiser, more confident. the things that gave you anxiety as a new mom does not bother you anymore. who needs a changing stating?
  2. Your older kids are your helper. They do love helping and it is a good character building to allow them to help with the new baby. I try not to take advantages though, I watch them to see if they are tired, not in the mood to hold a baby, or if they simply rather play at that moment. They do not help much during week days because of homework and wind down time.
  3. Although you may have to start buying the baby thing all over again, I see it as a positive. I love shopping, both in person or online. New baby things come into the market all the time so it would be fun to see whats currently trending. You don’t actually need much things, except if you are going to have even more kids.
  4. Remember that your life does not stop once you have a new baby, especially for the older kids. do what you normally do with them, go out for family meals, do home work together. when the baby is crying and the older kids needs you, attend to the older kid first, that will show him that he is as important. that the baby has not come to take over or take their parents away.
  5. give yourself time to heal. regardless of how you had your baby, you are not as you were when you had your first baby, it may take longer to heal or for things to fall back to where they were. don’t rush it. give it time. do what you can, when you can and how you can.
  6. it maybe harder to make new ‘new mom friends’ but then you realise you don’t need one as much as you thought you did when you first had a baby several years ago. keep the old friends you have and be open to new friendship but remember you are not the expert, don’t tell them what to do simply because you have been there already. if you have an opinion, write a blog : )
  7. unless it is literarily a matter of life and death, nothing else is as important as your kids and family. put everything else aside for now. focus your energy and resources on them.
  8. have an outlet. blog, instagram, take photos of nature, write a book, something that is yours and it is for you.
  9. know that you will feel guilty. the older kids will tell you that you don’t love them, that all you care about is the baby. they don’t mean it, you may know that, they may come around and say sorry they didn’t mean it but you will still feel guilty. Communicate, explain to them why you need to attend to the baby more. babies are fragile and helpless. you did exactly the same for them when they were younger.
  10. Stock the house of everything you use and need. not just food, stock the house with light bulbs, memory cards, batteries, etc.
  11. Keep some money aside. you will find Uber eats and deliveroo to be your best friend. the age gap means different routine and schedule for kids so there will be very little time to be cooking from scratch. Eating out/takeaway/delivery cost a lot more than making your own food.

3 months old baby update

fullsizeoutput_1638fullsizeoutput_1636IMG_7726IMG_7727you know how they say how time flies when you are having fun? well that is true. I cannot believe that our little rainbow baby Sophia is three months old already. I must agree the sleepless nights, body aches , fever, leaking boobs, picking dinner out from your bra because you’ve been eating standing up with child strapped to your chest. no that part of being a new mom all over again is not fun. but what has been fun has been the smiles they give you with their toothless mouth.

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their first giggles when you make a funny face, you realising that they can actually now see you from across the room and follow you with their eyes. them crying and as soon as you pick them up and they stop then you realise they were calling out for you, that your smell, your touch comfort them. that your voice soothes them that they are yours and you are theirs. it is truly a wonderful  feeling of love.

three months have come and gone, in these three month we have learned on each other for support, whenever I feel like it is getting too much and im having a bad day, I look at her, she smiles at me and everything is right with the world again.

she loves to talk, babble I know but I call it talk, we chat together, I let her take turns, when she stops, that is my cue to talk, and she loves it, because she smiles. I try to read to her even though it feels weird because how can she properly understand what im reading to her. at first she only kept her gaze on the book for five seconds, now, she focuses a little longer. im not sure if its the sound but I do know she loves the pictures. she looks at the pictures, boy does she look a lot.

she would look at the trees, cars and buildings on our way to the park. she would look at her hands, at everything and anything, I catch her looking at me when im not looking, she’s examining my face looking at every angle every wrinkle. when im smilling she smiles. she gets jumpy at sudden loud sounds. she tries to grasp for human contacts when she sleeps facing up, I put her bunny rabbit close to her but she still want that human touch.

she is being weened from swaddling now, especially as the weather is getting warmer at nights. she can’t hold objects for long but she tries when I attempt to give her a toy. when I help her and put in into her grasp, she can only hold it for few seconds before letting it go.

she loves to put things in her mouth, she sticks her tongue out to feel things, including my body and clothes. she drools a lot for someone who isn’t teething, she makes bubbles with her saliva and I can bet she actually enjoys playing with the bubbles.

she has lots of wind, it was bad initially and I changed my diet a little bit. avoided food that gave me gas especially diary. she still gets gas but it is less painful. if I let her, she will scratch her face with her nails which tends to grow very quickly.

she had cradle cap (flakes in the hair from dry scalp) and she had dry skin (eczema) after seeing her pediatrics I asked if it was ok to use the British brand of moisturiser I used with the older kids on her and the doctor cleared it. since using it, it has been better (will write more about it in another post), but for now her skin is much better.

she doesn’t sleep through the night but it is much easier than before, I get a good six hours at a time if I go early. she goes down by 7am, wakes up for a feed by 1am, 3am and 7am. so if I go to bed early, I sleep more.

she co-sleeps with us in the bed and I find that easier for breastfeeding her in the middle of the nights when im tired and worn out.

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I tell her I love her only a hundred times a day. its true. I really love and like her. she has such a sweet personality, calm, easy to love.

because she breastfeed, her diaper change is now less frequent as supposed to before when it was up to six times a day. she goes two days sometimes without doing a poo.img_7322