House bound


The last two weeks were possibly my two hardest as a parent so far.

Ashton and I came down with a cold in the first week of March. We’d all gone out to a friend’s house for a BBQ and I had planned on putting him in his pram for a sleep, but for some reason he refused to go down. Four hours later, after we were home and he’d finally fallen asleep in his cot, he woke up with a croaky throat and a snot-streaming nose. Oh crap.

Within a couple of days I had come down with the same sickness. I cancelled all my coffee dates, made sure we had enough food in the cupboards and told my fitness instructor I would be missing a few sessions of Boot camp.

I hankered down for the winter - or for the week, at least.

To be honest, I was kind of looking forward to it! I know all the full time workers out there probably wonder what on earth could possibly make a stay-at-home parent busy, but it’s pretty easy.

All you need to do is picture is a child who needs 24/7 monitoring, naps and tender loving care, and then picture a week around them that involves a baby development class, a couple of mum coffee dates for my sanity’s sake and a couple of work-out sessions (to balance out all the coffee dates). Then there’s the shopping, my blog writing and the little bit of website work I’m doing for my.  dad. Oh yeah, housework. That happens every so often too.

Instead, in the week that followed I looked after Ashton, napped when he napped, blogged and watched Netflix. I didn’t do much else.

I started to think about a time when staying at home was just what you did. In the 1950s you married a respectable man and his house and that was that. You were a kept woman.

It didn’t seem too bad really. In a different circumstance I could totally be a lady of leisure, I thought. I’d have no problem swanning about the house, doing a little dusting and cleaning here and there. I’d bake cookies or brownies and get dinner sorted for the evening. I’d learn to paint, perhaps learn to sew. I’d do home yoga. It couldn’t be too hard to keep my baby engaged and happy too, right?

The week went by and although we were housebound, we were having fun. On a warmer day I filled up the baby bath with warm soapy water and placed it under the Jolly Jumper. Ashton loved it! Another day we pulled out pots and pans from the cupboard and banged on the tops of them with wooden spoons. His nose was dripping and he was a bit croaky but at least he was happy.

We should stay home more often, I thought.

Finally, on Saturday we were healthy again, but it was to be very short lived. On Monday night Ashton refused to eat any of his dinner and by 8pm he had a high temperature. Two (very watery) poo explosions later confirmed he had some kind of diarrhea tummy bug.

I cleared my schedule again. It was going to be another week indoors. There was no way I was going to pass this bug on to anyone else.

This week, however, it felt a little different. The sun had come out again and the mornings were crisp and clear and beautiful. Ashton was dark and cranky and upset.

He slept a lot, but only for twenty minutes at a time. I struggled to keep up with these tiny bursts of sleep. I couldn’t get anything done; my house looked like a bombsite and I had no motivation to clean it.

In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered to turn on my laptop to work, plus everything on Netflix was annoying me. I found myself flipping about uselessly on the couch, scrolling Instagram, wishing I had something else to occupy me.

I was in a prison; a nicely decorated, somewhat dusty, prison. By Wednesday I was sure I was going crazy. I hadn’t realized how much staying inside would affect my mental happiness.

THANK GOD that in today’s society, us mothers have an option. Sure, a lot of the time we are forced to get back to work before we are ready, true, but in the old days going back to work after children just wasn’t really an option. Leaving the house to socialize wasn’t really an option either. You were a mum – and not a lot else.

It was horrible to think that how I had lived for two weeks was how some women lived for a decade or two. Man, I’m glad to have the option.

I’m also glad for the opportunity of a new day. This week we start again.

The sun is shining, it’s warm outside again. I’ve squeezed in two workouts, a walk, a catch-up with friends, some decent work and two evenings at the beach. It’s only Tuesday!

Isn’t that the beauty of it, we approach each day as a day of new beginnings. With our health now back to 100%, I’ll be back to working from my laptop, sweating at my boot camp sessions, socialising, and of course - enjoying the company of my beautiful, smiley son - OUTSIDE.

Rachel Chen