It is still there, hidden behind various coffee shop loyalty cards, slightly battered and dog-eared. It’s a little reminder of who I used to be, what I used to do, my previous job before I became a stay-at-home mummy (SAHM).
Why is my old business card so important? Why haven’t I re-homed it in the bin? The truth is, I like to be reminded of who I used to be, of what I used to do. And on days when things aren’t going so well with my 19-month-old twins and I’m still in my PJs when I would have been in a meeting, it reminds me that one day I will again wear heels in the daytime and clothes that don’t have a vague whiff of sick, or Weetabix stains.
Before the twins, I had a great job – one I had worked hard to achieve. It was my dream job, to be honest. With my crisp, ironed, Massimo Dutti shirts and my stylish yet comfy LK Bennett shoes, I would whizz through agendas in meetings, meet tricky and challenging associates and solve problems. I even had the opportunity to bring about change.
So why leave my dream job? Well, I’d heard about an even better one. A job where all the skills I had acquired could be utilised. Where I wouldn’t have to straighten my hair every day, and could dress down to go to the office.
I’d been promoted to the SAHM department. Meetings have been replaced by play dates with other mummies. Skype interviews have been swapped for FaceTime chats at nap time with friends who have children the same age.
Performance management reviews have been exchanged for milestone achievements and immunisation records. Life has changed. There is no clear job description – in fact, most days my role varies between attempting to be a Michelin star/Annabel Karmel chef; head of tidying up; director of dirty nappies; PA to the twins regarding all social events including weekly playgroup and birthday parties; fully qualified nurse to administer child-friendly painkillers and sticky plasters; hairdresser (for brushing only – I’ve not been brave enough to get the scissors out yet); executive producer of iMovies; editor of all photos taken; singer and songwriter (Taylor Swift, watch your back); and personal shopper making all the decisions on this season’s wardrobe. The list goes on...
With no training, no trial period and no mentor for this job, it really is a case of learning as you go. It is at times more hectic and yet it can be more relaxed than my previous role. I guess it’s just different. It is certainly tiring, and it is a world away from my old life. When you are an SAHM your mummy friends become a lifeline. They pick you up when you’re down, have suggestions when your little one is sick, they send alerts when nappies are on special offer at the supermarket, and recommend the best play dough recipes. They keep you sane. They make you laugh. And who else can you share your sick stories with? Who else will listen when you describe the contents of a nappy? They are work friends, in a different guise.
Every day is different, rewarding, and tough. Every day you learn something new about yourself and your children, but every day you wonder – unlike when you were at a desk in an office job – if you’ll be able to drink a cup of tea while it’s still hot.
Read "An open letter to all stay-at-home mums"
My new weekly schedule
It has been asked on more than a few occasions; “What do you do all day with your kids now you’re not working?” It is true that I am no longer paid to work, but I still have an important job to do. This is my new weekly routine.
Sunday: In the morning a group of mummies (mainly of twins) meet at a friend’s house. We sing, read stories and then let the kids play while we eat cake. Lots of it.
Monday: This is an indoor adventure day. Maybe we’ll head off to the aquarium and underwater zoo at The Dubai Mall. On our list we also have Children’s City, The Butterfly Garden, The Lost Chambers at Atlantis, the tram to Marina Mall and if there’s a grandparent’s birthday coming up then it’s off to Café Céramique (they can never have enough hand-print mugs). Next time maybe we’ll try Jam Jar for some canvas fun.
Tuesday: We head to one of our favourites – Jebel Ali Playgroup run by the church from 9.30-11.30am. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and a good way to meet mums and dads, have a cup of tea and a biscuit while the kids play with all the toys. There’s always a story and songs at the end, as well as a craft activity.
Wednesday: This is a special day as we head over to Emirates Golf Course for the Fellowship of the Emirates church group playgroup – by far the biggest indoor space I have seen with lots of room to run around, play with toys and tire out the twins. Tea and coffee are great but the cheesy croissants are my favourite. Then a small group of us head over to the club house to feed the kids lunch. This is my Jumeirah Jane #onlyinDubai moment.
Thursday: Usually a soft play morning. Firm favourites for us include Extreme Fun at Motorcity, Caboodle at City Walk, Cheeky Monkeys and Creche Out in Wafi Mall.