“The hardest unpaid job you’ll ever do” says Kerry Surman – mother to Tye, seven, and Tré, nine months
“I’m not sure about the term ‘stay-at-home mum’. I’ve felt differently about it depending on my situation. I had my first baby at 19 and the relationship with his father didn’t last long. I was a single mum so money was tight but all I wanted was to be at home with my new little boy.
I remember feeling embarrassed telling people my situation; I felt like I had to justify how quickly I was going back to work. Seven years on, I feel differently… if people ask, I tell them I fortunate to be at home with the kids, as I’m in a settled relationship now.
I was a dinner-lady before my second baby came along, at a college. I loved it. I had lovely workmates and brilliant working hours for school runs etc. But although I really enjoyed my job, it was always the plan for me to look after Tré full time.
I love being a mum to my boys. It’s the hardest unpaid job you’ll ever do but totally worth it. Sometimes I miss adult stimulation at points in the day but that quickly passes – and I’m on to the next job.
I’m now at a stage where I’m content with my life and my role. I enjoy looking after my family. Sometimes I daydream about different work positions, but if I’m honest: home is where my heart is.
On an average day I get out of bed at 6am, my partner goes off to work, I get the baby up and give him a bottle. At 6.15am the seven-year-old is up. We go downstairs, turn the radio on, turn the TV on and I make tea.
It’s about just enjoying them – that’s what we have kids for, right? You want to know what makes them cross, happy, scared, excited…
At 6.45am I feed Tye eggs on toast, and the baby has porridge, then I tidy up, stick a clothes wash on, get the baby washed/dressed, make sure the seven-year-old is washed and dressed.
At 7.45am, I get myself ready, have a quick tidy-up, get the school things sorted and the baby will want a nap so I get the buggy out for the school run. At 9am I might do food shopping, walk around the park, or drive back to Kent to see my mum and nan who live a 45-minute drive away – they need help with shopping.
I get home, prepare dinner and clean the house. I might take Tré swimming then get the ironing and washing done. And then it’s the school run at 3.15pm. Back for homework, if there isn’t an after-school club, then my partner gets home and we have dinner at 5pm.
Joe baths the baby and I chill out on the sofa with Tye then at 7.30pm the kids go to bed. I make Joe’s lunchbox up for work, have a shower, get in my pjs and go to bed.
I’m proud of my job title. I know it’s not glamorous but I would rather be there for my kids than not – they grow up so quickly as it is, I don’t want to miss out on anything. But I think people are going to judge you no matter what you choose to do in life. The older I get, the more I let go.
My partner loves his job passionately but also loves being a dad just as passionately. I could never earn what he can – to look after us comfortably – so it makes sense to do it as we do. Weekends are precious to us.
I believe all kids love having their family around them; they like the security. So it’s about just enjoying them – that’s what we have kids for, right? You want to know what makes them cross, happy, scared, excited; to understand their reasoning.
And the things they come out with – like repeating your secrets in public. Or getting to watch them take the first steps or giggle for the first time… it’s all so precious; I wouldn’t want to miss that.”