Confessions of a Modern Stay At Home Mum
These days mums who choose to 'stay home' instead of seeking paid employment are often seen as an anomaly.
I've been asked the same question in various ways:
"When are you going back to work?"
"Do you want to work again?"
"Would you consider getting just a part time or casual job?"
And then there are the other comments, not usually meant as insults, but often implying enough anyway:
"I'd be too bored at home all day."
"My kid gets to do so much more at day care than he does at home."
"I put my kid in care so he could have enough social interaction."
"My kid loves day care so much, he'd be missing out if I kept him at home."
"I was never the stay-at-home sort of person."
It's not surprising. When I graduated high school, becoming a 'stay at home mum' or 'housewife' weren't on the list of viable careers for a girl's future. Hallelujah for the progress we've made to give women freedom and options. It's AMAZING that we have the right to work and have careers and vote etc etc - but with the right to work it seems that modern women have also had the right not to work taken away from them. It's pretty rare to find girls in high school who put 'mum' on their career aspiration list, which is crazy considering it's what a huge proportion of us end up doing. These days though, the pressure, desire and necessity to return to paid work is phenomenal for modern mothers. The number of us who choose to sacrifice returning to paid employment indefinitely is becoming smaller and smaller.
So here are some thoughts from a modern stay at home mum, to everyone who looks and can't quite understand what sort of creature I am.
- Yes I really do enjoy being at home with my kids.
- There are plenty of days when I don’t enjoy being at home though. The option to leave the constant, relentless demand of children would be bliss some days. Even the chance to be able to call in sick would be heavenly. Just because I choose to do it, doesn't mean I love it all the time. Just like paid work, there are good days and bad, and the reason you show up each day is what keeps you going. It's really not about my capacity for boredom (and plenty of paid jobs are painfully boring too).
- I don't judge mums who work. It's not a competition. I never got into parenting so that I could compare myself to others - we are just doing things our own way, not really taking notice of what others are doing. I wear jeans because I love them, but I don't expect everyone else to wear them - and parenting is no different. Just because I love something for myself doesn't mean I'm judging people who love something different.
- Being at home can be boring and lonely and difficult. It can also be chaotic, busy and full on.
- I miss paid work. I miss getting dressed in clothes that are stylish and not just practical. I miss the income. I miss using my intellectual brain. I miss people seeing value in what I do.
- But I wouldn't change this for anything. I'm not looking for work or considering a part time job just to make small talk easier for us both.
- I love spending the whole day with my family, witnessing every aspect of my child's growth and development. It's a miracle before my eyes. I wouldn't give that up freely.
- It is also a job for me, and it comes with plenty of nonstop work. I manage my household and I am constantly learning new skills to adapt to my demanding clients.
- I worry about my career and what I'll do when I'm not a stay at home mum anymore. But I'm also making plans. I'm studying short courses, I'm learning about new careers, I'm keeping up to date, I'm still networking through social media. These days, being at home does not mean giving up your career. In a way, being able to study and meet new people in my community has opened up my future more than simply going back to the same job would have. Welcome to the modern world.
- I'm not at home because we have so much money. We earn significantly less than two-income households, and we have a deliberate lifestyle to match it. That's our choice and it reflects our values.
- I'm not sorry that I can't say "I've been so busy" when you ask how I've been. I really have been busy, but not in the way that working parents are busy. I love my current level of busyness, because it's the right fit for us. That's one of the perks - I get to control our calendar, nobody else. And since we're already going against the grain with staying home, we do the same and choose to fill our days how we want to.
- Choosing to stay at home doesn't mean I don't have a brain or career options. I definitely have both, and that's one of the reasons I'm doing this. I'm confident of my future, and I don't need to go back to work now to ensure I have a job when I need it.
- I am a stay at home mum because I am committed to my values, to persevering even when I would love to quit or take a holiday, and to making the most of this time in my life. That's really what it comes down to - it's not about whether or not I like paid work or doing craft with toddlers.
There you have it. The modern stay at home mum. It's challenging, but it's wonderful and I'm not ashamed to enjoy it or choose it.