|It’s not that bad…or is it?!
What does it take to be a stay-at-home parent?
If you met me four years ago, you’d think I was the last person cut out to be a mother. And you would be right. I was ambitious, competitive and focused on my career. Things changed for me when I moved with my husband to Dubai and decided to take a break from the corporate frenzy. I had worked for seven years and I thought I deserved it! Even when I was expecting, I didn’t think I would be a stay-at-home mom/SAHM for more than a year. Now, almost two years later, I have no plans of going back to work full time. People who know me from before this find it hard to believe, and I really don’t blame them!
It’s hard to explain, but becoming a mother than been a very spiritual experience for me. I looked at my baby boy and I just forgot about the rest of the world. I wanted to be with him every second, even afraid to blink! I would gaze at him even when he was sleeping. My decision was made.
Now, talking about this subject is like walking on eggshells. You’re at risk of offending either stay-at-home or working moms with every statement! So, let me say at the outset that I admire moms who decide to work outside home. They have the best of both worlds, but they would agree that this doesn’t come without making some sacrifices. The same stands true for SAHMs who give up their careers for their children.
I guess this post, which I’m honoured to be writing for The Baby Mama Blog, is for working mothers who often stop to question whether they should just switch to the other side. Or those who simply wonder how a SAHM keeps her head sane. Or the mom who works part-time and is on the fence about her future career path. And even the SAHM who wonders if others in her situation feel like she does. I’ll try to encapsulate what you’re in for as a parent who stays at home full time.
What to expect:
Unlimited memories – You’ll remember every new development and every new word because you’re there with your kids all the time. Of course, there will be moments that will make you want to pull your hair out, but getting ‘quality time’ to spend with your kids at any moment is priceless!
Freedom – To an extent, you are free from watertight routines because you can decide to the laundry later or take the kids to the park when you feel like it.
Financial constraints – Of course, you can’t spend on everything you fancy because you’ll be on a single income. Unless you’re married to Mark Zuckerberg, you will have to make some choices. It’s not that bad though, because you actually have to spend less on commuting, clothes, accessories and make-up when you don’t have to go to work every morning.
Sleep – Yes, I do get to sleep in sometimes, but only when my toddler decides to do the same! Overall, you’ll probably get more sleep than working moms who have to be out the door at a fixed time.
Boredom – You’ll get bored sometimes because you haven’t had an adult conversation all day, but that feeling will quickly wear off when you see your to-do list!
What NOT to expect:
Busy social calendar – There are lots of SAHMs who do have busy social calendars but they cannot get it without some house help. But mostly, the only socializing you will have time for are neighbours and playground chats. Which is not necessarily a bad thing!
Appreciation and understanding – Don’t expect others to understand your decision or appreciate the hard work you do. Many will think you’re not intelligent or educated enough to join the workforce, or that you spend your time getting French manicures!
A break – You can get so caught up in chores that you end up working seven days a week, over and over again. It is important to have a fixed time off at least once a week so you don’t head for a burnout.
Let me make a point – it’s not true that SAHMs are frustrated at some level. If you find something to do with whatever little time you can squeeze in, that feeling of fulfilment is not hard to find. It’s important to find a hobby or pursue an activity separate from your domestic life. And that is also the key to survival. Building an identity that goes beyond your domestic sphere. Taking the time and making the effort to do what you like, and giving yourself that well-deserved break.
So there you have it. It’s definitely no easy decision to be a stay-at-home parent. Many moms and even dads are giving up their lucrative careers to spend more time with their children. Of course, each of us has different challenges to face, and sometimes life makes those decisions for us. Whatever you do, be proud of yourself!
Tarana Khan (or just TK!) is mom to a toddler. She loves writing and has done her stints as a copywriter, reporter and content editor, before embracing parenthood full time. She blogs at Sand In My Toes, where you can drop by to read more of her parenting and other adventures! You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.