That’s how long it took me to fully embrace my role as a stay-home mum.
I stopped being the worst critic on myself, my choice & my lifestyle.
A fixed mindset since childhood played an enormous factor in my judgemental inner voice, together with my search of new identity in a world that does not value the contributions of a stay-home mum.
My own struggles of a stay-home mum were really about my self-worth. My own expectations, parents’ expectations, the world’s expectations…
Before we go further, all mothers, whether you are a working mum or stay home mum, both have their own set of challenges and rewards. No judgement on which choice a mum makes because either way, we are all on the journey of parenthood and giving the best we can to our children.
I’ve been a stay-home mum since my first born. I don’t represent ALL SAHMs but I can share my own experiences for the past 5 years as one.
Here are some sample quotes I’ve heard since I decided to be a stay-home mum:
“Huh, you’re a degree holder? Wasted.”
“Your husband is the sole bread winner. Aren’t you worried?”
“Tsk, it’s a career suicide. Don’t stay home for more than XXX years. If not, it’s near impossible to re-enter the work force.”
“How long are you planning to be a sahm?”
And the ultimate “So, what do you do all day?”
To be honest, I don’t blame anyone for such comments. Yet again, the insecurities are REAL. I spent the last few years afraid I can’t integrate back into the workforce, wondering whether I will become obsolete, whether I’d wasted by education, whether I’d made the right choice for my family financially…
So, for the longest time, I’ve been letting my own guilt eat me up from the inside.
Was I happy raising my kids? Yes.
Then I came across this quote that summed up my pivotal moment:
“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”
― Bill Watterson
The Rise Of the NEW Modern Day SAHM
I decided to be part of the revolution of the modern day stay-home mum. The one who gave up a career to stay home. The one who chose to stay home to contribute significantly in cultivating & educating her children. Most of these stay-home mums are well-educated. They read extensively on early childhood education, doing their utmost best to give their children a homeschool environment in the early years. They babywear, cook, clean, get their hands & knees deep in shit every.single.day.
I’m glad to be able to witness every single milestone, being there for both my baby’s firsts, wiping each tear off their faces, encourage them each time they fall, capturing their smiles at the end of the day.
The ‘work’ that modern day stay-home mums do at home is the sort of quiet sacrifice does not yield immediate satisfaction or results that the world expects.
FIND JOY AS A SAHM, A LETTER TO MYSELF & TO ALL SAHMs
Firstly, know that you are more than enough.
It’s easy to fall into a trap thinking you are failing as a mother. You see pictures of other mums doing intricate crafts, Montessori, RIE, Reggio, STEM, homeschool, baby sleeping through, reaching milestones & you wonder whether the problem is you.
You are more than enough.
You struggle to breastfeed, not to breastfeed, to put your precious one to sleep, survived sleepless nights, hear stories of other babies sleeping through yet yours is waking up every 2 hours, endure the mess of weaning your baby, whether to do BLW, not to do BLW (baby-led weaning).
And then the baby gets a fever & all parenting rules go out the window.
The tough times will pass.
Loving your child is the best thing you can do. A hug, a kiss, a song, a cuddle.
Enjoy your children.
The days are long but the years are short.
Make memories with them. Simple, joyful memories. Children do not need expensive holidays (though travelling with them is great if possible.) toys nor do they require constant stuff to keep them occupied.
A trip to the beach, the park, the zoo, reading with them and preparing a simple meal. Or even lying down together doing absolutely nothing on a weekday afternoon. No agenda, relishing that chill weekday afternoon because you are a SAHM and you absolutely deserve it!
Create beautiful memories for your children that will last a lifetime.
Distractions like household chores can wait.
You are a SAHM for the kids, not to do housework 24/7.
These are not important. And they are neverending anyway.
As C.S. Lewis said,”Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
Take Time For Yourself.
A mere 10 minutes is better than none. Of course, I’m not talking about taking an entire day for yourself because that requires help either financially or relationally which I understand some mums simply do not have enough of such help.
I’m talking about daily time outs that are necessary for mum-survival! LOL
It really depends on the individual. Some prefer to zone out, watch Netflix, take a walk or take a nap.
Mine’s chilling over coffee breaks & night time binge TV.
It’s never easy looking after one, two or four kids. I’ve yet to reach a stage where I hide in the pantry for some solitude.
Find out what works for you and your children. My boys love tea breaks. They’ll quieten down over snacks which gives me a few minutes of much needed down time.
Find Purpose In What You Do
Whether a Mum chooses to work, had to work or quit to stay home, embrace that choice!
This quote by Judith Warner sums it up:
“I found that when women were able to act in line with their natural inclinations and ambitions — whether to work or stay at home — they were generally happy, and generally felt that their children were happy too. Whereas those whose natural inclinations and ambitions had been thwarted — whether they were working or stay-at-home mums — were sure that they and their kids would be better off if they changed course, and either went to work or went home. The morality of the situation– whether they felt it was good or bad for their children— derived, not from some external sense of the morality of their “choices,” but from the amount of happiness generated by any given arrangement.”
― Judith Warner,
It’s tempting to think about the ‘What Ifs’ or look across and wonder whether the grass is greener on the other side. But trust me that often than not, another Mum is wondering the exact same thing while looking over yours.
It has been a journey of faith as I stay home to raise my boys hands on. I wouldn’t have it any other way.