SAHM, I Am: Should You Be A Stay-At-Home Mom?
The constant tug-of-war of emotions in a mother’s heart and head, especially for those who are working is the dilemma of where her role as a mother lies. In this day and age, both working moms and stay-at-home moms are common, yet the debate on which side of the fence is “better” is still fodder for argument in mommy groups worldwide.
Of course, no side is better, but there is always some point in a working mom’s life when she asks, “Should I quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom?” Before you turn in that resignation letter, take a quiet moment and ponder on a few points.
Why do you want to be a stay-at-home mother?
There are many reasons why staying at home is so compelling, but none more so than the privilege of being totally hands-on with the children and the household. Finding good house help and yayas has become increasingly difficult in recent times, and the thought of being free from the stress of dealing with house employees makes the option all the more enticing. There’s also the satisfaction of being able to enjoy your home and fix it up in the way you want to. After all, with you being present 24/7, you are truly the queen of the household.
However, as attractive as it sounds, there are still many points to consider before making the decision to leave a stable, rewarding job to become a home manager. Among other concerns, a lot of mothers who are struggling with the decision express the following sentiments - the “throwing away” of an education, losing one’s identity, and missing the excitement and dynamics of working.
Is it really a waste of one’s time and one’s self?
Contrary to stereotypes, a housewife is not “just” a housewife. Many memes and social media post have articulated the projected salary of a housewife considering the skills required and the hours put in to make it work. Much multi-tasking is needed. Each person’s schedule is your concern, and making sure the logistics don’t result to chaos can be as challenging as planning an event. You’re in charge of making sure everyone is fed, clothed, supplied, entertained, and sometimes, alive.
Cecile, a former marketing manager and teacher, became a stay-at-home mom for 5 years before going back to work. “I was even busier than when I was working! Planning menus, doing the groceries, driving the kids back and forth to school and activities with different schedules? A client presentation seemed easy in comparison.” So if fear of stagnating is what’s keeping you, fear not, there’s plenty to do when managing a household.
Some women are concerned about losing their identities and becoming lost in routine frenzy of being the house manager. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that your identity is not tied to your role as a mother. It’s important to stay aware of this and pencil in some much needed self-care in the household schedule. Self-care does not necessarily mean an indulgence, though the occasional massage and bubble bath does have its advantages. Self-care is more of a discipline, and knowing the importance of taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
What other issues do you need to consider?
One of the main reasons working moms even think about quitting their jobs is pressure, and this comes internally and externally as well. Even at this era of equal responsibilities between partners, the woman is highly expected to be the one at the helm of child-care and household responsibility. This pressure from society, usually from peers and family, is a huge catalyst when at the crossroads of making the decision.
Go back to why you want to be a stay-at-home mom in the first place. What initiated it? Was it a positive experience or is it rising from guilt? Decide based on reasons that are coming from your own personal will, not someone else’s and certainly not society’s.
For some women, it’s the loss of financial resources that keep them from shifting to being a stay-at-home mom. This issue needs to be fully discussed with your partner before any decisions are made. Will the family thrive on a single-income? If you foresee some difficulty, do you have the willingness and resources to work at home as well? With the world at your fingertips through the internet, lots of stay-at-home moms also take on freelance online work to supplement the household income. Some of these jobs are part-time and there are jobs that let you choose the working hours that are compatible with your home schedule.
If the desire to change lifestyles is clear and true, examine yourself for any other unresolved fears and issues. Are you concerned about purpose lost from quitting your job? Think about how your role as the house manager of the family makes you feel. Is that thought of being in charge of the household initiate a feeling of joy and fulfillment?
The area of fulfillment is one that is often overlooked when the topic of shifting from working to stay-at-home is being discussed. Most automatically assume that a mother would want to stay at home with their children (of course), but this is not always the case. For some, working is part of their parenting, and working is their nurture language. This notion does not make any working mother less of a mother than those who choose to stay at home.
For Mich, the decision to quit her job as an advertising executive was an easy one. “Being at home was always my dream job. Sure, the advertising world was fun and exciting, but being at home has always seemed fulfilling to me. It was an easy decision.”
For Pat, the decision didn’t come as easily. A bank executive, she was bogged down from the stress of her job, yet at the same time, the thought of not having a job was alien to her. “As stressful as my job was, deep down I really loved working. I loved being part of the team and having achievements outside of my home. I really loved what I do, and know that makes me a good role model for my kids, too.” She tried being a stay-at-home mom for some time, but eventually went into independent consultancy some time after. “I realized as much as I loved my family and being there for my kids all the time, I loved working too. It’s part of me, and it’s part of me being a mother.”
The bottomline in choosing between these two paths is, follow the one that brings you joy. Consequently, it will be the path that will make the family atmosphere joyful as well. Don’t make the decisions out of guilt, but from careful thought, introspection, and thorough discussions. Always remember that the decision you make is not a prison sentence. You can always come back. Come to a clear decision and an informed choice, not just for the better good of the family, but for yourself, too.