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What comes to mind for you when someone tells you they are a stay at home mum (SAHM)? For some, this may be a label you identify with all too well and hopefully one you embrace. For others, the very concept seems alien and difficult to comprehend.
But it shouldn’t be this way.
For as long as there have been mothers, there has been the SAHM. Once upon a time in days gone by, this was the norm. Women were expected to stay home and raise the children, tend to the home and cook the meals. These days, our view of ‘normal’ is quite different.
With the increasing costs of living expenses making it difficult for many to manage on a single income, as well as the early expectations and pressures for both men and women to pursue a fulfilling career, suddenly the SAHM is left to feel judged and inadequate by much of society. For not contributing or being a career mother. So wrong!
SAHM do contribute to the house hold in so many more ways than even they may realise!
First and foremost, you cannot put a price on being present in the lives of your children. Children love having their parents around so having a parent available to tend to daily needs, share joyful memories and kiss their bumps and scratches is a powerful thing.
SAHM’s save the household money. No daily work commute. No expensive work clothes and shoes. It’s perfectly fine to spend the day in track pants or pjs when you are a SAHM! Less wear and tear on the car.
In fact you may be able to cut down to a single-car household, depending on personal circumstances. Otherwise, many car insurance companies will reduce the premium when there isn’t a regular work commute. No buying lunches and coffees on the run. No needing expensive technological equipment. Plenty of savings!
Then the big one… No child care costs! Sometimes earning more means paying more in daycare, which almost defeats the purpose of working to get ahead. And no childcare often means less frequent illnesses for younger kids since they tend to be a breeding ground for sharing bugs. So less medical bills perhaps.
You have more time to invest in supporting your children, through their education and learning, as well as through nurturing creativity and individual expression. Anyone for some painting?
Things like meal planning and creating amazing family meals may be more achievable without the exhaustion of cooking after a day at work. Let’s face it, that can be exhausting. Healthier meals makes for a healthier family too, because there will be less need for expensive convenience foods or meals on the run.
And SAHM’s can choose to contribute in extra ways as well, if they so choose. For many, this may mean applying to review products for free samples, completing online surveys or doing mystery shopping assignments to earn some spare dollars, or even blogging and freelance writing. Or they may even decide to follow their creative hobbies and sell handmade masterpieces online in places like Etsy or Facebook.
Personally, I have been on both sides of the spectrum. Once a career woman for the better part of a decade, managing a professional team and working long hours, while also being the higher wage earner in the household. I could not imagine having it any other way as it was very empowering. Then my first child came along and it was a game changer. Just ask my old boss who likes to tease me about my assurances I would be a working mum.
I did go back to work, negotiating part time and it started well. But soon learnt how much discrimination can follow once you choose your children over your job. I stuck it out part time for more than a year before making the huge and scary decision to quit, rather than have the option of childcare forced upon me.
Losing my income has been a big learning curve and one we are still adjusting too but with benefits too, such as a very settled and bright 2 year old who has her mummy 99% of the time. I still do a little paid employment, having started regular freelance writing and doing some casual psychologist work but with baby two expected soon, the SAHM role is the one I most identify with now and my role is currently in the home. This may not be forever, but for now I am proud of where I am at.
So whether you are a SAHM yourself or if you are on the other end of the scale and feel career is vital, stop and consider the benefits of both and cease the judgment. We can contribute in meaningful ways whether we are working 9-5 or ‘just being a mother’ because in the end there is no right or wrong option. In fact, everything in this post is also relevant for stay at home dad’s too who are often overlooked as potential stay at home parents.
So let’s learn to support our fellow sisterhood in the choices we make – career, staying at home or some combination of the two. We all have our important roles to fulfil and we are all doing a fabulous job of contributing to our households!
Are you a SAHM, a WAHM or a working mum? I would love to hear your thoughts!