family life · parenting

To stay or not to stay home?

To stay or not to stay (home), that is the question that many working mothers will ask themselves every now and then, sometimes more often when work isn’t going the way you want it to. I recently wrote a piece for Mums@Work on this topic, which was sent out with their newsletter last week. Here is the article in case you were interested. Yes, all 5 of you readers 🙂
There was also a really interesting article on the Mums@Work blog on how one mummy decided to switch from being a FTWM to a PT Mumpreneur. Lovely read!


To stay or not to stay home?

“Should I stay home?” is a question that many working mothers frequently ask themselves throughout the lives of their children. Although there are so many factors that will affect your decision, I hope my sharing what I’ve learnt over this last three years as both a SAHM and a FTWM will help make your decision easier.

You think you’ll be bored.

The notion of being a stay home mum as being a tai-tai could not further from the truth, especially when you have very young ones to look after. At home we don’t even subscribe to the newspapers because on the days when I do buy the papers, I hardly have the time to finish reading it (or if you’re holding it up the kids will love to crush it, and if you’re reading it on the floor, they love to step all over it, etc.). So, no, you will not have time to be bored. You might be bored of baby talk and Playhouse Disney, but toddlers can ask the most riveting questions, and you’ll need to find ways to answer the constant flow of “WHY?”s. I’m still trying to figure out how to tell DS1 why Jesus died, and the questions crops up every few days. We also learn so much when teaching and interacting with them.

You think you won’t be able to cope.

In life, often we get thrown many challenges, and being a parent is just one of those many challenges that we should do our best in. Don’t go into it thinking that you can’t cope and you don’t know how to look after the kids, go into it with gusto and just try your darnest. After all, if you can’t take care of your own child, how can you expect someone else to? God (or Life) doesn’t give us what we can’t handle. If you start a job thinking you’re going to fail, you probably WILL fail.

Don’t be a hero.

Having said all that about coping, it doesn’t mean that you need to do everything yourself. Many SAHMs have extended family support and helpers, some SAHMs put their elder child into full day child care so that they can concentrate on the new baby, some SAHMs even have all kids in child care, or some even have more than 1 domestic helper. Very few people can look after say 3 older kids AND a young baby AND do the housework AND keep it all together. And especially with infants it’s necessary to have as many hands as possible.
I’m lucky that my mother is a very confident SAHM, and a MIL who has looked after many babies, so I had lots of confidence and support from my mother, and technical know-how from my MIL. There are definitely some days when I feel completely stretched and need 2 clones and another 6 arms, but it doesn’t stop me from trying my best. Or asking for a time out or some help when I really need it before I go mad.

Being around the kids 24/7 will drive you crazy.

Here’s some breaking news – whether or not you go to work, they WILL drive you crazy!

You’ll miss out on interaction with other adults.

Sure, you won’t be sharing jokes with your friends as much as you used to, but don’t forget that you can also aim to be a friend, as well as a parent, to your child in a few years to come. Think about the long term goal – do you want to have the company of your friends now, and be a stranger to your child when they’re older? Or can you invest more time with them now to establish a foundation for many years of good relations to come?

Additionally, with Facebook, Twitter, etc., you can still catch up on everyone’s lives and everything that’s going on in the world, without being totally removed like a SAHM in the old days.

Working is easier than looking after kids.

I feel really sad when I hear people say things like they’d rather be at work than with their kids. Raising children is the single most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my entire life, it’s brought out the worst in me, and so often they test your patience like no one or nothing else can. Working can definitely seem much easier as compared to looking after your kids, and especially if you’re already established and know your way around your work, it can come much more naturally than parenting.

Of course, and especially with babies, parenting is a steep learning curve and not always something we know instinctively. As mentioned in one of the Positive Discipline books – we will train for a job, so why not for parenting? And it’s even easier these days, with lots of resources from specialists, friends, books, etc.

Working might be easier, but a promotion, pay rise or even a pat on the back from your boss, will never be as fulfilling as spending the time with your kids.

You’ll miss the sense of fulfillment from work.

Sure, work can be very fulfilling, and on some days I wonder if my Masters degree is going to waste at home. But with one boy who just turned 1 and another who just turned 3, I know this is the time that they need me the most. I recently found some outlets for my creativity in planning the first birthday party, as gathering some home school materials for DS1 to occupy himself at home (since he only goes to school for 2 hours a day). And I think this is also why so many mums these days are taking up more part time work or becoming mumpreneurs – so that they can have an outlet for their skills or creativity, earn something for themselves, and more importantly, have a good balance between their work and time for their kids.
Money is never enough.

It’s true, we’ll always want more. The question is, what are your priorities right now? We might not be able to afford a swanky condo, or a sporty second car like some of our friends, but like I assured my husband, we’re rich in love and laughter.

Being a SAHM doesn’t mean forever.

That brings me to my next point. It could be a few months, a year, two years, five years, but being a SAHM now doesn’t mean you’re leaving the work force and won’t be coming back again. Ever. No good employer will hold it against you if you’ve taken a sabaatical for your kids, and if the interview goes badly just for that reason, it’d be a blessing because you really wouldn’t want to work for an employer who doesn’t value family. Spending more time with the kids when they’re young also enables you to understand their personality and their individual needs better.  One of my greatest fears is not knowing my child and having a caregiver influence the child in a manner that I don’t approve of, so with some experience with your child, you won’t be handing him over to the caregiver blindfolded.

Lots of mums would love to do it, some mums are scared to do it, but no one ever regrets spending more time at home with their children.

The author, Edlyn is a SAHM and author of the blog where she shares her personal experiences about bringing up her 2 lovely boys. Her stories are heartwarming and filled with authentic humor allowing fellow mothers (like us) to easily connect with.


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