family life · Singapore

Are stay at home mothers wasting their education?

‘I think my PhD will enrich my finger-painting.’
(Quote from Can a woman be too clever to be a stay-at-home mum?)
I was just asked earlier this week if I thought it was “wasted” being at home, as in wasted not putting my education to “use”. It reminded me of a blog post which I read recently, Are Stay at Home Mothers wasting their education or using it to the enth degree? by Thinking Love, No Twaddle, which was inspired by an article in the Daily Mail, Can a woman be too clever to be a stay-at-home mum?. Both articles are a little lengthy, but very interesting reads.

This is a topic that is so close to my heart – I have issues with our policies on supporting mothers to go back to the work force and NOT supporting mothers at home. In general, “the government” (I use this term loosely and NOT as a means of PAP-bashing because that is NOT the way I roll), feel that after subsidising our education, training, etc., that we should return to the work force and leave our children to helpers, grandparents, or child care. In the Daily Mail article, one lady said, “I feel very fortunate in my education and believe those years shouldn’t be wasted. I want to work to give something back.”

Errr, she sure ain’t Mother Theresa, so what kind of giving back is she doing that is going to save the world that is more important than being with her own kids? In the workforce, working mums are but one of a few million worker ants. But at home, we are the Queen. We are irreplaceable. I feel that we should support mothers staying at home because that is where they are irreplaceable, regardless of their educational level. That is where they are shaping the future of tomorrow – no menial task that shouldn’t be pushed to alternative carers where given a choice. And while having alternative carers have their merits (like qualified early childhood educators in child care), I find it hard to understand how the majority of helpers and grandparents, can be better than their own mothers.

Of course, I fully understand that some families do really need both incomes, and don’t have a choice in the matter, and in such cases I’m grateful that we have decent and reasonably priced child care available to all. But sometimes I see how uninterested the helpers are, or how harassed the grandparents are, and it really makes me count my lucky stars that I’m available to my boys for as much as possible.

In the Singapore context, even though I have a Master’s (which I think is no big deal lah), I’m sure I can easily be replaced by other women, or FTs even. Speak to any mum, and you will know how difficult it is to juggle a full time job as well as a family, especially since our society hasn’t yet evolved to levels of work-life balance that I find reasonable to be called a “balance”.

With young, highly dependent children (I would think that this would at least be until primary school?), a sizable number of mums would much rather be at home with their kids at this precious and tiring period, rather than to be slogging at work (although there is a percentage who say that work helps them escape from their kids! But that’s another thing altogether). I used to say, I’m much happier cleaning up the sh** at home, rather than that at work. At least babies have cute bums.

And, as the blog sooo succinctly put it,

Our children are the future of the country we live in. Even from a purely political point of view, well brought up children who are able to hold down a job and show a sense of responsibility has to be worth something to the economy. The fact that Mrs Thatcher didn’t want to support stay at home mothers is indicative of the astonishing shallowness of thought and economic understanding of politicians.

Wonder if LKY got his thinking from Mrs Thatcher, or he influenced her 🙂

Thankfully these days choosing to be a stay home mum doesn’t mean that’s the end of a career. Many women are going back to part time work (although it seems that a lot of HR personnel still don’t really understand the true concept of part time, but that’s fodder for another lengthy discussion), and so many are becoming mumpreneurs – starting their own businesses and finding something that they’re really passionate about, that also gives them more flexibility in parenting, and less of that awful daily grind that you might get in an office job. The evidence is in establishments such as Mums@Work which is just taking off faster than you can say the word mumpreneur if it’s the first time you’re coming across the term. Highly creative and driven (and educated!) mummies are always so full of ideas and resources that it’s hard to keep a lid on all that talent, and they certainly don’t, as Margaret Thatcher apparently put it, ‘lacked get-up-and-go and gumption’. “Mumpreneur” is where all the mums want to be now. Tai-tai? That’s so last decade.

The hubbs and I are fortunate enough to have come from families who were able to support having a mother at home, and that essentially shaped our views and priorities on child-rearing. We know of friends who grew up with nannies and thus think that the operatus modi should be the same. Different strokes for different folks, but the bottom line is, don’t discount the significance of mothers in the home, PhD or not.



4 thoughts on “Are stay at home mothers wasting their education?

  1. I get that a lot too, even after four years of staying at home. 😛 I wonder why staying home to “teach” our children can be considered a waste at all!


  2. LOVE this series, Ed! It’s great to know we’re not the only ones feeling torn about our situation. Will come back and comment more when I’ve read all the links!

    BTW, how do you get the related articles and pingbacks? Is it a widget or part of the theme?


    1. Haha thanks. Most of the articles I read and copied the links in, only for those links to wiki like LKY, Margaret Thatcher etc WP used to have a plug in that would suggest the links and you just need to click on it to link, so convenient! Sadly it’s now only for self hosted. Grr!!!


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