I’ve been a stay at home Mum for four years now, which has passed in the blink of an eye. I have experienced a range of reactions to people finding out my job status (or lack of it). So, here are a few common beliefs about being a stay at home Mum that I want to clear up:
1. We’re lazy
That’s all I need to say to that.
2. We’re anti-feminist
There are a multitude of reasons why someone may become a stay at home parent. Perhaps the cost of childcare is so crippling that you cannot afford to have both parents at work. Perhaps one of you has a job that is more suited to having a career break. Maybe one of you isn’t career-minded at all. Maybe your child has emotional or physical requirements that mean one of you has to stay with them. Maybe you have no family nearby to help out. Maybe you want to re-train to do something different and having children is the perfect time to do it. Maybe you love parenthood so much, and thrive at being home, so you decide to do it full-time. Or maybe you’re having so much trouble adjusting to parenthood that work adds an extra complication that might tip you over the edge. Maybe you’re going to take it in turns to have a break from work. Maybe decent childcare is scarce in your area. Maybe you’re ill and working on top of having the children isn’t going to work for you physically.
Maybe you spent countless hours planning and saving for this. Maybe you decided after your child was born.
I’m not going to tell you which of the above were our reasons. Because that’s not the point.
The point is: you cannot know the motivation behind someone’s actions unless you actually know them well enough to ask. And yet there remains this stubborn belief that all stay at home Mums are silly little women incapable of making decent decisions, whose husbands are going to leave them eventually with no money and no job prospects and on their own heads be it.
Nonsense. Can we stop beating women up for every decision they make, please? We’ve got enough going on without tearing each other down constantly.
Also: please don’t throw it in my face that I’m setting a bad example for my daughter. Firstly, you don’t know how long I plan to stay at home. I don’t even know if she will end up remembering much about my time not working. Secondly, there’s more than one way to set an example to my children about the role of a woman. I think kids are more capable of nuanced thought than we give them credit for.
3. We have no life outside of our kids
Okay, I’ll admit it: sometimes the kids are so demanding that I don’t get much time to do anything outside of them. Does that mean I have lost myself? No. It’s just a temporary state. I am more than a mother: I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, auntie, Christian, writer, reader, video and board game enthusiast, feminist. I am more than ‘Mum’, in the same way working mothers are more than (insert job title here).
4. We go to Costa all day every day
Are you joking? We can’t afford that!
Alright, some people can. But not all of us. Also, Costa coffee gives me caffeine shakes.
5. We have inferior brains
Yes, this is a genuine viewpoint I have heard expressed. Like the moment we hang up our uniforms and give in our keys to the office, we also forfeit the right to grow intellectually. Obviously this is an incredibly narrow-minded opinion. In fact, I’ve found being at home a lot gives me many more opportunities to pursue things that I am really interested in, and I am so grateful for that.
6. We care about our kids more
I hear this quite a lot in real life. Much more than I hear negativity. I get the opposite: good for you. You’ve got it right. Kids need their Mums.
I mean, they mean well. But really? I haven’t got it right. I believe we’ve chosen what is currently right for our family, but that’s about it. Children need consistent, loving carers, I’ll agree with that. But I do not automatically care more about my children because I gave up my job for them. And it’s spectacularly insensitive and insulting to suggest that working Mums somehow care less. I don’t want any part in perpetuating this ridiculous, us vs. them, Mummy wars, media-driven crap.
7. It’s perfect
I’m not going to lie, some days are near perfect. Some days, the kids behave beautifully, and I really cherish my time with them.
Other days, they drive me absolutely insane and I cannot wait for them to get into bed so I can just sink on the sofa and forget about my responsibilities for a while.
Most days are somewhere in the middle. Like most people’s days are, generally. Nobody has a perfect life, and nobody is perfect: all we can do is strive for the best that we can do, given our circumstances. Basically, whether we’re working or not, all parents are just muddling through, trying to do their best, making mistakes and hoping we don’t screw up our kids too much in the meantime.
Hi! I’m Meg – wife to Chris, mother to our three year old daughter and five month old son. I am a writer, bookworm, Christian, feminist, and sleep enthusiast! You can read my blog and follow me on Twitter!