As a profession, a stay-at-home mom comes with a wide range of benefits unseen by the non-parent professionals around us. If you don’t have kids, then you mightn’t understand the pleasures of being at home and not earning an income. My payment comes in the form of artistic masterpieces á la crayon on the hallway walls and hugs from little people. My bank account isn’t getting fat but my heart definitely is.
It happens every morning – my favourite part of the day for many many reasons. Thanks to some healthy sleep management, I enjoy my morning coffee while it’s hot and start each day on my terms. From getting dressed to having breakfast slowly cooking, I achieve a lot without even realising it by 9 am. Then, I get to wake up the girls. It’s even better when they’re still sleeping. That first “good morning” and the big, beautiful smiles on their tiny faces – this must be what’s it like to be a celebrity. Everyone is so happy to see me walk into the room. I give hugs and kisses all around and then it’s time to choose outfits. The idea of trading this harmonious morning routine with rushed breakfasts, and stressing out over minutes lost to tantrums or dirty dishes seems like a life not worth living.
My girls can sleep in, focus on playtime, and approach each day according to their natural tendencies. For example, my eldest takes after her father in a lot of ways, but mainly that she can’t be rushed. Everything and I mean everything, happens on her terms and in her own time. Waking up and mealtimes are prime examples of this. Keeping her at home with me gives her the freedom to grow up in a peaceful, encouraging environment where her talents are nurtured. What do I gain? A thoughtful, kind, generous child who has the strength to stand up for herself and assert her needs.
As a stay-at-home mom, I am the manager of the household. I take care of everything and everyone. I can structure my days and weeks however I like and I am the glue that holds everyone together. It doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like a dream come true. I was born a leader and I’ve had strong maternal interests since childhood. For someone like me, this is a job of a lifetime. Most people trade decades of their life so they can retire and have what I have at 27 years old: the autonomy to live how they want. And my husband goes to work with the pleasure of knowing his home is a sanctuary waiting for him.
Another perk not to be scoffed at is ‘time.’ I have all the time in the world to put on a load of laundry or to work out. When I worked a full-time job AND stayed on top of running the household, there was nothing left for me at the end. I was the area of my life that fell to the wayside. I was ignored, neglected, and overworked. Who keeps selling this life to young women? ‘Oh sure, leave it all to your thirties! Chase a career! Pay someone else to look after your child so you can… hold down two jobs a little better?’ No wonder people are putting off having kids. Sure, I put on makeup every day and made an effort with my outfits, but I booked an awful lot of annual leave, experienced real burnout and depression, and couldn’t tell one week from the next. Now? I get all of my workouts in, plus a few walks every week. The days go by very slowly and I soak up every minute. All of that housework seems so insignificant now that it’s not hanging over my head because I can tick it off my list at my own pace. I’m not folding laundry at 9 pm anymore.
The soft skills required to be a mother and housekeeper are not to be undersold either. Diplomacy, efficiency, time management, organisation, astute attention to detail, creativity, and verbal and non-verbal communication, are some of the essential qualities desired for the position. Not to mention all the hard skills involved, such as cooking, cleaning, hairdressing, mending, interior design and decorating, construction, gardening, and many many more. When a woman takes on homemaking and child-rearing as her primary focus, she is taking on a life-changing vocation full of challenges and continuous learning opportunities. Just like my children, growing and developing at their personal pace, becoming a stay-at-home mom is allowing me to flourish in the areas in which I am strongest.
With each year that passes, I think there’s a growing disinclination out there to trade time for money. I know I certainly felt that once I entered office culture. Doing extra work and volunteering for everything might earn you a raise, but it amounts to very little. You’re still living for those days off, for that taste of freedom. Having kids helped me realise this sooner and I wouldn’t have it any other way.