Thursday, 19 February 2015

Let's Be Honest: Stay At Home Parenting

I truly think there is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mother however with three children and one of them needing super strict scheduling (V-Man) - which I could never fully do - I decided to pop M-Girl into day-care at 11-months old and get a spot to study Finnish language locally.
It's partially (okay - mostly) for financial reasons - so we can try building up our savings account and pay off my spouse's student loans debts (thank goodness I don't have any!) and prepare for the grown-up of us...
Anyways - with that said - I've noticed that I've become a better parent almost immediately because I haven't seen my children all day and found my patience  has increased.
Sure, I have more "freedom" than many other stay-at-home parents do - I go knitting once or twice a month completely alone (when the V-Man is away to overnight care) and I only bring one child with me to knitting if V-Man is home (it's just loads easier on SH) and often only take one child with me to go get groceries.

Single parents get full props because I know I couldn't do it with 1 child or all 3 (plus dogs) on my own!
I had absolutely no assumptions about stay-at-home parents' (SAHP) lives before having my own children and I realize that many of my Canadian friends were SAHP because going to work simply wasn't worth it financially.
Whatever pay they received was going straight into day-care fees and sometimes - their pay wasn't able to cover the wild costs of day-care.  Also, with children going to day-care - they're bound to get sick with anything and everything.  Not all employers have flexible scheduling systems to make up lost time for your child being ill - so I can completely understand why my friends chose to stay at home and promote their services for baby-sitting or another small business!

Here are some common things I have heard from people or read online (often misconceptions) about being a stay-at-home parent:
  • If you're home all day - the home should be spotless.
    • A wonderful dinner put on the table everyday.
    • The laundry, cleaning, dishes are all done and everything is in its rightful place.
    • Garbage, recycling and bio waste have all been taken out and the home doesn't have a speck of dust!
  • If you're home all day - you can sleep whenever you want - so why are you saying you're tired?
  • You're just lazy and don't want to go back to work.
Okay - those may come off as harsh but it's true.  Not that IT'S true - just that those are some of the things you can read about or hear from people who don't know what it's like to stay at home with 1 child or 5.

This is how I see a SAHP, assuming any of these possible tasks are able to get done:
  • Chef: Probably have to cook for everyone else in the household and have to satisfy as many tastes and preferences possible (at least in my household I have to try to do this!)
    • Built-In Restaurant: for the breast-feeding mamas out there and for those that have to boil, sterilize and make formula too!
  • Chauffeur:  Whether you have to transport your child, self or others by car, bike, bike trailer, bus or foot - you're immediately like a Transformer toy and have to get to your destination!  And hopefully on time! (Ha ha ha ha ha.)
    • Day-care /playgroups
    • School
    • Appointments
    • Work
    • Playground
    • Shopping excursions
  • Personal Shopper:  
    • Groceries
    • Prescriptions, teething gel and pain relievers for both yourself and the teething tot
    • Clothing
    • Diapers
    • Tooth paste, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and everything else to maintain a household
    • Birthday and every other gift needed for so-and-so's event coming up.
      • Don't forget the card to go with the gift!
  • On-call nurse:
    • Diaper changes
    • Bed sheet changes for those leaky diapers and vomit fiestas throughout the night (might be your spouse - might be the baby!)
    • Provide medication/pain relievers/antibiotics
    • Relay information when taking child(ren) to emergency in the middle of the night or if lucky to the doctor in the day-time!
  • Maid: 
    • Laundry
    • Dishes
    • Ironing (not us)
    • General cleaning
    • Take out the trash, recyclables and compost
    • Take the pet out as well if applicable!
  • Manager/Secretary:
    • Schedule hobbies, naps, and events for everyone
    • Remind everyone of above schedule
    • Ensure the agenda is booked accordingly for dentist, doctor, teacher and therapy appointments - for everyone.
    • Organize time to have visitors or to go visit friends.
    • Organize baby-sitters for emergencies or for date-night.
    • Submit applications for school, school trips (permission slips), benefits, day-care etc.
  • Party Planner/Caterer:
    • Birthday
    • Every other holiday
      • Plan menus and location and activities
      • Budget
      • Grocery shop
      • Food prep 
  • Parent
    • Provide hugs and kisses for all the boo-boos that may occur.
    • Read and play with child. 
    • Fight for your child's rights in school or extracurricular activities.
    • Comfort child when they're being bullied or attacked.
    • Fight away the monsters under the bed and in the closets.
    • Make sure nobody hurts each other.
      • Figure out a discipline plan if needed.
So this has been my experience of being a SAHP and while not all of this may apply to some - I think SAHP shouldn't be frowned upon.
I'm not entirely sure about the percentages of SAHP getting their job back after a year or longer of being a full-time SAHP or getting any job in general - but it would be nice if the figures went up!  Being a SAHP isn't always easy! (Sometimes it never is.)

Pros of being a SAHP:
  • Get to be there for the child(ren)'s milestones as much as possible and possibly much more than some parents in other countries!
  • You don't have to rely on a baby-sitter that may fall ill and cancels last moment with no back-ups available.
  • Teach child(ren) home-schooling basics for those that planned to home school anyway.
    • Or even the basics like their name, alphabet and manners etc.
  • You run your own schedule - which can allow for sickness, dirty diapers and accidents.
  • You might be able to squeeze in a nap when the previous night was pretty rough.
  • Less stress in trying to balance work and parenting - especially if one (or all) become ill!
  • Financially it can save a lot of money.
Cons of being a SAHP:
  •  Depending where you live - it can get lonely.  I.e. not a lot of children in the area or even socializing with other adults (as opposed to cooing at the baby 24/7).
    • Also if you're a SAHD (Stay-at-home Dad) - and there aren't other SAHD in your area - it can be more difficult to find play dates for your child.  But then again, it depends on where you live and the culture as well!
  • Not everything will get done and that can be annoying.
  • Sometimes nothing makes the baby happy -it's not your fault.  You're trying the best that you can!  But at the same time - it's ridiculously frustrating...just take a moment - breathe, count to 10 and get back in there!
  • Again - financially - your life-style before kids may be completely different now.  Instead of yearly vacations or eating at fancier restaurants and going to the latest movie in theater - you may have to budget more depending on your income as a SAHP and if you're not bringing the kids to the movie with you - you'll need to hire a baby-sitter! (Or have a good friend or family member assist you!)
It's certainly a tough decision to become a SAHP or a working parent but for right now, I'm glad I went to study (even though I'm absolutely clueless as to what I want as a full-time career) because my studies give me something to focus on that isn't my children.
Yes I love my kids and do everything I can for them.  However, me studying is a nice distraction or break from being a SAHM and I find I'm much happier and definitely more patient at dealing with my children at the end of the day.


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