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 future...how 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.
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
- Shopping excursions
- Personal Shopper:
- Prescriptions, teething gel and pain relievers for both yourself and the teething tot
- 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!
- Ironing (not us)
- General cleaning
- Take out the trash, recyclables and compost
- Take the pet out as well if applicable!
- 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:
- Every other holiday
- Plan menus and location and activities
- Grocery shop
- Food prep
- 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.
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.
- 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!)
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.