‘Please don’t take this the wrong way, but what do you do all day?’
‘I could never be a stay-at-mom; I need to use my brain!’
‘I work to set a good example for my children.’
If you’re a stay-at-home mom these are statements you’ve probably heard before. And quite honestly, they can hurt. Our value in society has become so linked to our work. So having to say, with a false sense of bravado, ‘Oh, me, I’m just a mom’ when someone asks you what you do, can really knock your confidence. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. Being a mom who works outside of the home is hard. Just being a mom is hard. We all have various reasons for our choices and there’s no right or wrong. But if you’re taking strain with your stay-at-home mom role, there are ways to find contentment within the situation.
- Value what you do Staying at home with your children is valuable. Many stay-at-home moms struggle to say that aloud, often because they’re scared that working moms will be offended. It is possible to acknowledge your own value without diminishing that of others. If you are constantly selfdeprecating and minimise the significance of what you do, you might start to believe it.
- Don’t feel guilty Yes, in some ways being able to stay at home is a privilege. There are many moms who wish they could but are stuck because of financial constraints. Appreciate the opportunity you have, but also know that you are allowed to complain sometimes or acknowledge that it’s really hard.
- Use your time One of the great things about being at home is that you do have a level of flexibility, especially when your children are a bit older and at school. Use that time to connect with others, to work on projects that matter to you and to look after yourself. Don’t underestimate the value of having time for others; you never know how much that midmorning coffee might mean to someone.
- Don’t overcommit That being said, you don’t need to say yes to everyone and everything. Often stay-at-home moms volunteer (or get volunteered!) for everything, because ‘oh, get (insert your name!) to do it, she doesn’t work’. Sometimes it seems as if you have to be constantly busy in order to validate your existence. You really don’t. Getting so over-involved that your life is complete chaos means that you won’t have time to actually be with your children- which was sort of the point in the first place.
- Enjoy your children While this may sound obvious, in some ways it’s trickier to carve out specific quality time with each child when you’re around them all day. The fact that you feel you constantly need to be doing something productive can sometimes stop you from just having fun. Yes,certain tasks need to get done, but try to give your children – and yourself – the gift of play. So perhaps the best way to handle those comments is to know your own worth and find peace in the place that you find yourself. What you do matters.Who you are matters. And that’s all that matters.
Anabel is a ‘retired’ teacher and recovering worrier turned stay-athome mom to a 10 month old little boy named Harrison. When she’s not stressing about something, Anabel enjoys reading, writing and of course good coffee and wine (aka Mom survival tools)!
Harry loves mango, watching trees in the wind and dancing to 80s pop. Anabel is also an aspiring freelance writer and has just started a blog called ‘Intrepid Worrier Mom’. You can find her at www.intrepidworriermom.co.za