A number of mom-blog posts refer to being a stay-at-home parent as a job. Having recently decided to spend an additional year at home with my children, I have been struggling with this concept. For me, the idea that being a SAHM was a job, wasn't working. I was grumpy about always being 'on the job', constantly trying to get 'everything done' (whatever that means) before bed each night, only to start it all over again the next day. I didn't want to change my decisions to be a SAHM. Instead, I changed my perspective - it has done wonders for my personal outlook, my life enjoyment, and I assume it makes me a better mom.
I no longer think of being a mom as a job.
I am not sure I ever really did buy into this concept, which is probably what made me need to change my perspective to begin with. Being a mom is no more of a job than is being a friend, a wife, a sister or a daughter. Being a mom is a role; one I enjoy.
Once I shed the concept that being a mom was a 'job', and was instead a new role in my life, parenting became so much more enjoyable. Trips to the grocery store became less about me being stressed about getting as many groceries as I could as fast as I could, while worrying which child was going to cry in the checkout first, and more about getting my older toddler to help choose the bananas or having fun racing my children down an empty isle. Daily walks became an opportunity to teach my sons they need to stay on the sidewalk to be safe, and hold mom's hand when they cross the street, instead of feeling (and looking) like I was herding cats, convinced one was going to dash out into traffic.
I still have 2 toddlers who keep me on the go, but I see opportunities to teach and interact with them in ways I didn't before.
I now think of everything else as a job.
I suspect many SAHM also take care of the household : laundry, groceries, baking, cleaning etc. I felt that before I could sit down at night I had to have everything done - all toys put away, house shining, fresh cookies baking. For me, this was impossible. Each nap / bed time's to do list was daunting. I'd run around like a mad woman, only to be disappointed when I barely made a dent. If a child woke up early from their usual nap time or had trouble going to sleep at night, I was filled with a frustration - now when I am going to do all that needed to be done?
And then I decided that the house stuff was separate from being a mom. Everything that isn't about me being a parent, I now treat like a job. In my pre-children workforce job I was a manager in an office environment. Sometimes I worked through lunch, came in early and left late. Other times I met friends for lunch, took a coffee break with a colleague, or left work early on a weekend. I didn't work weekends, my desk wasn't always clear at the end of the day, and my inbox and to do list were ongoing projects, not something I couldn't leave work until they were entirely taken care of.
I started applying my previous work-life balance to my present 'everything else'. Some days I work through nap time, get up early with a teething toddler and stay up late cleaning bathrooms, organizing toys and making healthy snacks from scratch. And others times, I brew myself a coffee and watch a show on the PVR, or blog, or take a 15 minute, uninterrupted shower. Sometimes the toys don't get returned to their respective labelled boxes, they get piled into one large bin and shoved into the corner of the room. The balance did well for me in the work force, and it turns out, it is working for me well now too.
Sometimes, I even still leave work early on a weekend...I get a pizza delivered.
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