Contributed by Ayo Iyiola-Olumide
The age-old discussion of stay at home versus working mum never seems to end. In recent years, more women are delegating their primary roles as mums for the white collar jobs to make ends meet. Times are changing and expectations at work are a lot more demanding and with the standard of living skyrocketing, the society is gradually redefining our values and whispering the lie to us that only dual income families will survive these challenging economic times.
Half a century ago, mums were like mother birds, staying back in the nest with her chicks while ‘daddy bird’ combed the neighbourhood from dusk to dawn looking for scraps to feed them. Mum cleaned house, folded laundry and prepared hot meals for exhausted husbands and kids as they returned after a long and weary day.
These days, with many house chores now automated washing machines, dish washers and vacuum cleaners, one might hardly use up any effort to be a homemaker. Online deliveries defying all odds are bringing pins, pants and pillows with only a click away. I guess all that’s left is for a robot to get us out of bed, have our bath and get us dressed to begin our day.
If you can’t afford the luxury, you can hire a nanny or babysitter to process all of this manually. All of a sudden, mums realise they are doing almost nothing; they want to work, get busy, earn and spend their own cash. Many more women are brushing up their skills, going back to school, writing more professional exams and as a result, they have abandoned the ‘chicks’ in the nest.
There is no right or wrong answer; everyone’s got a unique situation driven by varying goals and objectives. Whatever your choice, it’s up to you. However considering what the pros and cons are, what if you are losing a lot more than you think you are gaining. Our kids are our future, they still need us.
Someone has said that being a mum involves a lot more than having a womb and breasts. You are your child’s playmate, teacher, friend, confidante, role model, and refuge just to name a few.
Partially or completely delegating your core duties as a mum should be short-term and dependent on the situations surrounding your choice to abandon the nest to work outside the home. With no plan in place, you could end up working throughout all your active life and not being there at all for your kids. You don’t want to regret you decision later and wish you had been there for them.
Kids are getting independent much earlier in their childhood than their peers did decades ago. This could be largely due to the fact that many parents are abandoning the nests much earlier than their own parents did. As a result, kids have been exposed to the harsh realities of life and are forced to adjust overnight.
For some mums, giving their kids the best is taking a year off work and providing all the maternal support for the first year of the baby. Others want to continue to provide more support by homeschooling for the first five or ten years. A few others want to cling to their kids till the day they walk down the aisle.
A large number of women do not even allow their kids interrupt their lives at all, marriages and ambition, they provide the financial support and physical interaction when they can and that’s it. In a number of countries with policies providing lots of family support, a mum would have a year of paid leave to raise her kids, she isn’t worried about so many questions her counterparts in other countries struggle with. With only twelve weeks of maternity leave in most countries, women are forced to make a harsh decision between money and their kids. As a result the crèche and after school care businesses are flourishing. Most men aren’t excited about an underage stranger providing care for their kids but they are clueless to fix the problem and allow things be for the sake of peace.
Both the Working Mums (WM) and the Stay-At-Home-Mums (SAHM) struggle with a fair share of guilt from time to time. The WM regrets she’s compromising on what’s most important to her and getting less than the best but consoles herself saying she will buy whatever she can with her hard earned money for the kids.
On the other hand, the SAHM surviving the constant pressure of raising kids and tending the home regrets not putting her education to use and not being able to do more for her kids in terms of what money can buy. You need to remind yourself what your priorities are and why you made your choices in the first place.
Stay tuned for Part Two of the Stay at home versus working mum discussion.
photo source: thoughtswithaccent.wordpress.com