Expectations of a Stay-at-home Mum
Expectations of a Stay-at-home Mum
It sounds like an easy job. Don’t work, stay at home, look after kids and repeat. It sounds easy until you do it and you realise life in the trenches is not as enjoyable as it looks. I thought I would be a great stay-at-home mum when I had my kids, but I quickly found out that while I love my kids and love spending time with them, I do not thrive in a stay-at-home situation.
I have been lucky in my life that I have had options. I was able to take a year off and then go back part time, then go on leave again and go back to work when I wanted. I know there are many mums that aren’t so fortunate to have these choices. I have found going to work important to me. It makes me a better mum when I am at home because, at work, I have the time to socialise and talk and be a part of a team and have adult company.
For me, being the stay-at-home parent is a tough gig. I often joke with my husband that I should go back to work full time and he should stay at home. His reaction is basically “no chance”. So I was pretty horrified to read an article about a working woman whose husband was a stay-at-home dad, and she said he was doing a crap job – because he didn’t keep the house clean and tidy. The woman admitted she had gone back to work herself because being a stay-at-home mum was doing her head in. She said while her husband did fun things with their kids every day, she felt tidying and keeping the house clean was part of the job description. My blood was boiling not only because she was complaining, but because if someone told me that stay-at-home parenting involved becoming a full-time live in housekeeper, I don’t know if I could be held responsible for what I might say or do.
I stay at home to look after the kids, which is what I do. I feed them, get up with them at ridiculous hours of the morning, clothe them, change their bums, play, read, sing, dance, take them out. I do at least 90% of the night shift (and even that might be generous on occasion). But if you come to my house while I am doing all this, there will be dishes in the sink, clean laundry piled high that hasn’t been put away and toys strewn from one end of the house to the other. The basic chores get done and I have given up hoping for more…….especially not when they are so little. With an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old, there is just no chance of keeping the house tidy. My boys don’t seem to be content unless they are tipping things out, especially small things like blocks and lego and my youngest has a special talent of picking things up and taking them all over the house. I have found the TV remote in the bathtub, pantry items tucked away in toys and pegs in every room. Maybe things will be different when the kids are older and at school.
If I was a stay-at-home mum with kid-free time for six hours a day, you could bet the house would be kept to a pretty high standard. The clutter doesn’t worry me so much, although it does bother my husband a little more. But I think of it this way. He works, I look after the kids, the house is a shared responsibility. Is it unreasonable to think of it this way? Or are the old-fashioned notions of a 1950s housewife who has dinner on the table, well-behaved kids and an impeccably clean home still what society expects a stay-at-home mum to be?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.