The working mom and stay home mom

15 04 2009

I chance upon an article this morning, about an expert who declared that all moms should stay at home. (Read the article if you are keen)

I read further and saw the comments on this, and not surprisingly, there were many who felt that this statement is simply too general, and it’s very debatable to say the least.

Emotions were strong in some, some related to the statement, some felt that they don’t have a choice and have to be working mothers.

Stay Home moms — the pros

I’ve seen and heard some experiences of a stay home mom. The obvious benefits of staying home is that one is always there when the child has his firsts: first time walking, first time calling mommy, first time crawling etc. It’s also the joy that kids bring and the laughter. One friend told me she would give up her career anytime, and does not regret making the choice of being a full time stay home mom. She loves being with her kids, bringing them to classes, being totally involved.

Financially, she rather spends on the family, and the children. They lived simply and most of the budget would rather be channeled to the kids’ learning and expenses rather than on herself.

Stay home moms — the not-so-great points

Some common points that I have heard from friends who stay at home:

– Not being themselves anymore. They are just known as someone’s mommy when they bring the kids to school.

– No personal time

– Husband do not always appreciate that staying at home is hard work too.

– Not as much freedom in spending on themselves

– Losing touch with friends and the world

It really depends on the character and personality of the individual, some of these points may not affect them at all, or have very minimal effect. Another common point though, some have indicated to me that they do hope to go back to work, but on a flexi-time basis.

Working moms – the pros

Despite some complaints that I have heard about some people not having a family friendly environment, I do think that there’s pros to being a working mom.

– Being connected to adults. (Try asking a stay home mom to relish the time that you don’t have a kid screaming “mommy!” all the time)

– Financially independent (in dual income families)

– Having some personal time (especially important when you are the type who wants the personal space)

– Self identity intact. You are still you at work, not known as someone’s mommy only.

Working moms – the not-so-great points

– Not enough time in the day to be with the kids
– Missing out on the “firsts”
– Not having enough rest because after work, when you go back home, you still have the mommy duties to handle
– Could potentially be more stressful because there’s stress coming from work, home and kids.
– If the working environment is not family friendly, there’s potential of imbalance in work/family time.

My own take

I’m a working mother. I know myself very well that being a full time stay home mom is not something I want to do. It’s not because I don’t love my kids. I do, but I love my own personal time and being able to earn my own keep as well.

I’m lucky that the nature of my job allows me to work from home, though this is not an arrangement that works well for me with 2 toddlers running about. I also have the flexibility of time, and a very understanding boss who focuses on the results, not whether I’m in the office or how many hours I spend in office. In many ways, I have probably unconsciously chosen companies that are more flexi with working hours, and am grateful that I’ve met my fair share of good bosses as well. I have also done my part in ensuring that the work gets done, so that I’m in a position to ask for some arrangements that suits both my family and work responsibilities.

Ultimately, there’s really no 1 set of arrangement that would work for everyone. Be it a working mom or a stay home mom, it’s really a choice of what the priorities are. Rightly said, there’s no right or wrong on how to be a mom. As long as we do our best, we are happy with our choices, then that would make us a good mom.

It is impossible to please everyone, and one thing I’ve learned is that I can only please myself. When I’m happy with what I have done for the family and myself, I can be a better person, and then I can be a better mom. A family unit is all about cooperation and team work, so it is also equally important that the spouse is mutually agreeable and comfortable with whatever arrangements that work for the family.

Defining your priorities is the first step, work out the finances and speak to the husband. There is always a way to work out something, and don’t feel guilty if there are comments about the type of choices you make as a mom, and as an individual.

Mommy is just one of the many hats we put on, not the only one that matters.

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