Being a stay-at-home parent
There are many reasons parents may choose to stay-at-home or return to work in either a full-time, part-time or casual basis. For some it will be a choice you make, whilst for others, decisions are based on other practical or financial reasons.
Being a stay-at-home parent brings with it many rewards – and challenges. The impact of these can depend on many factors – your personality, enjoyment of your work, your career ambitions, your partners career ambitions, your parenting ambitions, your parenting experience and identity – just to name a few.
Being a stay-at-home parent has been, without a doubt, the best decision I could have possibly made. Watching my dear son grow up, develop and become the incredible boy that he is, has been the greatest honour I will ever achieve in my lifetime.
For whatever reason that you may be a stay-at-home parent, there is no doubt that this can also be an incredibly challenging experience. Whilst there can be many moments of joy and delight, there can also be times of boredom with routine and feelings of frustration. Again the impact of these will be impacted by your parenting experiences, personality, networks and personal interests and ambitions.
Tips for stay-at-home parents
Sadly, often these challenges are not always well understood or valued by others around us. Below is some advice that can help and support you with some of the often understated challenges that may come with staying-at-home to raise your children.
Not feeling valued
Often stay-at-home parents are viewed as ‘not having a job’ because there is no salary – despite all the responsibility, energy and effort that comes with raising children all day every day.
I hate it when people say it must be nice not having to go to work and have a job.
Always remember that you do have a job: parenting. Parenting is a job that is consistent, hard work – just without the salary, sick and holiday pay. Talking to your partner is you are feeling undervalued can also help to remind you that you are both part of a partnership to give your children the start to life that you have chosen.
Craving to feel a sense of achievement
Days filled with routines, focussing on the needs of others and doing tasks that need to be done repeatedly can become mudain and unstimulating from one day to the next. As a result you may find yourself missing the ‘buzz’ and sense of accomplishment that you could when you were working.
“Since having kids, I no longer feel the sense of accomplishment I did professionally. There is no adrenaline rush, no deadlines, no rush at the and of a project. I miss that.
This is probably a good time to redefine your definition of accomplishment. Given the uniqueness of parenting, comparing what you did prior to having children with your life now is not really feasible – so be mindful of not trying to draw direct comparisons. Also, as your baby grows, develops and achieves new milestones, credit yourself for all you do to support these developments, and relish in the fact that you are there to experience and see it first hand.
Setting yourself projects either around the home or within your community can also help you to continue to experience that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment – not only at the time of doing but also from then on each time you look at your project. Alternatively if there is a special project that that you have thought about having a go at but not had the time, this can be a great opportunity to try it out at your own pace without the pressure of instant results.
Losing your sense of identity
Becoming a parent brings with it new roles, responsibilities, priorities and, a change in identity as you move into this phase of life where you are now, above all a provider. In your child’s eyes you will now always be their mother or father.
In addition to the change in role and new added dimension of who you are, there can also be a sense of loss with the person and life that you had prior to having children.
Whilst I treasured the time we had together and I loved becoming a mum, I also struggled with losing who I was, and all I had worked hard to build up over the years.
Often this brings a sense of loss. Loss of connection with your work and work colleagues, loss of earnings and loss of identity.
My job and career was a big part of who I was, and what I had worked towards for so long, and now it was as if it that part of me was eroding away.
Consider strategies to combat isolation
Isolation can be a challenge for many stay-at-home parents. This might particularly be the case if your friends or relatives are not having children at he same time as you.
I really found motherhood to be lonely and isolating. My family were interstate, and I had always loved my work which was exciting and challenging. Suddenly this changed when I was at home with my daughter, just the two of us, all day.