Friday, January 29, 2010

Being a Stay At Home Mom

A sweet friend of mine emailed me the other day with these questions:

What are 5 great things about being a SAHM?
What are 5 challenges about being a SAHM?

As I started to think about the reasons I would give her, I soon realized this was a great blog post!

5 Great things about being a SAHM

1. It allows me to homeschool my children. This is a calling I am very passionate about so staying home allows me to fulfill this calling. Along with homeschooing is my fervent desire to mold, shape and guide my children’s lives. To direct their hearts towards righteousness. Homeschooling my girls all day long is not just about academics, it’s about their morals, their character, and their hearts. I wouldn’t be able to FULLY and WHOLE-HEARTEDLY ensure that my kids’ values were being brought up and trained the way God is calling me to bring them up if I had to go to work every day or if they went to school every day. A teacher or a daycare worker would be doing those things for me. No thanks.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Hey, wait! I love my kids just as much as you do, and I go to work and they go to school.” This is not about who loves their kids more or about who’s doing the better thing. It’s about what I feel called to do and how I’m supposed to do it. Raising our kids and living our lives is going to look different from each other because we are all have unique callings and goals. That’s okay!
And anyway, perhaps if I didn’t homeschool I WOULD go to work. Not sure. But that’s another thought for another blog post.

2. It allows me to take on the majority of the house cleaning and cooking responsibility. It is my honor to be the one responsible for keeping the house clean, the laundry done, the cupboards stocked and dinner prepared. Now, I have a great, hardworking husband who helps me out tremendously. He does not treat me like I am his servant; he does not have high and mighty expectations of me, his wife that I am to fulfill. We are a husband and wife team-he has his roles, I have mine. I take pride in my roles. My husband works really hard to pay the bills and I am thankful I can stay home. I love being able to keep a happy home and please my husband by lessening the need for him to do household chores. It is my way of saying “thank you for working so hard.” He feels respected and showers me with love and offers to take up housey chores and responsibilities as his way of saying “thank-you for working so hard.”

3. It allows me to fulfill my other desires such as writing, running and ministering to women. Some women say they feel like they lose themselves if they do not work outside the home. I am, first and foremost, a Child of God. I find my identity in living my life for Jesus Christ. Living for God means living life in accordance with His Will. I firmly believe that right now, God wants me to focus on two things: 1) Making my husband happy 2) Raising my children to love Jesus.

God has given me desires, talents, gifts, strengths and ideas. They are not to be forgotten or wasted! I love to write (hence my blog and, if you’re friends with me, my super long emails). I used to write for a publishing company (while staying at home) that wrote testimonies for churches. I loved being a part of this fabulous company that worked for the Kingdom and allowed me to use my writing skills. I’m currently writing a children’s book with my best friend. I love women and have a heart for young moms and newly married gals. I’m walking along side a young wife right now who is struggling, offering my advice and wisdom (since I’ve been married for 15 years) and praying with her. I host and facilitate a mom’s group focused on parenting. I love to run! I have run marathons and half marathons… I know I can be a working mom and do all these things, but my point is that I don’t have to give any of it up. In fact, I believe staying home has allowed me to be MORE of the woman I was designed to be because I have the time to do them.

4. I don’t have to go to work! Before I had kids, I worked for Intel. And really, I enjoyed it. Since I am a people person, an extrovert and just a general social butterfly, going to work every day was satisfying and enjoyable. There was a great sense of accomplishment having successfully done my job, received raises and accolades. But I can’t tell you how freeing it is not to HAVE to go to work every day. I don’t have to worry about my performance and how a manager is going to assess my efforts. I don’t have to worry about accrued days off in order to take a day off. I don’t have to work with people who are hard to get along with every single day. I don’t have to go to work! I don’t have the stresses of working for a boss or dancing around office politics. My husband and I can live on 1 income, he is blessed to have a job in this economy, and the stress/responsibility of earning a paycheck is not mine. That is a load off and stress reliever.

5. I get to govern my day. I am not limited to before work hours or after work hours. We all agree that days go by fast and I am thankful that all the things I want to get done (including laundry, visiting, appointments, schooling, playing, cleaning, relaxing, being creative, shopping, etc) are not forced around my work schedule. My kids are able to be part of all sorts of social engagements and sports and music, etc. that don’t cut into evening time because I can take them during the day. All these things BECOME my schedule—according to MY needs, MY desires for my family and MY privileged availability. I feel freedom in managing my whole day, every day.

5 challenging things about being a SAHM

1. There is an organizational and prioritizing requirement that takes diligence in being a SAHM. Someone once told me they couldn’t stay at home or homeschool their kids because they would become lazy and selfish. Yes, I agree that this can become a danger. I don’t live for just myself. As I said earlier, I live for God, my husband and my children. Since I know my purpose in life and have definitive goals, it is easier to stay focused and not lose sight of my duties and responsibilities. I do, however, find myself with too many lazy and/or unproductive days at times. It’s these times that I am the most disorganized and have my priorities out of proper alignment for too long. Like I said earlier, being free to do whatever I want is a bonus, but it can become destructive if I am not diligent in pursuing the right things.

2. Getting private time is rare. Since I homeschool, being at home means being with my kids alllllll day. Some SAHM’s send their kids to school, so have more flexibility to find alone time. As much as I enjoy being around my husband (I really do) and as much as I enjoy being around my children (I really do), I sometimes need to be by myself. I have to be creative during the day if I need a break. I take my kids to my doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, errands…they are always with me. Always being with me in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s what I want. It just makes it hard when I need solitude or a moment to myself. It can be done, though!

3. There are expectations of SAHM’s to prove their worth in society. It is one of those things that can (if I’m not careful) cause insecurities about choosing to stay home. Being confident, prayerful and motivated often combats the sting of the stigma. But often I feel like I should be prepared with clear, lofty, beautiful explanations when I’m in conversation with businesswomen just in case they ask me any questions about what the heck I do all day.

4. Finances can be tricky. We don’t have nearly as much spending money as when we both worked. It takes longer to pay off debt with not as much money coming in. Going out to dinner doesn’t happen as regularly (of course, this could be on the Great list and not just the Challenge list). Having only one income forces families to live more within their means. Having a double income can, not always, but can cause us to go deeper in to debt or live just outside of what we can truly afford. We make a LITTLE bit more, but we spend a LOT more. It’s the American way. I understand that some families could not afford to live on one income and need the double income.

5. However, another challenge for moms who stay home but want to work, is finding that awesome job. I mentioned earlier that I used to work for a publishing company. I was able to write, proofread and edit from my home, on my own time. I was able to incorporate work time with nap time. My friend and I are creating a children’s book that will one day make us millionaires. Or maybe just thousandaires. Either way, we’ll probably pull in some dough allowing us to be financial contributors. It also gives us the satisfaction of doing something productive outside the home using our skills, gifts and talents. So why is this on the challenge list? It can be a tough to find that right opportunity to allow a mom to stay home AND work. But if you want to work, keep looking! Many moms do it and find it is essential to staying well balanced in life. I encourage the Proverbs 31 woman in all of us and strive to be like her, too. I know that even though it’s hard to figure out how that is going to look for each of us, it can be done!

What about you? What are some other great things about staying home? What are other challenges?
I’m sure there are great things about being a working mother and if you blog about it, be sure to leave me a comment so I can go check it out. Remember, my list is not a comparison about why I think it’s best to be a SAHM, but rather, 5 great things for ME and why I want to be a SAHM.


Amber said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. I still say you have the hardest job in the world...and you do it with such joy! Hugs and kisses to you!

Sarah Penn said...

I agree with so much that you had to say! I loved reading your perspective on being a SAHM! I, like you love my role.. and I envy your organization skills! WTG on another beautiful post. :)

SuperDave said...

I can't be a stay at home dad, because that would make me SAHD. But I could be Mr. Mom.

SuperDave said...

I also can't be a stay at home Grampy. I would be a SAHG!

Molly W. said...

Great list, Julie.

elizabeth embracing life said...

The greatest joy in my day is looking over at my sillies and the blessing of being home with them. I told my husband that I would never complain about being a stay home mom. It is truly a gift. I loved how you wrote it out.

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angelagarretson said...

Thank you, Julie. I really enjoyed this blog. :) SAHM'ing ROCKS! he he. Although, It's hard to go without those little plastic bears from OCAC.

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