TOUGH CHOICE FOR MUMS To work or stay at home?

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In the second part of this series, we take a look at other factors that mums need to take into consideration when deciding between being a stay-at-home mum or a working mum.

Cultural factors. For a long time, work and motherhood have been construed as being in opposition to each other. Even the terms used are sometimes misconstrued to mean something else, for instance, when one hears a term such as working mum, they may assume that a stay-at-home mother does no work.

Other conflicting phrases are in reference to a full time mother as this assumes working mums are not full time mothers.

The truth is; society sometimes places a lot of pressure on mothers – many times expecting one to be a super mum who can do it all. Even so, many mothers end up feeling as failures for not being able to balance career, motherhood and marriage, among other roles that demand their time.

As a mother, it is of utmost importance to know that your journey is not like that of any other person and so the decision to work full time or be a stay-at-home mum lies with you and your partner, if married.

Should you choose to be a working mum, it will be necessary to set up a good support system at home to help you achieve some balance.

Also, you may consider wanting to draw encouragement from a social support group of other working mothers where you can share challenges and see how best to help each other manoeuver through the challenges that sometimes come with juggling motherhood and career.

The feelings of being judged often dissipate when mums take the time to talk to one another and understand there are others in similar situations as them.

Social factors. While waking up each day to tend to a demanding infant is tedious, watching as your spouse breezes out of the door to go to work and come back when the baby is asleep can cause you to be resentful, feeling the weight of the baby lies on your shoulders.

But if both parties are okay with the choices made – being a stay-at-home mum while your partner works – this transition can be much easier.

In this scenario, the stay-at-home parent is responsible for housekeeping and childcare, while the other parent is the breadwinner although there could be shared roles in respect of caring for the baby.

It is important that you and your spouse communicate about your roles both at home and work in order to manage expectations.

For instance, while one spouse may expect some relief with the baby having spent all day with him at home, the other party could expect to just come home and relax without necessarily taking on extra duties of feeding or bathing a baby, hence the need to communicate your expectations.

At the end of the day, whether one is a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, the most important thing is that they are happy and content with it.

A mother’s sense of fulfillment and quality of time spent with the child are key to a child’s development and wellbeing.

Therefore, as long as a working mom can ensure that her kids are well loved and cared for, then she shouldn’t feel guilty about not being with her kids 24/7 and being judged by others. It is the quality of parenting that counts.

Published in February 2017

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