The Secret to Successful Stay-at-Home Parenting

There used to be a time when the roles of a housewife and her working husband were, more or less, defined.

The wife did all the housework and took care of the kids and her man. The man brought home the bacon, period.

Sometimes, they'd mow the lawn and fix the faucets, but that was it. It was deemed that spending eight to ten hours at the office was work enough. After all, the man earned the money, and money was the bloodline of the family. This, in unspoken terms, entitled the man to his after-work leisure time of watching the telly undisturbed or sharing a beer at the pub with friends.

And then came a time when we fought for our right to monetary gratification. Most of us opted to get ourselves educated and find a job so that we could also earn cold hard cash, if only to be considered true equals to our husbands. We discovered the pleasures of corporate ladders and fat bonuses, rewards we never received as plain old parents.

And we became addicted.

Today, education and changing times have brought our attitudes full circle. Many women have 'opted out'. And thanks to the Internet and fabulous little ideas like flexi hours, some parents are juggling being at home and working, thus coining the phrase 'work from home'. While in many cases, the husbands still did more of the earning, they were doing a little more than mow.

With all these 'perks', one wonders: Why become a full-time stay-at-home parent? What of the plain housewife who doesn't contribute monetarily? Where do we get our kicks from (other than those from feisty toddlers?)? Without a salary and opportunities for 'career advancement', where do we get our short-term gratification from, and the long-term motivation to keep at our job?

The answer? A generous, loving partner.

If the last week has taught me one thing, it's that a husband's role at home is more than just to help out with the housework and the kids.

Firstly, no matter what you say, sitting at the office, dealing with clients and bosses, will NEVER be as tiring as parenting. Men aren't exactly hunter-gatherers anymore, not in the physical sense, so unless you're working two jobs and one of them involves wrestling cows, you will NEVER be as exhausted as your supermom-wife at 6pm.

Secondly, fulltime parenting is a more than less, a thankless job. In today's world of key performance indexes and increasing emphasis on numbers and tracking and measuring, the worth of staying at home for one's kids is just so hard to fathom, much less embrace. We know being home for our children has SOME benefits and we can SEE it sometimes, but it is rare that we feel the fulfilment of a fat bonus or a promotion. In the end, there is little tangible, meaningful motivation to keep doing your job, and doing it well, unless you have a crystal ball to see into your kids' futures, and are ensured you ARE there for a good reason.

And this is where a good partner comes in.

I believe a husband's primary job today, above and beyond his professional call of duty, is to take extra good care of his supermom-wife, more so than ever.

And after all that's said and done, your husband will be the only thing between giving up on giving your kids the attention they deserve, and trudging on knee-deep in diapers and unwashed dishes.

Yes, you have to TRY and come home on time, work permitting, to eat the dinner she so carefully prepared no matter how burnt it is.

Yes, you have to hear her bitch about the kids and the clogged toilets because she is the one who took care of it so you can now use it for hours reading your sports magazines.

Yes, you have to, on her birthday and your anniversaries or for no obvious occasion at all, give her flowers or candy or at least a nice, snuggly spoon-hug regularly so she gets SOME short-term feedback for her efforts. Because as much as we love the kisses and hugs and messy fingerpaintings from the kids, nothing beats a little man love after a looong day.

It's not a three-month bonus, but we'll take it.

So before you go entertaining romantic notions of staying home for your kids, consider this: Is your husband going to look at you after a long day at work and say, without remorse,

"Yup, she's got it worse than me."

And then proceed to give you a kiss and a hug, and surrenders the remote control while he rounds up the kids.

Perhaps that's the only question worth asking.

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1 Comment »

  1. Cindy said

    Well said, Jenn… How true! I love what you have written.

    A sahm’s life has to be experienced firsthand to realize that it is a tough and demanding job! It certainly helps a lot if the hubby empathizes and it becomes a win-win situation when he supports, appreciates and loves the wife more for being there. If men get this, they would be Kings because women want to be treated like Queens and the more they give to their spouses and children, they more they will receive, right? It is truly a beautiful formula for a Happy family and a great, loving relationship between mommy and daddy! : )

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