The Great Motherhood Debate: To Work or Stay at Home
During our grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s heyday, working moms are not the norm, they are the exception. Women during that time were delegated to housework and childcare. Then the great wars and women’s liberation came and we fought for equality. The latter half of the last century saw a steep incline of working moms. Whether by choice or necessity, working moms became a matter of fact. The Gen X and Gen Y kids are known for their independence and working parents. Stay-at-home moms became the exception.
The turn of the last century has given us tremendous technological advancements. These changes have also shaken the working concept. And for the first time in many decades, the trend of working moms has declined. While backlash to going against the tide used to be an issue, women of today are no longer dictated by social norms. With the open choices and options, would you work or stay?
The Working Mom
The typical working mom has a fulltime job, a business to run, or two or more part-time jobs that require her to get out of the house for most of the day, five or more days a week. She’s earning a regular salary and contributes financially to the family. She has limited time with the children – usually at night and during weekends. A nanny, a babysitter, a relative, day care centers or her husband help taking care of the kids.
Aside from the financial benefits, being a working mom provides advantages for both the mom and the family. For the mother, working means being able to sustain a professional career, be intellectually active, have a wider social network, and to pursue a passion outside of her family. The children will certainly benefit from the augmented income – better clothes, toys, education and everything else that money can buy.
Marriages are said to be more in-sync when both parents are working. When both have jobs, and contributing to the household coffers, they are more on equal footing and will more likely share the housework as well.
On the downside, working moms are not actually giving up one for the other. They are not entirely handling over their motherhood duties, responsibilities, and chores to another person. Moms will always be moms. They will be there for their child when needed, they will make time to bond with the children, they will get up early to prepare breakfast and come home early to cook dinner. They will sacrifice sleep when the child gets sick or when work requires extra time. They will try to be the best in both areas and it will be exhausting.
And then, time spent with your children will never be enough. They might make light of it, but working moms are peppered with guilt whenever they need to leave their kids with other people. And in some way, the kids will suffer too. They will not want to be separated from their moms, especially the younger ones. Cases of child abuse and maltreatment from their caretakers are rare, but it does happen. And kids who grew up under the care of others are more likely to develop deeper bonds with their caretakers.
Relationships may take a strain when both parents are working. Husbands could feel left out or wanting attention – no warm home-cooked dinners every night, fresh laundry every day, and a wife catering to his every need at home.
The Stay-at-Home Mom
The stay-at-home mom does not have a full-time job. She might have few hours of part-time work outside of the home, but her focus is on the care of her children and of the home. She’s in charge of everything at home, from cleaning, cooking, and laundry to shopping, budgeting, and child care. She almost completely relies on her husband for financial support.
Being a stay-at-home mom is a choice not given to all moms. To be able to stay at home, a mother with kids to care for shouldn’t have the need to earn a regular income. She first should have a reliable source of financial support.
The benefits of staying at home often outweigh the monetary compensation of working outside of home. Most moms will all be too happy to spend most of her time taking care and spending time with her children and the kids will have the best person to care for them – their mom. The first years of your kids’ life are crucial. This is where they develop life skills, bond for life, and parents’ chance to create beautiful memories children will cherish for life.
Moms will be able to focus on one arena – home. No juggling of office meeting and PTA meetings, office parties and bedtime stories, marketing campaigns and recitals. And while you are not bringing in money, you are saving a lot in nanny’s salary, baby-sitter’s fee, day care, and child care service fees.
Personal drawbacks of being a stay-at-home mom include boredom, limiting the woman’s activity, social life, and growth. Daily challenges, tasks, and events are all home-centered. Most days will consist of cooking, cleaning, washing, kids, and husband. There will be not much time left for social activities outside of home, mental stimulation, or to pursue personal passion.
Kids of stay-at-home moms tend to be less independent, or develop self-reliance later than working moms. Being a full-time mom and homemaker can leave the woman unappreciated or valued less despite the enormous job she has. Husbands also have the tendency to let the wife do all housework or to think that he’s the more burdened partner.
Achieving the Best of Both Worlds
Is it possible to achieve the best of both worlds? Yes. Most single moms have no choice but to work and earn a living to sustain her family. But they also found a way to be completely involved in their children’s lives. It could be the strategic scheduling of work or the ability to work from home.
Today’s working scheme is more flexible and amenable to working from home. In fact, many companies are using the work-from-home scheme to attract the best people to work with them. Companies offer work flexibility as an incentive or as a benefit. Thus, moms can work fulltime and enjoy its benefits without having to regularly leave the house.
Freelancing is also a great way to earn money without the time commitment. Freelancers control their working hours – set their own time and amount of work hours. They can better manage their schedules in a way that will fit their children’s needs as much as her work.
Running your own business will also give you the freedom to stay at home and control your working hours. It is not a coincidence that most mommy businesses are founded from kitchens, backyards, or home garages. They bring the work or business home.
Maturity, understanding, and commitment from both partners can eliminate most of the drawbacks, whether you choose to work or stay at home. Many family-focused couples have raised happy and well-adjusted children, while a lot of marriages have crumbled. And mom’s working status is the last issue you can attribute the success or failure. It is not the situation that will spell your success or doom you to fail, it is always about attitude, outlook, and grit.