But I’m “Just” A Stay At Home Parent (Episode 105)
Do you struggle with being “just” a stay at home parent? For those of you who are a stay-at-home mom or stay at home dad, this episode is for you. How do you own this with confidence and recognize your worth?
What does being a stay at home parent really entail?
how do you (and others) recognize your worth?
Answering this listener question:
Recently we got this listener question in:
“I am struggling with just being a stay at home mom. How do I come to grips with this, or figure out what my purpose is? Is it simply just being there for the kids?”
As a stay at home dad, Nathan is in a rising group of parents. The stay at home dad trend is on the rise, and with it comes a new perspective on what being “just” a stay-at-home parent is all about.
Pin for later:
Stay-at-home moms and dads account for about one-in-five U.S. parents.
More than 11 million U.S. parents (18%) were not working outside the home in 2016
Where are we this week?
Meeting up with friends new Great Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa, Colorado! We eased into boondocking (dry camping with no hookups) this week with ten days at an electric only site to begin with, and my goodness it was gorgeous. So many incredible pictures from our stay there!
What do you say?
When Nathan is asked what he does, he says he stays at home with the kids. It’s not a crazy response, just a basic one. He doesn’t feel like he owes it to anyone to explain or justify. Ah, what a novel concept!
What if you aren’t confident in your role as a stay at home parent? Where do you find your worth?
Being a parent often means you have to wear your sunshine on the inside!
How do you find JOY and SELF-WORTH?
For Nathan, there was variety of paths he had taken - from banking to admin for a small business to real estate. So even by the time he switched to staying at home full-time, he had identified a purpose that was much larger than any profession: he enjoys looking for unique and fun ways to help people.
So when his work shifted to being one in the home, his joy didn’t change - he was still able to look for unique and fun ways to help people, and they were the most important ones he was now focused in on - his family!
What if your PURPOSE doesn't Provide a Paycheck?
Now this can be a hard one. There is real merit in experiencing what it’s like to bring home a paycheck. Knowing that you can make an income definitely helps with the self-worth status, as you recognize it’s a choice to stay home; not because you can’t make money, but because you recognize the importance of being a stay at home parent.
It’s important to recognize how valuable your time is. You are raising future change-makers in the world. Now, instead of looking at systems to make a bunch of coworkers’ lives easy, you’re looking at your life and what you want to create.
Look at your children - what are you going to fill your day with? Nathan brings challenges into our everyday lifestyle - he puts the kids in situations where they are forced to try, push, and move past discomfort. So while he may be pushing himself and getting some exercise, he’s also opening the door for the girls to also move past their own limitations and see how much further they can go.
Humankind and a common goal
Think about it - when you are raising children, it is not just your life you’re navigating, but those of growing little human beings. How amazing to not just cater to their needs, but help them explore what it’s like to move toward a common goal for the family. Incorporating your own needs into the day isn’t selfish; it’s helping your children understand that there is more to this life than just their own desires.
In traditional work, a manager grooms their team to be the best “minions” they can be for the job - to help them know their strengths and roles and how to work together for the common good of the company.
How often do we spend that same devoted time teaching our children how to work together with us as a family team?
Walk alongside your children and push them to explore both the joy of success and the pain of failure.
Shift Your Mindset
There are so many moving parts to running a household, especially with children added in! If you were to write out your job description of parenting as a business model, you would see many job roles all lumped into just this one description.
Chef, janitor, chauffeur, bookkeeper, engineer, customer relations, human resources, teacher, counselor, consultant, personal assistant, manager, producer, director…the list could go on and on. Look up the job descriptions and see just how many of these are also things you do as a stay at home parent.
It's A Big Responsibility
However, this isn’t just a purpose with a paycheck or a status ranking. You aren’t just working with colleagues who will come and go and dictate their own lives.
You are raising your lifeline. Your next generation. Your legacy.
That is some powerful stuff that leaves an impact as your future that will go on beyond you.
Recognize your value in this - if you aren’t there for them, who will be? Who will help them navigate this world and figure out how to be the change they wish to see in the world?
What is Money?
Money is a currency of energy. It’s not to just be wielded as a power play. We give our essence in what we do every day. That could be going to work to bring in the money to provide food and shelter for our family, or it could be ensuring the family has been fed and provided for, and taking the time to show your children how life works and how to move through it. That’s a pretty high responsibility for the future of our whole world!
Money is the currency we so often use to measure, but it’s not the only energy swirling around us.
The energy it takes to invest in another; to train, to teach, and to support - this is way more valuable and will last long after money is gone.
Some additional resources for you
- More information on Stay At Home Dads
- What is our purpose for money?
- Money can’t buy…
- Money, marriage and mountain lions (Episode 58)
- How to Communicate Effectively
- Building Empathy and Respect
- 100 Ways to be Happy (Special 100th episode)
- What is your goal?
It's All About Perspective
Do you view yourself as “just” a stay at home parent…or do you see this as a valuable opportunity to get to invest in the lives of your next generation?
Not only is it a critical component to recognize the importance of what you’re doing, but you also have the power to make it a positive environment, just like in the workplace.
If you wouldn’t work with coworkers that walk all over you and don’t give you respect, don’t allow that in your own home, either. If you were in a job where 100% of the responsibility fell on you, it would be a quick recipe for burnout and resentment. The same is true in your own home.
Recognize what you tolerate. Is it helping the family as a whole? You aren’t just managing; you are the example. You are not only managing, but modeling what is okay.
What do you tolerate?
The Top FOUR Essentials:
Know Your Role - Complete, don't Compete
Just like when we are setting up our camper - Nathan’s role is to work on the outside and get it all set up. Mine is on the inside. Both are important and critical to ensuring we have everything put away for a travel day, or set up so we can live in it. We don’t weigh the worth of one over the other or compare who has the bigger responsibility. We recognize the need for both.
It’s simply an energy we are doing - and both are critical. The more we express gratitude for the other, the more we see this as a team effort we are working on together, vs. it being a competition of who does more.
If you want to nix the shame your partner has surrounding being “just” a stay at home parent, start expressing gratitude for all the things they do. Show them support by acknowledging all they do. We all appreciate affirmation and gratitude for our roles.
Think about it - learning how to balance a bank account, do laundry, navigate insurance, cook a meal…who is responsible for teaching your children this? What all does school really cover?
I shared this last week, and I’ll share it again here:
Remember your WHY
Go back to your “why” - what is your why for being a parent? Why are you doing all this and what do you hope to get out of it for your family - for the future? Go back to your family vision - what makes this all worth it for you?
Still Struggling with Being "Just" a Stay At Home Parent?
If you’re still questioning how you have worth as a stay at home parent, start calculating out your role. What would you need to pay another to do all the things you do as a parent? I’m not just talking about hiring a babysitter. Add in a personal chef, a housecleaner (daily, weekly, monthly), bookkeeper and accountant, etc.
It’s a reverse paycheck! Think about it in that way, and how much you save by having a parent at home to do this. These are expensive roles! This is all the money you’ve saved by not having someone else do it.
If you want to get super crazy, go ahead and work out a paycheck for this stay at home parent role. Calculate out what you can pay, and then, instead of it being just a paycheck, put that money into a vacation fund, or to pay off debt, or something else to contribute to the family. Do the same thing, but put some money around it, and make this be payment in what you save.
Schedule Vacation Time
As a stay at home parent, you don’t have scheduled vacation time. It may be around your partner’s schedule, or it may be that your partner (like me) works from home and work is always there as well. We’ve found it is so, so important to schedule those “mini vacations” and seek moments of joy every. single. day. It’s THAT important. Even if it’s just a ten minute meditation or 5 minutes alone, it can be what you need for a reset and to give you the energy to accomplish all you want/need to that day.
Kids want it all. The world revolves around them and they will gravitate toward their needs and wants. That’s just a part of life and immaturity. As they grow, they recognize more and more the impact they have on others and how everyone else has desires as well. It’s not that they are being jerks; they simply don’t realize it. We as parents need to help them learn this. That means clearly communicating our desires and needs. If we don’t voice what we need, they aren’t going to support us in it.
Find your Voice and Use it
It’s hard enough for a spouse to read your mind. Don’t expect your children to. Voice what you need to do to recharge so you can be a more present and happy parent for your kids. The more you voice it, the more they have the opportunity to step up and honor that. It’s not just for you; it’s an important life skill they need to learn.
Don’t put the weight on your children to recognize when you need a break. Voice it.
If we don’t voice our needs, not only are we setting our kids up for failure when we get frustrated, but we’re modeling to our children how to not communicate. We are the example to help our children navigate their own needs.
It’s a grand experiment of raising children. Be honest with yourself in this. We’re all figuring it out as we go. Give yourself a pat on the back for showing up every day and doing that. It takes a lot of work. You won’t get it all right, but you still continue to try.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Try out different roles - see what it’s like to live the life of your partner. If you can, reverse rolls. If that’s not practical, at least walk them through a few of your days - talk to them about all you did and explain your why behind it.
Sometimes our lack of credit for what another person does simply comes from our lack of understanding on what it takes to do it.
Be very careful here, however. Don’t fall into the trap of competing for who has the badge for the hardest role. That’s not what this is about. This is about understanding the roles of another. Go back to what your goal is.
What would you be as a couple if you respected and appreciated what each other did?
Step into another’s shoes - the shoes of the person you chose to create this family with! Clearly communicate your expectations, your desires, and your feelings to your family. It’s easier to do when you understand what the other is already taking on. And remember, the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us!
*Mama Says Namaste is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.