Stay at home Mum
Since our first ever guest post by Leah two weeks ago, I have been thinking about the importance of parental involvement in child-rearing and the merits of being a full-time stay at home mum. Here at More than a Mum our goal is to support you in your dual roles of woman and mum and for many that may be juggling work and family life. However for many Mums their choice is to stay at home and as noted by Leah that can be a role which is belittled and under-valued.
When Loretta posted “How children teach us to dream big” we promoted it with a tweet saying “What are you doing to be more than a Mum?”. We received a response which questioned why you needed to be more than a mum; surely being a mum was an important enough role in itself. Our response was that Mum is a brilliant, vital role of which we should be proud, but that we also think you can be a brilliant Mum & have your own identity – well, that is our tag line. But identity doesn’t have to be about a career or a job, after all being defined solely by your work is as restricting as being defined solely by your motherhood; we should be the sum of all our parts. But the question did point out something that perhaps we have not given enough time to – the merits of being a full-time SAHM.
Then I read an article in the Daily Mail entitled “Can a woman be too clever to be a stay at home mum” The article debates whether or not stay at home Mums who are educated are wasting their education by staying at home with children. One of the points it makes is that although many stay at home mothers may enjoy their time with their children, once children have flown the nest and they try to re-enter the job market, they realise just what they sacrificed for their children. According to the article Margaret Thatcher was reluctant to give tax breaks to women who didn’t work as she felt they “lacked get-up-and-go and gumption” and the Danish prime minister said educated British women were wasting their degrees if they became SAHM.
The article does however also put forward many points from well educated women who have chosen to stay at home with their children. It sites Louise Kirk, who has a degree from Oxford University but has chosen to be a SAHM. She is quoted as saying “I’ve always known I wanted to stay at home to bring up my children. No one else can replicate that bond of love. My knowledge of history and the intellectual discipline I’ve gained from my education has enriched my children’s lives. At Oxford, I learned to think and write cogently, to analyse, discuss, to be self- confident – and I have passed on all these skills to my children. Motherhood is a constant challenge. You use all your practical skills – you paint, read, garden and cook with them; you imbue them with enthusiasm for life. Even when they are just pottering along at your side, they are learning and conversing. Child-rearing dull? Not for one moment.” And she can’t be doing that badly at it as according to the article her children have all done superbly academically; her daughter has just got into Oxford.
Another Mum Claire Paye, a graduate of Jesus College, Oxford, is also quoted in the article saying, “I’ve never felt I’m wasting my degree…I’m bringing up two well-mannered, balanced children, who will, I hope, contribute to the world in a positive manner.” but she is also honest about the fact that at times her choice does challenge her, saying, “Of course I get frustrated sometimes — it’s very hard for children to see you as an individual with your own needs. That’s why I love going to my book club. I feel I’m my own person again.”
I think that yet again this proves what we have often said at More than a Mum – a happy mother equals a happy child. Being a stay at home mum and putting your all into bringing up your children is as valid a life choice as going back to work or attempting to find flexible working. Staying at home, hating it and passing this negativity on to your children is surely no better than putting them into nursery to allow you to return to work, but if you do choose to be a stay at home mum and put your career on hold, do not feel that you are less of a person that a Mum who has returned to work. You have to do what is right for you and your family. Oh and if you need a book club to help you feel like an individual again click here!