BEING A STAY-AT-HOME MOM
Thinking of starting a family? Or expecting your bundle of joy? If so, the issue of childcare arrangements must have come up at some point in time. Maybe Baby spoke to 4 real-life moms who had chosen 4 different childcare options, and asked them to share their thoughts and experiences.
Ms Vanessa Lim is a mother of two young boys, aged 2 ½ and 1. Two years ago, she decided to put her banking career on hold to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).
1. Why did you decide to become a stay-at-home mom?
The initial reason for choosing to be a SAHM was to spend more time with my son (an only child then, two years ago) as I was working long hours. I went back to work for three months after my maternity leave and I found that my motivations for going to work (particularly at that company I was with then) were waning by the day. I also felt frustrated that I couldn't control what was happening at home, ie the way my son was being brought up, the way he was given a toy to distract him so that he would drink his milk, how he was always left alone during naps, resulting in him rolling off the bed onto his head once.
When I decided to stop working, I was able to exercise more control over my child's activities at home. Four months into my sojourn as a SAHM, I was pregnant with my second child and that sealed my SAHM status for at least another year (until June 2011).
Having two children under the age of two in June 2011, I felt it was imperative that I stayed at home to spend time with my older son as well as bond with and nurse my younger son. We had just celebrated my younger son’s first birthday, and I must say I love the time I've spent getting to know and taking care of him.
2. What do you like most about being a stay-at-home mom?
The opportunity to be with my children and to enjoy the daily (supposedly mundane) activities with them, such as bathing, feeding, playing, reading, talking, going on walks, etc. I've learnt that it's in doing the little ordinary stuff with them repeatedly that really forms strong bonds between parent and child.
The happy family of four
3. What do you like least about it?
At times, after not leaving the house for a long time (maybe five or more days), I experience bad cabin fever, but I've since learnt that I need to pay attention to my needs too. This includes, maybe, taking a walk on my own (usually to buy groceries) once a week.
Money-wise, I do tend to worry about our savings and feel bad about my husband having to support the family on his own.
4. Was this childcare option your first choice? If not, which other childcare option would you have preferred? Or which other childcare option had come a close second, if any?
No, this wasn't our first choice. We had initially hoped that our neighbour, an experienced and loving nanny of 20 years, would be able to take care of our children, but she has since retired as she feels too old for it. When I first returned to work after my maternity leave in 2010, we had to settle on my mom taking care of my firstborn. She has little experience taking care of young children full-time, as my brother and I were taken care of by nannies when young. We decided to employ a helper to assist her.
5. From your experience, do you have any tips/words of advice to other parents-to-be who might be considering becoming a stay-at-home mom?
- Don't expect to do too much. Enjoy the kids. Housework should never be a priority. Getting all worked up about how clean the house is or whether the laundry's been done does nothing to help the kids. Being less uptight will actually set a more positive tone for the household and the kids. Get help to do the housework if possible. Our kids need us. :)
- Also remember that we, as moms, need to take care of ourselves. Don't feel bad about needing to take time out for a walk, a haircut, couple-time with hubby, or a meal with friends.
- Don't compare yourself to other moms. Some SAHMs are like busy bees and they probably thrive on a packed schedule. Not all of us are that way. We are tailored to be the best moms for our kids being exactly who we are. Children can also sense if we pretend or put on a front!
- Live in the present because our kids do need us to be in the moment with them. It is a privilege to be needed “NOW, NOW, NOW!” by them because it won't last too long. Before we know it, they won't need us holding their hands, walking beside them or carrying them anymore, so enjoy the present and treasure these memories. The terms Kairos and Chronos time (Chronos refers to the chronological passing of time, whereas Kairos refers to significant moments in time) have been mentioned in a few articles on parenting and how Chronos time presents many frustrations for us as parents. I disagree. I would say dwell deeper on what Chronos means to our kids and we will see that all time spent with them can become Kairos moments. Yes, frustration hits even the best of us and we lose our cool, but I say it's time to grow up, and get on with it.
- Laugh. A Lot. Laugh especially when frustration hits so that we learn to enjoy even the sticky moments.
I Love Children would like to thank Ms Vanessa Lim for sharing her thoughts and experiences of being a stay-at-home mom, and wish her and her family all the best!
Look out for the other 3 articles in this 4-part series Real Moms Share About Childcare:
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