Life Support for the Stay-At-Home-Mom
A Real Career
It is true; there are many different personalities out there. This is even true for stay-at-home mothers. Regardless of their personality though, the job of a stay-at-home mom is unending, encompassing, and down right tiring. If you are a mom reading this, I give you my permission to send this to your husband. If you are the husband, like I am, take heed. We are going to take a glimpse into this work environment and ways to provide support.
Let me start by saying these ideas are also worth looking at if your wife works as well. The stresses are different for a working mother, but they are just as real. You can never go wrong supporting and loving your spouse.
Understanding the Issues:
What the husband "misses" at work:
I have heard it said and have even thought it myself a few times. That voice that says, “What is wrong, you have been home all day?” I am sure if these words were actually vocalized in my house the response would be a very quick, “And you haven’t! Do you know how the kids have behaved today?” This response holds amazing truth.
Although the working spouse has been at work with its own stress and pressure, they have not been around the kids. This is important because the brain tends to compartmentalize stresses. A hard day at work, or even a bad one, does not directly translate to being tired of reading books, disciplining kids, wiping noses, or ignoring whining. Whereas the husband’s duties change upon arriving home, the stay-at-home mom is still doing the same thing she has been doing all day. This can wear a person out.
This was perfectly demonstrated in a conversation with my wife. I mentioned one Friday that I was very glad it was the weekend. After all, it had been a very deadline driven week at work. Her response surprised me a little. She simply said, “I can’t say that I am. I will do the same thing tomorrow I do every day.” This concept is important for any husband to understand.
Another important area we, the working husbands, take for granted is adult conversation. This is especially true if your children are younger. While hours at the office, factory, or work site may not lend to the same conversation as a coffee shop, it is with adults and stimulates our minds. Whether it be solving a design concern, shop talk at lunch, or general chatter while working on site, it is much more than answering, “why,” explaining why Jimmy can’t see if his little sister can fly, or reading Clifford for the 5th time.
Intellectual conversation is critical to our sanity. It can also be difficult to come by at home with children. Without adult conversation and stimulation a stay-at-home mom can quick feel relegated to the position of babysitter. Raising children is one of the most important careers out there. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most under-rated.
Goals that challenge:
It is unfortunate but true, many stay-at-home moms find their days, weeks, and months void of any true goal or challenge. Again, this is more pronounced when the family consists of small children or infants. As the husband, you have set goals, deadlines, performance metrics that you are working toward. You have a sense of accomplishment when these are reached and are rewarded accordingly.
Moms can easily see their job as an endless step from one diaper to the next or one meal to then next. It can be hard to grasp the big picture goal of a healthy and successful adult child when you are down in the trenches. To exacerbate things, when goals or milestones are reached, there is often no reward or recognition for the effort. In the business world a person would quickly find a new job if this how the office was run.
Providing Support and Encouragement:
Work on communication:
This is nothing new. Communication is always important. However, make it a point to spend 10 to 15 minutes (or longer) talking to your wife after you get home each day. Take a genuine interest in what she and the kids did that day. Part of this is listening but being active in the conversation is also important. She needs to know that what she does with the kids during the day is important. After all, it is!
Schedule some self-time for Mom:
Pick a day, at least once a month, for Mom to have some self time. By self time, I mean she is free to leave the house for at least three hours and do what ever she wants. Consider it a personal date. This could be an evening after the husband gets home or even a Saturday or Sunday.
Take time to be alone:
It has been said a million times. “Don’t stop dating after the I Do’s.” I will repeat it here. Plan dates and put them on the calendar. If you have to, put them on your work calendar too. It is recommended to have a date (4 to 5 hours) at least once a month. I would recommend every other week. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Just take time to reconnect and catch up with each other.
If your schedule or budget simply will not allow this then at least practice the art of micro-dating. Pick a night once a week or every other week and spend an hour or two together after the kids are in bed. Nothing could be more important.
Encourage her other skills:
Almost all stay-at-home moms had career ambitions and interests prior to having children. Many may still! Encourage her to develop her skills in these areas or build new ones. There are hundreds of stay-at-home mothers that have ended up turning a love of crafts, teaching, music, etc… into financially rewarding endeavors. To do this, find ways for your wife to take classes, join groups, or simply take the kids on a few Saturdays to give her time to enjoy her hobbies and interests.
Encourage her involvement:
This may be one of the most important steps a husband can take to help encourage their stay-at-home wife. Work with her to find mom’s groups in your area and encourage her to get involved. Depending on the age of the children this may be harder to do than you think. We wouldn’t expect to do our job completely solo so why should we expect our wives to? On a side note, there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared amongst moms in these groups. These can also be a valuable resource.
- MOPS International - Mothers of Preschoolers
MOPS helps moms through relationships established in the context of local groups that provide a caring atmosphere for today's mother of young children.
MomJunction is where moms get parenting advice, tips, help and support from other moms.
- Stay At Home Moms Meetup Groups
Helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world about Stay At Home Moms
Treat her work seriously:
We all agree that the job of a stay-at-home mother is demanding and difficult. Encourage her to get the help and resources she needs to do it well. We expect employers to provide continuing education, development plans, and a whole host of career enriching resources to their employees. Why are we so quick to neglect this for stay-at-home moms? Be willing to spend time and money on providing her with the resources she needs to not only do her job, but improve at it. If you are curious were to start on this I would highly recommend the Hearts at Home conferences. I know, it isn’t always convenient, but it is worth it.
Continuing Education for Mothers
- Welcome to Hearts at Home
Hearts at Home is a Christ-centered organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood.
There are many, many ways to enrich, encourage, and improve our marriages and relationships. There are also many ways to strengthen our families and build into our children’s lives. For families with a stay-at-home parent, mom or father, it starts with understanding the unique stresses and challenges with this career and working together to overcome them. This has been just a glimpse into this world and a few suggestions. To find out what works best for your family, why don’t you plan a date and spend some time talking about it?