What Is a Stay at Home Parent Really Worth?
More Than A Stay At Home Parent
After graduating with a degree in Psychology, I ended up job hunting for over a year. I applied to hundreds of companies. And that is not an exaggeration. I went on on dozens of interviews and I was offered a position once. The only reason I did not accept the position is because the pay was so low and the job was so far away, that after I paid for gas and childcare I would basically be paying to work.
So what was the problem? I am smart, I am educated, I have experience and fantastic skills. I would hire me in a second! Well I had a five year gap in my employment. That is the problem.
The thing is, I don’t consider it a gap because during those 5 years, I worked harder than ever before. Not only did I raise two children, I also fought cancer twice, got my psychology degree with a 3.99 GPA, helped raise money in several fundraising events and of course dabbled in writing hubs. Stay at home moms are multi-talented and extremely under appreciated.
We do it for the Kids
Personally, I did not plan on leaving my job after my first child was born. However, she was born very early and after spending the first six months in the hospital fighting for her life, she came home with specific needs that only her father or I could provide. She was not allowed to go to a daycare facility and we had no other family near us at the time that could help out. It made sense for me to leave my position and stay home with her. I will never regret that decision because I believe that keeping her in a safe, healthy environment was vital to her survival.
By the time my daughter turned 5, she was doing much better. My son at that point was 3 and was also doing well. It was time for me to get back to work. I needed some adult conversation in my days!
Don't get me wrong. I can't even express how much I enjoyed those five years, getting to spend time with my children while they were babies and watch them develop and grow in ways that most working parents end up missing out on. I never took a single minute for granted. However, at the same time, it was not always easy.
I never harbored negative feelings over the employers who chose not to hire me because I knew that one day I will end up working for someone who values my experience and hard work, and that is the person we should all want to work for.
Things we do as stay at home parents that are often overlooked:
Stay at home parents, be proud of your accomplishments. Make a list of everything you have done and remember these things when others make you feel like you are not qualified because you have been caring for another person's life instead of “working” these past years.
On call 24/7. Even when you are away, you are never really off duty. Some days, I couldn't even go to the grocery store without getting at least 3 or 4 phone calls from whoever was watching my children.
Wiping butts. It’s funny yes, but in all reality between my two children I wiped somebody else’s butt every day of my life for 5 years.
Nutrition. I planned menus, cooked, packed lunches, and fed my children every day of their lives. My daughter has GI problems so I have had to be extra careful with her nutrition.
Nursing. I have been the one to wake up with my children in the middle of the night. I soothed them when they were sick, wiped their noses, administered medicine, kissed their knees and elbows when they scrape them, heal them with magical band aids. My daughter came home from the hospital with a central line. I had to flush it every day, and change the dressing. As the primary caregiver to our children, we work hard to keep them healthy, and work harder to care for them when they are sick. And then we typically end up getting sick ourselves but then have to push through it because we still have to take care of our children. You can’t call in sick from being a stay at home parent.
Education. I taught my kids to roll over, to sit up, to stand, to walk, to talk, to eat, to use the bathroom. I teach my children rules; I teach them manners and behavior lessons. I sit with my children and help them with their homework.
Driving. I am the one who takes my children to their doctors appointments, to school, to church, to play dates, to any activities they are involved in.
Private shopper and stylist. Not only do I do all the shopping for my children but I also dressed them and combed their hair every day so that they looked presentable. Granted once they got older they became more capable of doing these things independently, but until they are around, 5 it is still necessary most of the time.
Google. In the past I would have said “Encyclopedia” however this is now. I answer all the questions my children have. “Who is that?” “What is that?” “What does that mean?” “How does that work?” and even the embarrassing questions that I won’t get into. And oftentimes answering the question only once is not enough. For instance the famous “Are we there yet?” I never realized how tedious answering that question could be until I had to answer it myself, for the twentieth time, in an hour. So next time someone complains about their “tedious” job, tell them to try that.
Entertainer. Do you know how many times I have read “Green Eggs and Ham” or sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in one day? Me neither! And not only do you have to sing and read well but you really have to be a good actor too in order to make all those children’s stories exciting.
Artist. The kids, they love to draw. They never want to draw alone though and are always asking me to help color or draw something for them. I’ve had to master drawing our family and pets.
Architect. Okay maybe this one is a little overboard but I tell you Lego houses do not build themselves.
Photographer. Of course you take tons of pictures of your little ones. Especially the first one. But eventually you go professional when you realize you could save $100 by taking your own holiday photos of the kids!
Bilingual. Dora. Enough said. Though I suppose with that reasoning I could also say Paleontologist and use Barney as my example.
Math. Last but not least, my worst subject. Being a creative person, I never liked math. But having children has helped me become a pro. It’s not just simple problems either. Having a preemie with severe complications taught me more about grams and milliliters than I ever thought I’d know.
So perhaps the issue is not that employers think stay at home parents are not qualified for jobs, but in fact that we are overqualified! In all seriousness though, never let anybody make you feel like you are not an amazing person for all you do in caring for your children. You are a superhero to those kids, and to me!
Life After Stay At Home Parenting
Being a stay at home parent was hard work, and like I said, I would not trade the time I got to spend with my children for the world. Some days, I really appreciate the time I get to spend away from my children. Some days, I wish there was more time in a day.
I love my job. I love working. I love taking pride in what I do and a job well done. The time I get to spend with my children now however, never seems to be enough. Especially since they are involved in so many extra curricular activities.
Some days I wish I could still be a stay at home parent. I don't miss the hard work involved. I don't miss being looked down upon and called lazy by people who didn't understand how much work was involved, I just really miss being there for every aspect of my childrens lives. I miss them.
Whether you work, or you stay at home, you are making sacrifices... and you rock!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Cristina Cakes