Hubs and I were sorting some bits out recently and ticking things off our very long to do list. After making a couple of big purchases I was feeling very pleased and Hubs said “you like spending money don’t you?” To which (a little affronted as generally no I don’t like spending money at all) I replied “No, I just like achieving something and doing something we have wanted to for ages.” It got me thinking about that feeling of achievement and the difference between when you are working to when you are a SAHM.
When you are working, obviously depending on what job you do, there are real targets and you are always working towards something and I guess that sense of achievement is either there, or it is what you are striving for. Be it sales targets, personal development goals or just working hard so you know you can afford to do a specific thing, there is a definite sense of achievement for a job well done.
As a SAHM, or SAHD for that matter, it is a lot harder to define. I may feel a sense of achievement when I clean something but it never lasts long as I turn around and it looks as though I may as well have not bothered! Then there are the times where I am focussing on the kids. What have I achieved other than building the perfect den or managing to keep the house relatively paint free while the kids are going loopy with finger paints? I guess that is why people often ask “what do you do all day?” It isn’t necessarily quantifiable or describable. It doesn’t sound like it amounts to much and I often feel as if I haven’t achieved anything, like I should have been doing something more worthwhile than playing.
Now I know what I am doing is worthwhile. What I am achieving, or hoping to achieve is well rounded, happy kids. But that isn’t easy to see on a daily, weekly, monthly even yearly basis. The fruits of my labours and sense of achievement will hopefully come as I watch them grow into adults and can think “I did that.”
But I think that can be one of the more challenging aspects of being a stay at home parent. Which I guess is why I love ticking things off our list of jobs. I crave a more definable achievement. I guess that is why many of us blog, it gives us a place to record our achievements, a community to share with. We encourage each other and remind each other why we do it. That’s not the only reason for blogging obviously as otherwise only stay at home parents would blog and that is of course not the case. I also think it is why many of us are constantly trying to come up with bigger and better playtime ideas for our kids, so we can feel like we have accomplished something or done something worthy.
It may also be why many of us struggle and aim to be the “perfect” parent. Perhaps because we need a goal to aim for? I am obviously writing this from the perspective of a SAHM but with working parents who get that sense of achievement from work… how does it work for you guys? Is it easier? As you get a sense of achievement at work do you put less pressure on yourself at home? Or is it worse because you are used to a sense of achievement at work and you put even more pressure on yourself at home?
I also worry about what will happen when I do eventually return to the world of work. I know that I won’t be content at home full time when the kids are at school. I will be bored with cooking and cleaning (domestic goddess I am not) and I know I will need something else. But I also know I will want to be around before and after school and in the holidays, at the very least while they are at primary school, so what will I do then? And how will I react going back to the world of work? I hope I embrace the challenge but I do feel nervous about going back to work after what will be a very long break. Am I up to it? Or will I feel like a failure, so out of the loop after focussing on my children for so long.
I have a few ideas for what I will want to do, and one in particular. It is just an idea and I am not ready to talk about it publicly yet. It is something I am very interested in but have no experience so would take a lot of study and potentially volunteering and I guess that may gradually ease me in to the world of work. But the thought of working full time again in the future does make me nervous. I can’t really put my finger on why other than the vague feeling that I somehow won’t be good enough. How will I adapt back to a focussed achievement driven world of work after living as a stay at home parent for so long? Only time will tell I suppose and hopefully my experiences at home with the children will help me to be successful in the future.
This post has ambled a little and moved away from what I originally thought I was writing but that is just the way my brain went. Are you a stay at home parent? Will you return to work one day? What are your feelings about it? Do you feel a sense of achievement as a stay at home parent?