Talking Point – Stay-at-home Mums

Just watched Talking Point’s episode about Stay-home-mums (they should just say stay-home-parents cos there are men who do so too). 

Whoever says that staying home to look after children and take care of the entire household is not a job should seriously try taking it up. You don’t need long, just try it for a week, 24/7. After you have tried it, multiply it by the months and years your family needs you. Then you decide whether it is work or not.

By the way, keep in mind that you don’t get medical leave even if you are sick. No off days, no off-in-lieu, no knocking off from your job, no shift rotation. 

If your kids are the super obedient kind, good for you. But if your kids are the more mischievous kind, or if they have special needs of any form, well, we’ll see if staying home is work or not.

It is beyond me, how some people think that stay-home-parents probably have low education or lack knowledge and skills to do what most people perceive as work. Taking care of children requires knowledge and skills. I read a lot of parenting books and websites, scouring for theories on what I can do to care for and educate my children in the best ways. Cooking requires knowledge and skills. Try having no skills when you cook and see if you will like the meals you eat every day. Cleaning requires knowledge and skills. You need to know what cleans best and what you can use to substituted chemicals, just so that you can provide a safe and clean environment for the people you love most.

It’s also funny how some people equate stay-home-mums to tai-Tais, thinking that all we mums do is go shopping, go for high tea, or just watch tv and play with kids. If anything, most of the shopping I do is grocery shopping. The tea time is for my kids. I watch kids’ programmes about 60%-70% of the time. I play with the kids hoping that they learn something and also make sure they don’t get hurt or injured. During play, I also have to endure tantrums and instill values. On top of all this, there’s laundry, cleaning, cooking, washing, feeding and whatever else the house needs done. 

Not every SAHM has help from domestic helpers or family members and help is not always available. While staying home to look after children is a choice for some, it is a necessity for others. 

Choosing to stay home does not mean that our spouses earn big bucks and we don’t have to worry about finances. Choosing to stay home doesn’t mean that we don’t want to stay connected to the rest of society. 

Staying home doesn’t mean that we don’t think about what we could have if we hadn’t stayed home. Staying home doesn’t mean that we don’t have the drive to be in what is perceived as the work force. Staying home doesn’t mean that we don’t have dreams and aspirations.

Staying home just means that some things have to be done in what we perceive are the best ways. We don’t want to blame others for the way our children turn out. We don’t want to work so hard just to pay the care and expenses that may equate to almost our entire salary. 

Most of all, we want to witness first-hand, every milestone that our kids achieve. We want to discipline them, we want to educate them, we want to invest in their lives. We want to be there for our kids when they need us.

We are just like any other working parent. Except that our full time, non-stop, non-monetarily-paid work is to stay home with our kids. 

Of course, no money can buy the satisfaction of being with our kids every step and every phase of their journey. BUT, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need care, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need support and it certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t need time for ourselves.

The discussion about the needs of stay-at-home-parents in Singapore is long overdue and it is high time someone did something about it. After all, the time we spend at home investing in our kids are an investment to our nation too, because hey, our kids are the future of our nation!

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