This year has seen me officially make the change from Stay at Home Mum to Work at Home Mum (or from SAHM to WAHM).
Like all my major life changes, I approached this one with the same joy and enthusiasm as I do a trip to the dentist.
It’s been painful. There have been tears and mourning and fears (spoken and unspoken), but now… well, here I am. A mother who works from home. And it’s not all that bad. I actually quite like it.
But it’s forced me to face some big questions about my identity and my role in life.
I’d been a SAHM for years, and it became a large part of my identity. In fact, you could even say it was part of my identity since before I was even a mother. From a young age, my dream was to marry young, have babies (and be done before I turned 30) and raise them from home.
I never felt the need to “contribute financially” because I was always convinced that the role and work of a SAHM was inherently valuable. Sure, it’s possible to squander that time and not use it for the good of your kids and family – there are lazy SAHMs just like there are lazy workers. But I didn’t need anyone to convince me that my work was valuable because I always knew it was.
And I think that’s a big part of why it was so hard for me to (mentally) make the change from being a SAHM to a WAHM. If everything I was already doing was good, valuable work, then which parts could I possibly drop to make time for working?
Of course, that’s a simplification. I have lazy days or periods – I’m not trying to say that literally every thing I did with my time was good and valuable. But on the whole, I couldn’t see which big things could be dropped.
Which leads me to my first big realisation as a WAHM.
I can’t do everything that a SAHM can.
Let’s be honest. There are only 24 hours in the day. We all get 24 hours.
Now, I’ve recently seen the argument made that actually some people have more than 24 hours because they have money, and money buys other people’s time. Like, I pay my 2 year old’s childcare to look after him for 8 hours, so you could argue that I actually get 32 hours that day – because I’ve paid for 8 of someone else’s hours with my money.
But I don’t buy it (pardon the pun) because while I am paying for someone else to care for my son for 8 hours, I’m not doing it myself. And I firmly believe that child-rearing is not just a “task to be done” – their needs are not just boxes to check. And that 8 hours? It’s time that I don’t get to spend with my son, bonding with him, discipling him and investing in his heart. And that’s 8 hours that a SAHM does spend with her child.
Do you get what I’m saying?
It’s an illusion to think that you can be a working mum and still do the exact same things as a SAHM.
A big part of adjusting to being a WAHM has been changing my expectations about what I can and can’t do. And not just being reactionary about it either, but proactively letting some things go. (Like certain standards of cleanliness. My cleaning routine is done on a triage basis now.)
Speaking of letting things go…
It’s okay to not be on top of everything
I like being on top of everything. I like being in control and being the one who can handle it all. But really… I can’t.
And it’s okay to admit, “I can’t do all of this!”
Because once you admit that you can either accept it (for a season) or figure out what you can change.
And the best thing about not being on top of everything is that it makes me lean on God more and drives me to prayer.
Now, a big part of the chaos and difficulty at the moment is that I’m still adjusting (and probably also, this time of year!). I’m sure things will settle down and even out more, as I get into good habits and routines. But to some extent, things are always going to be changing.
Working does not make me feel more fulfilled
I’ve heard other women say that working makes them feel more fulfilled – like they are finally doing something important. As I touched on earlier, this hasn’t been the case for me.
My work is fun – it’s something I really enjoy, so I definitely get a sense of satisfaction from it.
But I don’t feel better now that I am financially contributing to the household. I don’t feel like the work I do for my business or clients is more important than the work I did (and still do) in my home for my children and husband.
All in all, I’m very thankful to be in the position I’m in.
I’m thankful that my husband’s job allowed me the wonderful opportunity to be a SAHM for as many years as I was. And I’m thankful now that I’m able to do this job from home, limiting my time away from my kids.
Have you made the transition from SAHM to WAHM? How did you feel about your changing roles? What did you struggle with?