Thursday, April 17, 2014

What is it like being a SAHM?

Since i become a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM), I was asked the above mentioned question and similar ones many times. The question is so broad so I usually clarified further to ask "what you mean" and I realised that there are many mums who are very curious to know:

- what do you do all day?
- are you really coping with no help?
- do you ever feel depressed or sad that you don't get to interact anymore?
- how can one become a SAHM?
- how much does your husband gives you a month? 

I know people asked because they are curious and mothers asked because they hope to be able to stay at home too. I personally feel that my answers will not be helpful, as every household have different composition, earning power, needs, lifestyles and situation. What amount a household can survive on monthly is different to another because of our differences in priorities and willingness to sacrifice. 

So, instead of replying those questions today, I will go further by guiding you through some things i think you should know or consider, if you would like to be a stay home parent. Though there are many differences in every household, but i believe the below few things will remain the same (unless you are a tai tai or shao ye la):

1) You lose your income

Regardless how much u were earning before, being a stay home parent means you will lose this amount of money and thus you can never spend or lead the same lifestyle as before. Especially on the part where you splurge on yourself when you were working, after you quit and lose that income, surely you don't expect to buy new clothes, shoes or bags anymore, don't expect to be continue signing expensive facial or spa packages, family holidays will be rare or budget too. This of course, doesn't apply if you are a Tai Tai or born with a silver spoon. (Oooh! I envy you!)

So if you are still working now, and find it difficult to cope with the household finances.  Maybe being a stay home parent is not an option for your family, because you will probably be constantly living in financial insecurities.


2) Your children are with you 24 by 7

In my honest personal opinion, I don't think after quitting the job to become a stay home parent, I should still expect help from our parents. I mean, do you mean you want your mother or mother-in-law to quit her job to assist you? Huh? What yo mean putting my son in full day child care? Then what for I stay at home? And remember there's very small child care subsidy once the mom stopped working.  Or you would like to employ a maid to help you with the endless chores? With a single income,  all theses become not realistic anymore, don't you feel? Once again, if you are a Tai Tai or born with a silver spoon, then it is different.  ;)

You have to be prepared to time manage and do everything yourself - bathing and feeding the children, cooking & washing, vacuuming and mopping the house, scrubbing the toilets, folding and ironing the clothes are just SOME of the things you are to be expected to do. Anything you try to outsource will cost money and requires discussions and decisions making. 

3) How long?

Are you going to be a stay home parent for only one year? Until your children are in primary school? until they all completed their PSLE? Hee, in my honest opinion, if you enjoy being a stay home parent like me, I have no intention to go back to work, in the near or far future. 

To go back to my old job, I will earn a lot, but it will be very stressful as well as it's not compelling enough for my to give up being a stay home parent, to be with my children, to go back. But if i am to take on some other jobs that take home a miserable pay and yet command hours away from my children, I say no too! 

Why i listed this? This is because, if you only have intention to stay home for only one year or three years etc, there is a very high chance that when the time comes, you can't bear to. 

3) Do you still have a Retirement?

This is something which both me and hubby talked about. If you quit your job to become a stay home parent, you and your spouse both have to be prepared for the retirement lifestyle that you will be leading in future. I may end up working in McDonald's or Petrol Station. Or I may become a nanny to other's children. I may have to work till I am 75 or 80? Whatever it's going to be, I do not and cannot expect my children will provide for me. 

In our opinion, we can do without all other insurance, but it's very very important that we are well covered under a hospitalisation insurance. Others insurance are not a necessity and if you commit to them, paying for insurance will become a very heavy burden on the other parent that is working. 


Tips if you are thinking of being a Stay Home Parent:

* Plan ahead to quit. Before that, plan to save as much as you can.
* Take a week's of leave to spend with your children alone to see if you can handle the children and chores
* Discuss with the other half on what are the monthly fixed commitments currently?  What can be cut?
* Discuss and decide on how what are the priorities of your household. Are you flexible to change anything? For example, instead of going to the childcare, register your child to a kindergarten instead, instead of going to a privately owned preschool, go to a government funded preschool? 
* Think over the roles carefully, it will be a bonus if your other half comes home from work and help you out. But your spouse may have work to do, he also needs time to relax, especially after a day's of work too! So, can u take it? Will you keep shouting unfair? 


Warning:

* Cooking at home, can be more expensive than eating outside. But it is definitely more nutritional! Careful planning is required to save money on cooking.
* Be very warned that toilet breaks and bath time for you will drastically change, especially if you are staying home with young children
* A stay home parent wakes up by 7am and goes to bed usually, around 12am. 
* Once you become a stay home parent, you shouldn't have time to think if this is what you are in for, cos if you have the time to ponder over that, you might not be doing it correctly. ;p (this is just a joke!)


For a SAHM, there is NO fixed routine at all. Every day is different. I tend to the priorities of the day. There are also days i have to clean up the serious milo spillage on the floors and walls. There are days i want to turn in for the night but i have to complete the ironing of uniform for my elder boy for tomorrow. I carried my younger son every where, i can do grocery shopping with him and lugged home with me the ingredients for the week plus a pack of 5kg rice etc! I learnt to cope along the way. I tell myself that my mom was staying home and working from home last time. I never see her complain. So, what's so difficult and impossible?

I picked up gardening, and grow my own vegetables! But having said so, i carried my baby while doing gardening too! And no! All theses didn't help me slim down any too! :( There is practically no alone me time except for occasionally when my own mom is on leave, i can drop off my children at her place to go for a quick haircut or meet a friend. I also blog because it's my interests. I enjoy sharing and i made many mommies friends online. So I didn't turn into a cave woman just because I stayed at home too. :) 

I personally love and really enjoyed my time being a SAHM, despite being a lot more busier than when i was working. Satisfaction for being a SAHM is very great for me. I find it very rewarding to be with my children 24/7 and homemaking. I also believe that my presence in my children's early growing up years will make a big difference in their life. Every time i asked my elder boy if mommy should return to work so i can bring him for holidays or buy him things, he always without fail replied "No!! Daddy go to work! Mommy stays with me! I go to work and earn money!" I believe I am not just giving my children a happy childhood, I am also making many valuable memories to keep for when i am old. 

If you are keen to be a stay home parent, or if you are already a stay home parent, a group of Singapore Mom Bloggers will be be hosting a blog train on SAHM Survival Tips, aiming to share real life tips for newly minted SAHMs, and even new mums on maternity leave. Hopefully together, we will be able to share our experiences and help other mums to get through the craziest of days. Do come back again in May, if you are interested! :) 




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8 comments:

  1. I love your sharing of how it is like for a SAHM! I think the practicalities are important for consideration and taking one week's leave to stay home is certainly a good trial of SAHM life. I did that too with my 2nd baby when he's 1 yo and my eldest 3 yo. It's lots of marketing, house chores, playtime and cooking and fun. I love it and it's definitely for me. I confirm that with 5 mths maternity leave with my 3rd baby. However as you have pointed out on the financial part, I'll be a FTWM for now and only way to be SAHM is to take leave once in a while to enjoy the stay home mum life.

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    1. Thank you Christy for coming to read my post!

      I believed deep down almost all moms hope to be with own children 24/7 if there is a choice, but this is life isnt it? I hope one day something will work out and you can become a sahm too! I know how it feels cos I had been thinking of it for 3 years!

      For us, I had the thought since I carried my 1st born in my arms. And we worked towards minimal debts together. Actually I didn't know when was time to quit, but hubby was very supportive. He took on a new job thst required him to travel very often and finally, he pushed me into quitting so one of us is there always there for children. Having said so, it wasn't easy cos I was earning more than my husband before I quit. And the industry he's in is a sunset industry in singapore. Since I become a sahm, it also helps that my hubby is still very supportive and encouraging. ;) I think he brags a bit to friends too. Rofl.

      I am thankful I have a choice!

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  2. Well said. Totally agree with u. For me, the hardest is not having my son by my side 24/7, not having me-time, not being busy with keeping the household running but the lack of personal income. But, it's a matter of getting used to. I could choose to spend the allowance my hubby gives on myself, like a new pair of shoes or a pedicure, but I choose to spend it on my baby or at the market. Not that I'm being sacrificial, but I've learned to be more prudent and spend within my means and only when necessary.

    The satisfaction being a sahm gives me is so immense and overwhelming that like u, i don't see myself going back to work anytime soon.

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    1. Thank you Pauline! I think the hardest for me is washing the toilets! I am a clean freak leh.. I vacum and mop very often!

      I am glad u feel the same as me!! Satisfaction is so great I don't feel I am sacrificing at all. I hope I can continue all the way! ;) we should meet up some time soon!

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  3. An excellent article. It's the 3rd week I'm being a SAHM and I am enjoying every part of it. The quality time I can spend just talking to and overseeing my 4 and 6 years old boys is priceless. And these chats made me discover things and challenges my boys had in school which I had no idea because of my previous hectic work schedule. They started to open up a lot to me and talk almost about everything they were doing and happening in school. Besides that, I finally came to realize a hobby of mine into a small biz. I'm glad my family is very supportive in what I'm doing now.

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    1. Thank you for reading my post and giving me this comment! I really appreciate!

      Yes! I agree family support is so important! I really envy you to be able realise a hobby into a small biz! It's like a perfect life isnt it? Being with kods and being able to turn your hobby into something that can sustain you. ; ) all the best in your sahm and make more happy and memorable memories!

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  4. A great post, Ting! Even though I'm a WAHM I feel strongly that parents should be as involved as possible - even if you have the best nannies or grandparent caregivers, they're still not the parents! I also wrote a post ages ago on things to consider about staying home, let me know what you think ;)
    http://mummyed.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/to-stay-or-not-to-stay-home/

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    1. Thank you Edlyn for sharing! yes, it's my believe to be as involved as possible too! Though i am always criticised by the elders that my children are too sticky with me. like hello?? my children are naturally close to their mother! Which children doesn't? ;p

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