28 Apr 2015

5 Things to Expect When You're a SAHP

5 Things to Expect When You're a SAHP

A lot of my personal circles are people close to my age, gen-y's who, growing up were taught the mantra "a woman can have it all." So my circles had children later in life, as a result many made financial commitments prior to starting a family. So when babies did come into the picture, both parents hard to return to work. Returning to work was kinda what ... everyone else did, so I just did that too.

Then my role was made redundant. I wanted some time off before I went back to work, but then we found out I was pregnant a month later. So I felt there was no point in going through the emotions of finding a new job, only to be not continuing a few months later. I wanted to give myself twelve months off post pregnancy, unlike my first when I only took six. Then twelve months passed and I still didn't feel ready to go back to work, and was unsure about who would care for the boys, as we didn't want them in childcare full time. Yes, I have two sets of young, very mobile retired grandparents but, ..... that's another post. So Ian and I agreed there would be someone at home with the boys until they're in school.

It's a decision I'm noticing more gen-y-er's make. Being a SAHP for a couple of years now, I thought I'd share some insight into what to expect with the change.

1. Be prepared to justify yourself
You don't know how many times I've been asked, "So what do you do all day?" I raise and attend to my babies. Right now they can't get around, get changed, feed themselves or clean their bums without me. I teach them stuff that that comes naturally to us now, but at one stage someone taught us how to do. Like speak and understand a language, set boundaries, explain good/bad behaviour, and instil control. I repetitively do this ... all day. 

2. You won't become Martha Stewart
Don't be fooled into believing once you become a stay at home parent, you'll turn into some sort of domestic god/goddess. Your cooking skills may not get any better, you may still not get around to making the place look like a display home, and on one income, a nursery to toddler "room make over" will most likely be just removing the cot side rails. People assume you have all this time to do stuff that usually requires spending money or a lot of time ... two commodities a SAHP doesn't actually have a lot of. Sure you'll get better at these tasks, but it will take time, and you may not master all of them, and that's okay.

3. You'll need positive vibes
Being a SAHP it can be lonely. There are days when it is so hard. Sure you have your partner to speak to, but ... they don't really get it. They don't fully comprehend or empathise how you're feeling unless they walk in your shoes ... for a period of time. You will need encouragement and support ... regularly. Especially those early days. You will need to vent, be able to say "I hate this right now!" and not feel guilty. It's a tough responsibility and unlike a normal job there's no "home time" or "clock off". You'll need to talk to someone and voice out your frustration, or find something to do to that will allow you to de stress and come back to the home front re energised.

4. You'll become better with budgeting
If you weren't already familiar with your family budget before you were a stay at home parent, you'll soon will be monitoring and reviewing it on a regular basis. You'll soon realise the family can't afford to have takeaway every week, or go to every kids concert that's showing. You will soon become the master of being frugal as you learn new ways to save and keep costs down. You may even come up with some ideas to get some cash flow coming in, this is actually very common with SAHP's, however following through with your idea could be your challenge.

5. It will change you
I never thought I'd be a stay at home parent. My parents brought me up with the mentality that I had to do well in school, so I can have a high paying job .. typical migrant asian mentality. Being at home, or even the conversation of being a full time parent was something we never discussed. ('avoid being a parent at a young age' was more the key message they kept drilling into my sisters and I growing up.) So I had no real plans, or saw myself in a SAHP role .. ever. But then you do have kids, and they make you reevaluate things you value. They also make you think back to your childhood about things you wanted, and you realise the impact of those first couple of years. The fact that we have clear memories and can re trigger emotions from our childhood instantly as adults, is an indication of how important those early stages are - they stay with your forever. Once you become a SAHP your priority shifts from you, to your family's well being. Its a sacrifice that a lot of people don't realise they are taking once they become a SAHP, or realise their partner has taken.

What advice or things to expect would you share about being a stay at home parent?

Linking up with Jess
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