Becoming a Stay-at-home-mom Without Tears; Critical Questions To Ask Before Making That Move

“I am starving! Can you fix me a sandwich before dinner time?” Patrick addressed his wife Sharon. He lay on the couch, trying to follow the political debate on TV. He had arrived from work, taken a shower and was now relaxing after a long day in the office. Sharon was chopping some vegetables for supper. She did not respond to his request and continued to chop vegetables.

Patrick and Sharon met in campus. He was a year ahead of her and they started dating while he was in his final year in campus. They continued dating after his graduation. Sharon did not land a job soon after graduation and she and Patrick moved in together while she was job hunting. She got pregnant before she landed a job and it was like she became comfortable and did not pursue the hunt for a job. They later legalized their union. They had been together for five years and had two young children. Sharon had settled to being a stay-at-home mom.

Patrick called out to Sharon after a while and repeated his request. She did not say a word and neither did she fix him a sandwich. She continued doing her work. At that moment baby woke up and started yelling at the top of his lungs. Sharon left the kitchen and picked baby up. A few minutes later, she walked into the living room, baby in her arms. She sat down to breast feed the little one.

“Sweets, I have been waiting for a sandwich for the past one hour.” Patrick reminded Sharon.

Sharon continued breastfeeding the baby without saying a word. Clearly, supper would take a while to get ready because of the interruption from baby.

Sharon placed the baby in his seat and headed towards the kitchen to continue preparing supper.

“Will you keep an eye on baby as I cook?”

“Alright. Will you still fix me the sandwich to keep me going till supper is ready?”

“You are very unfair! You are just chilling there doing nothing and I am busy! I can’t believe that you have been laying there waiting for me to fix a sandwich for over an hour yet you can see clearly that I have a lot to do! What exactly does it cost you to fix yourself a sandwich honestly?”

The conversation between Patrick and his wife quickly degenerated into a quarrel. Sharon dropped into a seat, put her face in her hands and started sobbing. She was shocked at this stranger that she had become. When did she become this angry, bitter woman? What happened to the happy, fun loving girl she once was? Where did she lose herself?

Motherhood brings a lot of joy to a woman. Holding the tiny, helpless soul for the first time in the labor ward is one of the most fulfilling experiences for a woman. Her life is changed forever as she gazes lovingly at the little life she has just brought into the world. Despite the joys of motherhood, many families make the decision to have the wife stay at home to take care of the little ones without proper consideration.

Here are some tips to guide families as they make the all important decision about the wife’s career and her new role as a mother.

1. Goal Setting for Couples
2. Decision Making in Marriage
3. Roles and Responsibilities of Marriage Partners
4. What Next for Stay-at-home-moms after the babies Grow?
5. Personal Development for Stay-at-home-moms

1. Goal Setting for Couples

Marriage is a long term commitment. Two adults meet and decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Before they reached that decision, each of them had individual goals and aspirations. Before any major decisions about the couple’s future are made, they need to discuss their individual goals and harmonize them. A man can be convinced that he is taking good care of his family while the wife is totally frustrated at the quality of their lives. This can be a major cause of conflicts as the wife accuses the man of not doing enough to provide.

* Do they plan to have children? If so, how many? When?
* What sort of lifestyle do they want for the family; what neighborhood will they live in, what schools/colleges/universities do they want for their children?
* How will they afford that lifestyle?
* Will both of them work or one will stay at home to bring up the children?
* If only one of them will work, will the family be able to stay afloat over the years on a single income?
* Does any of them have liabilities and/or responsibilities beyond the immediate family’s needs such as meeting the needs of the extended family or loans such as student loans?
* At what age do they plan to retire and what kind of life do they plan to have after retirement?

Do not get excited about the arrival of a beautiful angel in your home and in an effort to bring her up the best way possible you decide that the mother needs to give up on her career to give full attention to the angel, unless you have planned long term and put the right measures in place.

2. Decision Making in Marriage

This is one area that can make or break a marriage. If the husband will be earning all the income while the wife stays at home looking after the young ones, how will decision-making be handled? Will the couple plan and budget together or will the husband make all the decisions since he is the one bringing money home?

How will the couple handle the money since it will be coming from one source and will be most likely tied to one individual’s payslip?

How will investments be handled, both in terms of decision making and ownership? Should the marriage come to an end one day, how will the matrimonial property be shared out? How will the role of the wife be determined?

I am a strong proponent of couples maintaining 3 bank accounts; the wife’s account, the husband’s account and a joint account. Everyone needs a track record with a bank, which comes in handy should one suddenly hit some rough waters and require credit urgently. Will the wife have a bank account and where will the money for that account come from? Learn more about financial management tips for couples here.

When a marriage breaks, it is usually the woman who ends up with the children. Women also outlive men in most cases. What happens if the woman has had no source of income over the years? What if she has no track record with any financial institution because she has not had a bank account for decades? How will she access credit should she find herself in financial difficulties?

3. Roles and Responsibilities of Marriage Partners

Building a marriage long term takes hard work. Providing and bringing up children are just but a few of the roles and responsibilities that come with marriage. What will the roles and responsibilities of the stay-at-home-mom be? How will she and the husband complement each other? Every human being needs to live a full life. Raising babies and taking care of domestic chores is not equal to living a full life. How will she continue to enjoy hobbies that make her come alive? What about keeping her passions alive?

Dependence levels in Africa are very high and most adults have responsibilities beyond their immediate families. How will the wife who is minus a source of income take care of responsibilities such as supporting her parents and/or siblings should that become necessary? Will the husband take care of his wife’s side of the family?

What are the wife’s skills and expertise and how will she continue to utilize and nurture them while she is a full time stay-at-home mom? How will she remain intelligent, sharp and relevant?

Will she oversee certain family projects if she is good at it? What about if her strength is in financial management; will she be actively involved in setting priorities and overseeing budgets? How will she continue to feel good about herself, to maintain a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence?

Mature conversations are important for the well being of a relationship. How will a woman whose life revolves around domestic chores and taking care of babies remain relevant and up to date with current affairs and the trends in the world? How will she continue to engage her husband in intelligent and challenging conversations? How will she remain interesting and great company?

4. What Next for Stay-at-home-mom After the Babies Grow?

Many times we forget that children grow up very fast and that we can live another 30 or 40 years after we are done with raising them. Those are many years especially if they were not well planned for. When a couple decides that the wife will be a stay-at-home-mom, it is important to think of the transition from being a stay-at-home mom back to gainful employment.

How will the wife keep her skills and expertise alive and up to date? How will she maintain her social and professional circles such that transition back to gainful employment will be easy when the time comes? Will she continue to participate in activities in the community? Will she continue to be active in activities that keep her relevant such as writing a blog in her niche, shooting some educative videos and sharing in a channel such as YouTube, writing some Ebooks, being a member of professional organizations, giving talks, coaching and mentoring certain communities of people probably college students or professional women?

5. Personal Development for Stay-at-home-moms

Five or ten years outside one’s professional field can see one get really left behind. Going back to gainful employment can become an uphill task for someone who has lost touch with the profession. Technology has made working from home even on part time basis easy and practical. It is important for a woman who takes a break in her career to remain actively engaged in a relevant field, even if she works part time from home probably 2 or 3 hours a day or 3 afternoons a week.

A stay-at-home mom can devote some time every day to her personal development. It might be 30 to 45 minutes every day devoted to reading relevant material, participating in relevant forums online, watching videos or listening to audio books. She can volunteer too, probably one or two afternoons a week.

I see women who opt to become full time stay-at-home moms suffer tremendously when circumstances suddenly change such as in case of divorce, widowhood or loss of job of the spouse or collapse of family business. In some cases the woman has been so out of touch with her profession she has no idea how to make her way back. It is painful to see a woman who once enjoyed a successful career result to some small business or manual jobs because she suddenly finds herself in desperate circumstances and is unable to resume her career.

Susan Catherine Keter is a life coach, mentor, motivational speaker, freelancer and blogger

Financial Independence Africa

3 thoughts on “Becoming a Stay-at-home-mom Without Tears; Critical Questions To Ask Before Making That Move”

  1. I was a full time stay-at-home mom for 12 years. Most of what I know, I learned the hard way; through experience. If I had known all this then, there are many things I could have done differently. I am glad that the article has been helpful. Cheers!

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