Life as a working parent is hard, it is tiresome and it is often at times thankless. On the contrast it can also be rewarding, energising and fun. What defines a “working parent”? In my opinion a working parent can be both the “stay-at-home” parent, also referred to as the SAH, or the “go to work” parent, also referred to as the GTW. I know you are probably thinking “a SAH parent doesn’t work?” but if you are like me and you have been on both sides of the fence you will know SAH parenting can be just as challenging work as the Monday to Friday grind. In fact I have caught myself saying to other first time mothers, “it would be easier to just go to work sometimes”. Too controversial? Think about all the skills you require for a paying job. What you may not realise is there are many skills that overlap both roles of a SAH and GTW parent such as…
What they don’t tell you when your little bundle of joy is born is that there is no instruction manual. There is Google however (how did our parents survive parenthood without the internet?) but the answers on Google don’t always apply to your baby. There is some crazy stuff on the world wide web, you can’t believe everything you read these days. Figuring out what a tiny human needs without any communication on their behalf is frustrating at times, but with your awesome problem solving skills (and maybe 20 calls to mum) you can figure out all that crying means they were just hungry. Same goes for the GTW parent. Your boss, (lets call her Nancy) who seems to know nothing about the office printer asks for the tenth time, “why is the printer not working?” As a problem solver, you go through all the reasons why it wouldn’t be working and go for the obvious first. How was Nancy to know the printer wasn’t switched on?
Time, such a precious thing. Until you have children you have no idea what time management is. Both the SAH and GTW parents have this covered. Shopping, meal planning, play time, housework, paperwork not to mention the 99 other tasks that get done on your weekly to do list. How does all of this get done in a timely manner? Routine, preparation, delegation and communication. I plan my week in a diary (yes, a hard cover diary). On the weekend (or if I am feeling organised the week prior) I write in day by day what needs to get done. I am a list person and proud of it. However, I do not beat myself up if a task does not get crossed off the list, I simply add it onto the following week.
Sometimes, it is just not possible to tackle every task on your own. As a SAH mum I have many times enlisted my three year old to pack away his toys. Do you know how exhausting it is to repeatedly clean up after a three year old to then turn your back and have them tip the toy basket upside down again? Getting your children to help is not slave labour. It encourages them to be responsible and gives them a purpose. I know when my three year old sees the delight on my face after I witness him pack away his toys, he stands tall and the pride shines from his face. Making mum happy is important to him. As a GTW parent my time is precious, and I have a team of people I can rely on. When I need assistance with getting through my workload, it is as simple as asking for help. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help and if people offer to help, take them up on the offer. You are not a super hero. Hot tip: delegation is the key to sanity.
Remember if you are a SAH or GTW parent, either way you have the greatest job in the world. Raising tiny humans is the hardest yet most rewarding “work” you will ever do.
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Experienced and written by Emma Samia