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Being a SAHM should make me happy, but why am I so miserable?

While many working moms are dying to be able to spend more time with their children, there are many stay-at-home-moms I know of who are at a loss. On one hand, they feel like by staying home, they are doing their job as a parent but then again, they often speak of a kind of ‘void’ in them because many don’t find the whole stay-at-home-mom thing to be as productive, fulfilling and gratifying as working at a job. Many parents who approach me with this concern ask me whether feeling this way makes them a bad parent or if it simply means that they are not cut out to be hands-on mums. So this is what I have to say…….

I think that being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in this universe and as one of my interviewees, Harvey Hubbell (a 4x Emmy award winning filmmaker) puts it:

“It’s hard enough being human, imagine being human and taking care of another human.”

So yes, regardless of whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, or a working mom, being a mom is just plain hard work. This is the time to give yourself a pat on the back if you are a mom.

Now, in order to put this into perspective, lets think about the job that you do…..if you are a doctor, engineer, lawyer, accountant, architect, surveyor or a teacher like me, you’d know how tough and demanding your jobs are, and yet many of you manage eventually, and many people thrive in their careers and vocations. Now why is that? Why do you think you can do so well at your job day in and day out? Well, I truly believe that it’s because most people who have a profession also have the relevant training. Whether you have a degree or some kind of on-the-job-training, you learn skills and tools that you could use to help you get your job done well. Though our jobs can be demanding and difficult at times, we still have the tools to work with, and when we complete our task, it feels really great to know that we are getting better at using the tools/skills that we have, or else we’re developing improved ones. Most importantly, at a job, we are usually given goals or targets to try to reach so that we can be focused and know where we are heading. This is also a great opportunity to make a plan with small baby steps to help us move forward. At the end of the day, there will be some form of a performance appraisal to help us see if we’d got as far as we’d initially planned. This keeps us motivated and helps us evaluate our strategies to see if we need to recalibrate or to learn new skills to keep up with current and future work requirements.

So here’s the problem, we get training to help us get really good at our jobs, but do we get training to get good at being parents or moms?  There are some people who have a natural aptitude for certain things which makes learning certain things easier for them. In my case, I have an aptitude for working with young children and even then, I spent 7 years in training just to get good at what I do. I mean think about it….if you fit the bill, a 12 month training program can qualify you to fly a plane. Even a big job like flying a plane can be done with a year’s worth of training so why aren’t there any training programs to help you develop the tools necessary to take on the rigors and challenges of being a mom? Especially since we all know that being a parent is one of the hardest job in this universe?

Without the necessary training, how can we possibly keep up with the constant changes in the developmental needs of our children? How can we seize and make the best of each teachable moment? How do we teach them important life skills like independence, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, creativity from an early age? How do we provide for their character development? How do we know if we are doing the right thing especially if there isn’t like an appraisal program to help us stay on track? How do we stay motivated and focused when we don’t even know what goals we are working towards? How could we feel important if we don’t know what it is that we’re supposed to do? And most importantly, how could we possibly cope?

Seriously, if you told me to be an accountant (and I absolutely hate accounts or numbers for that matter) and didn’t give me the proper training that I needed to develop the basic understanding or skills to do accounts, and you forced me to do it 24/7, I’d be really REALLY miserable and I’d be dying to get out of it. And I think this is the way that many moms feel….especially stay-at-home-moms who are constantly with their children and who have absolutely no idea what to do with them and they feel that they aren’t really doing much because all that they are doing is tending to their children’s physical needs, which, many feel is something that anybody else could do for them. In other words, how do you fulfill your purpose as a parent when you don’t even know what your children need to thrive and grow. And if you can’t fulfill your purpose, how could you feel a sense of satisfaction and motivation? To tell you quite frankly, I won’t!

So here’s my proposal; if you want to be proficient at being a parent, do what you need to do to be a proficient professional at work.

1) Get the training that you need,
Children’s needs are constantly evolving and changing and it’s really important that we’re able to identify their needs, learning styles and to cater for them appropriately. So the sooner you get the training you need, the sooner you’ll get better at being a parent. Unfortunately, high quality training don’t come cheap. If you can’t learn to perform an open heart surgery from just reading a book, don’t expect to be able to handle a tantrum by merely reading a book. As bizarre as this may sound, they are very much alike in that if you do it properly, it could significantly improve the quality of life for a person and if done improperly, it will cause a lot of long term damage. Get the quality training that you need and you can focus more on using the tools you’ve learnt to help you turn your parenting challenges into learning opportunities for both your child and for you.

2) Ongoing professional development.
Many top performing companies have ongoing professional development schemes in place so that their staff can constantly learn to develop new tools to take on the challenges that are constantly evolving in this fast paced world. They budget for it, look for different ways of doing it and plan it out so that everyone is constantly learning and is able to cope well with the changing demands on their jobs. Likewise, in order to be effective parents, we too need to engage in ongoing professional development. We need to allocate some time and/or resources to looking into our learning so that we can grow our parenting skills as our roles constantly evolve to meet the needs of our children. Picking up parenting books or listening to parenting podcasts are a good way to engage in bite sized continuous training and is a great way to keep our parenting skills honed, and also remind us to tweak it when we need to.

3) A good mentor or an accountability partner
I’ve been extremely blessed to have more than one person that I absolutely adore and look up to professionally at every work place that I’ve served at. They are the people who work hard and work smart, who are experienced enough to know all the short cuts, who can look at you and tell you the one thing that you need to do to significantly make your job more effective or easier. These are the people who will cheer us on when we are running the race and who will hold our hand and pick us up when we fall. A good mentor or accountability partner will help us stay focused and to keep on the right track and when we stray, they will reel us in and put us back on the right course. In order to be an effective parent, it’s important to find a good mentor or accountability partner because being a parent is a BIG JOB which we need to keep at. Such a partner would give us the help and support that we need at every step of the way.

If you are a parent and you feel like you are not doing enough for your children, and if you’re feeling dissatisfied with being at home or are feeling lost, look at the three items listed above and find out which ones you are lacking and start working on it. The sooner you develop the tools that you need to handle the challenges of being a parent, the more fulfilling and satisfying it will be….and the better off your children will be for it. Remember, times are changing. The demands on our children these days are very different from the ones that we had back in our day. Having this understanding helps us realise the importance of our job as a mom.

Af the three items listed above, which do you need most now that you would like to work on first. Feel free to share your experience with the items above and how it helped or didn’t help you become a more effective parent. Go ahead and put them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you. I’ll share mine first so that you can see how I did it:)

I’ve recently written another blog entitled “many call me an overqualified SAHM but what I have to say will make you think twice” where I share how I feel that I am the best person for the job of bringing up my children on a full time basis and how you, too, can benefit from one of my many gifts! CLICK HERE to read it now.

And to listen to my interview with Harvey hubbell about his new movie ‘Disleksia: The Movie’, please CLICK HERE.

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