This post was originally authored and published on bellanaija.com, a lifestyle website I contribute for stay at home moms.
I am actually surprised that I do not recall every single last detail of this encounter considering how intensely livid I was at the time that this happened. My goodness, since revenge is best served cold, I took my time to plan my revenge, and it was going to be frozen.
Ok, so what happened?
I was on my way to drop my 14-month-old at his home-based Daycare, rushing out because I was running late. I said good morning to my neighbor, and she responded with: I don’t know why you take this POOR boy to creche all day. What do you even do AT HOME? You just sit at home DOING NOTHING while you dump your son off with someone else to take care of…
I did the Christian thing of smiling and walking off, but I knew that was not the end of it. I came back home that day and couldn’t believe it. The more I thought about it and told some people, the angrier I got. How does this happen?
This woman doesn’t even know my life, yet she had washed me crazy, bleached me white and hung me out to dry, all before 7am.
If she was looking at me this way, it represented to a large extent how people view and judge Stay at Home moms.
If you are a Stay at Home mama, I feel you and I am sure you feel me. People think that when you stay at home, all you do is sleep, watch TV Series and Reality shows back to back, eat, and repeat.
God help you if you complain about anything, like you are tired, or you need a break.
Wetin Stay-at-home moms dey do sef?
What a lot of people don’t know is that staying home and caring for your kids and the home is a huge deal. It may be thankless and worth very little to many, but it doesn’t reduce the fact that what you do is important, priceless and has its own significance in life, both now and in the future.
I get the privilege of speaking with stay-at-home moms and sadly, sometimes even the husbands who should understand are part of those who also think that there is nothing to this. It reminds me of a Nollywood movie I saw where the man was very critical of his wife since he was the one who brought home the big bucks, while all she did was spend it. Things took a beautiful twist, roles were reversed, and the now ‘house husband’ learned a lesson in a way he could never forget.
I have realized that there a couple of qualities that you need to have as a stay-at-home mama that will help you enjoy your season fully, no matter what the future looks like. They helped me too, and this list is not exhaustive.
Show some confidence
You can also call this a positive self image. I know you do not get to dress up and go to ‘work’ daily like my neighbor, and while I agree that there is something to going out daily, making up, wearing corporate dresses and high heels with a correct handbag and posting pictures on the ‘Gram with hashtags like #WorkingMom #OnMyGrind and the likes, but if staying home and caring for your kids is what your life season looks like at the moment, be confident about it.
Dress up in your house, wear your own makeup, dress up well when you go shopping, or go to church. Take pictures at home too and post if you want to. You are a Stay at home mom, raising a whole new generation, not an armed robber, so please show some confidence. I know that all that pressure and judging harshly has also caused you to stutter when someone asks what you do, but please stop it immediately. Chin up, shoulders square and look them straight in the eye and say with confidence and a smile.
‘I am a stay-at-home mom; what do you do?’
Don’t try to sound apologetic about it please. That confidence will shock them and cause the ‘judgers’ to shut up.
Have a schedule and routine
You see, part of what makes work outside the home very attractive is the fact that there is some kind of intentional planning to it. Having a plan, schedule and routine always brings some form of professionalism to everything. So, sit down and plan your own hours. Don’t always sleep in and wake at 11. Don’t always wear night gown and not shower until 6pm. No, plan those hours. And while at it, plan the hours for your kids too if they are old enough to fit into a schedule.
Plan fun things too. Plan market days, social visits, play dates, movies, gym time, study time, and even rest and TV. With your hours fully accounted for, your confidence starts to build up. And please don’t fill it with activities just so that you can show ‘them’ that you too are doing something. I made that mistake by taking on some boring online courses because I wanted to be able to say that I am on a professional break and will soon be back to the work world. Good action, wrong motive so those online courses went belly up. Nah baby, do it for you.
Be professional about your own life, even at home.
I still recall how shocked a friend was when she invited me a night before to her son’s birthday and I told her I couldn’t come because I was busy. I truly was because I had planned my day ahead of time, and needed a bit of a heads up, just as you would a mom who works outside the home. She invited me like she thought I had nothing else to do so would jump at her invitation, but I wasn’t even being petty. I was just showing my hours some well-deserved respect.
Be a boss chic, even at home, with a schedule, diary and everything.
Have a project
You see, the beautiful thing about a project is that it is your thing. You can make anything a project. For me, two major things became my project. First, my son. So, I spent hours in prayers and research for how to be the best caregiver for him. I researched his diet, his milestones, his temperament, future schools, e.t.c The second project was my own weight loss. Oh gosh, I had added a lot of weight from being low key depressed about being a Stay at home mom, so I started to lose weight and I was consumed with getting as much knowledge on this journey.
I researched and applied, and lost weight and helped many for free too cos I was so passionate and a couple months later, I started CoachE’Squad Ltd, my own company from home helping women lose weight and stay healthy too, and from our profit, we do some good works in the world, including hosting regular meetings for stay at home moms like this one.
Now, I do not know what your project will lead you to, but let me tell you something, it will give you confidence, joy, make you an authority and truly fill your hours in very profitable ways.
My sister, you have an amazing job, as a stay at home mom, and if anyone thinks ‘Wetin stay-at-home moms dey do sef?’, you do not even need to dignify them with an answer. I never did with my neighbor and we cool too, just in case you wondered. Offence is inevitable, but drama is a choice.