When Pete and I were on our first date he asked me what I wanted from life – what were my passions, my dreams? One of my answers was that I wanted to be a stay at home mum. Often being a mum, especially if you choose that to be your full time career, infers many other roles as well. For me I became mother, homemaker, homeschooler, events and social manager, memory maker and so forth.
Unlike most other careers we could embark upon, being a Mother generally comes without training and yet, being a mother is such an important job. In years gone by girls would learn the skills necessary from their mother, aunt and grandmother – and in some cultures that may still be the case, but in our culture that natural cycle of instruction and support is breaking down. Many new mums just don’t know what to do.
Peter and I decided many years ago that if this was to be my full time job, my career, then we needed to value it as such. One of the outworkings of seeing this as my career is that we value training, development and upskilling as a mother. Since then I have spent considerable time and our allocated money on upskilling as a mum. I have read books and blogs, done courses on DVD, and I have attended conferences (online and in real life). I have also spent time with older women talking about the ups and downs – and sidesteps – of being a mum.
Being a Mum is a fluid thing – we can never graduate with a title of Expert Mother PhD. – we will never know it all. Being a mum is about engaging with living, growing, changing organism: our family. As each child grows we have more to learn about them, more to learn in how to relate to them and help them grow as a person. Our circumstances are always changing and we ourselves are growing so there is always something new to learn about when it comes to family life.
Too busy to learn
I was talking to a friend the other day about something they were struggling with. They were reluctant to learn a new skill that had helped me in a similar situation. Each time I talked to them they were getting more and more stressed, and I was (to be honest) getting frustrated that they wouldn’t step aside and do something about it. They said to me – I don’t have time to learn to do something new, this is stressful enough. My answer back was: Doing something new can’t be any more stressful than you already are!
Much like the book title: Too Busy not to Pray – we are too busy not to learn something new. Yes, there is a learning curve when we develop new skills, and we wonder if there is any point to it all but as we practice new skills we finally start to see the light of day, and the benefit of pushing through.
There is always going to be a learning curve when we start practicing something new. But if we know why it is important to us we will find the motivation to keep on going until it becomes a natural action to us.
Training as a Mother gave me Friends
Education these days is so much about collaboration. And training as a mum also benefits hugely by collaboration – by working with and learning from other women doing the same thing. I used to call visiting with my friends or coffee dates as networking meetings – it is a shame they aren’t tax deductible!! And though Peter used to laugh at me (good naturedly!) there is an element of truth behind my tongue in cheek label.
Being a full time, stay at home mum can be lonely these days. People live individualized lives, in neighbourhoods with high fences and busy lives. Rarely do you find the neighbourhood where women can catch up over the fence, or even borrow a cup of sugar! And this is a sad thing in our society. For the mum who does stay home to work full time on these things it can be isolating. So though you may not get connection in your neighbourhood hopefully you are able to find community a little further afield. Church, Mum’s groups, social or sport clubs or even online support groups (though really, face to face is better).
We need other people – people who have gone on before us, people who are doing it along side of us, and people who are younger coming up behind us. In days gone by this was provided by family and close communities. These days we have to recreate and find such a support network.
Training as a Mother saved my Sanity
One of the things that women often say about being a stay at home mum is that they don’t want their minds to go to mush. In a way this idea of learning, of seeing being a mum as my career, is what has saved my sanity. My brain hasn’t had time to turn to mush – there is too much to learn.
The title, Stay at Home Mum, does infer a woman who just sits at home. But I’m sure we all know that is not our reality. There is a bumper sticker that has often made me chuckle: If I’m a Stay at Home Mum why am I always in the Car!
A Mum has such a broad range of activities to balance – and though that is tricky at times, it does broaden our learning opportunities.
I’ve learnt how to be a better parent – and there is something new to learn in every phase my kids go through!
I’ve learnt how to be a better homemaker, how to be hospitable in the different seasons of our life, how to cook healthy food, how to decorate, how to manage our resources, how to build family memories and nurture relationships.
I’ve learnt how to blog and build a website.
I’ve learnt how to organize events and work with a team towards a common goal or purpose.
I’ve learnt business skills, public speaking, and teaching skills.
These are the things are suitable for my life – your life may need other skills.
This is why my favourite training books are by Kathy Peel, The Family Manager Takes Charge and the Busy Mom’s Guide to a Happy Organized Home. She outlines 7 spheres of a Mother’s life:
- Time and Scheduling
- Home and Property
- Family and Friends
- Special Events
A Mum needs to become proficient in each of these areas – there is so much to learn – no time to let your brain turn to mush!
Training makes things Automatic
During the recent Anzac Day celebrations I heard a soldier talk about his bravery when he lost his legs. At the time of injury he was able to hold it together to instruct the other soldiers around him what to do. So here he was, severely injured, instructing others how to give him serious first aide. The interviewer asked him – how did you do that? His very honest answer has stuck with me: “I don’t know” he said. “I don’t know, but my training just kicked in, and it saved my life”.
Afterwards I talked to my kids about this. It highlights the purpose of training. Stuff happens (hopefully nothing so horrific and life changing as it was for this soldier, but stuff happens) and your training kicks in.
It is the things we have trained in, the habits we’ve developed, that will get us through the bad days of motherhood.
It is the productivity hacks that we have learnt that will save us time when life is in the fast lane.
It is the relationships we have nurtured that will support us when life gets hard.
Regardless of what season of motherhood you are in, regardless of whether you work another job as well or not, regardless of your neighbourhood or community, we need to learn to do what we do better.
Each and every mum needs professional development. That is ongoing inspiration and encouragement, training and instruction to keep growing in skills and abilities to be the best mum you can be.
Being a Mum is my Profession: Being a mum is a standout profession all of its own. Stand tall knowing you have the skill set of many professional women you just do your thing at home!
My Career as a Mum: My career has been that of a mum – a professional mum! I am as passionate about success, and committed to learning more about my job as any woman.
What type of Mum do you want to be? 5 things I want my life as a mum to be characterised by and not one of them is to be a great house cleaner!