Mommy Talks – Work or Stay-at-Home?

There have been many articles on the pros and cons of working moms and stay-at home moms. From personal experience, it seems to me like working moms have been getting more positive feedback, both online and offline.  It’s a sensitive topic, and usually mothers on either side of the fence disagree with each other. I’m here to share my thoughts on this subject, having been a working mom for most of Kyle’s young life, but also seeing how stay-at-home moms manage.  There are ups and downs to each scenario, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. They’re just different, and mommies are still mommies, whichever path they choose.

Let me start by sharing that during my first year of motherhood, I was really, really struggling.  As a first time mom, I didn’t have a formula to help me balance taking care of my businesses and being a mom to Kyle.  It wasn’t easy – there came a time that I wanted to give up. So every time I find a solution or method (you can call it a motherhood hack), I felt so proud of myself.  It felt like – YES! I CAN DO THIS!

I realise that being a entrepreneur equipped me for motherhood – I learned how to make things work amidst challenging situations, which is a part of any entrepreneur’s journey.  One skill I’ve transferred over from entrepreneurship to motherhood is time management. My experience in juggling my different businesses helped me manage being a mom and an entrepreneur at the same time.  Those breakthrough moments when I overcame mommy challenges really made me feel so proud to be both an entrepreneur and a mom. Another key skill I learned is delegation. This comes hand in hand with time management.  By delegating the small tasks, I free myself up to do the more important things. I delegate what I can to yaya or to other people, so these tasks won’t get in the way of my time as a mom.

Working moms have the advantage of feeling more accomplished compared to stay-at-home moms.  I really find it fulfilling to be able to juggle work and family. Plus, working gives moms and children another dimension to life – kids see a different side to their moms.  Mom is not just a moms, but a professional, too. I think having Kyle see me work also helped him become emotionally more mature. If I’m at home and I have to take a work call, I would explain to him what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.  I would explain to Kyle that mommy and daddy are working so we can give him a better life. To help him understand, I explain it in concrete terms – mommy and daddy’s work is the reason why he can have the food he likes and the toys he wants.  It’s what allows him to go to school, to travel and see different places, and many other things that he enjoys. Kyle has a bigger understanding of work because he sees me and his daddy working.

Based on my personal experience with Kyle, and with other moms I know, working moms tend to have more independent kids.  Children see how flexible working moms are, shifting from one activity to another. They know that their moms can be busy with other things, and so they cannot always depend on mom.  Personally, I want Kyle to be independent and learn how to manage himself when I’m not around. I don’t want him to be so reliant on me that he can’t function when I’m away. Being a working mom helps with that.

Having other responsibilities outside of being a mom also affects how I spend time with Kyle.  Because I’m a working mom, I would make sure I get quality time with my son. I know that I don’t have all the time to spend with him, so I make a point to make my moments with Kyle meaningful.

Which leads me to one of the downsides of being a working mom.  Working moms have to deal with the guilt of not being there for the kids.  I feel sad that I can’t give 100% of my time to Kyle. I don’t get to send him to school or pick him up after class every day. (I actually schedule it for Tuesdays and Thursdays.)  To help manage this time limitation, I set my priorities – when it comes to school, the doctor, or other important matters, I make it a point to be available. If something comes in conflict with work, I make sure someone else at work handles the load.  For example, I had to attend a parent-teacher meeting which happened the same time we had a meeting for the restaurant. I prioritized Kyle’s school event, and just left instructions to my staff to give me updates after their meeting. Setting priorities has made it easier for me to handle conflicts in schedule between motherhood and business.

I recognise that not all working moms are like me.  As an entrepreneur, I own my time. Those working in the office clock in and clock out at fixed hours.  But as a business owner, work issues can also come up at ANY time of the day – be it 10pm or 5am. Meetings can fall on Saturdays or Sundays or holidays.  Employees can be full-time moms once they’re out of the office. But businesswomen have that extra challenge of trying to move things around to avoid disrupting your family’s schedule.  The responsibility is also greater – sometimes the issue can’t be addressed by anyone but you. It’s just a matter of finding ways to make it work. For me, sometimes I end up bringing Kyle to meetings or arrange for playdates or send him to extracurricular classes (like sports) while I handle the business.

I’m really proud of being a working mom.  But if I look at it objectively, I can’t do a lot of the things housemoms can do.  Whenever I see a mom carrying three kids on her own without a yaya, I start to imagine myself in her place.  Or when I see them prepare food for their kids – I see these situations and ask myself if I can do that. The answer is clear – I can’t.  I’d do it my way, which is instruct my yaya how to prepare the food, but I won’t be able to do it myself. I’m still on top of it, but I’m not the one doing it.  I highly respect stay-at-home moms for how they can do so many things for their kids on their own.

The advantage of being a stay-at-home mom is that you don’t have to deal with conflicts in schedules as much as working moms.  They have the benefit of really watching their kids grow up and sharing more memories together. They get to witness a lot more things with the kids.  As a working mom, I have to rely on my yaya to tell me what happened with Kyle during the day. I’d ask his teachers if they have stories to share.  I would do this everyday, because I’m not there to witness it.  Just recently, I got Kyle’s yaya a phone and asked her to record his moments, so I can watch them later.  It helps me see what happens, how Kyle interacts with other kids, and I get to somewhat experience it myself.

I’m also amazed at how stay-at-home moms can handle the craziness of the kids on a daily basis.  It requires so much patience, and I really look up to them on how they manage. Trust me when I say – I can’t imagine if I’m able to handle it. They wake up early to prepare breakfast.  They really do so much, but because it’s domesticated, it doesn’t get appreciated. It’s not as glamorous as wearing heels and going to the office or running a business. I’ve noticed that stay at home moms don’t have enough time to prioritize their own needs – that’s how busy they are.  Working moms still put on makeup and look beautiful, but housemoms lack sleep. Stay-at-home moms make a lot of sacrifices that people don’t know about.

I know stay-at-home moms or housemoms who used to be working women.  They gave up their careers by choice, because they want to focus on being a mommy.  They want to be the best moms for their kids by being more hands-on when raising them.  That’s the path they chose, and it’s not wrong.

There really isn’t any reason for us to compare ourselves to other moms.  All moms have their own insecurities, whether you are a working mom or a housemom.  It’s not about whose method is better, or us (working moms) against them (housemoms).  We all have different situations, different struggles, different husbands! We have our own ways of doing things, and that’s okay, because we all want what’s best for our kids.   

I hope this article has helped you see different sides of motherhood in a fresh, new way.  There really are pros and cons in every kind of setup. Let’s all respect each other – whether you’re a working mom or a housemom.  Your mothering style doesn’t make you less of a woman. Just be the best you can be for your kids, your husband, and yourself. After all, we are all mothers, in different ways.

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