As full-time stay-at-home mothers, we don’t have the most glamorous careers. It’s behind the scenes, mundane, and sometimes hard to enjoy. A book I was reading had an example of how hard it was to be a stay-at-home mother: “It’s so boring!” the woman said. Boring? Tiring, I get. Frustrating, challenging, occasionally menial and repetitive, but boring? If you’re a stay-at-home mother and find yourself bored, invite your pastor’s family over for a 5 course dinner on Saturday. It will make Thursday and Friday interesting. If chronic boredom is a struggle, start a business, buy a puppy, or begin homeschooling.
But boredom isn’t what most stay-at-home moms struggle with. It’s really being tired, overwhelmed, lonely, etc., that gets to them. In fact, some stay-at-home mothers will tell you that they don’t like what they do. If this was the “real” work world, they would change jobs. It’s not that they need a break or a good night’s sleep, it’s that they don’t like being at home. Period. There are different reasons women feel this way. Maybe it’s a lack of training, teaching, or a supportive husband. Perhaps it was an idealized view of marriage and family life that reality has shattered. There are many factors that could contribute to not liking staying at home, but the thought that comes out is, “this actually is not fun, it’s too hard, the work never ends and, frankly, I would rather do something that pays.” Here are some thoughts that might help those who feel this way.
- Recognize God’s calling. If you believe that you are called to be a “keeper at home,” as Titus says, then this is your vocation. It’s not a hobby. Hobbies you can take or leave – there is no moral consequence to dropping scrapbooking. Vocations are different. They are serious; they are long-term; they are part of who you are. Biblically speaking, this puts a new perspective on staying at home. If this is your vocation, then this is a huge part of the good works that God has prepared in advance for you to do (Eph. 2:10). Even better, He has promised to give you everything you need to do this work. It’s a good work, and God will give you grace for each day that you are at home, running the race towards the crown of life (Heb. 12:2). Pray that you’ll be faithful, and at the end hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
- Remember that no temptation besets you except that which is common to stay-at-home moms. The baby crying and the toddler flipping out and the toilet flooding at the same time are not a unique martyrdom that you’re being subjected to. It’s life in a fallen world. Stay-at-home moms deal with these things every day, all day, around the world. Recognize that this is not unique, and pray for a way of escape when you are tempted to ______ (anger, despair, laziness, etc.) (1 Cor. 10:13). Pray for other mothers who are dealing with the same things, maybe in more difficult circumstances than yours.
- Get good at it. Running a household (especially when there are children involved) requires a skill set. Acquire it! Don’t expect it to be easy; decide to conquer it. Passion for a career, according to this article, is a result of mastery. The house is a mess, the kids are still in their pajamas, there’s no supper plan, and it’s 4:00: well if that’s the norm, of course you’re going to hate it. Master the basics (cooking, cleaning, laundry), teach your children (regardless of how they are educated), practice hospitality (to strangers, too). There are all sorts of ways to develop proficiency in running a home: use them. Staying at home doesn’t seem as bleak when the laundry isn’t crawling out of the closet, there’s a plan for dinner, and the children are clothed and in their right minds. Ever wondered how that older woman at church has a clean house, good meals, kids who like her, and seems happy? Part of it is that for years and years she’s taught herself the domestic arts. The results of masterful stay-at-home-moms are usually orderly homes, reliable meals, and happy moms.
- Find an older woman who can give you advice, encouragement, and counsel. On the days when you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, or just plain angry with the kids, calling an older woman instead of a peer can be a huge blessing. An older woman not only has experience that you don’t; she also has perspective that you don’t. That’s invaluable for a mom whose career is in the home.
A woman who cares for home and children full time is not a “house wife” any more than her spouse is a “desk husband”. “Stay-at-home” isn’t the greatest adjective, either, about on par with “sit-in-cubicle”. Someone with an office career would never identify themselves like that unless they hated their job and wanted everyone to know it. Maybe when our perspective and attitudes change (always happens in that order, doesn’t it?), we’ll understand that “home maker” is a better title: an accountable woman with the skills she needs to fulfill her God-given vocation. Cheerfully. We won’t be “in love” with homemaking (at least, not all the time), but we will be able to love it as we see the good that it bears in ourselves, our families, and communities. That’s when it will most bring glory to the One who created home and women. If you are a stay-at-home mom who has learned to love your job, we’d love to hear how you have developed and fed that love in a way that blesses your family and honours God.