I know I've shared about how it can be tough staying home. I've lamented about how it can be discouraging, and how it can be tiring. However, I realize that I've also learnt and gained so much, after having to stay home with these little ones. So here are my rewards from the past few years:
:: I get to hang out with my kids all the time.
I've talked about how difficult it is for introverts to be around kids the entire day. But that aside, we do get to be the one that brings the kids for all the fun stuff. We are the one peering at Inuka the polar bear swimming in his tank with the kids. We get to go to the playground together. We are usually the ones who blow the bubbles, as they chase them. Just recently, the hubby was lamenting that he too wanted to go and see Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus at Plaza Singapura, but he didn't get to go, since we opted to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It made me realize it was really a privilege that I got to do all these with the kids, while he slogged hard at work, and only got to hear about all the stuff we did at the end of a long, tiring day.
|Digging for fossils.|
:: Being with them all the time means I know their routines, quirks and acts of naughtiness first-hand.
Since I get to hang out with them all the time, I have the kids' routines down pat. I know their quirks firsthand: I am the first to discover that Junior J is on a mushroom strike, I know what makes them tick. I have the time to chat with them, and figure out how to make them do something, and I have the time to have conversations with them during teachable moments.
Of course, it means we usually have to bear the brunt of any naughty behavior, and we are usually the first to know if they've done something wrong. Yesterday I left the older two to play while I patted Baby J to bed, and I came out to find that the kids had put up a gallery of their own pictures using half a roll of masking tape, after which Lil J had taken a scissors to his hair and had cut off his fringe! There was masking tape plastered all over the wall, and hair all over the floor. They tried to sweep up the hair but ended up making a bigger mess. I was horrified… but hair grows back, and this becomes a story we will recall with a smile. In a sense, being there all the time means I get to be part of their story, more. But I'm still confiscating the scissors, for awhile.
|No more scissors for you, young man.|
:: I've become a better cook.
I couldn't cook anything except spaghetti Bolognese and instant noodles before the kids came along. I was just too busy and tired at work to want to learn how to cook anything else. But fussy eaters, and having to eat in most days has given me no choice but to learn. After all, there is only so much Bolognese you can eat, and we didn't like the idea of the kids eating out too much, because of the high salt and MSG content of the food served. Learning to cook has been quite easy: You can search for recipes online, you can watch videos on anything from how to clean squid to how to chop a fennel bulb. Well-stocked supermarkets make finding most ingredients pretty straightforward.
|We made pizza from scratch!|
:: I've saved more in terms of money.
Many look at staying home as income loss, but forget that having one parent staying home also helps in reducing expenditure. You no longer need to pay for childcare, and some also let go of their stay-in helpers after they make the switch. If you cook more and eat in more, that significantly reduces the money spent on food. In fact, these days we've learnt to make our own steak, and spend less than $50 making a dinner that would have cost more than $200 if we were to dine outside! Not working means I also don't have work-related expenses, like having to buy work clothes and paying for transport.
Apparently, a significant percentage of the expenses used to raise a child in Singapore is tied to childcare and education (which includes tuition and enrichment), at least going by the infographics provided here. By staying home, we've eliminated the need to spend on childcare. Being home with the kids means that I can bring them out to play, and I am around to help them with regards to their learning, which reduces our expenses and need for the latter aspect. While the money saved may not amount up to the income that was lost, it does help in reducing the financial burden on the hubby, and I know many stay-home mums who have supplemented the household income through other innovative ways, such as setting up blogshops or small businesses.
:: I've learnt to be content with less.
We've learnt to live with less. We can't afford to travel much, and we spend a lot less on dining out, clothes or entertainment. But again, it has taught us that what we have is enough, and that it doesn't take much for kids to be happy. Being around the kids all the time has also helped me to see what really matters, all which have nothing to do with money, or things.
So I am thankful. Thankful for having this privilege to be home with the kids, to be around through the good and the bad. What are you thankful for this week?
PS: This is just a personal sharing about what I've gained through staying home. While I'd love to encourage more mums to stay home with their children if they could, I am NOT advocating that staying home is the only way, or that working mums spend less quality time with their kids or do not have such a close relationship with their kids.