We all know that it is a real privilege to be able to stay at home to look after your children. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy option. Being a stay at home mum is the best job in the world and it’s the hardest job. In equal measure some days.
There’s also a real stigma attached to the term ‘stay at home mum’. Staying at home or not going out into the workplace to do a job is seen in any other circumstance as an easy or lazy option. Even when you step out of the career spotlight to bring up your children, there’s a misconception that staying at home is a bit of a skive and so much easier than heading out to work to do the traditional 9-5. You can wear your pyjamas all day and watch Peppa Pig. You don’t have to face the daily commute or deadlines, meetings or work pressures. You have all the holidays you could wish for. It’s a breeze. Isn’t it?
The next time you feel dismissed for being ‘just a stay at home mum’ consider this – if there was a job advert for a stay at home mum, which set out all the working conditions, we bet hardly anyone would apply. Here’s what that job advert might say:
Position: Stay at home mum
This is a voluntary position and there will be no remuneration in terms of paid salary. There will be no annual bonus and no future prospect to gain a salary as your role progresses. Sorry.
Full time. And by that we really really mean full time.
24/7. You must be prepared to start your role before the sparrow farts in the morning and continue until late evening, when you think you might drop to the floor with exhaustion. Even then you must remain on duty and be on call all through the evening and night. You must be fully prepared to leap back to your duties as and when required (even if you’re half way through watching the latest episode of the must-see drama on catch up). We recommend that successful applicants sleep with one eye and ear open at all times in case they are required to resume their responsibilities at any given time without prior notice.
Daily breaks/Lunch hours:
Please note the position of stay at home mum does not typically allow any breaks during your working day. That includes lunch hours, as staff are often required to be prepared to eat lunch standing up and when their food is mostly cold.
At home. Stuck mostly in your own four walls. They don’t call it ‘stay at home mum’ for nothing. Sometimes you will be required to relocate to dusty church halls or soft play areas with stifling heat and cacophonous noise levels.
None required. Having said that we do require you to get up to speed with the full job requirements pretty damn quickly.
The university of life. An MA in folding fitted sheets and a Highter National Diploma in ‘how to collapse a buggy with one foot and no hands in three seconds because the bus is coming’ are not essential but desirable.
Unfortunately there is no annual holiday allowance for this position. There is, in theory one day marked down in the company calendar as holiday leave (Mother’s Day) but expect to spend this day eating cold toast in bed while listening to your offspring screaming downstairs because Daddy cut their own toast into triangles not squares.
You are entitled to take holidays in your annual working year but please do be informed that these may require you to redouble your working efforts to ensure your small client’s needs are met in a strange place where the food is ‘funny’ and the pillows are ‘lumpy’.
Unfortunately there is absolutely no allowance for stay at home mums to have sick leave. If you fall ill then you must still turn up to work at your usual starting hour and get through the working day as usual. You can, though, access emergency privileges and put on more than your daily allowance of CBeebies.
There is no formal procedure in place for annual staff appraisals. Any assessment of your role will take place informally. You may receive feedback on your parenting abilities from strangers in the supermarket who will appraise your efforts to quell a toddler tantrum. You will get feedback from your offspring, who may voice their opinions loudly when you peel their banana incorrectly and if you post about any aspect of your parenting role online then do be prepared to get instant feedback on whether or not you are doing it right.
Possibilities for career enhancement:
You will be automatically enrolled to embark on every new stage that your role requires. You will be given no further training or support to face any new challenges that your role brings year on year. Again, you will be expected to get up to speed with any challenges your new role throws at you as you advance pretty damn quickly. Any new changes to your role and new working conditions are non negotiable. By taking on this role you are agreeing to comply with and find your own way through any new experiences that your on going role requires.
We do not have a HR department and all your complaints about your position must be logged online, through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. It is important to know that while you may find it helpful to log your complaints in such a way we will take next to no notice of them and your working conditions will not be altered in any way as a result.
- Basic engineering to be able to build flat-pack nursery furniture with nothing but an anvil key and a complicated set of instructions to help you.
- Hostage and negotiation skills similar to those required by the SAS to deal with toddler tantrums and sibling squabbles that may erupt at any moment and with no prior warning.
- The patience of a saint.
- The ability to do almost anything one-handed, while holding a baby in your arms. (Please note that after feedback from previous clients we do not expect applicants to be able to butter toast one-handed, as that skill is considered impossible)
- Advanced experience in multi-tasking.
- Being able to read The Gruffalo out loud with different (and convincing) voices for each animal.
- Never losing patience when you HAVE to leave the house NOW but your toddler insists on putting on their own shoes ‘all on their own’ and packing a small bag with essentials, such as a large plastic rat and a conker.
- Being able to chop up onions small enough that your child will never, ever, not ever, detect them in casseroles.
- Knowing all the words and actions to ‘Baby Shark (do do do do do do)’
Tempted to apply?
Well, yes. Go on then. We’ll take it. Just as long as the rest of the human race realises what an amazing job stay at home mums do and recognise us for the mum warriors we are. Where do we sign up?