FTWM, SAHM And Everything In Between: My Personal Experience

The grass is always greener on the other side.

A working mother might envy the life of a stay-home mother.

A stay-home mother might think working mothers have it easier.

Which role is better? Or easier?

In my 10 years of being a mother, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing both roles.

In fact, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing all the other roles in between too:

– Full Time Working Mum (without maid)
– Full Time Working Mum (with maid)
– Part Time Working Mum (without maid)
– Stay At Home Mum (with maid)
– Stay At Home Mum (without maid)
– Work At Home Mum (without maid)

I can safely say, I’m able to make some pretty good comparisons among all these different mothering roles.

Full Time Working Mum (without a live-in maid)

Pros:

  • Financial independence, higher household income.
  • Able to have adult interactions at the work place.

Cons:

  • Long hours at work and away from the kids (Our boys spent their days at the grandparents’).
  • There is little work-life balance, as I had to bring work home and work after the kids are asleep and during the weekends too.
  • Having to do housework after a long day at work can get really tiring.
  • When the kids are sick, it was difficult for me to just apply for leave and not go to work, as I was a school teacher. Not turning up for work would mean my students had to be taught by a relief teacher.
  • I had only 2 to 3 hours a day with the kids.

mothers-juggling

Image Credit

Full Time Working Mum (with a live-in maid)

Pros:

  • Financial independence, higher household income.
  • Able to have adult interactions at the work place.
  • After a long day at work, I came home to piping hot and delicious home-cooked dinner, prepared by our helper.
  • There is no need to worry about household chores. We could spend all our time at home with our kids.
  • I didn’t have to feel worn out over the daily washing up, cleaning and physical childcare chores and could just focus on being with the kids.

Cons:

  • Long hours at work and away from the kids.
  • There is little work-life balance.
  • Difficult to take leave when the kids are sick.
  • I had only 2 to 3 hours a day with the kids.
  • I took on an additional role. That of an employer to my helper. Had to supervise, train, take care of her needs and so on.
  • Lack of privacy, with a live-in helper.

Part Time Working Mum (without maid)

Pros:

  • Financial independence.
  • Able to have adult interactions at the work place.
  • I had more time with the kids. Greater work-life balance.

Cons:

  • Career-wise, I had lesser opportunities as compared to my full-time colleagues.
  • Still difficult to take leave when the kids are sick. But at least I could go home earlier.
  • Without a helper means that all household chores fell on my shoulders (and the husband’s). With 2 boys below the age of 5 and me pregnant with our 3rd, it was tiring to juggle work, housework and kids.

Stay At Home Mum (with maid)

Pros:

  • This has got to be one of the physically less exhausting roles I’ve experienced! I get to spend all my time doing the more important stuff (for myself and with the kids) instead of the menial tasks of washing, cooking, cleaning.
  • I am the kids’ main caregiver, which means they are really close to me.
  • I can be there for the kids when they are sick.
  • I get to bring the kids out anytime I want, during weekdays!
  • I was able to plan lots of activities for the kids and didn’t have to worry about the washing up and cleaning.
  • I have extra help with the kids, which allows me to focus on one or two kids while the helper looks after the other(s).
  • I get to manage my time and plan my schedule without having to report to anyone.

Cons:

  • Not financially independent. I had to depend on the husband for income. I cut down on buying things for myself.
  • Having a maid means an additional financial burden on our one-income family.
  • Lack of easily accessible adult interaction. Extra effort has to be made to plan dates with friends, who were all working!
  • Being at home all day with a live-in helper means there is a lack of privacy. For me, that became a torture, as I value privacy alot.
  • I had to manage, supervise, teach, train the helper and take care of her needs. Which made me feel like I have a 4th child to look after. It gets emotionally draining for me after a while, when our helper started giving us problems.

sahm

Stay At Home Mum (without maid)

Pros:

  • I get to be home with my kids.
  • I can be there when they are sick.
  • I am the kids’ main caregiver, which means they are really close to me.
  • I get to manage my time and plan my schedule without having to report to anyone.
  • I get to bring the kids out anytime I want, during weekdays!

Cons:

  • Not financially independent.
  • Lack of easily accessible adult interaction.
  • It gets physically tiring having to juggle all aspects of housework while looking after 3 kids.
  • There was little time for myself (except late at night when the kids are asleep).
  • After a while, you might start neglecting your own needs if you’re not careful. It might get depressing and draining for some.

Work At Home Mum (without maid)

Pros:

  • Financial independence.
  • Feels good to be able to bring home an income while doing stimulating work and not just housework.
  • I get to be home with my kids.
  • I can be there when they are sick.
  • I can bring my kids out without having to apply for leave.
  • I get to manage my time and plan my working schedule around my family and kids, who are still my priority.

Cons:

  • It is an entirely new level of juggling – work, kids, housework, and can get really exhausting.

Now, can you guess which role is my favourite?

No prize for guessing. It has to be the last one.

After 10 years of trying out different arrangements, I am glad to have finally found one that is the best for me and my family. Now, I am not entirely just working at home. I do get out of the house a few times a week for my work, when the kids are in school or my mother comes over to help me.

I have learnt that work-life balance is a very fluid and abstract concept. There is no one size fits all. What works for one might not work for another and many times, it takes a lot of trial and error to find the best arrangement for our family.

The key is, do not be afraid to try!
My one mantra in life is “You’d never know if you never try!”

work-life-balance

Sometimes we have a prompting to move in a certain direction in life, but fear stops us in our tracks and we end up spending the next few years deliberating whether we should move in that direction. And before you know it, the kids are grown, the prompting is gone.

I think all mothers are the same, whether you are a FTWM, SAHM, PTWM, WAHM or anything in between.

All of us have ONE thing in common… We all hold our children and family dearly in our hearts.

May we find the best arrangement for our families and achieve greater quality of life and work-life balance.

Plough on, dear mothers!

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