Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Musings on staying home and giving up a job.

What happens when you are a professional mum and you have a baby; you fall in love with that baby, you want to stay home with that baby and not go back to your job? That's the discussion over at Life and love in the petri dish. What a great discussion. In the context of unschooling, many of us face the same situation: we ask ourselves "what about all those years of studying we've put in; the enormous about of work done to get to where we are?" And then to go and throw it all away?

The concern is that the profession will not wait for those who leave it for even just a few months. Getting back into the job-loop once you step out to do that unproductive, bothersome little thing called raising your child, can be nearly impossible. It's a tough call for all those women who have to make that decision.

On the other hand, as one woman comments, isn't it rather insulting to child-rearing to think that a highly educated parent is a waste on the child?

In my case, I hadn't started a profession when I got pregnant-I had only just finished an undergraduate degree. Three babies later (in rapid succession), there was no way I was going to get professional and leave my three kids at daycare!  I then learned about unschooling and decided to follow that path, thinking that when the kids got older, I would go get myself a career.
And why not? There is a time for everything. Sometimes kids take precedence. The way I see it, kids are small for only a short while-so if as a parent you want to be with your kids most of the day, our society needs to respect this desire and make it easier to do so.

By the same token, we need to make it possible for professional moms to gain ready and seamless re-entry into a profession (that is provide support and training) if they decide to take time to raise their children. We need to be pushing our institutions and governments to grant women longer leaves from work if that is what they want to do. Digging into the issue, part time work is viewed as the best of both worlds if you can get it, except often, as pointed out in the post's comments-and I speak from experience as well- it can amount to part time work for full time stress!

What I found interesting was the absence of one of the most obvious ways to keep a foothold in the working world and even gain reentry into that world (probably doesn't work for professions like medicine and other such areas): volunteering. Sitting on boards. Collaborating on projects. Participating and taking on an active role within your community, so that when your kids don't need you as much, as they grow, you have a foot in the door; people know you and respect what you have to contribute.

Some women/parents say they are bored being with their kids at home all day- so don't be at home all day!
Too many people think that being a stay at home mom, or unschooling mom means that you give up your interests and your life; give up adult conversation and interaction to become a servant to the child. This is so unfortunate: there is a whole world out there that you as a home-educating parent can contribute to on all sorts of levels. You are NOT limited to the home; only to what your interests and imagination dictate. Broaden your interests, your concern for your community and there will be no way that the community will reject what you have to offer.

When it comes to the changing face of the economy, the movement towards more sustainable, just and localized economies, social enterprises and co-operatives is already underway. No doubt this global development facilitates and makes acceptable, the idea of flexibility in women's efforts to earn a wage, raise our own kids, or transition over to employment after raising kids.


rochelle stovall said...

Spot on with this write-up, I really think this website wants far more consideration.

Rosie said...

I have 3 kids and whilst I've only recently started unschooling, like many moms, I struggled to work. I tried, but missed my kids too much. I also find that I love to work and keep active.

Over the years I have been unschooling myself. Trying different things out 'work' wise and seeing what works for me.

I currently have a business that works around my needs. I feel professionally challenged and if I do ever need to write up a CV I can easily fill in the gaps with things I have done.

beatrice ekoko said...

@Rosie- it really is a question of striking that balance and it is going to be different for each individual. I like that you keep trying out different things to see what works for you. I agree, that you have to be flexible and open to change and what works one year might not work the other year!

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