The decision to become a stay at home mum for most people is not a very easy decision to make. There are different reasons why women make the decision, some because they didn’t find a job, some made the conscious decision, some realised they just didn’t want to leave their child(ren) after their leave.

For whatever reason, the woman makes the decision one thing is constant with all these women, at some point or another they have felt a bit of shame for the new found status. Going from a high flying career where you are running the show, calling the shots being respected for your status and intellect to having milk stained clothes, talking only baby-language all day, organizing the home, it definitely takes a toll over time.

I have had some times in my stay at home years where I felt I didn’t measure up because I wasn’t in a regular job like everyone else & I wasn’t earning a steady income to support my family. I felt all these things inside of me, and when Nigerians (who generally don’t know how to act) hear that you are ‘taking care of your child’ they go ahead to start offering you ways to make money, telling you to look for a job or start a business and if one is still in the place of shame, you can imagine how much further the person will sink.

Why? Why do we stay at home mums feel shame when the title is involved?

  • The society: There is a linear way society has programmed the trajectory of life for most of us. Be born, go to school, get a job, grow in the job, strive for work-life balance, retire from the job, die. Once anyone tries to go against this trajectory, society makes them feel like they are doing something wrong and something to be ashamed of, however, the world we are today there is disruption in every sector and facet of life where some things that used to be looked down upon is now celebrated and I see that happening with stay at home mums too.
  • Your Spouse: Some husbands do make their wives feel less than for making the choice of taking care of their children through the early years of their life. They make snide comments, be rude, be controlling, etc because of the choice or circumstance of being a stay at home mum. This is not a very healthy environment to be in and I know it is the reality of many people, some have been forced to get jobs they absolutely hate because of it.
  • Other Mothers & People who don’t see beyond their nose: I am really not trying to be ‘insultive’ but I really couldn’t find other words to describe it. Whether knowingly or unknowingly other mothers sometimes judge stay at home mums especially the ones who have their children in school too. You get funny comments, statements from the people you think should understand the most
  • You!: You are ashamed of your status as a stay at home mum ultimately because of you. You have not sat down to define your value as you take on this role, you have not sat down to define the advantages of your sacrifice on a daily basis, you have not looked beyond yourself in the now, you have not stopped caring about what people think about your decision. You, my dear SAHM need to change that.

What can we do to feel zero shame as a SAHM?
  • Do you see the above list? Minus your spouse, stop focusing on anything they have to say, them go dey alright las las. Let’s talk about what you can do practically now;
  • For your spouse who still thinks less of your sacrifice and makes snide comments to make you feel less than? Talk! Communicate! Communicate some more till you are on the same page because it cannot work until you are on the same page.
  • Write down on a sheet of paper the value you are adding to your family. Read it every day to boost your confidence then start saying it out loud to people “I am a stay at home mum”
  • Dress up every day like you are going to work, it doesn’t have to be elaborate but it will boost your confidence.
  • Create a business card! Let the world know that you are not here to joke. Lol. Share the card when you go out and watch people marvel.
  • Create a development road map for yourself. Define your personal development goals and work at achieving it.
  • Get an income, for some people confidence, can only come when there is money, there are different ways to make money without an actual ‘job’ or business. Invest your savings, get the family to pay you a salary,
  • Find an outlet (physical, intellectual, spiritual): If your spouse has a business, run a blog or contribute content to existing websites or blogs, join a gym, volunteer in your kid's school, church, build an online presence the opportunities are endless.
  • Find an anchor: Jesus is my anchor, he gives my life meaning and a sense of purpose.
It took a while for me to shake off the shame I used to feel and not base my identity on the title “stay at home mum” and see what I was doing in the real light of what it was, a very brave and noble thing. The gratification is delayed but it is definitely worth it.

Have you ever felt shame because you are a stay at home mum? How do you introduce yourself when you are to shy to say ‘stay at home mum’?