It’s so easy to get caught up in the negativity of it all as a SAH Parent. After all, it’s a repetitive, mundane and entirely thankless job at times. Throw in a bit of sleep deprivation, a toddler tantrum at your local supermarket, and Dora the Explorer on repeat, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm of negativity, ready to take you down.
These burning embers of negativity are relentlessly fanned by social media. Ranging from the deadly serious articles about parents coping with some horrific situations, all the way through to the true comic genius of the Instagram phenomenon #assholeparent. For the record – Best. Site. Ever.
There is some great camaraderie and solidarity that develops through this shared suffering on social media. However there’s also a very real scenario where we start to think that our lives as SAH Parents really are as miserable as social media would have us believe. We start to believe our own bullshit. I know this because I’ve found myself getting dragged into that mental space a few times recently, and quite frankly, I don’t like it.
Motivational author Joyce Meyer once wrote: “you cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”
With this in mind, I thought I’d take a moment to give myself a slap in the face, raise my arm out in front of me, and extend my middle finger to all of these negative notions. After all, I reckon being a SAH Parent is the best job in the world, and here’s why:
I get to wear activewear. Everywhere. You’ve all seen the activewear song parody on Youtube. It’s funny because it’s true, and there’s no greater ambassador for the many uses of activewear than the SAH Parent. School drop off? Activewear. Drinking coffee with the hipsters at the local hangout? Activewear. Grocery shopping? Activewear. Drinking wine in the schoolyard with the other SAH Parents on a Friday afternoon while you wait for school to finish? You know it. #activewear. It’s not just the mums in their pink leopardprint tights and tank top complete with cheesy motivational slogan emblazoned across the chest. Although perhaps not as flamboyant with my activewear wardrobe, I too am a disciple. In fact, on the odd occasion that I roll up to school drop off in anything tidier than my usual shorts, sneakers and t-shirt ensemble, people tend to put on a sad face and politely enquire whose funeral I’m going to.
No more peak hour commuting. While our significant others are crawling along in their cars on the congested freeways; or sharing coughs; body odours and phone conversations with fellow commuters on the packed trains and buses, I’m at home, drinking my coffee (in my activewear of course). Once I’m done, I get to walk the little fockers to school, with the only congestion occurring on our arrival at the bike / scooter racks. On the odd occasion where I am called upon to drive somewhere during peak hours, it is a brutal, but timely reminder of the benefits of staying at home.
I’m the boss. I am in charge of the domestic portfolio. I may only be the boss of a couple of little people who can’t even wipe their own bums, but I’m the boss nonetheless. As the boss I have sole responsibility for making all of the important decisions each day. Which tasks and activities we tackle, which Wiggles DVD we watch, what to cook for dinner, which brand of toilet paper to buy (Kleenex. Always Kleenex. In case you were wondering). I’ve never had the opportunity to be my own boss through my career, and it’s a refreshing change to have this freedom now.
Coffee dates. I try and fit in one or two each week. Sometimes with a friend. Sometimes with one of my wife’s SAHM friends – which is a bit weird now that I think about it. Sometimes just me and the cutest date in town. Focker #2. Mind you, there aren’t many coffee dates with Focker #2 that don’t end up with me apologising to the hipster behind the counter for the spilt babyccino and the crumbled quinoa chocolate muffin that has been ground into the floor. While I probably do fewer coffee catch-ups now than I ever did while I was working, these ones are generally far more enjoyable. It’s less about the “networking opportunity” and more about the coffee. And the company of course. But mainly the coffee.
Celebrating the every-day victories. Being present every day has enabled me to celebrate every little success with our kids. There’s probably no better example of this than Focker #2 and her scooter. Since the beginning of the school year she has wanted to ride her scooter to school. The problem is, at the tender age of two, she didn’t know how. I’d inevitably end up carrying her and her scooter to and from school twice a day instead. Not always a pleasant journey through the heat of a Perth summer, although my activewear really came into its own on these occasions. We persisted though, and every week she’d be a little more adventurous, travelling a little bit further on her own. In the last few weeks she’s gone up a few gears. She can now not only scoot herself to and from school, but also does a reasonable job of keeping up with her older brother and his mates. It’s been a real privilege to be a part of this journey (the metaphorical journey that is – not necessarily the physical one), and it’s something I would never have experienced if I wasn’t a SAH Parent.
So there you have it. Five perks of the job. And I’m sure there’s many, many more if you’re willing to stop and think about it for a moment or two. Personally, I know that next time I’m feeling down on myself about being the harassed, unappreciated stuck-at-home parent, I won’t be turning to social media for solace. Instead, I’m going to pull on my pink leopardprint yoga pants, tuck myself into the lotus position and contemplate the perks of having the best job in the world over a nice macchiato and a quinoa cupcake.