‘Stay-at-home parent’ is now a job title
Professional networking site LinkedIn recently added a new feature that allows users to pick ‘stay-at-home mum’ or ‘stay-at-home dad’ as a job title on their profile.
Users will now be able to add these new titles to cover gaps in their career timeline, which may otherwise have raised questions about what happened to those seemingly ‘lost’ years.
This move by LinkedIn is a step in the right direction, particularly for women and mothers, who may have temporarily stopped working, and need more ways to reflect career gaps on their profile due to parenting and other life responsibilities.
No easy task
Despite many people looking down on stay-at-home parents, it is no easy task.
One has to take care of the household, care for the children, cook and serve meals, do laundry, wash utensils, keep the house tidy, help children do their homework… and the list goes on and on.
Thirty-year-old Sandra Kazungu Nzomo is a mother of one. She made the decision to be a stay-at-home mum to make it up for the time she was away while working as a seafarer many miles away from home.
“Since I made that decision, I have received different reactions from people. People think that all you do at home is sit and wait for your husband to provide for the family.
But what they don’t understand is that one shoulders a lot of responsibilities,” says Sandra.
Sandra who holds a diploma in broadcast journalism from Technical University of Mombasa runs several business ventures.
She is the founder of Sandy Silky Heel, which offers exfoliating foot socks and masks for foot treatment.
Besides that, she also sells freshly made juice and ice pops and is one of the incoming directors of Totos Eagles Day Care.
“I run the two businesses from home. With the juice business, delivery is done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Mombasa town and Mtwapa. Through the sales made, I have managed to pay bills and also save a few notes for my chama,” says Sandra.
According to her, together with her husband, they have tried a number of projects some of which have failed while a few are still surviving.
For Sandra, motherhood has been an amazing experience. She offers: “As a stay-at-home mum, I enjoy spending time with my daughter and making it up for the time I was away working at the sea.
Managing the emotions of my two-year-old has been quite a challenge; teaching her the basic rules and her growing need for independence.
Thankfully, I have managed to balance the two and avoid a lot of tantrums. I have left my child to explore and be the child she is, but with limits.
I teach her what’s safe and what’s not safe for her. I have to get to her level and be a toddler at times to get her to understand some things.”
Growing in all areas
During her stay-at-home journey, Sandra says her parents and in-laws have been supportive.
“They have been there to babysit, especially when I am off for delivery or have many litres of juice to produce.
I do not take it for granted because they give me the drive to work even harder,” she says.
She adds: “For stay-at-home mums, teach your children to play independently since it becomes easier to do other chores and errands without the child/children tagging along and dragging the process.
And for those doing small businesses while taking care of the children, always be yourself and never be afraid to venture into new frontiers.
It’s going to be a challenge, but always focus on the positives and work on your weaknesses.”
But if Sandra would return to the workplace someday, her time raising her child and managing her family would simply be a gap in her employment.
Some women who leave the workforce temporarily to have children never return.
According to a 2019 report from Pew Institute, nearly a third of those who do return to work don’t do so full-time,
Susan Catherine Keter, a transformational life coach believes that it is important for an individual to grow in all areas of life, and this includes career, financial, spiritual, physical, intellectual, family and social aspects.
“Being a stay-at-home parent does not mean that one fails to grow in other areas. Living a life that is balanced in all areas is important for a fulfilling life,” says Keter.
She offers: “In as much as possible, invest in tools and equipment that make household work easier such as a washing machine, dish washer, vacuum cleaner, among others.
Delegate routine chores such as cleaning, cooking cereals, among others, even if done weekly, biweekly or monthly.”
Thanks to technology, Keter says stay-at-home parents can build successful careers and network without having to leave home.
“My first born daughter is married with a daughter who is turning one year this month.
Both her and her husband work from home (they run a business) and have never employed a nanny or househelp. It is really good if parents can raise their pre-school children,” she says.