If I had been alive (and my current age) 60 years ago, I would have been called a housewife. I suppose I could call myself that now, but the new turn of phrase is, of course, stay-at-home parent. When I tell people that this is how I spend my days, there tends to be a cry of “but that’s work!!” from whatever well meaning person I’m speaking with. I don’t think it’s not “work,” but I don’t think it’s the same as having an outside job that you report to everyday. For sure.
But would you believe that even after all of these years of thinking about parenting and actually doing it, I only just figured out why I like the “job” of parenting better than a job that requires a four year degree or a punchcard? There are the fairly obvious answers of a) I like spending time with my kids and being at home during the day or b) This model works best for my family or c) I can make my own schedule to a certain extent or d) I love not getting paid!
There is another reason that I like it though. Very few “professions” that I can think of (at least in our society) allow or focus on one being the best-ish kind of person that they can be. Many professions require a particular skill set, but if you’re looking for a job, rarely in the job description/requirements does it say that working to keep a level head in stressful situations is uber important. You might instead be asked to prepare quarterly reports, develop outreach strategies, write project materials or give presentations. While knowing how to do those things is important in a business or non-profit setting, they don’t necessarily help you out in real life.
Getting better at parenting however is almost always going to translate into benefits that you can apply throughout your life. If you’ve gotten really good at clear boundary setting with your kids, then chances might be better that you’ll be able to set appropriate boundaries with coworkers, family members and friends. When your kids are crying, clamoring or arguing with each other and you manage to stay relatively calm in those fraught situations, you may find yourself more easily accessing your reserves of calm when you get a flat tire on the highway or are late for an appointment.
It’s not that knowing how to make a spreadsheet isn’t important. It can be. But the “job goals” that I have for myself are teaching my kids how to be more kind than not, more calm than not and the best way that I can do that is to continue to work towards kindness and calmness myself. I’m doing the “job” that I like doing. No question. And I really appreciate that it’s teaching me some applicable skills for life along the way.