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Guest Post: My Thoughts about being a SAHM

Being a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) these days is no longer as ‘easy’ as it used to be. In the past, as long as your children are dressed and fed (never mind if it’s not a balanced diet), you are a good mother. Throw in a spick and span house, you are possibly the best wife and mom in the world.

 

Now, being a stay-home mom encompasses much more than that. Besides making sure that all physical needs are met and everyone in the family has a decently tidy place to live in, you have to ensure that you stimulate the kids’ intellectual growth and hone their creative spirits.

 

Having been a sahm for more than four years, I have learnt to take people’s misconceptions of SAHM-hood in stride. Most people I have spoken to think that sahms are the free-est people in the world.

 

Sure, we have time for Korean show marathons and we play mahjong in the lazy afternoons while food for the family appears miraculously at mealtimes, the house picks itself up with a wiggle of the nose and the kids are the brightest sparks and most well-behaved lot because they were born that way. Perhaps this is true in the alternate universe.

 

Just recently, I had the misfortune of reading a very sad misconception of sahms. The person who is a full-time working mom (with tons of help) wrote that it is so difficult to balance work and family, “no wonder more and more people are taking the easy way out to stay at home.”

 

It is undoubtedly true that to strike a balance between work and family is difficult. That is the main problem we face with the increasing need to have dual-income families. I have never doubted that working moms face a different set of issues and that it’s tough being one too. But to speak of home-makers in that manner is rude and ignorant.

 

Anyone who has come close to being a stay-home mom/dad would find some of these parenting hazards familiar:

 

1) a sahm hardly gets a moment of peace when the children are up and about. There is no such thing as a quiet toilet break by the way. Privacy – what’s that?

 

2) Mealtimes may be interrupted at any point and possibly punctuated with soiled diapers which require your immediate attention. ‘Eating halfway’ is not an excuse not to clean that cute bum.

 

3) Dolling yourself up is futile because you will most probably find a sticker or two stuck behind your blouse or your calf (and you’ll only realise this when you get funny looks from people). Don’t start on lip gloss because you know it’d end up smeared over your face (plus you need to kiss that cutie pie, don’t you?) And you can dump those chic loopy earrings unless you are ready to have them tugged off by the most innocent little hands.

 

4) Me-time spent on yourself is hard to come by. My me-time is usually spent devising ways for the kids to learn through play, planning and preparing for ‘lessons’ and making sure that my older kid has opportunities to dabble with different types of art and craft and i teach her piano too. Lucky for me, lesson prep coincides with my interest.

 

5) Your repertoire of songs now consists of nursery rhymes. You get to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all day long till you’ll even find yourself humming the tune subconsciously. You might even pick up some Mandarin nursery rhymes you didn’t even know as a child! *gasp*

 

6) You get stuck in a routine, which could become very monotonous. A friend of mine often bemoans how she is exhausted, stuck in sahm boredom and suffers from brain-death (side track: I’m glad blogging keeps me sane!) Of course, you could have some surprises in your life – I’m sure strawberry milk under the heavy bookshelf definitely counts as one!

 

Oh and the list goes on.

 

All i want to say is, it ain’t easy being a stay-home mom, having to put aside all that once mattered to me but despite that, I chose to be one because I want to spend these precious growing years with my kids and I’m glad I have the opportunity to do so.

 

Certainly, SAHMs deserve a lot more respect. I believe it’s a matter of what works best for our families that determines our choices, and just in case you haven’t realised by the end of this post, being a SAHM is definitely not ‘the easy way out.’

 

And here’s what makes everything so worthwhile:

 

the kids
 

Angie blogs at Simply Mommie and is mom to two wonderful children who love to test her patience on a daily basis. She loves cooking and doing home learning activities with her children and is always wishing that she has more time on her hands.

Guest Post: Fun Ideas for Teaching Your Toddler

As a homeschooling mom, I am always on the lookout for ways to incorporate learning into our daily activities (or at least I try my darndest to!). I believe that learning should be a lifelong process, not limited to the four corners of a classroom (or, in the case of our homeschool, the four corners of our bedroom).

Over the almost six years that I’ve been a parent, I’ve also realized that kids learn best when (a) they’re having fun; (b) they’re being taught by someone whom they know loves them; and (c) there’s always a bit of singing or music involved.

I’ve also learned that each child is “wired” to learn differently and that each child will learn at his or her own pace, though, of course, it helps if we turn them in the right direction or give them the tools they need for learning.

When it comes to the toddler stage, one can actually teach your kid in oh-so-many ways — without her realizing that you’re already having “lessons!” You’ll actually probably be amazed at how she will retain what she learns and how quickly she’ll learn it!

To get the ball rolling, here are a few fun ideas you can use to teach your little one (and remember, as your child’s parent, you are actually his first teacher — after all, who taught him to nurse {or drink from a bottle, if he’s bottle-fed}; play; talk; walk; sleep through the night; etc.?):

 

  1. Sing silly nursery rhymes and children’s songs.

 

This is one of my all-time favorites and is always a hit with my kids (now aged five and three). Singing or reciting nursery rhymes (you can’t go wrong with Mother Goose) is a fun way for our kids to learn different elements of language and to explore using their imaginations. We can even introduce simple Geography concepts to them, or other “subjects” like Science and Math.

 

For example, with the nursery rhyme “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” you can tell your little one: “You know, London is in another country, baby. It’s in the United Kingdom.” Or, “You know why the bridge fell down, honey? Because of gravity!” You could even inject a little lesson on being responsible; i.e. when something gets broken (London Bridge falling down), we can find ways to fix it (Build it up with iron bars). Then, you can just leave it at that, and wait for your toddler to be a bit older to explain things in more detail.

 

By introducing simple concepts like these early on, we are laying the foundation for more “formal” lessons later in our kids’ lives.

 

  1. Go for a “nature walk.”

 

Toddlerhood is the age of exploration and most of the kids I know love to explore nature! Even if you don’t live in a place where you can go for a “nature walk,” you should be able to find one nearby, e.g. the local park; a nearby field; etc. You may even want to visit the local zoo or wildlife park (though you should also gauge if your kid will enjoy the trip, as some kids may be a bit scared of animals).

 

Communing with nature is a fun, frugal way for little kids to learn — point out the different shapes of leaves; talk about the colors that they see; try to see how different creatures move differently. Oftentimes, you don’t have to do much to teach your child — just let her explore her surroundings and it would already be a lesson in itself!

 

  1. Make a mini-me.

 

We all probably know the children’s songs “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “My Toes, My Knees, My Shoulders, My Head.” Well, here’s a fun way to reinforce what our little ones can learn from those songs: Make a mini-me!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get a big piece of cardboard or other type of paper. It should be large enough for your toddler to lie down on.

 

  1. Ask your toddler to lie down on the paper and then trace the outline of her body using a pencil — voila! Now you have a “mini-me” of your little one!

 

  1. Ask your toddler to stand up and help you “design” her mini-me. She won’t be able to draw yet, but you could draw her body parts for her and ask for her “help” as to which part goes where.

 

For example: Point to the head part of the drawing and ask, “What goes here, sweetie?” Encourage her to point to the different parts of her own body as you go along.

 

  1. Play different versions of “peek-a-boo.”

 

Being a toddler can be a liberating yet frightening time for our children. This is the time when they discover that they can move about more independently and when they want to explore their surroundings. However, this new found independence can be a bit scary, as this means moving away from the safety of Mama’s arms or lap.

 

Also, your little one may get upset when you “disappear” for short periods of time (like when you need to go to the loo — which we all need to do at one point or another, LOL!) and for longer periods, too (like when you need to go to work, if you work outside the home).

 

To avoid this, try playing the following versions of peek-a-boo, to teach your child about object permanence:

 

  1. Hide one of her favorite toys or books and ask her to look for it.
  2. Ask her to hide one of her favorite toys or books and “look” for it with her.
  3. Hide yourself behind a piece of furniture and then pop up and say, “Peek-a-boo!” Encourage your toddler to do the same.
  4. Play peek-a-boo with other members of the family, especially whoever will be caring for your child whenever you are not around.

 

These are just a FEW of the many, many things one can do to teach our toddlers. Don’t forget though, above all these, we need to reinforce to our little ones that they are special and one-of-a-kind and deeply, greatly loved. No amount of formal and informal lessons can measure up to teaching our children to love themselves and to love others.

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physiotherapist by education and the managing editor of an inspirational children’s magazine by profession. She also writes for a number of Philippine and foreign publications on a wide range of topics, including parenting, homeschooling and financial literacy for families. Prior to discovering her “mission” as a writer upon their return to Manila, Philippines, Tina and her family were based in East Timor as lay missionaries for their Catholic community, Couples for Christ. Get to know Tina more through her blogs at www.trulyrichmom.com and www.teachermamatina.blogspot.com.