5 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Housewife
I'll use my personal experience here. I wrote about changing careers after marriage and how I had to move from the UK to the US to join Atala. Making that step was not a simple, light-hearted decision, or one that we took for granted. And that was why I said at the beginning of this article that contrary to most other women, I planned to be a housewife.
We had several conversations about the issue, and contemplated several scenarios, which apart from the option of living in the US together, included Atala moving back to the UK, both of us moving back to Nigeria, only me moving back, or remaining in the UK. None made as much sense as the one we finally went with, moving here and being a stay at home wife.
And though we didn't think it would take this long, a stay at home wife is what I've been for the past few years, and that is the easy part. For the stay home mom, the workload increases exponentially with each child. Add child care to the housework, and you may be working round the clock, especially if you decide to home-school the children. So what should you consider before you jump in?
1. WHY ARE YOU STAYING HOME?: The most important thing IMHO is to know why you're making the particular decision to be a stay at home wife. First and foremost, it must be because you want to, not because of what people expect of you. You should decide this only after discussing with your husband. Being a stay at home wife is a role that comes with responsibilities.
Society does not call it a job because there's no paycheck, but be sure you'll almost always have a full plate. With just the two of us, I plan the meals, do most of the cooking, cleaning and dusting, running miscellaneous errands, and doing some of the yard work. Some women also do the grocery shopping alone, as well as the dishes, and more.
2. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE OUTLOOK?: The second is, can you be a housewife without going out of your mind? Not every personality may be able to do it, and do it in a way that retains the advantages, (which I'll list soon). If you are outgoing, and always need other people around you to feel energized, being a housewife will bore you numb.
Also, if you're someone whose baggage - and we all have them - means you need your own income to feel fulfilled or esteemed, being a housewife may kill your self-esteem. Also, how much can you bear housework? Some people take joy in various house chores, for others, it sucks out their soul in little installments.
3. WHAT ARE YOUR FINANCES?: Can you afford to be a stay at home wife or mother? Not all families can afford to have only one person earn the income to take care of the other, and children if they are in the picture. The economy is tight, and the cost of living keeps going up every day. Before any couple decide for one to stay home, they should make a financial analysis.
For instance, how much does the person who will keep working make, and how much is the savings after their monthly expenses? How much does the stay at home wife think she'll need for personal expenses in the same period? Is she willing to do without a Fendi bag or two, and is the husband willing to do without a new car every other year?
4. FIND YOUR BALANCE: Staying at home may not be a job, but it is work. It takes a lot of time, effort, mindset and will cost you the money you may be able to earn outside the home. However, it provides an invaluable service to the family, making sure it is in tip-top shape and being able to host guests without too much trouble. In addition, without corporate politics to sap my will, I am able to do my work on this blog and be creative about other ventures.
Also, I am always there when Atala returns and except for the few times I have my own stress to offload, can offer an undistracted listening ear. I probably cannot quantify how much that helps our relationship. I have time to focus on home completely, and as we're about to become foster/adopt parents, that will be the case as well with the children.
5. BE PREPARED: I have been talking of the internal considerations, within you and between you and your husband. The other angles you have to know of are more complicated. There is a lot of bias against being a housewife and some will not think twice before they lay into you, as being lazy, a leech, and what have you.
A financial aspect to this is if the couple had been sending money to their respective families, and then they reduce this significantly, there may be a blowback against the wife. Some people will also take advantage of the fact that you are always at home to call and visit all the time, forgetting that you actually have stuff to do, or that you're trying to save and may not have enough for guests.
Finally, some argue that housewives should be paid by their husbands to reflect this work, after all, childminders and cleaners are paid to do the same work. Atala and I agreed even before the marriage to run a joint savings account where all earnings go into, his salary being the lion share of course, and at the end of each month, we each get a personal allowance from it. In essence, I believe this is something that should be worked out between the couple.
Are there any other housewives reading, or your mum or someone you know? What have I left out?