How do we contribute as SAHPs?
"Is home a business? Most of us don't make money taking care of our own children and our own home. If making money is the definition of a business, then I suppose stay at home moms are not in business. After much frustration about my own contributions to our finances, I finally realized that I wasn't contributing by making money. I was, however, contributing by not spending money.
If one person can focus on making money and one can focus on how it is spent or not spent, it makes for an excellent team. Sahps work hard. It would take a lot of money to pay for all the things that we take responsibility for at home. There are hundreds of ways to not spend money. Day care is often the biggest expense that can be eliminated. But you can contribute to every aspect of household expense by strategizing in the direction of not spending.
Not spending is not the same as saving. When I think of saving, I'm putting aside the extra money that I saved when I bought something on sale. In the business of not spending, I am creatively doing everything I can to not buy the item in the first place. Creativity is vitally important in this endeavor. Without it, the business of home can become just a job with no pay. With creativity we find joy, excitement and fulfillment in our own business at home." (page 2-3 A Way to Stay Home by Anne Kruse)
When a person starts their own business, they must realize that they have a learning curve ahead. For example, starting a restaurant business means learning how to run a restaurant, not only the financial aspect of it but the day to day maintenance, cooking, serving, ordering supplies, hiring, training, marketing, and more. Every successful business also learns to work within a budget. No business can just spend all their income and expect to survive. Expense management is a very important element of good business expertise.
As a stay at home parent, it is the same. A sahp must learn to manage finances, but also to parent, maintain the home, take care of the family's health, manage time, relationships, and much more. The business of home needs to have a budget. A sahp can contribute to the household finances by being the one who keeps within the household budget and goes beyond the call of duty by not spending. A sahp who is willing to do everything she (or he) can to eliminate wasteful spending, live simply, and do without unnecessary purchases, can put aside a large amount of money over the months/years.
No one is born knowing the skills needed to run a business and this is also true of the job at home. The learning curve of parenting must be learned in order to have a workable home. Learning to parent is not just a hands on experience. Parents need to find good resources to learn the skills. Learning how to cook, provide healthy meals on a budget, is a learned skill. Learning the skills of home maintenance are also learned skills. All of these take time.
So how do we do this without getting overwhelmed and frustrated?
Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time. Don't expect perfection. Reach out for support. Don't compare yourself to others. Buy my book! A Way to Stay Home: A Guide for Stay at Home Moms (and Dads) or Those Who Want to Be. It will help you tremendously.