Family Matters : Does Being A Full Time Housewife Make You Jobless?

In this our era you will agree that compared to the previous generation, there has been a rise in the number of working class women. It does not even matter whether they are educated or not. There just is an awakening in the female species in our country. As a result, many young ladies grow…

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In this our era you will agree that compared to the previous generation, there has been a rise in the number of working class women. It does not even matter whether they are educated or not. There just is an awakening in the female species in our country. As a result, many young ladies grow with a need to fulfill this desire. However, for many different reasons, this can be a reality that is either not actualised or thwarted due to marriage and having kids. Women constantly, like their mothers before them, find themselves feeling “forced” to put the family needs first. Is this really a bad thing? Is it the end of the world? Does not working nine to five or having a business mean a woman is unemployed and less of a Y2K compliant new-school woman?

Let us look at a typical scenario.

Dumebi is a young beautiful woman whose husband is equally young and resourceful. He earns well enough (no make that “earns exceedingly well” by all standards) and cares for the family, providing anything money can buy for their comfort and enjoyment. They live in their personal house, have two other rental duplexes in Lagos. In addition to this, they have their own house in the village. Cars, holidays and everything they need are at their disposal. She has two sons and a daughter. In fact life is good… 

However, she found herself very unhappy recently. The object of her sadness being her inability to contribute equally to the family pot “financially”. Her husband although in the dark regarding her true feelings neither complained about being the sole provider nor did he even want her to lift a finger.

She had graduated from a reputable university and earned herself a degree however, she felt under-utilised in her role as a full time house wife/ mum. She was so troubled by these feelings that she called her friend Stephanie one morning. Stephanie listened as she poured her heart out. She expressed strongly her feelings of helplessness to the situation as well as the fact she found herself extremely unhappy as a result of these thoughts.

Stephanie probed to see if possibly some peer or family pressures may have led to Dumebi’s strong desire to gain employment and contribute to the family. It appeared not to be the case at all. It was just a personal need to feel “useful” as Dumebi described it. She had full control of the family accounts, ATM cards and her husband was accountable to her for even his own spending yet the fact that he earned all the money bothered her. As usual, talking exhaustively helped Dumebi release the inner feelings of helplessness and sadness that she felt.

From the scenario above, you can see that Dumebi does not even see her role in the home as “useful” simply because it is not tangibly remunerated.

This situation is a popular one mainly among women. There seems to be a growing need to assume an earning role. I will say that as part of a couple myself, communication is key. It seems a bit sad that Dumebi’s husband was very oblivious of the unhappiness lurking behind her smiles daily. The fact that she did not feel confident enough that he would understand her feelings also says something about the communication level in their relationship. However, by not telling him, she was not giving him a chance to be aware of her feelings. She simply assumed that he would not understand her need for usefulness.

Every human being needs to feel “occupied”. The word occupation is derived from the root word occupy Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines occupy as a term that means “to fill or use ( an amount of time)”. While the same dictionary defines occupation as “(1) the work that a person does; a job or profession, (2) An activity that a person spends time doing” among other definitions. Just because an activity is not paid for does not make it less of an “occupation”. It takes up one’s time and the person expends effort and at times intangible resources like time to accomplish such an activity successfully.

The problem Dumebi has is that her role as mum and wife in the family seems irrelevant simply because she is not being paid a salary. She needs a salary which she can physically see and contribute to the family financial pot to satisfy her “usefulness” criteria. However, what she fails to see is that she is performing a role that is invaluable and necessary for the smooth running of the home. In her role, she sees to the day to day care that the children require. She is available to give adequate attention to the children. Provide a warm hub for every member of the family to return to. She is in charge of housekeeping and basically turning the otherwise brick walled house into a homely haven.

Her children in return are well behaved and mannered, her husband is loving and she creates a secure stress relieving home for him. In reality, her role is even more difficult than her husband’s role. She does not go on break or leave like he does with his work. For even when the family took vacations, women like her remain on full duty, ensuring the travel plans, packing, shopping, hotel reservations and all the endless requirements are met.

If you find yourself, a loved one or even your wife experiencing these feelings, encourage her to hang in there and try to reappraise her feelings about her role as mum and wife. It is a necessary and praiseworthy sacrifice whose remuneration is not quantifiable. In the case of Dumebi in our above scenario, she was quite fortunate that her husband could meet all their needs, care for and love her totally without dropping any hints of frustration or pressure whatsoever on her. For some of my other women who are not so lucky, they joggle the pressures of earning a living with their desire to be as present as they can in her home especially for the sake of the kids.

I reassure you that this is ultimately a phase soon to pass. Kids as we all know do not toddle around forever. You can still pick up your career and feel useful in the way you desire later. You can only get one shot at playing a vital role in a child’s life especially as a parent. One shot at setting the pillars that will see the child through life and well into adulthood. A lot of homes lack parents who can give this level of attention.

While it can be a depressing phase especially for care givers and specifically mothers when children and marriages are young, turning one’s focus towards the big picture can help make this stage of family life more enjoyable. Speaking up to one’s partner is as important as getting that person to listen. Let the communication be done with a view to helping your partner understand your viewpoint.

Although what we have described is ideal, it must be a consensual decision. It doesn’t matter which party decides to stay at home or not, what matters is that no one is forced to do what they either do not want or feel comfortable with. If the family interest as a whole is the main focus, then the consent of the woman who will be the housewife must be sought and taken seriously.

As much as we want to do the best for our kids, it must be at a pace we can cope psychologically with. Just because it is a desirable sacrifice does not mean that choosing a different path (like working full or part-time) will not work for the kids. It may be more challenging but certainly not impossible. The important thing is to choose a path that makes you happy because as a parent you matter too. Effective communication between couples is a tool that can fill up the emptiness in the life of a housewife. Unfortunately being occupied in this way easily become very lonely although invaluable.

Responses

  1. Tejflow
    There’s nothing absolutely wrong in being a stay at home mum. It’s a full time job. However, a woman needs to be “empowered”. It may not be about earning a salary. It’s about feeling “powerful” financially. Having your own success tied to your hard-work. It’s hard work being a stay at home mum. However, our mentality towards it needs to change in Nigeria that being a mum is not enough. It’s this mentality that makes women want to contribute to the family upkeep. Most times, when the man is the sole breadwinner, the family communicates this indirectly to the wife. In fact, it happens almost always. It’s a different ball game if the man’s female family members also practice housewificism. If they are however full time empowered women with career lives, most likely they will communicate that indirectly to the woman. It’s this reason women want to be empowered so they can be relevant. That “feel” that whatever happens, you can hold your own is what we are all striving for. And also, it helps to plan ahead. It won’t make sense for the family to suddenly start feeding from hand to mouth just because the man of the house lost his job. At the end of the day, people will revert to” if only the wife were working now….”. I feel this is why women want to be empowered.
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    1. Whispering Hope Post author
      thank you so much for your extensive comment. You are very correct. However, no one can make a woman feel less empowered than herself. Sometimes the feeling of empowerment does not stem from materialism.It can come from how we feel inside about what we do. There are many stay at home mums that feel sad. It is that feeling of sadness and uselessness that this write-up aims to address. Being a house person is also a thing to be proud of. The things that lead to staying at home are not addressed here. The reasons why supporting the family pot for the overall benefit of the family are also not covered by the write up.These reasons are what you have intelligently pointed out and they are all valid. However, if after all we have said, the woman still finds herself at home, she must feel proud of it. She must not allow herself wallow in self pity but glory in this role too.
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  2. Shay
    Well said , I couldn’t agree more with your comment and the article as a whole. Being a housewife is one of the best decisions a woman can make for her family. Unfortunately, a lot of women today don’t see this. They prefer to work and get paid in order for them to feel that they are contributing to the upkeep of the family, which is also good. But money isn’t everything. The financial contribution a working mother makes is surpassed by far by the contribution a housewife makes to the family.
    However, with the current situation in the country, it might be necessary to have both parents contributing financially to the upkeep of the family. In this situation, the wife/mother can take up engagements which still retain the essence of being a housewife (e.g teaching, part time jobs, business,etc). That is if she does want to be a housewife. If she doesn’t, there’s no problem. The problem then raises when she looks down on the occupation of being a housewife, as one for those who are not educated, lazy, etc.
    The real MVPs are those women who feel the need to take up paid employment, not for the money, not for material success, but so that they can make their impact on the society (I fall into this category :D); and are able to find that balance between work and family life.
    With all I have said, there is no one size fits all in this. Each person should consider their situation and find out what works best for them.
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    1. Whispering Hope Post author
      @shay You put it nicely.
      “The real MVPs are those women who feel the need to take up paid employment, not for the money, not for material success, but so that they can make their impact on the society (I fall into this category :D); and are able to find that balance between work and family life.”
      However, permit me to chip in that in addition to what you said that all women in whatever role they are able to play for their families are MVPs…This is definitely not a one size fits all subject hence my point about making sure that it is a consensual decision. No one must be made to do what they are not comfortable with. Thank you so much for reading.
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  3. I'm just saying
    Write a response…You painted a perfect picture of the husband. However, not a lot of men or anyone for that matter are able to financially provide for you without making you feel like you are a dependent. A lady needs to have her own however small.
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    1. Whispering Hope Post author
      …I like your name.So since “you are just saying”, I will tell you one funny thing. I thought you might say that. I have not painted a perfect picture of the perfect husband. It is just the ideal utopia with which i tried to bring out the point about women feeling bad about being housewives. All I tried to do was bring to the for the importance of their role. However, sometimes, it swings the other way too and the man stays at home for the same reason. His wife wins the bread for the home and not only does he feel sad, society frowns at it … putting even more pressure on him. That is why I said “it must be a consensual decision. It doesn’t matter which party decides to stay at home or not, what matters is that no one is forced to do what they either do not want or feel comfortable with. If the family interest as a whole is the main focus, then the consent of the woman (or man) who will be the house”person” must be sought and taken seriously”.
      So like you pointed out if I am in a relationship where I feel that not only are my financial needs not met, but I am being bullied into feeling like I am too dependent, then, I must not do what makes me uncomfortable. I must earn my own no matter how small. Thank you for reading and for raising this lovely point.
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  4. Abi Sanni
    hmmmmm …. There are women who have genuinely sacrificed their careers to raise their kids and take care of their homes because they genuinely want to. Being a stay home parent is not easy. You are literally managing the affairs of everyone at home and making sure they all meet all their appointments, rehearsals, school meetings, cater to dietary needs, making sure appointments do not clash, plus you are the designated driver too , and so on. I have seen situations where the woman ends up managing the man’s business, money and all that too. Some people derive so much satisfaction from it. But it is not for everyone.

    First, communication like you mentioned is key. The couple must talk about it and compromise may be needed. One thing Dubemei can do is to find a way to work from home or get a part time job for starters and see if that changes things. If not, she can hire an assistant to help her with other affairs of the home while she works full time.

    Every couple is different and every woman is different too. While I won’t be a full time housewife, I respect women who are. I have a good number of friends whose moms were stay home moms ( with the scenario explained in the article). They have all being brought up so so so well. I actually look at most of them and admire so much about their thought process and how they take family. I think there is that touch sometimes. But I might personally run crazy staying home.

    So, NO! being a stay home parent doesn’t make someone jobless, for those who actually run the affairs of the family.

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    1. Whispering Hope Post author
      @abi-sanni Thank you so much for your comment. I love when you said “Every couple is different and every woman is different too”. It will definitely do Dumebi some good if she tries all the other options you stated. Sometimes its easy to appreciate things when we experience them. If she can communicate her feelings with her husband and if he can listen to her then it will all be easily resolved. I agree totally with you. As for the rest of womankind, they all have to glory in whatever call they answer in life. The main thing is that whichever path chosen must accommodate and never compromise the needs of the entire family especially the kids. Thank you for reading.
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  5. Dr WOLFF
    Nice write up, but everything has its pros and cons. I met a couple whose specifications meet the above save for one thing, the breadwinner passed on, at a very early stage. He told his wife not to raise a finger and she will be truly pamper and he kept his word this his last breath.
    But alas, his wife was very industrious and she used her skill to make some money on the side when her husband was alive. She made sure her skill was well developed and when her her hubby was laid to rest, she gathered enough asset to start a major business big enough to maintain the life he promised her. That happened with a year of his demise.
    Now for me, I feel that any couple should make sure that they can stand together, both individually and collectively so as to prevent unforeseen bad circumstances. Life does not always goes smoothly.
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    1. Whispering Hope Post author
      thank you very much for your comment. Your points are very valid and I sincerely appreciate exactly what you mean. Spouses supporting each other is also key to running a successful family. One party staying at home is a decision never to be taken lightly. The financial implications are very real and to overlook that angle will only be to the detriment of the home. Life unfortunately is filled with uncertainties and my heart goes out to the woman whose story you kindly shared with us. In the end, even after we both agree with the fact that it is important for couples to both contribute financially (to cover the unforeseen like you pointed out for example) some people will still find themselves at home looking after the kids. It is my hope that by reading this they will also realise that they are not just wasting away but playing a vital role too just like the rest of the working population. Thank you so much for reading.
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  6. Larz
    Couples fight all the time. all it takes is one argument about money for the wife to feel that her opinions are not valued cuz she is not earning or for the man to feel like a glorified cash machine

    By all means be a stay at home spouse temporarily or permanently but make sure it is cuz u have the conviction to do so with little or no reservations. If u do have any reservations share them with your spouse becuz they can trip u up

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    1. Whispering Hope Post author
      @larz thank you for your comment. Communication cannot be overemphasised especially as regards this issue. We are all grown ups and as such we must make sure that we voice our reservations especially when it affects our own lives directly. Like you said – stay at home or not but be happy with whichever choice you decide to settle for. Thank you for reading.
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  7. Anon
    1. He that pays the piper plays the tune, let’s not deny that financial ‘superiority’ somehow shifts power dynamics in a relationship.
    2. It’s your decision whichever path you tow, none is more important than the other.
    3. Your children will up and leave you, and you can’t just “pick up your career” from where you left off, the world is constantly evolving.
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