Did I waste my education by becoming a SAHM?

Todays stay-at-home parent differs greatly from the stereotypical 1950’s stay-at-home mom we saw on TV, binge watching soap oprahs while eating bonbons. For one thing, some of us are men. Many stay-at-home parents of today started their families much latter in life, once they had been in the career tract for many years.

Some of us may have always known we would eventually be stay-at-home parents but for many, the transition may have been unexpected.

By age 20 I had completed my nursing degree and had graduated with honours. A few years latter I pursued my nurse clinician degree which I finished when my first son was 3 months old. Again I graduated with honours.

I also graduated with student debt.

Shortly after, me and my spouse decided I would become a stay-at-home parent. 10 years into my career and education, I gave it all up for diapers and clifford the big red dog.

Over 5 years of post secondary education, thousands of dollars, and tens of thousands of hours of studying. Here I was, alone in my house with a tiny human whom as far as I could tell, was only interested in my boobs, pooping, and sleeping. Oh yes, and crying.

I was grateful, excited, and honoured to be a stay-at-home parent. But I also felt guilty for what seemed like wasting my education. Fast forward a year and a half latter, and I am now the mom of two wonderful children, and I no longer believe I have wasted my education. Far from it in fact. And here is why:

2.Nothing else matters more

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.

Jackie Kennedy

When your changing the 8th diaper of the day while trying to remember to change your shirt because it is covered in spit up, it can be hard to believe that your doing the most important job of your life. Even if you earn hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, get featured in business insider, and have 3 maids to clean your house daily, none of it will mean anything if you didn’t do the best you could at raising your children.

Becoming a parent, is accepting the biggest promotion of your life, and the only one that really matters. Its is your job to provide them with basics such as food, security, and shelter. It is also your responsibility to provide them with love, understanding, and compassion. Parents are responsible for the education of their children academically as well as socially and emotionally.

Feeling the pressure yet?

  • It is not enough to provide your children with a house. Children need homes.
  • It is not enough to send your child to the best private school in the area. You need to transmit a love of learning.
  • It is not enough to say no, or to send your child to Sunday school. It is your job to teach them values, morals, and right from wrong.

2.I use my education daily

If you think long and hard, you are likely to discover that you are in fact using your advanced degree everyday as a stay-at-home parent. As a nurse I apply my training every day, from figuring out how to breastfeed, diagnosing and treating the multitudes of childhood aches and pains, cleaning out yet another knee scrape, and ensuring my children are as healthy as can be.

If you were a teacher or childhood educator, than its easy to see how your education has prepared you for parenting. But what about chefs, marketing directors, financial advisors and the like?

  • Have you any idea how hard it is to become a stay-at-home parent when you do not know how to cook, and even less so on a budget? Being a chef certainly would of come in handy when I stared at yet another frozen bag of ground beef last week wondering what healthy and delicious meal I could prepare fast enough before my toddler once more tried to pull my pants down.
  • Marketing directors know how to appeal to a target market. And let me tell you, there is no harsher audience then a toddler. Want to teach your toddler to put away his dirty clothes in a hamper? Start strategizing, you’ll need it.
  • Loosing one income often means tightening the purse strings. Financial advisors are well equipped to not only build a budget but know when and where to place their money for maximum return.

Skills you learned and used in the business world can aid in streamlining your home, from organizing a schedule that allows you to actually do what is on your to-do list, strategizing how to run all of your errands before the kids throw tantrums out of boredom, and so much more.

3. I learned to learn

In high-school much of our learning was done through repetition, memorizing, and then vomiting it all up on exam day to quickly forget everything we had learned. Once in university, this technique no longer works. You can’t vomit up memorized concepts when attempting to write an in-depth analysis in an essay. Well you can, but your essay is likely to suck.

In post-secondary education, we learn to learn. We learn where to find reliable information and how to determine if the information is valuable to us. We learn how to extrapolate concepts in one situation to use in another. We learn how to critically think and not take everything we are told as absolute truths. We teach ourselves how to quickly understand concepts and apply them successfully. We become life long learners.

Becoming a stay-at-home parent is like going to work as a pilot without first having learned to fly or being offered on-the-job training.

‘Here, fly this plane to Japan please. We don’t have the instruction manual and its most definitely broken. Don’t screw it up ok?’

The monkeys inside my head

Knowing where and how to find the information you need is crucial to a stay-at-home parent from figuring out how to teach our children, how to apply discipline, what foods to introduce first and so on.

4. I became cultivated

It is in college that I learned through sociology, psychology, anthropology, and ethics classes about our world. I strongly believe, that these many classes, the people I met, and the books I read have shaped the person I am today.

In college I learned to understand today’s family, basics of psychology and even child development. I learned about different cultures and religions and came to appreciate what I could learn from them. I learned about philosophy and ethics and how identifying right from wrong was often not a question of good and bad. I learned to critically think and question all of my basic assumptions on difficult and taboo subjects.

I became a better person, a more interesting person, and ultimately a much better teacher and role model for my children. That alone, is an excellent reason why my education has not been wasted and was worth every single penny.

5. I am a good example for my children

Want your children to pursue a higher education? It can be mighty hard to sound convincing when you yourself never attended university. A well educated and cultured stay-at-home parent (or any parent really) sets a great example for why higher education is a worthy persuit.

6. I am raising the future

Our children are the future of this world. Our children are the next policy makers, physicians, lawyers, teachers and more. Raising the next generation is a huge responsibility. It is a huge honour. Any and all education and experience you have under your belt can help you in this huge endeavour. From teaching your children skills of your trade, transmitting a love of learning, encouraging a critical mind and so much more.

Becoming a stay-at-home parent is accepting a huge promotion with many benefits but BIG responsibilities. Put your degree to work by ensuring you are the best version of you for your children’s well being.

We’re all counting on you so put away the bonbons and get cracking!

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