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Stay at home Mum does NOT equal servant!


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#1 daviesjv

Posted 10 August 2010 - 09:55 AM

QUOTE
Okay, this is really a rant, but I need some practical advice as well.

I have three children, aged 8, 6 and 4 and I have been in the very fortunate position of not having to work since being pregnant with our oldest. And unless something unexpected happens I won’t go back to work at least until all the kids are in high school (and quite probably not even then). I like being a SAHM – it is what we always planned to do when we had kids and while it means a few financial sacrifices, that is completely fine with me.

What is NOT fine with me is being treated like a servant by my working friends and neighbours. There seems to be this mentality that if you’re not being paid to work then you’re not really doing anything important and that you may as well help them out in their pursuit of more money.

So I find myself bringing extra kids home after school when friends just can’t get away from work on time (which means they are usually at our place until dinner time). Not that I mind having kids over for a play, but it would be nice to invite them rather than be asked simply because it’s convenient for the Mum.

One of our neighbours, who works from home, is always sending her kids over to our place to play after school so she can get some work done. Which is okay – but I’d rather it was once a week, not several times. And the favour is never returned!

My sister in law seems to be on the phone every second week asking me to look after her daughter because she’s sick and can’t go to daycare and she’s just sooo busy at work. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that maybe I don’t want to look after a sick child, because I really don’t want my kids getting sick either.

Aaaagh. Doing those things isn’t so much the problem though as the: “Oh well, it’s not like you have anything better to do” assumption of the Mums. They are all nice ladies – they are friends - but I think they are just so focussed on their own work/life juggle that it doesn’t occur to them to look up once in a while and realise how many other people are helping them to keep their life running smoothly. Just a simple: “Thankyou – I realise how much of your time you are sacrificing for me” would be nice once in a while!!

Advice to prevent me from losing my sanity would be great!!”

Belinda



Hi Belinda,

You are absolutely right that across a range of friends, neighbours, grandparents and professional carers there is a huge army of caring and dedicated people who make the work/life juggle easier for many people. And we do indeed owe them a big and heartfelt THANKYOU!!

Now, I’m not entirely sure from your post whether your main issue is in being overwhelmed by having to do so many helping-out tasks or whether it’s the lack of gratitude and acknowledgment that niggles the most. Either way, we can’t easily change others, only ourselves. I think that learning how to say a polite “no” now and then and taking a step back for some personal time would be a great idea!

For some further advice I have asked Jo Bassett, Life Coach and founder of Living Savvy for some help. This is her take on it:

“In her book Sheer Madness, author Jan Murray wrote (and I paraphrase) “behind every successful woman there is a woman who is taken advantage of”.    

So Belinda, here are some tips for moving out of the shadows:

  • Write up rules (boundaries) that clearly state what works & doesn’t work for you e.g kids over on a Wednesday afternoon until 4.30 is fine.  These rules can be for your eyes only.   For things to change you need to “stick” to your rules consistently: at 4.30 send the children home (despite their and their mother’s protestations).


  • Banish from your thinking that turning down a request for help or putting you and your family first is being “a b**ch”, “not nice” etc.


  • Stop offering assistance.  Here is a challenge for the next 4 weeks: don’t offer to help anyone out.



For many women “sorry isn’t the hardest word” - the word no is. Telling someone no, assertively – as in with firmness and confidence - can rate a 10 for degree of difficulty, however successfully pulling this off is worth the effort.  

And Belinda, once you have done your week of not-offering challenge, here’s another one for you: every time you say “yes” to something you need to say no to something (or someone else) to balance it up. Give it a try – it could be liberating!”  


EB Members: Have you ever felt taken advantage of? How do you tactfully resolve the issue?    

        

    






#2 *mylittleprince*

Posted 10 August 2010 - 09:59 AM

I'm a SAHM and have never been taken advantage of. A lot of it comes down to personality, whether you would be walked over at work or at home. I would start by putting up boundries and saying no. Why must you look after a sick child only so you're children can get sick? Start putting boundries in place, say no and they will have to make alternate arrangements. Then, when you've had a break, you can slowly start helping out when and where it suits you.

#3 daviesjv

Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:30 PM

That is a good point, Little Prince. If you are the sort of person who finds it difficult to say no (or to put your own needs first sometimes) then if you are working you're probably the person who stays back late, finishes the work of others and always does the coffee run.

#4 Guest_milliearchmum_*

Posted 11 August 2010 - 08:39 AM

I'm a SAHM and have recently met some new Mums in my area through my DD's Preschool, as they have become close to DD.

It's lovely meeting new people and getting to know DD's friends properly, so I invite them over. Only trouble is the Mums don't come. They just drop and go. So, I'm left looking after my own children and theirs. Funny thing is, they say they've got a few things to do, so they'll be back in a few hrs ~ strangely a few hours (2hrs or so) turns into a Full Day and I find myself preparing dinner for their children, bathing them and even on occassions dressing them in my DD's PJ's ready for their Mums to put them straight to bed (7pm pick-up!).

This has happened on more than a few occassions and at first I was happy to help out, but when the requests to 'drop-off' or 'can you take her/him to gym/dance' for me as I've got something on, happened all too frequently I bluntly said 'No'.

I got a bit sick of them saying they never get time to themselves, when I feel like saying 'but either do I'. I'm a SAHM and am with my children 24hrs a day, apart from 1 x DD that attends Preschool x 2 days a week. So I never get 1hr to myself either, sure I don't work, but sometimes I do think that at least those that work get some quiet time to themselves (whether it be a short lunch break or on the bus to work). It's no competition, but I just don't wish to be taken for granted.

I think if it was a mutual agreement that you help me out, so I'll take your kids so you can have a break in return, then that's perfect. When it's all one-sided it's just not on. I'm not a free babysitting service.

Just like OP wrote if you get a simple kind gesture in return ~ like a dinner made and given to you as a Thank You or a few hr's of babysitting in return so DH & I can go to the movies or something, then I'd be happy to help out at anytime. Otherwise it's not a 'friend' asking help, it's someone using you.




#5 MightyMummy

Posted 11 August 2010 - 08:51 AM

You seem to be very bitter Belinda and class working mums as "in pursuit of money". Don't you think that once you've decided to be a working mum (for whatever reason, and I do it because I like it)...you can't just drop your boss randomly because the after school care is cancelled or your child is sick? In the same way that just because YOU are sick you can't just take a day off looking after your kids?

I don't see their position as any more or less supported by others than yours is. I bet you wouldn't be left to fend for yourself if you had pneumonia and 3 kids under 4 at home.

I agree it is always rude not to say thanks to ANYONE who assists us. But that isn't really what's peeving you is it. Its the fact that you are being asked by a friend who thinks you really are a friend to give up some activity which can easily be moved (because you're NOT at the behest of a boss) to help out someone who IS more constrained.

Its the fact that you think your situation is symmetric with theirs which is making you fume, and its just not true.

Now personally I wouldn't EVER be a SAHM but that is because babies bore me silly not because I don't recognise that SAHMs have a LOT more flexibility than working mums.

#6 Sir Dinosaurus

Posted 11 August 2010 - 12:00 PM

I understand to a certain extent, but what goes around comes around. If you're being taken advantage of then as J says - you need a lesson in saying "no". On the other hand your kids are at an age where having a friend over is easier for you than not, as they are automatically entertained and you can get on with whatever it is you need to do. If you do want some time out, ask the neighbour to look after your kids on the weekend or something, if she sasys no you know where you stand and you can figure out how to stop her kids coming over for free babysitting.

As for the family - harder. I know someone who is as guilty as your sister of getting anyone else to look after her sick child so she doesn't have to take time off work, the only thing that works is a very firm no (in her case, several very firm no's).

A final alternative is that they see you as a mum because that is your chosen job at this time, so a bit of extra "mumming" wont hurt - maybe you can get them to do a bit of extra whatever they do in exchange (accounting, hairdressing,gardening etc)?

I feel for you a bit - but really, you just need to take control of your own life and stop expecting people to change their opinion of you when you haven't actually asked them to.

Good luck, the first "no" is the hardest, it gets easier quickly original.gif

#7 Guest_chntlrose_*

Posted 13 October 2010 - 04:11 PM

QUOTE (MightyMummy @ 11/08/2010, 06:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You seem to be very bitter Belinda and class working mums as "in pursuit of money". Don't you think that once you've decided to be a working mum (for whatever reason, and I do it because I like it)...you can't just drop your boss randomly because the after school care is cancelled or your child is sick? In the same way that just because YOU are sick you can't just take a day off looking after your kids?

I don't see their position as any more or less supported by others than yours is. I bet you wouldn't be left to fend for yourself if you had pneumonia and 3 kids under 4 at home.

I agree it is always rude not to say thanks to ANYONE who assists us. But that isn't really what's peeving you is it. Its the fact that you are being asked by a friend who thinks you really are a friend to give up some activity which can easily be moved (because you're NOT at the behest of a boss) to help out someone who IS more constrained.

Its the fact that you think your situation is symmetric with theirs which is making you fume, and its just not true.


Hmmm, I guess you didn't read the OP's post properly. People are dumping their kids on her ALL the time. She's having to make numerous kids dinner and look after sick kids. That is really unfair. These people decided to have kids so it's their responsibility to look after them if they are sick & to cook them dinner! If it was a once off, every now & again or if they offered to take the OP's kids on a weekend then I'm sure she wouldn't mind. I have been a working mum and now am a SAHM. When I was working, if my kids were sick I would stay home and look after them, not expect someone else to do it for me. You have entitlements so use them.

My SIL was in a similar situation a few years ago. She was a SAHM while her DD was little. Her SIL's would dump their kids on her every school holidays. They wouldn't even give their own kids breakfast, expecting my SIL to do it. She was expected to look after 3 kids plus her DD all day everyday of the school holidays and give them all their meals with no thank you or offer of some money or offer to take her DD sometimes. I urged my SIL many times to just tell them "No" but she was worried about rocking the boat with her ILs & what they would say about her for not helping family. It makes me so angry. They decided to have kids so they should pay for school holiday care not expect my SIL to raise their kids for 3 months of the year.

I think your friends/family are wrong but you are also allowing them to take advantage of you. No point complaining about the situation if you won't change it. You need to start saying NO!

QUOTE
Now personally I wouldn't EVER be a SAHM but that is because babies bore me silly not because I don't recognise that SAHMs have a LOT more flexibility than working mums.


So why should SAHMs be responsible for your children just because they bore you.

#8 Fastrunnydog

Posted 30 October 2011 - 09:12 AM

[i][quote name='MightyMummy' date='11/08/2010, 08:51 AM' post='11849556']
Don't you think that once you've decided to be a working mum (for whatever reason, and I do it because I like it)...you can't just drop your boss randomly because the after school care is cancelled or your child is sick?





How is that HER problem?  You work and you have kids, so suck it up, don't dump them on someone else just because in your view they are have more flexibility.

Edited by jakeruby, 30 October 2011 - 09:13 AM.


#9 fozzer

Posted 30 October 2011 - 10:21 AM

im a working mum, 4 days and share responsibility with friends or family when needed after school, sick days, help with picking up from daycare with both Working mums and SAHMs, in some instances in my circle and experience I have even found the SAHM taking advantage and wanting more "time out" ie on weekends, sleep overs and pushing the boundaries a lot more (maybe cos they're with their kids 24/7)....regardless of SAHM or working mums there is always "someone out there" that will push the boundaries more than others and whether you work or not, it should be a fair help with both parties.  

I even had a family friend wanting me to look after their kids on the weekend as they didn't want to take both of their children to a party as one is a handful, meanwhile i'm trying to look after my own kid and have been extremely nauseous with MS on the couch all day. It was probably the second time i said a firm NO. It was hard as we are close, but I was furious that they would even ask...knowing how awful I have felt for the last 7 weeks and for a stupid reason, different if their kid was in hospital or something.

I'm a working mum in a corporate career, i definitely don't feel that my SAHM SIL or SAHM friends should help with my kid more cause I work or lend a hand more. If anything, I feel guilty If I have ever needed to ask and have only ever asked 3-4 tmes max in 2 years because its not their responsibility. I think its great when we can share and I am always mindful of saying thankyou and returning the favour...always.

I think you just need to say no sorry i'm busy that arvo without explaining yourself and just have a back up of excuses, sorry have a doc appt, sorry going to my mums, sorry meeting up with a friend, sorry have to go to the shops to buy a present last minute or i can pick them up after school but going to a friends house at 4pm, or going out for tea at 5pm...whatever excuse....dont let them take advantage of you. SAHM or not it needs to be fair.  


#10 LambChop

Posted 30 October 2011 - 11:02 AM

I'm never 'taken adavantage of', because I always feels I have a choice.

You have to set your own boundaries, its as simple as that.  Work on being ok with saying "I'm sorry but I'm not able to take your children today".   Or, "Sure, as long as next Monday you can return the favour and pick my kids up" etc.

"I can't take your sick child today because we're off out to <social event> and it wouldn't be right for me to infect other children".

Taking care of these others peoples children is not your responsibility, its theirs.

Its your life, own it, stop waiting for someone else to resolve your issues for you - they won't, since they don't currently have an issue themselves.... they instead have you who seems to be willingly filling in the gaps.  Until you hold your boundary, then these other people won't even know there is an issue!

ps, Important Note: Choosing to take on the level of responsbility you do gladly does not make you a doormat either, as long as you are ok with it, then do what works!

Edited by LambChop, 30 October 2011 - 11:07 AM.


#11 mummahh

Posted 30 October 2011 - 11:19 AM

I felt a little taken advantage of recently when an offer to take my friend's kid to a birthday party (in the school holidays) was interpreted as all-day babysitting. After the party ended at 3pm I had been minding her for about 6 hours. So I dropped her off at her parents work, where she would have spent the day anyway. They were a little surprised but didn't say anything. I felt a little bad until I thought about my original offer which I had definitely lived up to. You have to draw the line yourself and not apologise. Afterall, if you have already helped them then what are you aplogising for?

#12 jfl

Posted 30 October 2011 - 02:40 PM

What  a silly article.  People who are unable to define their boundaries get ripped off in the workplace, in their private lives and as SAHPs.

Hold the presses! as they used to say. Did this person get paid for uncovering the 4,000 year old secret of civiliisation, that doormats are doormats, and it's a sorry state of affairs?

roll2.gif

If this waffle was paid for, there are a lot of posters on EB who are being ripped off.

#13 mummahh

Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:21 PM

QUOTE (jfl @ 30/10/2011, 03:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What  a silly article.  People who are unable to define their boundaries get ripped off in the workplace, in their private lives and as SAHPs.


True. But the article resonated with me because I've had that specific thing happen to me. Maybe it can be summed up as "well, don't be a doormat" but it still makes me wonder why some parents are so casual or careless in their attitude towards people who are minding their kids. If I dropped either of my kids off with someone I'd pick them up on time and I would thank the person who minded them. People who don't give me the impression they don't really care about their kids. They probably do, but when they arrive late, accept more than was offered etc it makes it look like they don't. As for being the childminder - I've done it a lot over the years and setting boundaries is something I've had to learn. So if the article helps anyone with that, then it was worth writing.




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