19 January 2010

Simple Living Series - Support and Encouragement

While I slept, the counter ticked over past 2 million visitors.  What a milestone!  Thank you for your visits.  It's always a delight for me to get to know you through your comments.  I do not have the time to reply to the comments very much but I read and appreciate every one of them  They show me in a very clear way that Hanno and I are not alone and that many other people strive to live a simple and gentle life.  BTW, together, you've read 3.5 million pages here.


Yesterday I wrote about one parent staying at home with the children and how that can help save money.  Today I want to write about what often come up when that topic is featured - the lack of support for both SAHMs and working mums, or dads.

When I and my children were much younger, I worked.  I was very fortunate in that I could always work from home as a writer.  Hanno built an office at home and I would work there as a journalist, and alongside another women who I paid, we produced the town's newspaper and did various other writing jobs.  I would start work early, then stop to make Hanno's breakfast and wake the kids for school.  I'd do my housework, then return to work when the kids went off to school.  They walked there, it was in the next street.  I stopped work when they came home for lunch and we'd have lunch together, then worked again.  I know I was a very lucky woman to have that working situation and I know it's not like that for most working women.

I am very rarely in groups of women where this subject is talked about but I've seen it featured on TV and it's usually portrayed in a very negative way.  It's SAHMs versus working women, like it's a battle over who has the high ground.  No one has the high ground, most of us are just doing what we have to do to get by.  When I was working from home when I was younger, I had friends who worked and most of the time, they had to work.  I also had friends who were SAHMs who wanted to work but couldn't find a job and friends who were working who wanted to be at home.

You can never be sure of anyone else's circumstances.  What looks black and white, often is not.  None of us should stand in judgement and say what others are doing is wrong.  What I would like to see is a return to the way women supported each other as I was growing up.  In those days we all encouraged each other, we supported our friends and other women in their choices and if we could help them, we did. 

Raising children is not an isolated process, our children grow not only within their family but also within their neighbourhood.   They will come across all manner of people, some will be like us, some won't be, but being tolerant of the beliefs of others, makes the neighbourhood stronger and more resilient. It shows young children that not everyone is the same, or like us, but they're still good people.  That builds confidence and children feel they can rely on the people they are growing up alongside - it makes them feel secure.
Life is not about possessions - it's about living and finding pleasure and goodness in our days.  All of us can do that without demeaning the choices others make.  I hope the next time you have the opportunity to join in a conversation where you could criticise, you'll decide against it.  I hope we all move closer to support and encouragement rather than closer to disapproval and judgment.  I hope that all of us together show our friends that there is no one right way.  We all have to choose what is right for our family situation. Life is tough enough without having people in our family or neighbourhood criticise our choices.  Living a more simple life isn't just about the practicalities of life, it is also about raising a fine family and building a community you feel proud to be a part of.  This is one small step towards that.

Tomorrow we will move on to the practicalities of home.


  1. Brilliant and highly relevant post in a world where so many are floundering, and needing support and validation for their life choices!
    Have a wonderful day,
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. I think the biggest critic of my decision to stay at home is myself! Although I love it, I feel a bit guilty that my husband works so hard while I'm at home enjoying the children. I know what I am doing is important, though, and I wouldn't go back to work if given the choice... the whole house would fall apart without me here!

  3. Hi Rhonda, I was thinking about what you blogged about yesterday, about one person working and the other staying at home. It occured to me that the person staying at home won't earn any superannuation while they are at home. I just wondered what you thought about that and the whole idea of having that money for our use when we all "retire"?
    Loving the blog this year, it is a timely reminder to be careful with our money.

  4. Thank you for these words Rhonda.

    I'm a working mother and home keeper, and when I started my blog as a support and encouragement for other working moms, I talked about how I so disliked these "Mommy Wars". I don't feel its necessary to put down one woman's situation in order to encourage another woman in hers. I too wish we could return to a time of support. We're all trying to do what is best for our families.

  5. Congratulations Rhonda.
    Life and raising a family can be done in so many ways and most people are doing the best they can. Judging people based on our own assumptions and circumstances is never a good idea.

    Your day when your boys were young actually sounds very like my days now, and yes, I like it very much.

  6. Hi Rhonda - I have showed my daughter this site - she has looked at it - but I will be encouraging her to read every item in this series you are writing. She is 18 and her partner is 21. They are expecting there first child in a few months and she is determined to be a SAHM. I am encouraging her all the way and I am very proud of her. I so agree that she needs support and mentors and as much encouragement as possible to achieve what they both want. Thankyou so much for the time you give to share your knowledge. Cheers, Wendy

  7. This is such a good reminder to not judge, instead encourage.
    Though I know homemakers are criticized, too many times working women are as well- by homemakers, and most of the time these women truly do have to work to put food on the table. Just as you said- it's not fair for either side to judge the other, everyone has different circumstances. Thanks for pointing that out today.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  8. I love being a SAHM. I feel like most people look at me like I don't have any drive to do anything else. I worked in a local hospital before I had my daughter. I don't miss the corporate rat race. I am sad that Moms can't support each other.

  9. thanks for the great thoughts !
    i fully agree that life is not about possessions ! the material plane has never brought anyone the true happiness you find in loving and helping others - mark

  10. Thank you Rhonda, what a timely reminder.I returned to work yesterday and as a mother you have enough guilt, especially when your little one crys at drop off (day care). It breaks your heart but everyone has different living circumstances. I work part time shift work as a nurse. I also love my work and find it extremely rewarding. I also love staying at home part of the week with the children. I agree with all women supporting each other as we all try to balance our life, home and work choices.
    You do a wonderful job in supporting us Rhonda and giving encouragement. love your blog posts.

  11. What a wonderful post!! I often have a hard time feeling like I "fit-in" because I have the full time responsibility of running our Church and raising my children and keeping house. Thankfully, I am my own "boss" and am able to set my schedule, sometimes things get more done at the Church, sometimes they get more done at home, sometimes it's perfectly balanced (but not that often!)
    And you are soooo right! It's not about who has the higher ground! (although, unfortunatly, it sure seems that way sometimes!) It's what's best for our families!

  12. This was a great post, on a topic I think about often. One thing that is really, truly never talked about is the issue of how single mothers might still be able to nurture their small children and stay with them a good majority of the time. It's not something I personally thought about until a few months ago when I unexpectedly found myself in the position of single mother.

    My top priority in life at this stage is to nurture my children, and as much as I'd like to live frugally and still be able to stay with them most of the time, it's still a mystery whether I'll be able to. I just thought I'd offer another perspective--that of the mother who has, unfortunately, no other adult at home bringing in a full income.

  13. I can't agree with you more. I am a single SAHM to three children, who also homeschools. I get flack from people a lot for the way I live my life. In one particular case I have someone very close to my eldest son putting me down for "staying at home being lazy", "leaving my husband" (an abusive man) and for
    "depriving my son of school". Of course I don't agree with this person, but it does niggle at me at times. With support the journey I have chosen would be far easier. I don't judge people for going to work, or sending their children to school (I see nothing wrong with either-its all about personal choice), or those that are blessed with a loving marriage, so why judge me.
    Anyway...sorry for the ramble...but yet another wonderful well thought out post. Thanks for being you....

  14. What a wonderful post! I have been all three, a SAHM, a mother working from home, and I have also worked away home. I know that most working mothers don't think that they have a choice - that they would not be able to make ends meet if they didn't work outside of the home. I know, that sometimes they have no choice, but having said that, I also don't think it is a competition either. Both can be good mothers.

    I made the choice to be a SAHM, I made it work by rearranging my budget and cutting back on things that I felt my family could do without - it worked for me and was a good choice. My children have all left the nest and have children of their own, both of my daughters are SAHM's and feel like that is the best choice for them. I think as women, we need to encourage each other and be united - never tear each other down. Have a great evening.

  15. I so agree with you. Beloved and I have decided that me being at home is the only way of life for us. I do have a part-time job now that I work online from home, and I love that. But being home has done so much for my family and I. I am now learning to sew better. First I learned to cook better and make homemade bread and such. Things I would never do before because the time was not there. When I worked outside the home everything was hurry hurry hurry. Hurry and go to work. Hurry to get home, hurry to cook dinner. Hurry to put the kids to bed....Um wait did I even speak to those poor things today? I am so much happier now. And we do live simple, and I love it! I just can't wait for spring to come so I can garden again.

  16. I find that since my children are both at school now, I cop more criticism for being a SAHM. There is an expectation that if you stay home after your children start school you are just being "lazy". I can tell you that the six hours each day that they're at school are far from idle for me. Managing our home and family is a full time job. Now that the kids are at school I can actually do a better job of it. I still stumble when asked by my former work colleauges "What are you doing with yourself these days?". I guess it's hard to stop judging yourself for your choice to stay home, no matter how important you know the job is.

  17. So much of the "Mommy War" is perpetuated by the media. I don't think moms would think it about it nearly so much if someone wasn't constantly telling them to. Nice reminder to support our sisters as often as we can and at least keep our mouths shut when we can't. :)

  18. Good morning Rhonda,

    I'm a bit like Jamie@ Woodside Gardens, I still have a little guilt lurking in my mind that my job now as a homekeeper is perhaps not quite as relevant as paid employment. I quite often find myself justifying why I am sitting down to mend or just sewing for pleasure. I totally agree that we should be supporting each other no matter what form of work we decide to do.

    Blessings Gail.

  19. I would have to disaggree with you on this one. Although I do believe in support and encouragement for all women working or not, not all ways are right and true. God says in His Word that the older women are to teach the younger to be keepers at home e.c.t. in Titus 2. This is not popular but not all ways are right.
    I do enjoy your blog and want to thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration.~ Diane

  20. What a wonderful site I've "stumbled" upon. I'm enjoying reading past articles.

  21. Hmm... I've been on both sides of the equation as a working mum and a stay at home mum. By choice, I'd be the latter every time and I found it to be a full time job (not sure where we find the time to work outside the home :-) ). Either way, however, I have known people who liked to make me feel guilty, regardless. You really can't win. I so agree with you that it is never black and white, and everyone is validated in the choice they make. I'm just heading back into full time employment - a choice that has been made for me by circumstance. There are aspects of going out to work that I am looking forward to and aspects of staying home that I will miss. For now, it is the right thing for us. We all do the best we can.
    Your writing days sound exactly like the way I would like to work.

  22. Ah, so you watched Dr Phil yesterday too. :)

    Women are great juding eachothers decisions. Maybe if we spent this energy helping eachother out things would be a lot better. I would love to be a SAHM, but unfortunatly we can't afford it. I've just returned to part-time work after 15 months off after having my second daughter. I work nights so that I can spend most of the day with my girls, as well as having my own tiny handmade business. No matter what you end up doing, whether working or staying at home, there's always a sacrifice.

  23. Hi! Thanks for popping by my blog and posting a comment.I'm scanning your blogs and finding we have a bit in common too! I'm linking to your blogs from the corresponding blogs I own..

    Tomorrow I will. Tonight I'm preparing the charlotte mason blog carnival :-)


  24. Hi Michelle (primal). I think you may have me confused with someone else. I haven't commented on your blogs.

  25. Brilliant post Rhonda. I´ve always wanted to be a SAHM, but I never could. I have no regret´s though. I did what I had to do and tried to make the best out of my situation. I think we all do. But I realise how precious and (at least where I live) greatly underestimated the value of motherhood is. Actually, fatherhood is too...
    Have a good day

  26. The amount of support you have depends on how hard you are prepared to look for it as well as the people you have around you. I felt well-supported as a SAHM as I was involved with a playgroup, the Breastfeeding Association, and had time with online friends as well. Now I work p/t and find my workmates and boss are supportive, but I simply have less time to spend with people.
    And IME the Mummy Wars are only entered into by the kind of person who feels big by making other people feel small. If it isn't your paid work or lack of it, it would be something else.

  27. I don't see it as opposing the sisterhood, more than it being about pushing the boundaries of the relationship.

    Disagreement is sometimes necessary to develop a deeper understanding of someone else's choices - and even your own.

    The best discoveries I've made about myself (and others) is when I've been disagreed with. You've got to put your thoughts out there; right or wrong; to learn what the rest of the world thinks too.

    I do believe in support and encouragement - but that may not always come through blanket agreement. Sometimes the road does get ugly, before you sit up and take notice of what's really important.

    Then the dialogue evolves...

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It helps me think harder about my own. :)

  28. I think you're right. It's too easy to cast judgement. trying to live a balanced life is not an easy task wether you work or not. I think the media and the whole childcare debate has a lot to answer for setting woman against each other. somehow we like to have our desicions validated to feel like we've made the right choice. I think if we trust in ourselves that we are making the wright desicions and not worry about what other people think then we'd all be a lot happier.

  29. Could anybody please help me? I am looking for an email address to contact Rhonda, but I just could not find it in the blog..I know, silly of me, but maybe one of you ladies could tell me :)

  30. Very good post! I have been both. We do what we have to do to get by. No two lives are the same.

  31. I have been on both ends of this. Fortunately I had the support of Family and Friends...I would not have been able to cope if not for them. I learned so much from the elders in my family. They were invaluable to me as I, st times, struggled with the feeling that I was somehow "not contributing" to the greater world. One of the best things that was shared with me was that " As a SAHM you are shaping the lives of the next gebneration. You teach them that they are valuable by being there for them...no matter what". Thanks Gram for that bit of wisdom. :)

  32. Well done for expressing your thoughts on such an emotive subject so eloquently.

    I am from the working Mum's camp, and I do feel infuriated sometimes that the blog world seems to equate being at home to being a 'good' Mum. My circumstances mean that financially I have to work - but also it is my choice to. I have 3 amazing children who I adore, I also have flexible working so I can pick up from school on 3 days a week, and fab grandparents who do the other days childcare. I am not guilty in the least for my decision. I had my family very young, and had the challenges of parenting a special needs child...and well it was time for me to focus back on my own career for some sanity!

    I really appreciate this post and hope that others really read and understand what you are trying to convey. Thank you!

  33. When my hubby and I were married 35 years ago I became a SAHW..stay at home wife..unheard of during the feminist revolution of the 70's. Six months after we married I left my job, partly because the company wanted me to work a rotating shift which we didn't feel would be in the best interest of our marriage, and partly because I wanted some time to get our home organized before we had children which we planned to do right away. God had a different plan for us, it was 8 years before we adopted our first daughter, and five more before we brought the second one home. So there was a long gap where I was a SAHW.

    When I left my job friends told us we would never buy another new car, never own a house. Looking back I laugh! We not only own a house, we paid off the first one on our 15 wedding anniversary. We now pay cash for our brand new cars. Last fall we moved into a smaller brand new house as a retirement home. My husband semi retired from his job of 35 years five years ago and now works as a consultant. How did we do it? We made the decision we would live on only one income, if that wasn't enough we were spending too much money. We had a policy of paying cash, and never spend more then we could afford. We have no debt.

    Admittedly my hubby's salary was a little higher then some, but still less then two in the family working. We not only managed, we thrived and are happy (or at least at peace) when those we know with both husband and wife working and are in debt.

    Over the years, especially in the beginning I was looked down upon as being "lazy" because I didn't have a"real" job. Some of my hubby's family (but not my family or dear mil who thought it was wonderful I choose to be home)couldn't figure out what I did with all my time. What I did was raise most of our food, canning, freezing and drying what the garden produced. I sewed, cooked, knitted, crocheted and did much of the finishing work on our first house which we completely renovated doing nearly all the work ourselves.

    When the girls came I was super busy, and when the started school I was one of the few Mom's who worked as a volunteer on a regular basis...often with children who were struggling and needed extra help their own working parents didn't have time for.

    My daughters are now grown and both have said often they are thankful and glad that I choose to be a full time Mother..so am I!!!

    Work is work, I don't care if it's changing diapers, gardening, scrubbing the toilet or washing dishes or working in an office, or some other "important" job. There is no work that is more valuable then others, just different choices to make.

    I will turn 60 later this year, I am a peace with how I lived my life, no regrets. My hubby and I have a happy, joyful marriage and home. Even the stress on our budget of helping our oldest daughter who has many health problems is not a huge problem, we just cut back on things we can do without. We are just thankful God has given us the means to help her.

    Being home full time can be done, and what you learn to do without to make it happen will be replaced by things you will be glad you didn't miss....

  34. For Anita Meade. I too am a stay at home wife. Now though my children are grown with homes of their own. I am still home. Even now there are so many things to do. Time now to do the family albums and visit the shut ins and such that there seemed no time for in earlier years. The days go very quickly and there is always more I would like to do. Just like in the earlier days of motherhood. Please don't let others make you do what you feel in your heart is not right for you or your family. I had people comment to me but when I replyed in love we ended up talking longer and they came to an understanding of my view. I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they maybe for the first time, understood another way of living. Betsy

  35. I love this post. So often, especially while exploring the simple living blogosphere, I feel so put-upon for truly desiring to work outside the home, to pursue a doctorate, to be supportive of my husband as possible primary caretaker (if children are in our future) and delay/choose not to have children. Accused, even, of abandoning my calling, even while I derive so much joy from the simple and meaningful tasks of homemaking. Thank you so much for writing these words of comfort and inclusion!


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