In March this year LinkedIn officially announced that they have introduced a new job title option for the workers of the world; ‘Stay-At-Home Parent.’
While this might sound surprisingly late in the game (to the more open-minded of us), to a great many others the choice to raise children instead of earning an income was (and still is) greatly penalized in the business world.
But what LinkedIn have fundamentally altered by adding ‘Stay-At-Home Parent’ as an official job title, is their recognition of the professional levels of skillsets that are developed and honed whilst caring for children full-time.
LinkedIn (the world’s largest professional network) has finally given PARENTS a seat at the business table.
Before I get into how monumental this all is, let’s clear something up first.
Not all us SAHM/Ds (stay-at-home mums/dads) have romantically rolled into full-time parenthood from having zero experience in the working world previously.
The stay-at-home mother you see swinging her child at the park for 45 minutes, used to be a graphic designer. The stay-at-home father, at grips with his 2-year-old’s tantrum in the dairy isle, was once the manager of a retail outlet. And the full-time parent running to catch the bus, clutching five separate bags with child in one hand and a melted ice-pop in the other (with spilt lunch on their shirt), used to be the art director at a reputable lifestyle magazine in Los Angeles.
The latter was/is me.
So why didn’t I go back to work straight away?
Why did I choose to remain at home with my only child for almost five years?
Why have I left it so late that my professional gap is so extensively large I couldn’t possibly remember how to do anything other than change diapers, cook meals and go for chai latte playdates?
Because I chose to hit pause on my career so that I could raise my own child. The next generation. And no parent should ever feel penalized for making that choice.
Now I must stress here that my former comment about diaper changes and latte playdates was completely sarcastic. Because since I began my job as a mother I’ve gained and mastered skills that I never had before, or would ever have the chance to develop, if I wasn’t a stay-at-home parent.
But unfortunately, this true and honest fact wasn’t something I was willing to speak openly about on a professional networking website a few weeks ago.
The damaging case against SAHM/Ds is that we’ve lost all relevance amongst the suits and ties of the working world. Managing a little human and a home, with all the inglorious misfortunes of the day, sadly doesn’t compete with international press conferences and achieving sales quotas.
Being irrelevant, as well as being absent from the workforce for years, has had my confidence shrink when it comes to being ‘seen’ in a professional capacity.
And I’m quite certain I’m not the only SAHM/D out there who shares in these discomforts.
Then I read an article about how the internationally renowned, online platform for job seekers ‘LinkedIn’ had made ‘Stay-at-home-Parents’ a legitimate job title and it made me sit up.
I hadn’t had an account with LinkedIn in over six years. Yet suddenly here was an opportunity to speak up professionally about the qualifications I’ve held during my years as a full-time mother.
So in no time at all I created a new account and re-joined the world of LinkedIn once again. This time searching for new language that would best describe the very specific work I do in my every day.
What is that exactly? Well, it’s an individual who organizes the social, medical, extra-curricular and academic schedules for all members of the household, incorporating creativity where needed. It also includes developing recipes, planning menus, taking food inventories and ensuring sanitary kitchen conditions.
As well as household upkeep (cleaning, washing, cooking).
I perform accounting functions such as balancing budgets, paying bills and identifying cost-saving opportunities.
Since we chose to delay our daughters vaccinations (read about why here) she isn’t able to attend any preschool. Therefore, I homeschool my four-year-old working both out of home (focusing on basic literacy skills) and in cultural surroundings such as museums, beaches, trails, botanical gardens and community events.
As part of the education program I’ve set for my daughter, I have enrolled us both as volunteers at our local council ‘Bush/Harbour Care’ program, which encourages us both to remain environmentally active and be part of the larger community.
In whatever spare time I may have I also write for my own blog (hi), where I manage and create content on conversations surrounding conscious parenting, hiking with children, dietary and medical choices for children and low waste living.
No, I don’t get paid for this work and most of the time I’m in my pajamas, in bed, typing manically before I have to go to sleep in order to do it all again tomorrow.
I’m not the only SAHM/D attempting to juggle all the above. And sometimes I fail in achieving anything at all in a day. It can happen when all is dependent on the mood of a little person who tests your patience, emotional endurance and physical wellbeing in ways an office job just can’t.
So I ask, in what way does being a stay-at-home parent show incompetence?
Do we not show enough committment to the task at hand? Perhaps it’s not clear how many hours in the week we ‘put in’ (24/7).
Salary.com recently revealed what they believe to be a SAHM’s annual wage, when taking the above into consideration;
The online provider of market data, software, and analytics have powerfully shifted the perspective on SAHMs globally, in one fell swoop.
Thanks to modernizing platforms like LinkedIn, Salary.com and others, the world is finally starting to place professional ‘value’ in being a stay-at-home parent.
It’s not just about normalizing the career gaps made by parents, it’s about re-framing the conversations surrounding what a SAHM/F actually does.
Thereby raising the quality of work that full-time parents do, to a more professionally acknowledged level.
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