This has been, officially, my first back-to-school experience. While it is exciting, it is also anxiety inducing. I hear the cash register ringing in my ears—so many fees! I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t budget for it.
For a career-mother like myself, money can be a sensitive topic. While I manage the household bills, handle all of the daycare for my children, and have side-gigs from time to time, I don’t bring in a steady income. Paychecks are tangible rewards for working effort. Stay-at-home parents don’t get one. Ever. Come to think of it, there are lots of other “work” related incentives us stay-at-homes never see…happy hour?
Talking money with a spouse is about as fun as putting a lit cigarette in your eye. While we have come a long way in our 10-year marriage, we still have moments. I hear things like, “Maybe we need to look at your budgeting” and “Maybe it’s time for a second income.” Ouch. Regardless of intent, these statements always come across as criticism. I immediately feel like I I’m not “pulling my weight” when the conversation turns to money. Money = value.
This post is not about whining! I promise. It’s actually about empowerment and appreciation. I am proposing a rewards program for parents who’s primary career path is parenting. I realize that we are all supposed to be so benevolent that the reward of seeing our children daily fills our hearts with everything we may ever need. I’m neither wholly benevolent, nor fulfilled. Shocking!!
Truly, I enjoy recognition. I’ve lived a long life of over-achievement and I guess I got used to it. I like knowing my efforts are recognized and valued.
Companies may reward/recognize employees in the following ways:
- “Kudos” announcements at meetings
- E-mails outlining the work appreciated and a thank you (which can be saved come review time)
- Monetary bonus
- Rewards points/Incentives (sometimes gift cards, internal work prizes for meeting quotas)
- Parking spots
- Employee of the Month/certificate
- Special training
- Holiday parties
The list goes on. These are little perks “bosses” give their employees because they understand it is important to morale.
I would love it if each of you nominated a career-parent for Employee of The Month—not because working parents don’t deserve it, but because parents who are at home do not receive any kind of appreciation at all.
Here’s a list of actual work that career-parents perform. For the sake of argument, I will leave out any household chores (even though there is usually a silent expectation that the career-parent take up all house-hold responsibilities as well).
- Researching age appropriate activities for each child (which results in different activities for each kid)
- Procuring craft items, art supplies, learning materials and maintaining these materials and work area
- Providing emotional and developmental support
- Ensuring health-care for sick children
- Taking children on field-trips
- Encouraging a love of learning while working on reading and math skills
- Exposing children to music, art, and culture
- Fostering cooperative attitudes during socialization (often in diverse populations)
- Completing all child related paperwork and keeping documents organized
- Transporting children to various activities, appointments, locations
- Ensuring a safe and clean environment (this is beyond household tasks)
There’s more to this list too. I’m just giving a “for instance” here. What if we rewarded career-parents, or at least, treated them like respectable people with brains? So what if I have spaghetti in my hair?!! That doesn’t mean I can’t hang in a conversation about–quick give me a current event–you know, things other than children.
Some Globoforce survey I Googled reports that, “69% [of people] say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. And 78% said being recognized motivates them in their job.” I don’t know if it is true; it makes sense to me and statistics are important to quote when you are trying to make a point.
Nominate a career-parent for something awesome they did. Take it from me, we see the glassy-eyed, “must be nice” look in your eyes when “work” comes up at a party. Try not to do that in the future. It’s a slap in our overly-tired face. You have no idea what our particular situation is like, and many of us are sick of having to justify the meaning of our existence over cocktail wieners–but I also do needlepoint, am learning the citar, and make my own bread–enough already. Your appreciation would mean the world to us! We owe it to each other to show a mutual respect for the life we all share in this country. You may never understand what it is like to be a career-parent, but if your spouse is the one at home, you better show a little love.
PLEASE!! Share with me your nominations and ideas for work-like appreciation.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Happy Hour (a real one–complete with kvetching and booze)
- Gift card to Starbucks or something
- A surprise lunch
- A cool certificate
See what happens?! How about starting with a little public display of affection? Who do you appreciate? Tag them in the comments below!!