It is unbelievable how frequent this question notoriously pops up in our every day conversations, until you have a group of people actually wanting and waiting to hear what exactly it is that makes you exhausted at the end of the day. Many stay-home mums have actually fallen into the deep trap of answering this question, only to give out too much information that is quickly summed up as a bitter rant or end up providing vague details that leaves a lot of room for speculation.
In a span of 4 months, since I officially became a stay-home mum, I have encountered this question over ten times and still counting, only to realize midway through my responses that these complete strangers asking the question have zero interest in my daily activities and would gladly pass over the chance to hear the intricate details of my seemingly sympathetic and overly monotonous lifestyle. Yes, it is a sore realization when you find out that nobody wants to know how many diaper changes or food spillages you can handle on a daily basis. Yet, as soon as you mention you are a stay at home mother, people will inquire what you do in all those presumably long hours in a day since they imagine that taking care of a baby cannot be such a difficult task!
So, interested or not, stay-home mums should accept that people will ask this question over and over because, it’s considered a key conversational starter that you really cannot avoid. However, there are various ways you can learn to dodge this question and avoid situations that would make you feel like a lazy stay at home bum while the rest of the world is working away.
Here is a simple three steps formula that can help any stay at home mother keep those pesky strangers’ questions at bay with poise and grace.
Step 1: Respond to the question with another question
It is easy to get overwhelmed when someone asks about your personal life or your choices. It gets a bit frustrating when you realize that it really does not matter what you do, because the question is already biased with a premeditated mindset that is almost impossible to change. A great way to counter this situation is to use a question, trying to relate what you do with what other people do. So, answer the question with another question.
Here is an example: When asked why you are a stay-home mum and what do you do all day long, you could simply respond by saying something like, ‘’You know how some parents are obsessed with their children and never want to leave their sight? Well, I am one of them!’’
Pretty sleek right? This is far more an interesting and sly way of evading a scenario where you might end up sounding boring or out of place. Rather than listing you entire daily schedule to a stranger who is simply prying, answering a question with another question enables one to stay ahead of the inquirer, while cutting off any further inquiries.
Step 2: Stop talking and wait for a reply
Sometimes as human beings we talk too much. Research shows that an average human being speaks over 10,000 words in a day with women leading at 20,000 words per day while men only speak an average of 7000 words. Sigh women, those are very many words!
Often we do not maximize the incredible power of silence. It is easy to get carried away in your responses; however, by giving short answers and giving someone else time to respond, one can successfully manage to keep the conversation moving forward and move away from a tricky question. The daily activities of a stay at home mother are actually endless. It is more like a 24-hours round the clock job. Instead of giving too much information, it is always best to keep answers short and simple, letting another person talk and you will be amazed how fast the spotlight will move from you and shines on someone else.
Step 3: Know your limits and avoid full conversations if possible
Have you ever met people who want to keep a conversation going for hours and hours? The kind of people who will not take no for an answer and want to know why a no is a no and not a yes? Quite an exhausting bunch of people! If you are a stay at home mother, these are the kind of people you want and need to avoid. This can be achieved by knowing how much information you are willing to give and being confident enough to cut a conversation short when you feel that someone is snooping too much into your personal life.
Many stay at home mothers often feel the need to justify what they do and provide reasons for their choices in life. There is no shame in being on a 24-hours call routine for your child and you should never have to defend yourself to anyone.
So, whenever the conversation feels overwhelming and jabs are being thrown carelessly, it is perfectly fine to excuse yourself and step away from that conversation. It will save everyone lots of energy and disappointments.
N/B: If anything else does not work, do not hesitate to use your kid(s) as an excuse to dodge this conversation whenever you can. And remember you cannot please everyone no matter what response you give, if you love what you do and that’s your purpose, then you can make staying at home the best job you can ever have!