I’m fortunate to work from home. I also know many men and women who work from home, are stay-at-home parents, or who don’t work outside of the home for a variety of reasons. Maybe they are disabled in some way, have health issues, or maybe they simply prefer to stay home and take care of the house rather than working. (The concept of the “housewife/househusband” isn’t dead yet.) All of these people make great contributions to their families, homes, and neighborhoods, but they are often derided for their choice to stay home.
It’s often assumed that those of us who stay home aren’t doing “real” work, or we aren’t contributing to society in a meaningful way. This is especially true if you stay home, but don’t have kids. Everyone knows that staying home with kids is meaningful (or at least they’re willing to give lip service to the idea), but those without kids often get bashed for the choice to stay home.
Even if the person works full-time from home, as I do, there are subtle and not so subtle comments made about the lack of a “real job” and how nice it must be to “sit around all day.” Heaven forbid someone should make the choice to simply stay home, without kids, and be a homemaker in this day and age. If you make that choice, you’ll face all kinds of ugly comments about your lazy ways, how you are nothing but a leech on society, how you’re wasting an education, and how you’re just mooching off your spouse. (I know because I’ve heard all of those comments, and I’m working. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who stays home but does not work and does not have kids.) Maybe you are all of those things, but I’m willing to be that most people who stay home are not.
Staying home doesn’t make a person a worthless human being or lazy. Even if the person isn’t caring for kids or bringing in an income through a home-based job, they are still making valuable contributions to their family and neighborhood. While there are the obvious money saving benefits of having no commute, not having to buy a work wardrobe, and not having a second income eaten up by taxes, there are other, less obvious contributions that the stay-at-home person makes.
I love my neighborhood. Quite a few people here stay home during the day. As a result, we don’t have a lot of crime. Most people think most burglaries happen at night, but the reality is that most happen during the day when everyone is at work. If you have people in your neighborhood who stay home, they act as a crime deterrent because the bad guys know there’s a better chance they will be seen. People who stay home all day are often better attuned to what’s “normal” and know when something is out of place or suspicious. If you can’t be home all day, be grateful if you have a neighbor who does. They might be the one who calls 911 when the “moving van” shows up in your driveway. They may also be the one who spots the fire or the water running out into the street from a busted pipe and calls for help before the problem gets too far out of control.
Handling Routine Household Chores
The stay at home person often handles the routine chores like cleaning, cooking, pet care, maintenance, etc. This means that you’re not having to pay a service to handle these things and, even if you are, you’re not likely paying them to handle every single thing, just the bigger issues.
Easier Appointment Scheduling
When someone is at home, the other partner doesn’t have to wait for the cable guy or take time off from work to get home to have the new appliance delivered. It’s just easier to have someone home who can handle these things without losing vacation time or scheduling around work commitments.
Neighborly Help and Community Building
People who stay at home tend to be a bit more involved with their neighborhoods. After all, they’re home all day. In addition to providing security, these are the people who can help you by checking your mail, sitting your pets, and watching the house when you’re on vacation. They can help your kids in an emergency if you’re not home. If you really trust them, they can let the repairman into your house if you can’t make it, or they can sign for deliveries. If you’re really friendly with the stay-at-homers, they might do things like check on you during the day if you’re sick, or take you to the car place to get or drop off your car for service, or help you look if your dog gets out and wanders away. The people who stay home are often the backbone of the community.
Many people who stay home volunteer time. Since they aren’t constrained by a 9-5 job, they may be more able to volunteer for time sensitive things like hurricane or tornado relief. They may work with the schools or churches. They may even volunteer virtually, designing websites for non-profits, taking calls, working phone trees, or writing grant proposals. Not to say that people who work out of the home don’t volunteer, but many people who choose to stay home also volunteer to give their life some meaning and structure. Not all do nothing.
Caring for Aging Parents
As the population ages, this is a big reason why many people stay home and stay or move closer to their family. Aging parents may need a lot of care and the kids don’t want to put them in a nursing home (or there isn’t money for one). Or, the parents need some care but not enough to justify a home quite yet. Or, maybe, they just need a quick check in now and then, or help getting to a distant appointment. Whatever the need, the person who stays at home can help care for aging relatives.
Choosing to stay at home doesn’t make a person worthless, or a leech on society. As long as the choice is an informed one and your spouse, partner, parents, and/or kids are happy with it, there’s nothing wrong with staying home. It can even be beneficial to others in the neighborhood and the surrounding area.
(Photo courtesy of fomu)