It is a well known fact that mothers hold a very high place in Islam as numerous ahadith narrate the rewards attached to motherhood. The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Paradise lies at the feet of your mother’. [Sunan An-Nasa’i]. However, sometimes mothers lose the confidence to be more productive or lose a focus on themselves in the midst of looking after their families. Productivity can become a challenge.
Western society frowns upon ‘stay at home mums’ who have gained a reputation for not doing much all day. This very narrative ignores the huge task of raising children, and dismisses the fact that stay-at-home mums probably work harder than most other professionals. Whereas most professionals can forget about their work after 5pm, mothering is a 24-hour job, that lasts a lifetime. In particular, Muslim mothers have a special role and duty to raise good, righteous children, while the fathers have the special role and duty to be the financial supporter of the family. It is only befitting for Islam to honour the role of mothers in such a high regard, despite societal norms.
More often than not, stay-at-home mums have been associated with common myths, that are inaccurate and undeserving. In this article, I will tackle these myths and explore how ProductiveMuslimah Mums can fully utilise their time. Using real life examples, these tips will be useful for mothers striving to be productive for themselves, their children and the Ummah as a whole.
Dispelling the myths
I want to challenge the myths below using examples of real mothers that have truly been productive with their time; they can inspire Muslimahs, whether they are mothers or yet to be mothers in sha Allah. Although the obstacles are many, these women have shown me how to be a productive stay-at-home mum.
(I think secretly I am looking forward to the day when I can retire and be a stay-at-home mum!)
1. They are lazy during the day
2. They have a lack of skills/talents
3. They are unable to contribute to wider society
4. They are unproductive at home
5. They are unable to succeed in career goals
1. They are lazy during the day – Divide your time!
My manager is a fine example of a woman who does not dare to be lazy during the day. When she is at home she will often drop the kids off to school and then get straight onto emails and complete important tasks. This means that she has devoted some time to her children and then spent time on her other tasks. This is not always limited to housework and cooking but to other endeavours, like running a home business, creative writing and seeking knowledge. It is also important for mothers to find some minutes to relax, as they are always putting others’ needs before their own. This could be when the children are napping, are at school, or, if they are old enough, they could spend some time with a neighbour or friend so Mum can have some of her own time for a change!
2. They have a lack of skills/talents – Embrace your hidden talents
Far too many sisters I know have hidden talents which go unknown to their community and even their families. It is a real shame because we could really benefit from these skills and talents. An example here is that of my sister-in-law who is a stay at home mum of two wonderful nephews and she has embraced her talents – she set up her own cake company, which she uses to donate to Syria, and she also knits clothes too! What a great and beautiful thing when sisters have talents transformed into businesses in their own home, emulating the footsteps of Khadijah .
3. They are unable to contribute to wider society – Women are at the forefront
It’s no secret that in many places around the world, it is the women who are at the forefront of seeking knowledge. Quite rightly so, as the women are the first teachers of their children and as many scholars say, they are the ones who can change families and communities. Through sharing your skills such as teaching Arabic in the mosque or running children’s classes at home, you can be sure women are at the forefront of raising the next generation. In particular, it is important to recognise women who home-school their children, as they take on a huge responsibility in providing primary education. Such examples of home-schoolers include Sister Megan Wyatt and Sister Zohra Sarwari. Other examples of women are those at my local mosque who have been organisers of charity cake drives to raise money for noble causes, all whilst managing the home and role modelling good Islamic behaviour to their children.
4. They are unproductive at home – You already are productive!
Some people complain that stay-at-home mums are unproductive. Whilst there can be a tendency for shaytan to whisper into our ears when we’ve sent the children off to school, I’d say most mothers are certainly busy in those hours, preparing meals for their children and family, doing the laundry, cleaning and tidying the home and doing errands in between! It is fair to say therefore, that stay-at-home mums are more productive than we think and they think too! Become positive in your mindset and this will allow you to value yourself much more.
5. They are unable to succeed in career goals – Women can be career makers!
Being a home-maker doesn’t mean you’ve lost the rat race to the top of the career ladder, although it is admittedly tougher getting back into the market when you’ve had a gap. So, it’s important for stay at home Mum’s to be productive by keeping up to date with the news of what’s happening in their industry, reading books on professional development and perhaps once in a while undertaking some voluntary tasks from home, so as to keep the CV looking good. I know many women who have started profitable home businesses – some sell health products, others hijabs and abayas and some make their own jewellery! The possibilities are endless!
So there you have it! 5 common myths about stay-at-home mums not being productive, all disproven by real women who are strong and focussed. They are still the beacon of light in their households and the wider society. Until we recognise the lofty role of mothers in producing and raising the next generation, we won’t be productive as an Ummah. We also need to invest in ourselves as women by giving ourselves rest, a positive mindset and a creative outlet. This will enable us to become productive, well-rounded mothers who thrive at the best job in the world.