It was the birth of her son in 2011 that led Maria Luís, 37, author of the blog "Hortelã Pimenta", to stay at home. "In fact, the fate took care of this, after a troubled return to work, after a year and peaks of emigration, after a difficult return to Portugal. I returned with my son, my husband still stayed. My son had been without his father and he needed his mother very much. Life leaned against the wall and made me see that it would be best to stay home, "he explains.
The same instinct guided Vera Agostinho, author of the blog Eu, Ele, Maria, Miguel and Ana. At age 29, Vera was a mother for the first time and when it came time to return to work she came across a problem. At the time she was a waitress, a profession with work schedules that were not compatible with a baby's routines. "When Maria was born we did the math and financially did not pay to have someone to keep her. We felt that, in every way, it would be better to stay with me, "he explains. After Maria, now five years old, Vera, now 34, had two more children: Miguel, with four and Ana with seven months.
Sandra Francisco, 41, a mother of five, followed Vera's example: she chose to stay at home "as a result of having small children and having no working hours compatible with kindergartens or schools."
Vírgina Cabral, 52, always wanted to have a large family and the natural choice was to stay home with the children. "Being aware that we would have a better quality of life outside of Lisbon, my husband and I decided to go live to the Algarve. My first child, João Pedro was born after 10 months of marriage, two and a half years later Beatriz was born, a year and a half later Bernardo, followed by Maria, two years later, and finally Francisca, four years later ".
But how is a housewife's day? "Reading the term" housewife "I see myself somewhere in the 1950s, with her hair full of lacquer, impeccably arranged nails and always with a smile on her face while handling knitting needles!" Jokes Maria Luís.
Vera Agostinho's daily life has been changing with the growth of the family, but the hours of her time are divided between the smaller ones and the domestic ones. A routine not too different from that of Sandra, who spends her days "packing up things for the children to go to school and then taking them, doing the shopping, cleaning the house (ironing, ironing, cooking, cleaning), go get the kids to school, take a shower, put on pajamas, make dinner, lay them down. "
Today, with grown children, there is plenty of time and some quiet in the days of Virginia. When the children were younger, "fortunately there was a maid who handled most of the household chores, except for the meals that were mostly made by me, first of all by my choice and consequently by my children's preference," but essentially their day "Was practically full of tasks and activities with my children."
Maria Luís sums up what this full-time profession implies: "To be a housewife, nowadays, is to be Family CEO, Executive Director of the Home or, thinner, General Manager of the House! It's working with time-outs, trying to always be at our best, never neglecting the household chores that multiply throughout the day. "
The challenges of those who chose to stay at home
The challenges are many. For Vera Agostinho, the fact of sharing an order led her to make choices. "Cinema is at home, meals out are very few, we do not go on vacation, Maria's clothing is often bought in the boy section and then stay for Miguel."
In the case of Maria Luís, "the challenge regarding the personal side was the most difficult to overcome. To stop working, to stop making my money, to depend on someone else, to see my colleagues progressing in their careers … was not easy, "he assumes. Despite the budget gymnastics that has to do, "the social part if it is worked is not shaken. We stayed even more available to friends. In fact, it is precisely in a situation like this that we really see who our friends are. "
Virginia found a solution: "There was not a lot of space for meetings with friends, she made it a point to schedule a lunch or a lunch once a week." Today with more time for you, you can combine these meetings with more regularity but always put the family first, because "the goings to the beautician … these continue to be with my daughters."
Vera confesses that, on a personal level, "it is very tiring, it is certainly not for everyone. I often go a whole day without talking to an adult person, "and Sandra assumes that she lives little and has little time left for her and her husband.
Go back to work one day
Vera Agostinho does not put aside the hypothesis of returning to work, but confesses that at this moment "I think more about the present, that soon it is seen". Sandra Francisco liked to go back to work but there are things that worry her like "working hours, knowing if I can get the time to get my kids in time, to school, and that my children get sick and I have to miss ".
In Maria's case, staying at home was never seen as a definitive decision. Feeling that his mission at home has been fulfilled, at this time wants to return to the job market. But the task has not been facilitated.
"Being a woman is difficult, being a woman in Portugal is difficult and being a mother and a woman in Portugal is ridiculously more difficult," he says, adding that "for employers we are a rare animal that has done a lot of harm in deciding to stay at home. People are too transparent and let their amazement escape in a rather unpleasant way. Being 37 years old is the same as being defeated and having a child of school age is something transcendent. I hear hilarious things and tattered excuses when they are given. There is a lack of immense culture in our country regarding the decisions that are made by the family, especially by the children. " But for Maria Luís, giving up is not in her plans.
From the serenity of her 52 years, Virgínia Cabral assumes that being a full time mother was the "profession" that allowed her to have the greatest personal fulfillment. "Perhaps the fact that I had a job offer made me sure that being a full-time mother was my choice," he says, adding that "my children's education and education was always a priority, making sure the best way to do that was to be available and to be a full-time mother. "
The days are not all the same and there are times better than others. But Maria, Vera, Sandra, and Virginia have the same certainty: they do not regret their decision.
"I think the fact that I stayed at home gave me the opportunity to follow and participate in the growth of my children in a very active way, being always present in both routine and important moments," confesses Virginia. Maria adds that "I consider myself a lucky woman to have had the opportunity to stay at home. I grew up very inwardly, I thought a lot, I reflected, I read, I learned to cook perfectly, I iron like no one else and I have incredible organization rules. I still had time to develop skills that I thought I did not even have, "she concludes.