I tell my daughter every day that it's my job to keep her safe, get her dressed, whatever.
I've been a SAHM for almost 2 years now and am TRYING to think of it as a job so I'll do better at the home-making end. The parenting part comes naturally to me. I keep a sanitary house, but it is pretty sloppy and I rarely consider meals more than hours ahead of time.
I have always taken my paid jobs very seriously. This is so much more important! The parenting is, of course, primary, and I feel good about how I do with that. However, I do think that homemaking is also very important--to my tot and to all of us. It is stressful when the house is a mess, or we can't find something, or I don't know what we'll eat and everyone is hungry. And I wand my daughter to learn to keep her space neat and think ahead as a habit. So I need to model that!
I think being a full-time parent is "the toughest job you'll ever love" (Peace Corp's motto. But I did that and being a SAHM is even tougher; and I loved Peace Corps but there is NO comparison.)
Our society at large CERTAINLY doesn't respect what we do as a job. My husband and I sometimes discuss the studies that show how much a SAHP's work is "worth", theoretically, in terms of salary. Of course it is priceless. The studies seem so arbitrary since most Americans do not pay for the services performed by SAHPs--it is a luxury to do so.
It falls into the economy of the household, which involves transactions and outcomes far more important, and far less measurable, than money. This sort of economy involves similar values that have been ignored by our government and by our economic system: quality of life, peace, kindness to the earth and future generations, beauty. If only the government and the economic system valued things for more than just their $ value...WalMart would not exist, we'd have open space, everyone would be well fed and have an education and quality of life, we could eat fish, dammit, without doing hours of research...
OK I'm done with my soapbox for now. Kudos to all you mamas, papas, and caregivers doing such a crucial JOB. Let's keep supporting each other, along with our kids.
Have a great day everyone.