What do you do all day? When are you going back to work? How do you survive on one-income? Do you like being home all day? These are just some of the questions people might have about being a Stay-At-Home Mom.
Maybe you’re a working mom who wishes you could stay at home with your kids or maybe you’re a SAHM who wrestles with her decision sometimes. There are always pros and cons whether you choose to stay at home and work or leave the house and work.
So let me just clear up a few things. Here’s what it’s really like to be a SAHM.
1. We didn’t sign up to be perfect housekeepers. At least I didn’t. Every day I fight a losing battle against toys, wayward socks and mysterious sticky spills. I see this as one part of my day, not my entire purpose for being home.
I don’t have an affinity for cleaning. It’s more like a deep desire to keep us from living like hoarders. The things I do very well are keep us in clean dishes, clean clothes and hot meals.
When I first became a SAHM, I thought my house needed to be exceptionally clean because I had the time to do it. But I quickly got over it. Instead I found my standards of acceptable cleanliness for all areas of the house and whenever I feel the limits being pushed, a magical wave of cleaning OCD sweeps over me and I clean for five hours straight. But thank goodness it doesn’t happen too often, because I’d rather be outside playing with the kids.
2. Sometimes it’s REALLY freaking lonely without adults to talk to all day. I do find myself prattling on and on when I do get to talk to someone my own age. It’s so important to get involved with activities in the community and spending time on something you really enjoy outside of taking care of your kids.
I am involved in a number of activities through my church, try to get to the gym a few days a week, and spend time on my writing. If you don’t spend at least a little time taking care of yourself, you could very well go stir crazy at home all day with small children.
3. It’s not a “luxury” to stay home; it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to be home with my kids and I know a lot of people just can’t swing it financially, but my life isn’t an episode of “The Real Housewives of The Hudson Valley.” The blessing of being home with my kids comes with more sacrifices than most people can or want to make.
First, we sacrifice our paychecks and consequently go through a period where we struggle to redefine our worth without them. Then we sacrifice many of our needs and wants so that we’re primarily the ones on the budgeting chopping block and not our kids. If you want you can come inspect my closet full of aging second-hand clothes that I’ve been meaning to replace for about four years now.
The blessing comes from being able to spend time with my kids while they’re still little enough to want me around all the time. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be home with my third child from the moment she was born. I’m also glad that it’s never a problem to keep them home when they’re sick or attend spelling bees, science fairs or parent/teacher conferences at school during the day.
4. Your work goes largely unnoticed. I give it up to moms that balance full-time employment and parenting. I struggled with finding the balance when I worked outside the home. The hard part of working as a SAHM is that your work will go unnoticed to the outside world and sometimes even to your family.
Imagine for a minute that your company required you to work permanently on-call without sick-time, vacation or holidays and you never got paid and rarely even got thanked. That’s the work of the SAHM.
We are also the silent labor that allows our spouses to fulfill their hectic work schedules. Their success comes, in large part, thanks to the silent work we do taking care of our children and households. We won’t get the accolades our spouses do even though they couldn’t do it without us, at least not without hiring several people to do our jobs. So it’s pretty thankless, but we hope our family appreciates us, even if they forget to say so.
5. You may constantly reevaluate your SAHM status. The truth is that sometimes we don’t know the answer to the question of if or when we’re going back to work for a paycheck. For some SAHMs it’s an easy decision to stay at home permanently. Others reevaluate year by year or as our children go off to school.
Sometimes it’s a struggle to redefine your worth without a paycheck. You have to find the value in your time and work without a dollar amount to quantify it.
I’ve done so many variations of work since becoming a mom. I’ve worked part-time, full-time, been a SAHM with zero income and been a WAHM with some income.
I’ve loved aspects of all of them and disliked others. No one situation is completely perfect. There’s also a brand of mom guilt for every work/family combination. Maybe it has more to do with the nature of being a mom than the actual decisions you make.
The trick is to focus on your blessings in whichever situation you’re in at the time. They say the grass is always greener on the other side. I say, “it’s greener wherever you water it.”
What SAHM realities would you add to the list?
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.