There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding being a stay-at-home mom. It’s not all bon-bon’s and soap operas. The reality is that there is a lot to it. So if you ever wondered about what it is really like, or its something you are considering, here is the truth about stay-at-home moms.
Not Just “Mom”
First off, you are not ‘just a mom’. That would be a cake walk. No, in fact, you are much, much more. You are now a wife, and a homemaker, and a maid, and a personal shopper, and a chef, and a nanny. The list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, because I know all moms are those things. The difference is that you are the one with the time, so you can’t even gripe about not having any help. Well, you can. But then you’ll hear the dreaded “Well, what do you do all day?” question, and then there is the jail time and bail money and court costs for bludgeoning your husband. (Kidding! But trust me, the thought will cross your mind).
You now have the sole responsibility for keeping your child alive and well during the normal work day. You have to feed them, and clothe them, and teach them, and play with them. If you have a crazy toddler boy like I do, you also have to keep them from climbing and jumping and doing things that Evil Kinevil would deem “too dangerous”. Its not for the squeamish.
It’s a ton of work. Forget sitting down. The minute you do, your child will sense it and immediate be dying of thirst, or starving, or need a diaper, or to go to the potty. Television? Forget it. Any show worth watching will no doubt have things you don’t want junior hearing and repeating, because the parrot stage is real.
The house cleaning is a real project. Imagine trying to construct a mobile home park during a tornado. You will finally get the mountain of dishes done, only to turn around and not be able to tell what color the floor is in your family room. The sea of toys will completely obscure it. Was there carpet? Or hardwood? I cant remember.
Then you start on the toys. Picking up and organizing. You start in one corner and work your way along. By the time you reach the opposite side of the room, you will turn around and find a path of destruction and toys in the corner you started in. At this point, you may start to wonder if its too early for wine. You will definitely wonder how close it is until nap time.
Why does everyone insist on eating every single day? Ugh! Seriously, even if you used to love cooking, you will come to despise it. Three meals a day, every day, for eternity. On top of that, 90% of the time, your ‘darling’ children will refuse to eat the meal you just slaved over and you will end up nuking hot dogs in the microwave for the ninth time this week…and its only Tuesday.
Maybe your husband will make a ‘harmless’ comment about how he was hoping for something else. Or maybe that the chicken is a little dry. At this point, its all you can do to be thankful that all the sharp cooking knives are now tucked away in the dishwasher, or you’d be back to looking at jail time.
How on earth can so few people go through so many pieces of clothing? Honestly! The laundry is never-ending. Between the baby leaking various baby fluids all over itself, and the toddler deciding to use their shirt as a napkin, and your teenager changing outfits every 12 minutes, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
So you gather it all up, and lug it into the laundry room. You spend hours washing, drying, folding, and putting it all away. That’s when you will turn around to suddenly find another overflowing basket has materialized. Now, it may be time to break out the wine.
Since you have the ‘time’, you will need to run all the errands. This includes grocery shopping, where you will lose all faith in humanity. I HATE the grocery store. Hate is a strong word, but trust me, its appropriate. Your child is into everything, or if confined to a cart, they are whining to get out. They beg for everything in the store that you don’t want to buy.
Maybe you need to go to multiple stores or businesses. Well, that’s always fun. Pulling kids in and out of car seats in the freezing cold or blistering heat over and over all day long. Then there is the whining in the car about being too hot, too cold, or too tight in the seat. My child naps, but if he falls asleep in the car, he will not go back to sleep once we are home. I can often be found scream-singing songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” in my car, three minutes from my home. These moments I am just praying the volume of my terrible voice keeps him awake.
This job has the worst hours! There’s an old joke between boy moms that says they work “from son up to son down”. The truth about stay-at-home moms is that for us, this is true. Actually, it tends to be even longer. Many moms try to wake up before their children, just to get a moment of peace. Many also stay up way after bed time to try and catch up on chores, or spend a moment with their significant other, before succumbing to exhaustion.
Uh oh! Someone just woke up in the middle of the night. Mom to the rescue! Dad needs his sleep so he can function at work tomorrow. As a stay-at-home mom, you are always on-call. Again, I know a lot of working moms are too. I just personally feel they are more justified to punch dad in the kidney so he gets up with the child on occasion. I don’t think I could pull that off.
No Sick Days
What happens when mom is sick. Nothing. Absolutely nothing changes. Chores still need to get done. Kids still need caring for. Meals need to be made. Unless you are wealthy and have hired help (and if so, good for you!) this all still falls on you.
Chug some daytime cough syrup and mom on! The whole time you will be hoping and praying to all available higher powers that the kids don’t get it too. And Heaven forbid dad gets it too, because then you’re only hope of backup is gone.
Every mom knows about the dreaded ‘mom guilt’ that strikes us all. The truth about stay-at-home moms is that we have it in spades. The moms I know that stay home seem to really beat themselves up for not being able to ‘do it all’ for their families. Guilt they didn’t devote enough time playing with their children. Guilt they didn’t get all of the chores done. They have guilt that they aren’t able to help provide financially for their families.
My husband is constantly reminding me that while I don’t contribute with a paycheck, I contribute in so many other ways. Bless his heart. I got lucky with this guy. As moms, we all have so much guilt. But when you get right down to it, most of it we place on ourselves.
Working from Home
The truth about stay-at-home moms is that some of us are gluttons for punishment. On top of everything else we carry, we decide to start a business venture from home. This is something I have recently done. Just when I had finally figured out a nice balance for getting everything accomplished, I decide to screw it all up. Go figure.
Now, working from home can be great. It can give you drive and a sense of purpose beyond your family. But now you must find the time. This is when nap time and bed time comes in real handy. Who needs sleep, anyway? We are moms. We haven’t slept since the positive pregnancy test anyway.
Balancing it All
Juggling it all is one of the biggest struggles. The truth about stay-at-home moms is that even the best of us doesn’t have it all figured out. We all have days where we feel like rock stars. Every one of us also has days where we feel like we are failing at life and parenting.
The truth about stay-at-home moms is that nobody has it all figured out. There will be times your house is clean, but your child has been parked in front of a screen all day. Some days you will have a wonderful activity-filled day with your child, but your house or business have seen better days. There will be times when you feel like you and your significant other haven’t had a conversation that didn’t regard the children in days, weeks, or even months. Just keep trying moms, that’s all we can do.
There will be times you will experience rage. Every single thing will infuriate you. You do everything yourself. You have no help. The kids are being jerks. Nobody understands what you’re going through. You husband should be maimed for saying he is tired, when he actually got 6 consecutive hours of sleep last night. This is normal. Allow yourself to feel it, to seethe about it, but learn to let it go and move on.
The truth about stay-at-home moms is that we all feel this way occasionally. But these feelings aren’t productive and don’t deserve a reaction. I have found that many times they stem from pure exhaustion and will pass with a little time. If you find that certain things continue to bother you, then find a way to deal with them constructively and calmly. Never be afraid to ask for help.
The reality is much different than I pictured. But the truth about stay-at-home moms is that most of us wouldn’t trade this job for anything. Despite the crappy hours, and lack of pay, we would do it all over again if given the choice. The reality is that many of us have mad respect for working moms, because we know those ladies do all we do and manage to maintain a full-time career. The reality is that this is hard work, but its rewarding work. The truth about stay-at-home moms is that we are no different than working moms. We are all superheroes in our own right.
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