Some Truths About Stay-at-Home-Moms

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Alice's Eyes

A Lot of Us Don’t Stay Home for Long

Most stay-at-home moms don’t get to stay home forever. Oftentimes, once the last kid hits kindergarten, mommy has to get a job.

Before I had kids, I had this vision of stay-at-home moms ALWAYS being stay-at-home moms. Unfortunately (for me) the majority of stay-at-home moms I know are heading back to work when their kids head off to school.

And – yes – several kids are born for no other reason than to give mommy five more years before she has to get a job.

The Smart Ones Don’t Go Back Right Away

The really smart stay-at-home moms wait to go back to work until their kids have been in school for several years.

Once you’ve survived staying home all, day, every day with several kids that aren’t in school yet – you should be rewarded with at least three years of time off once the kids ARE in school all day, every day.

We deserve at least that. Don’t you think?

We’re Not Just Staying Home

Most stay-at-home moms aren’t just staying home. They’re working 10 hours a month or 10 hours a week from home (without childcare), they’re blogging like a business, building social media empires or heading up massive volunteer committees.

Yes – they’re taking care of their kids and playing with them and spending hours at the park – but they’re also working.

We Feel Guilty Too

We left jobs that we were really good at. We led teams and met goals and exceeded expectations.

And all of a sudden, it’s like we’ve been hired for jobs that we aren’t necessarily the best-qualified people to handle.

I was never expected to be an expert on laundry or clean houses or preschoolers – until I started staying home.

If you’re really doing a great job and nurturing your kids – your house is a mess and there are no clean clothes. When you focus on the house and the laundry and the groceries – your kids are bored or spending too much time watching television or painting themselves with peanut butter.

And on the days or weeks that you do manage to juggle it all and you finally feel like you have things under control – you get pregnant again or the entire family gets the stomach flu or someone needs stitches. Things like this can set you back for weeks.

It’s not possible to do it all. But because we’re “not working” – we think our houses SHOULD always be clean and our kids SHOULD be eating homecooked meals and our laundry SHOULD be clean. And even though we know it isn’t possible, we still feel guilty when it doesn’t happen.

We’re Unavailable

When I was working, I could easily meet friends for lunch. Happy hour invitations required just a quick phone call to Even Steven to ask him to pick up the kids for me.

Now – if you want to meet me for lunch without my kids – it will require weeks of advance notice. I will need to hire a babysitter and pay up to $15 an hour so that I can enjoy lunch with you.

And if you want to go to happy hour? I’ll have to check Even Steven’s schedule to find a day that he can leave work a little early. And even if we have it planned – chances are that one of my kids will be sick or my sitter will cancel or Even Steven will get stuck in a meeting.

And even if I am able to go – I probably won’t have much to talk about. Anything worth sharing, I’ve already blogged about. And everything else is not that interesting.

“Did you know that KY Jelly makes the best bubble solution?”

Want to see me fart in my armpit?”

Some of Us Actually Like it. A Lot.

And that’s the funny thing. After reading all of this – would you believe that a lot of us absolutely love it? Like – a LOT?

Sweet Simon

Comments on this post are now closed. You can read my follow up post here.

35 comments on “Some Truths About Stay-at-Home-Moms

  1. Thank you for this post – it is incredibly galling when people think what we do is easy. I actually can’t wait for June, when I go to an out-of-town wedding ALL BY MYSELF, and leave Mr Darcy alone with three kids. I’m guessing he’ll figure out really fast why I already have a babysitter on reserve for him.

  2. I know I should love staying home but I don’t. I miss feeling important and having the days not run together till you don’t remember what day it is. When I worked I could multi task way better then now, and having a reason to get dressed up and fix your hair is something I really miss.
    But I love my kids and I try to remind myself that they are happy I’m home. Kudos to you about being so positive.
    Love your blog you make me laugh…. A lot
    Julia

  3. Julia,

    I soooo understand where you are coming from. Anna, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m filling up this comment with a ton of links. lol

    Julia, on my blog I have a section specifically for when we’re in a homemaking rut. I made a post that I continually update with links that I found around blog land that I find encouraging. I have stuff on there that is funny as well (a lot from Anna’s blog!).

    In saying all that here are some that I found to be helpful for me

    Finding True Purpose at Home Parts 1 & 2
    http://ladyofvirtue.blogspot.com/2012/03/finding-true-purpose-at-home.html
    http://www.ladyofvirtue.blogspot.com/2012/03/usefulness-at-home-pt-2.html

    Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy
    http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/2012/01/dont-let-comparison-steal-your.html

    My Reflections on the Academy Awards
    http://womenlivingwell.org/2012/02/my-reflections-on-the-academy-awards/

    Your Children Want YOU
    http://powerofmoms.com/2012/04/your-children-want-you/

  4. All so true. Although I do spend the majority of my day eating bon bons and watching my children get along peacefully, staying at home does have its rough patches….Totally kidding. Just finished watching my kids fight over an old ice cream container they found while routing through the side table in my room.

    Because playing with actual toys would be so mainstream and normal.

    I do love staying home, but it’s harder than anyone told me it would be. That’s why I started blogging. Making people laugh about it is important. Because, like I always say, “If I wasn’t laughing, I’d be crying.”

    Luckily, the baby in the womb tacks on another five years…until I “accidentally” fall on my husband and get pregnant again…;)

    • At least your kids fight over real objects, my kids had a fight over an imaginary ball, and who took it from who, because…you know, imagining 2 balls would be bad

  5. So so true! I love staying at home, and we’re planning to homeschool, so I get to stay for years and years, but the pressure to be perfect is huge. I can do one thing perfectly, if I leave the rest to the birds, but unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.:)

  6. I would have to respectfully argue the other side of the fence. I am a full-time working mom with 2 children. I stayed home for my maternity leave for both kids so I have a little taste of what it is like to be a SAHM…. but I can honestly say that it is nothing like juggling a career outside the home. Both my sisters are SAHM’s and they actually agree with me — that I have it much harder. I have to work all day and still prepare dinner, clean the house, take the kids to their doctor appts, make sure the pets are taken care of, and get quality family time in. My sisters take their kids to the park, meet up with friends for lunch while the kids play in the play area, and have plenty of time to take naps even on most days. The difference between my sisters’ management of time and what you’ve posted here is the real reason that some SAHM’s feel so overwhelmed…. because they over-extend themselves. Why do you feel like you have to be on every parent committee at your kid’s school? Why do you feel like you have to enroll your kid in every sport or social activity imaginable and have to drive across creation all the time getting Johnny here or Suzie there? I have a full-time job outside the home and I can’t volunteer for everything at my kids’ school. SAHM’s have a full-time job too so they shouldn’t volunteer for everything either.

    So, I’m sorry if this sounds mean, but it frustrates me to no end that a SAHM can’t have the house clean and dinner on the table each day. If I can do it while spending 40+ hours away from home each week, then by golly, a SAHM should be able to do it by spending the 40+ hours AT home doing her job.

    • Sheesh, why can’t we be as accomplished as you? Please enlighten the rest of us since according to you, we SAHMs have dirty, dinnerless houses each day. (Oh right, maybe it is the 40+ hours of children eating, dirtying up the place, and generally requiring attention and care INSIDE the house. Children actually trash the place quite thoroughly in those extra 8+ hours at home!)

      I’m sorry if this sounds mean, but it frustrates me to no end to have women judge other women like this when we are all just trying to do our best, whether we work inside or outside the home. We guilt ourselves enough, we don’t need to do it to each other. Try a little tenderness, please.

      • Kay, no one is judging but let me ask you why are you allowing your kids to trash your house?? I think we all just have very diffent parenting styles and standards.

        • Exhibit A: “painting themselves with peanut butter.” Yes, I must have lesser parenting style and standards than you do. No one is judging, but less me ask you how you wrote that sentence and did not have any judging in your heart?

    • Lee,

      I’m sorry you feel this way. I’ve been both a full-time working mom and a SAHM and I have to say it’s all individual. While I was teaching full time with my first 2, I always felt pulled like I was doing a 1/2 job at each of my jobs. But I would see ubermoms that seemed to have it all together and it then I would feel so depressed.
      Once I had my 3rd it became unrealistic for me to work, daycare cost almost 3/4 of my paycheck and I was gone 50+ hours/week with the demands of my job. We made the choice for me to stay home. And guess what that first year was almost as hard. Herding 3 toddlers around 24-7 was so different from teaching jr. high I longed for the snarky teens, just to feel in my element again. It was not in my skill set to watch Barney and be a jungle gym and follow kids from room to room to advert disasters all day long. I had to develop that.
      I know this is long and rambly. I just hope that it makes everyone stop and think on both sides of the mommy arguement that there should be no judging. For some moms being a SAHM 24-7 is the hardest job they could every have and put all their skills to the test (like me). For others working and juggling the home is where their skills lay. And there are still others that are forced to do what is best for their families regardless of their skill set.
      I think we can all just agree that we love our kids, and sometimes reading fun articles like Anna’s can make the day easier for us where ever we are on our mommy journey.

      Erika

  7. What are you talking about? I sit home and eat bon bons all day long while my 3 year old…. well who cares, I’m busy :) Ha! Great post! I totally agree with you! And I’ve found that since I do stay home, (some) people figure I have all the time in the world, when truly the days FLY by. I get calls early in the morning because someone forgot their home daycare was going to be closed for the day or because they need an extra volunteer at church or wherever else, they aren’t going to be able to get their kiddo off the bus because of a late meeting, could I watch them…. it will ONLY be for an hour…. and don’t get me wrong, I am more than willing to help. As my husband puts it though, “just don’t let people take advantage of you” Ok, I’m done :) Better put my chocolate down and find my little one ~ HA!

  8. I lOVE hearing everyone’s opinions on this!
    I worked out of the home as a teacher until my oldest was 4 and my 2nd was almost 1…then I started a home daycare for teachers, so now I just work at home. And I WORK my ass off. The house is a mess, laundry is still not done. But is a choice I made so I could be home with my kids. However, I am off in the summer and get a taste of the full SAHM life. and I LOVE IT! I know it is exhausting and hard and thankless. But I would love to just be in charge of MY kids. Being able to run to the store on a weekday morning, or meeting friends at the park, or making dr appointments any time of the day… There is a lot to be said for that:)
    I see both sides of this situation. It’s all hard work!

  9. I do think it’s all hard work. And as a mostly SAHM, I do really miss being able to make plans to go out without the kids. My friends and I usually plan at least four of us to go out at a time, because that way we know hopefully at least two of us will make it!

    I was one of those sneaky ones who had another kid when my youngest was four, and it has been very nice to extend my time as a SAHM. Or at least it feels that way on this sunny morning. But on a rainy night when they have the stomach ful? Eh, that’s when I think motherhood might be over-rated :)

  10. Yea, I’m with Lee on this one. My kids are 9,4 and 9 months I have worked since I was 12 (now 35 ish lol) and just recently FINALLY was able to become a stay at home mom. A few things I have learned is that our kids need us more the older they get. Infant to 5 are the easy years. Once school starts they need our time so much more. When I worked I had no choice but to not only work but make meals shop, clean, maintain the house/cars/ kids health etc etc. ETC! Lol
    My kids now, not only get more of me and more fun play times, parks, crafts, snuggles etc but an organized tidy home stocked with food and clean laundry. Now I have the time to get it all done efficiently and on my time.
    Parents who have to work when their babies are infants and toddlers shouldn’t beat themselves up over it, wait till they are in grade school for that lol

  11. Lee, I can only partly agree with you. I’m a stay at home mom, and I do think there are lots of things that would be harder about having a career.

    But honestly, if your kids are in day care all day, of course your home stays clean! If I clean my house after the kids are in bed they spend the whole next day destroying it again, and there is only so much cleaning you can do while playing with and caring for your children. However, if you clean your house once your kids are in bed, then take them to day care in the morning, guess what? Your house will still be clean when they all get home. That makes it a little easier to have a clean house AND get dinner on the table.

    I think it’s sad that people always have to try to prove that their way is more work. Being a SAHM is a lot of work, and being a ‘working’ mom is a lot of work, both in different ways. Let’s stop making it so competitive.

  12. Great post! Most just don’t realize how tough it is to be a stay at home mom and they definitely don’t realize how much most of us really love our jobs.

    I’d never planned on being a SAHM and for a long time afterwards I would talk about how ready I was to get back to work. Well, I’ve only got 1 year til my oldest starts school full time and I’ve decided I no long want to go back to work outside of the home! I think I definitely deserve at least 3 years off ;)

  13. I don’t think we are trying to be competitive or start any mommy wars here it’s just different views. Yes my house stayed more tidy but while I was jamming to get dinner on the table and help with homework, and doing a loaded laundry my toddle would play and mess up the house. Working moms have to cram everything that we stay at home moms do into 2-4 hours every night. Weekends are spent catching up on anything we missed duringnthenweek nights and grocery shopping, deep cleaning etc.
    I think mentally I felt like I had it all together when I worked because I was on a schedule and on auto pilot and now that I am home I get more done but I feel more frazzled (though I think I am still adjusting) and I pick up after my little ones more since we are home more.

  14. While I think Tara is being a bit harsh, she does have a point. I have been on both sides. I worked while my kids were babies, and have been home for 6 months now that they are all in school. It is extremely difficult to get anything done with toddlers and babies at home. You cannot leave them for a second, which means no cleaning, no laundry, no dinner. Personally, I think my family needs me home more now that they are a little older. They need more guidance and support. And they truly enjoy having me here because our lives are so much less hectic. It won’t work forever, but it’s right for now.

  15. On another note, why are they so many pop up car ads when I come to this blog? The Kia one doesn’t have an x to get out of it, so frustrating.

  16. I am sort of in between both worlds. I work a “modified schedule” outside the home but am home with my kids in the mornings until they go to school and am home when they get out of school. I love being in “both worlds”, but when I was working full time outside the home it was hard on me. I felt criticized by my friends/family who were SAHMs but that financially wasn’t possible for our family so I had to work. I felt like people thought my kids weren’t getting the best care because I wasn’t home with them full time. As I look back, I don’t think that is what they were thinking but at the time my guilt led me to that conclusion.

  17. As a SAHM for the past 19 months I find it a little frustrating when I’m asked what I do for a living. I either get the I feel sorry for you look or those people (mostly women) who think I’m a privileged, spoiled wife who sits in front of the computer all day online shopping! This is a great post because I think women should stop the debate of who works harder and start supporting each others decision no matter what it is! We all work hard to give our families the best! Being a SAHM isn’t for everyone, I have my days where I wish I was in the “real world” but this is the best decision for my family right now, so post like this and all you wonderful bloggers keep my world a little more sane!

  18. I do really miss being able to make plans to go out without the kids. Thanks that you’ve shared.

  19. It really was a lot easier to have a “life” when I worked in an office. I got so much more done in general. I also got a lot of sweet surprises from my husband who would come into my office all the time. I’d get smoothies, pastries, lunch, flowers… now that I am at home I get NONE! Because hey, I am sitting around living the dream here at home. That is enough of a treat… right? I am glad that I’m here instead of sending the girls to daycare, but I do still like smoothies. I really like smoothies…

  20. There was just an article in the paper about SAHM’s and how much work they do. According to salary.com, based on all the jobs she does, the average mom would be earning $112,962 a year. Too bad no one has figured out how to pay us that yet. :o)

  21. so not looking forward to my return to work next year. My leave time will expire, so I will have no choice but to return: unless I resign. I would love to have a year just to myself when all the kids are finally in school. I can’t even imagine what I would do….but it would be nice to have the chance!
    great, great post!

  22. Lemme put on my BEST old-time revival preaching voice and give that a big AMEN! Being a stay-at-home mommy is the most time consuming, demanding, OFTEN thankless job E.V.E.R.!!!! But it’s so freakin’ worth it in the end. I mean, honestly – when mommy sloshes the container of sudsy water for mopping & slides into the wall on her tailbone, there’s always a happy audience to laugh and say, “That was FUN, Mommy! Do it AGAIN!” And who ELSE would share special moments with you throughout the day? “Wow, Mommy, come here & see this! There’s a big WORM in my poop!” Or could you GET a better offer in an office job than when your child yells out, “Mom! If you sit at the table I’ll cut your hair for you! I already cut everyone else’s! YOUR TURN!” It’s one of the rare jobs where we are paid in MOMENTS & MEMORIES. Rock on, Lil’ Anna! Rock on!

  23. Loved reading this Anna! Read it and went away with a warm happy feeling in my heart. Then I read your Facebook post about comments heating up and came back to see what everyone had to say. Let’s just say that warm happy feeling started turning into a more muted happy feeling with some of the comments. Yes, both jobs are hard. But one thing stuck in my head all day and it’s been nagging and nagging and I thought, wow, if one little phrase can nag at me all day just from reading it, I can only PRAY that Anna isn’t having these same nagging feelings because she wrote from her heart. Then it became the “hot button” issue it always becomes when anyone in blogland writes something of this magnitude regarding being a SAHM…someone in the working mom side always gets upset which in turn only upsets another and another until it becomes a US vs THEM mentality and who has it better/worse. Sad and like so many above said, unnecessary…let’s all be friends and hold each other up! I just wanted to say that Anna, I commend you from writing from your heart so others can see how YOU feel about YOUR position in mommyhood which so many of us can relate to. I promise to try not to let that one phrase bother me (which I’m not going to quote, but I’d guess everyone has that “one phrase” that struck a cord today) because I know it’s only my own failings and guilt that allows it to bother me. I hope that you won’t let the negative bother you either. Like Kai said (I always look forward to her comments!), “Rock on, Lil’ Anna, rock on!”

  24. Thanks for this! Your blog makes me laugh all the time, but this one was personal. Although I don’t love being a SAHM everyday, it has it’s great days just like any job. With this job though I get to be surrounded by the people I love most. I feel like this is the hardest job for me, focusing on all my weaknesses, and I often miss my old ‘real’ job for that fact. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Thanks again!