I’ve officially been a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) for six and a half years. When I meet people that I haven’t seen since high school or college, they seem surprised that I have kids and that I stay at home. Well, I’m kind of surprised too.
It wasn’t on my agenda to be a stay-at-home mom. As a matter of fact, I’m not really sure that kids were in my plan either, but love happened, and well, kids. I left my favorite job and some hilarious co-workers to be an employee of a then two-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old son. I crazily had a third child two years after that because there wasn’t enough insanity with just two kids at home.
Over the last 6 years, I’ve learned a lot about the pros and cons of being employed by my three children. I’ve listed the good, the bad, and the ugly, from my point of view:
Ability to spend time with the kids
This one is pretty obvious. I’ve had the ability to go on adventures big and small with the kids. We have loved doing park play dates and story time at the library. (Truth be told, I kind of miss the Hello song at the library now that my kids are a little bit older.) We go to pools with water slides, creeks, and swimming holes. We love $5 Tuesdays at the local movie theater and jumping on the trampoline at home.
Ability to take kids to doctor’s appointments, etc., without taking time off from work
This has been an amazing benefit since my youngest needed speech therapy twice a week for over a year and my middle son has had occupational therapy twice a week for over a year. With my husband’s work schedule and travel schedule, trying to balance our kids’ appointments with two of us employed would be really challenging.
Being there for all of the “firsts”
I have been there for all of the kids’ major milestones, which I wouldn’t trade for the world. When they crawled, walked, and said their first words, I was there. I have watched them slide, jump and run as toddlers. When they fall (and oh, they’ve fallen) I’ve been there to kiss their boo boos and put on band-aids.
Pajamas all day if you’re so inclined
While I usually prefer to get out of the house for my sanity, I definitely have had days where I enjoy laying around in my pajamas with the kids. It is certainly nice that I don’t have to rush around in the mornings to get dressed for work. I have even gone to Target in my PJs in my early parenting days. If someone looked at me strangely, I just pointed to the kids. Totally acceptable.
It can be lonely and isolating
No one really likes to talk about this part. When the kids are younger, it is sometimes hard to get out of the house, and when you do, you often spend the whole time tending to the kid(s) that you don’t have the ability to hold a full conversation with anyone. I have gotten used to having incomplete and fragmented conversations over the years with other moms.
You’re always the one to deal with sick kids
I remember reading a blog post in the last year or two about the difficulty of being the “default” parent. This is so true. While I love comforting my sweet kids when they are not feeling well, it can be challenging and exhausting to be the only one at home all day with sick kids.
The kids are often harder on you
I don’t know if this is the case in every family scenario, but I feel like Charlie Brown’s teacher sometimes. I feel like the kids just hear, “BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH,” whenever I ask them to do something. Yet my husband comes home and it seems that they jump to attention ready to serve and please.
You miss mental stimulation
As a stay-at-home mom, I have been utterly exhausted mentally and physically, but I absolutely miss the mental challenges that work provided. I miss solving problems and helping people. Somehow making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts off and going to the bathroom with all three kids and the pets in the same room aren’t as stimulating as work.
Vomit and diarrhea
It never fails that my kids puke on my watch. Worse than that, they often wait until we’re in the car and puke in the car seats. That’s fun. One time I took my kids to Chick Fil-a and my middle son had diarrhea coming down his legs while in the indoor playscape. I had all three kids with me at the time (one of them a baby) and we had just gotten our food. It was one of those moments where I just wanted to sit down and sob. Had my mom not been there with me, I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done.
Things never feel quite equal with your spouse
Being a stay-at-home mom requires great communication with your spouse. Over the last six years, I have sometimes felt inadequate for not contributing financially to our family. I have felt resentment that I am always the one to do dishes and laundry and clean the house. There have been times that I have felt guilty for wanting to spend money on me. It’s also a challenge to make sure that we always have enough time as individuals and as a couple. It’s a constant work in progress. I sometimes feel that our relationship would be more equalized if I were employed.
There are no gold stars
Unfortunately, there is no one handing out gold stars in parenting. I don’t get an annual review and a pay raise for a job well done. There is little appreciation and no one saying, “Hey, congratulations on surviving another day!” Or “Way to go on sorting the laundry today, mom!”
Absolutely zero privacy
From the moment that I wake up in the morning until the minute that the kids go to bed, I am continually summoned. The little ones constantly badger me for snacks, drinks, food, more snacks, band-aids, help with snacks, etc. I am like a tree and three monkeys are hanging from my branches. If there are two minutes of peace and I try to sneak off to the bathroom, that’s when the stuff hits the fan. (As I type this, my 4-year-old is sitting in my lap with his bony butt rocking back and forth on my leg. Now my entire right leg is asleep.)
Over the last six years, there have been times that I have thought about turning in my stay-at-home mom card. I’m not quite sure what the future holds for me, but we will do whatever is right for our family when the time is right. For now, I’m going to enjoy the time I have with the kids while they are still little and they still like me…