I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years.
I currently have children in high school, middle school, elementary, and a one-month old baby at home. I love my “job” and usually find great satisfaction in being with my kiddos all day. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I honestly feel blessed beyond measure to stay-at-home with my kids. I recognize that it is a luxury that many people pray that they could enjoy. I don’t take that for granted. However, there are many things about being a SAHM that are downright hard, exhausting, and ugly. These topics are often considered taboo. In this post I want to share the real raw & vulnerable truth that I wish more moms would come out and confess. I want to share the good the bad and the ugly about being a stay-at-home mom, in hopes that others out there can understand us or feel understood.
Movies and tv shows often portray staying at home with our kids as easy and glamorous. They make it seem exciting and fun. The baby boomer generation consider staying-at-home our “duty” and “the right thing to do.”
Other people tend to look down upon stay-at-home moms or make us feel like we “have it made” or are spoiled. They make comments about how they “wish” they could be home with their kids all day, as if it were the answer to their prayers and would be a lot easier than working.
A common statement is that stay-at-home moms “have it easy.” We “get to” stay home and cuddle our kids, eat what we want, watch tv when we want, and “do whatever we want whenever we want.”
Let’s be real here for a minute.
Do Stay-at-Home Moms Really “Have it Easy??
It really rubs me the wrong way when people say that it is “easy” to be a stay-at-home mom. It might be worth it, but it is usually NOT easy. Some days I want to “run away,” “call it quits,” “throw in the towel” or “get a *real job.” (as if being a mother isn’t a real job).
Sure, we have times of fun, laughter, joy, tenderness, and love. There are also moments when both the kids and mothers are crying from pain whether physical, emotional, or social. There are days when we enjoy smelling the roses of life and other days when all we can smell is feces.
SAHMs are often taken for granted and treated as if we sit around eating bons bons all day (whatever those are.)
Those of us who spend our days at home are frequently asked, “So, what do you do all day?” People assume that because we are home all the time, we get to watch, eat, or do whatever we want all day.
Let me tell you what us stay-at-home parents do while you are working.
We are working too!!!
Just because we aren’t using our degree or making money, doesn’t mean that we are taking it easy.
What it is Really Like Staying-at-Home All Day
Have I ever watched TV while staying at home with my kids? Sure. But it’s usually something that the kids choose or approve of. There’s nothing quite like doing laundry to theme song of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Or working out to Kids Bop rather than my favorite jams.
Do I get to eat what I want? Of course, but instead I usually end up eating the kids’ leftovers or making something really fast and easy to clean up. I don’t “get” to go out to eat all that often, and when I do it is usually with kids. (and any parent knows how enjoyable and relaxing that can be).
Do I get to do what I want all day? If running all over town to bring my kids where they need to be, buying, preparing, and cleaning up after each meal of the day, and paying bills were fun, then YES, I’d totally be doing what I want all the time! By the time all the responsibilities of the home and family are taken care of, many SAHM’s just want to sleep!
Have you ever considered the idea that maybe the whole Women’s Rights Movement came about because some stay-at-home moms were sick and tired of feeling like they were treated as “less than” and “not as good as” their counterparts? Maybe they were tired or depressed or lonely. Often their husbands would come home and ask, “What did you do all day?” This infuriated them then, and it continues to do so for those of us that stay home today.
Choosing to stay home and raise our children, while a huge blessing, can also feel like a BIG sacrifice.
For Many, Staying at Home with Their Kids Is a BIG Sacrifice
We sacrifice our personal talents and social life for tiny people that don’t understand us, don’t clean up after themselves, and can’t speak in full sentences. We forget common adult words and feel like our brain cells are dying.
SAHM sometimes forget what our friends look and sound like, (IF we even know who they are anymore). They have been replaced with power struggles and lame cartoons and songs that dull our brains.
As mothers we often lose our sense of self and identity. We sacrifice our time, talents, energy and attention to meet the needs of our children, and not our own. We forget what we like to do, listen to, read, or watch. Our entire sense of purpose and identity can become so intertwined with our kids that we forget who we are at our core. Many mothers with hardcore skills and degrees never get to use them.
Instead of dressing up and becoming our best selves, we opt to stay in our pajamas and our comfort zones as much as possible. We sacrifice the amazing person we *could be/used to be, in order to try and mold our children into amazing people. We give them the best and settle for whatever is left over. It is no wonder why so many are depressed and feeling unfulfilled.We spend so much time taking care of everyone else that there is hardly ever time to take care of ourselves! However, on the flip side, most working moms don’t feel like they have time for self-care either. Either way, momming is hard! (see my post about the pros and cons of both sides of parenting here).
When you don’t take care of yourself, you will always feel like a big part of you is missing. I am a firm believer in the fact that all mothers need to take care of themselves first. We need to “put our own air mask on” before taking care of anyone else. For ideas on how to do that, click here:
A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Job is Never “Done”
One of the most difficult things about our “job” is that it is NEVER FINISHED and rarely looks like we’ve even done anything. Stay-at-home moms try to feel satisfied with small TEMPORARY wins, but that is not always easy. The daily tasks of motherhood can be monotonous, boring, frustrating, and never-ending. The monotony of it all can make us feel like we are living the movie Groundhogs Day.
Have you ever spent hours of your day composing an email, a letter or report, only to have your computer malfunction and delete all your hard work? You then have to start over and probably feel a little bitter or resentful about it. Imagine that feeling all day every day and you’ve nailed what a stay-at-home mom feels regularly.
We cook, clean, and work ALL the TIME then often have NOTHING to show for it at the end of the day. Our kids “delete” our hard work- almost as quickly as we “finish.” We clean up non-stop, while our kids destroy. After a while of doing this many of us feel burnt out and like it is just not worth our time and energy.
A mother’s job is NEVER DONE! No matter how many meals you make, groceries you buy, clothes you fold, or skinned knees you kiss, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE. (That goes for all parents, whether you work in or out of the home. The difference, however, is that when you have a job outside of the home, you are seen and recognized. You can finish a shift and go home. You can turn in a project and never have to think about it again. You get the occasional pat on the back or bonus in your pocket. SAHM’s don’t have that luxury. We also don’t earn money for our services. We can feel taken for granted, overworked and underappreciated.
Another really hard part of staying-at-home is the feeling of isolation.
Stay-at-Home Moms are Lonely yet Never Alone
One of the oxymorons of being home all day with our kids is that we are never alone yet often feel lonely. We don’t get to shower, pee, or talk on the phone without an audience. However, our audience often speaks in one-word sentences or pure jibberish.
We feel trapped at home because putting a kid in a car seat is a perpetual nightmare or power struggle. Not to mention the fact that once we get to our “errand” or trip out, we often have to find a bathroom at the most inconvenient moment, or deal with a whiny kid.
Many of our friends work outside the home or feel just as exhausted and busy as us.
We don’t get to see or our talk to our lover/husband as much as we used to, and the romance is often dampened by the needs and realities of family life.
Many stay-at-home mothers are depressed, and the main culprit for it is the lack of connection. You can read more about SAHM depression and what to do about it here:
We try to feel connected to others via social media but often that has its own destructive consequences on our psyche. It feels fake or we can get caught in the trap of comparing ourselves and our lives to others. There is often so much negativity and falseness that we feel worse after being online.
For this reason, I limit my time online. In order to bring positivity and connection online, I started a Facebook group for moms. I want all moms to know that they are loved, needed, and enough. If you would like to join us, the link is here:
Technology in all its forms doesn’t quite fulfill our need for real interaction with others.
IF you are a SAHM, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE! In case no one has told you lately, you really are shaping the future of our country and the world. You are worth far more than you might realize. To see just how much money you should be earning as a SAHM, see this article: