Prior to being a SAHM, I was a working mom of three kiddos. I started working full-time when I was 18 years old, which means I was a working mom for 21 years. Compare that to my 4 1⁄2 years thus far as a stay at home mom (SAHM), and I am relatively new to my “job” (which may explain why I am just now starting to get the hang of things).
Before I explore the reasons being a SAHM is the hardest job I have ever had, a disclaimer. This is strictly my point of view and I am in no way trying to stir up the SAHM vs. Working Mom debate. I’ve been both, and both are difficult. I however; was not prepared for just how tough caring for kids all day, every day is, and the demands of my new bosses.
1. It's unpredictable - Anyone with kids knows, family life is chaotic. Unlike my previous 9 to 5 job, there is no such thing as a “typical” day when you are a SAHM. Early on, I approached each day at home in the same manner as when I worked outside the home. I made my “to do list”, prioritized it and would attempt to tackle it like the taskmaster I am.
Did you catch that? Attempt. Crankiness, crying, fever, phone calls from the school to come pick my sick child up from school can kill even the best laid plans. Often times, at the end of the day I would look at my uncompleted list and feel like a failure. I had an image of what the life of a SAHM looked like. The house would no doubt be spotless and I would serve my family a healthy, home cooked meal each evening by 5:00pm. I hope some of you reading this right now are laughing out loud with me right now because life as a SAHM is anything but perfect, despite what others may try to show you through social media.
Thankfully, I have an uber smart, understanding and supportive husband who had to tell his Type A wife, that this is real life. The house is not always going to be clean, dinner may be delivery pizza, but what matters is that I am here for my kids when they need me. Don’t get me wrong, I still make my lists, but instead of beating myself up for what didn’t get done, I acknowledge what DID get done, and know that tomorrow is a new day.
2. There is no performance evaluation - I admit it. I love affirmation and recognition. How else do you know if you are doing a good job? In my previous work life, I always received glowing reviews. As a SAHM however; there’s no annual review, the kids don’t say, “gee thanks mom for tirelessly putting our needs before your own”. There’s no grading scale for how well you managed to walk the dog, cook the kids breakfast, get them out the door to school on time, prepped dinner, balanced the check book and paid the bills, ran to both the grocery store and Costco all before 11:00am (that was literally my morning yesterday).
What I feel IS being evaluated is my mothering skills and I’m barely eeking out a passing grade! If my kids don’t turn out to be productive members of society, surely I am solely to blame. The best I can hope for is perhaps a toast at their wedding, where hopefully they will thank me for running to the store an hour before the homecoming dance for the perfect purple Vans to match their date’s dress, being there to help them with their school work and never leaving their side during medical procedures.
3. You are never off the clock - As a SAHM, you’re Mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In essence, there is no end to your workweek. Forget vacation time or comp time. I’m lucky if I can get “me” time to pee without being interrupted. The up side is I don’t miss a thing. Lacrosse games, award ceremonies, field trips and even a simple lunch. I’m able to attend all of my kid’s activities without requesting permission from my boss, without taking phone calls in the middle of an event and without having to rush back to the office.
4. It's challenging but not stimulating - Life as a SAHM challenges me everyday. I struggle not loose my ever loving mind when I hear “Mom” for the 30,657 time in one day or when my perfectly planned out day is started out by cleaning up dog poop AND cat throw up from the rug instead of reading my morning devotional with my coffee. Constantly switching hats from wife, mom, care giver, house keeper, teacher, and chef keeps me on my toes and has made me a much more flexible person but it doesn’t stimulate me intellectually. The monotony of the daily grind while exhausting can also be very boring. I miss adult conversation that does not revolve around children. I want to use my brain for things other than dioramas and science projects.
5. You don't get a paycheck - When my husband and I were discussing the possibility of me leaving my job to stay at home with our kids, this was my biggest fear. As much as I love the concept of a sugar daddy, in reality, being financially dependent upon my husband scared the hell out of me (and still does at times)! As I mentioned earlier, I have always worked and therefore always had my own money and contributed to our family’s household financially. The money my husband and I made was combined and it was our money. If I wanted a new pair of $200 jeans, I bought them without thinking twice. Lucky for me, despite my not contributing financially, my husband’s attitude on money did not change with my quitting work. It was he who reminded me that my value in the home wasn’t dictated by a paycheck.
I believe at some point I will return to working outside of the home. I don’t know when or in what capacity but what I do know is being at home isn’t as easy as it may look or sound. I continue to struggle to find balance amongst the messiness, it’s incredibly difficult and incredibly rewarding at the same time but I realize what a blessing it is to have this opportunity and I have so much to be thankful for, and there’ no place I would rather be right now.