Let’s be honest. Being a mom is the best job in the world! But it’s also the hardest, most emotionally draining, and demanding job a human being can have.
One thing I never accounted for when I became a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), was how it can be the loneliest, most isolating job in the universe. No one ever said what to expect. No articles were printed (this was before internet) about this aspect of being a SAHM. So, as someone who has stayed home for 17 years, this is my way of spelling it out for those who are thinking about being a SAHM, or who or are just curious as to what it entails. There is no way for me to paint an accurate picture with words, but this will help scratch the surface.
Being a SAHM means it’s just you and your kids. When your husband or significant other goes off to work, you are the only who is left with the kids for hours on end. You are the only one who is their playmate, nurse, teacher, chauffeur, maid, cook, counselor and discipline enforcer. You are the one who is there for the temper tantrums, the I don’t want to eat that, the he won’t quit touching me, the I hate you‘s that we hear all.day.long. (If you haven’t experienced some of those quotes, just wait until you have pre teen and older kids!)
Being a SAHM means no breaks. You don’t get “restroom” breaks (even locking the door doesn’t count because they find you). You don’t get lunch meetings where someone else brings you food. You don’t have a specific time that you start your “work day” or a time where you “get off work.” You can’t run errands without kids on your way home.
Being a SAHM can be lonely. There will be days, maybe weeks, where the only adult you see is when your significant other comes home. And they are often too tired to see that you need help. And if you ask, you feel awful for needing help because, we moms, think we can do it all!
Being a SAHM doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help. For the longest time, I failed to do this. I never thought about hiring a babysitter so that I could do errands without kids, have lunches with girlfriends or go to doctors appointments without kids in tow. I let my days be all about my kids and making sure my husband wasn’t doing any of my “mom” duties like giving the toddlers a bath (while I was 8 months pregnant). I didn’t see any of my friends unless we had our kids with us…and who can carry on a conversation with toddlers around?
I never thought about the fact that I needed a “break” from my job so I could unwind and re-center myself. Everyone needs a break, a vacation. A “time off” from their job. But, I failed to see that even a 1-2 hour break a week could mean the difference between being a kind, patient mom versus an uptight, stressed-to-the-max mom. I failed to see that taking care of myself was a priority. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary.
So, for all you SAHM, whether you are “new” or “seasoned”, taking time for yourself can be the best advice you receive. Find a Kids Day Out program at a local church. Find a few friends who will do a “swap day” where you watch each others kids so that one mom per week can do what they need to center themselves. Find a high school or college kid who can hang with your kids here and there. Have those date nights. Go to lunches with girlfriends. See an afternoon movie. Get a massage.
Because if mama isn’t happy (and energized and refreshed), then neither is the rest of the family.