From the outside looking in, being a stay-at-home mom seems like it would be a walk in the park. You make your own schedule, do whatever you want, and you only have the responsibility of keeping the kids alive. I’ve been the working mom, wishing that I could be a SAHM, and now, here I am, killing myself- I mean “it”- as a SAHM. There are plenty of articles out there, chopping up one role into the million little pieces that it is, and there are plenty of SAHM’s out there “complaining” about how hard it is. So, what makes it so difficult, you ask?
- It’s Lonely. I don’t know how it is, that I can be surrounded by little people all day long and still be so incredibly lonely. I am literally NEVER alone. With 3 kids, 4 and under, there is always one on my boob, hanging off my leg or yanking my hand, asking for something. I spend my days, constantly talking (does a 4 year old every stop talking?), yet feeling like I haven’t had a conversation in days. With a husband working 40+ hours a week, most of our conversations revolve around bills and kids and things that need to be done. Long gone are the days when we would spend hours on the phone talking about anything and everything. Now, we mostly communicate through text messages that hardly convey the emotion we need as SAHM’s. It’s particularly lonely, if you don’t have this “tribe” that everyone speaks of. We recently moved to another state for my husband’s job, and there is no tribe; family is 3.5 hours away and making friends as a 28 year old SAHM, is seemingly impossible.
- Mom Guilt. There’s so much mom guilt! We feel guilty for feeding our kids lunchable’s for dinner; for being too hard on them today; for yelling at them; for not playing with them; for giving them way too much screen time; for trying to get something else done; for not putting them in preschool or ballet or gymnastics; for giving into the chaos today. The list goes on and on. And while there’s plenty of other moms out there, ready to shame us, nothing compares to our own self-inflicted guilt.
- It’s stressful. Being alone with kids all day is stressful, especially when you’re outnumbered. The simplest tasks, like going grocery shopping, can cause you to stroke out. My most recent grocery trip started off like a puzzle- 3 kids and 1 cart. Where do the groceries go? We usually go to Kroger, and they have the cars on the front of the carts, but this grocery store didn’t have those. So, the baby went in the basket, the toddler strapped in the top and my 4 year old was hanging off the end of the cart. It was multi-tasking at it’s finest. I had to take every item that the toddler got a hold of; calm down the baby after the toddler threw a bottle on her; make sure my 4 year old held on to the cart and didn’t get kidnapped, whilst cramming what little groceries I could between the car seat and the cart. Not to mention, there was a mandatory seat reassignment at checkout, so that I could fit the bagged groceries back in the cart (toddler in the basket, baby up top).
- There’s little to no down time. My day starts at 7am and it never really stops. There’s no off day; there’s no alone time or me time. Even throughout the night, I’m up feeding the baby and changing diapers. While my husband is able to step away from his job every day, I’m not. I’m constantly, visually, reminded of the laundry that needs to be done, the dishes that need to be put away and the bathroom that needs cleaning. The weekend has no meaning anymore.
- There’s always something that needs to be done. The laundry is never-ending. There are always dirty dishes. When one room gets cleaned, the rest of the house looks like a tornado hit. And if you’re not working on your housekeeping duties, there are small children making demands. They need food and snacks and toys and they need you to open their bottle of water, and hand them the toy they can’t reach. They need diaper changes and butts wiped. They need more juice in their sippy cup and help getting dressed. Don’t forget you need to get started on dinner by 5:30, so you have enough time for baths before bed time. Then, after bed time, you can either enjoy the quiet for the 30 minutes you’re able to keep your eyes open or finish up everything else that needs to be done.
- You become your husband’s keeper. I don’t know why, but apparently husbands are not able to locate items within their own home. You become his caretaker as well- packing lunch, sitting his clothes out and taking dinner requests. He becomes the biggest, neediest child.
- There’s so much to keep up with. Did you remember to schedule the kids doctors appointments? To put dinner in the crock pot? To pay the electric bill? Did you get everything you needed at the grocery, because God bless you if you have to make another trip to the grocery with 3 kids! Did you give the baby her medicine? Wash your husbands work clothes? Don’t forget to pack lunches and water the flowers (who am I kidding, they’re goners).
- There’s always a distraction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my husband, “If I could just have an hour without getting distracted…” It never fails that my 2 year old has an accident while I’m folding laundry or that the baby starts crying in the middle of making dinner. My 4 year old is always in desperate need of a snack while I’m trying to do dishes and god forbid, mom sits down and relaxes for a second. Then everyone needs everything!
- Every day is different. There are some days when I kill it as a SAHM. The house is clean, the laundry is done and everyone is in bed by 8PM, some days I even get in a little extra-curricular baking in! But, then there are days when the struggle bus is at my stop and I can’t even manage to get a shower. There are days when the baby demands to be held all day; when my toddler has back-to-back meltdowns, and when my 4 year old is being more emotional than normal.
- There’s no time for sick days. If you’re fortunate enough to have family close by, then you can always call them, but if you’re far away, like us, then there’s no time for sick days. You don’t get to call off because you’re sick, or for any reason. Sick days mean extra screen time (more like all day screen time) for the kids and pizza for dinner. It means napping while they nap and neglecting the house (which you’ll pay for when you’re better); it means washing your hands every 5 minutes and praying to God that your kids don’t catch it, and if you’re super lucky, your sick days coincide with your kids sick days, where you get to clean up their puke whilst also being sick. It’s like some sort of mean joke.
Now, excuse me while I tend to the crying baby.