I’ve spent the last four months being a stay at home mom. Prior to that, the only extended amount of time I have spent at home was for my two maternity leaves (which can never be compared to any other twelve weeks because they are an amazing and awful and overwhelming experience that I want to cherish and forget all at the same time), so becoming a stay at home mom was definitely a big transition. I went from one extreme to another. I went from working so much that I barely saw my kids during the week to staying home with them while my husband traveled every week. I understand that my experience is unique to me, but it did open my eyes to a new perspective. It gave me a peek inside the world of stay at home moms. A chance to learn how “the other moms” survive. Here is glimpse into what I have learned.
Time with the Kids
- When I was at my last job, I struggled to find time to see my kids. I worked late most nights and traveled. But the moments I spent with them were precious. I tried to make sure that I was spending quality time with each of them. When you’re home all of the time it is easy to take for granted the quantity of time you have because they are there ALL of the time. Like every single moment. Of every single day. But I found that the time that I value the most is when I let all go of everything else that I could be doing and focus 100% on them together and individually. When we play in the backyard. Or lay on the bed and just talk. Or eat a meal together. It’s the tiny moments. The simple moments that mean the most. No multitasking. No list-checking. Being mindful of this is the only way not to let time slip through your fingers. Winner: Me at Home
- Me Time. What a funny saying. Remember when all of your time was me time and you didn’t even realize it? Childless me used sleep in on the weekends. Go for leisurely walks. Quickly and easily run errands. Spend hours shopping for clothes. Now I am lucky if I can go to the bathroom by myself. Seriously. I know before I was a parent this seemed like an exaggeration, actually even before I had Wes this seemed like an exaggeration. But now I have a koala bear for a child, who likes to basically be velcroed to me at all times and when I go to the bathroom he either barges in or sits outside of the door and screams. Yes, he takes naps, but my daughter doesn’t and nap time is when I try to get anything else done that is impossible to do with a koala for a child. And even though I am never alone, I am often lonely staying at home. I feel like no one warned me about this. It is so freaking lonely. Me time is scarce for all moms, but when I was working at least I had quiet, alone time during my commute and no one followed me to the bathroom. Sometimes I even had enough time to grab coffee by myself. Winner: Working Me
- Most people probably won’t agree with me here, but I like getting dressed for work every day. Ok, let me caveat the hell out of this. I have only worked for agencies so dress codes were casual. I could wear jeans most days and rarely had to dress like an actual business professional. Also, I love shopping, maybe a little too much. So getting dressed is a close second to shopping. And while I love getting dressed, I hate doing my hair and makeup. Before I started staying home I would only wear yoga pants to exercise or bed (mostly the latter). The first two weeks I stayed home I still got dressed every day and then I realized how stupid that was and bought more yoga pants. They are more comfortable and appropriate for this role, but I still miss my other clothes. And I think they miss me too. Winner: Working Me
- We live in a tiny 1,200 square foot house. It seems like it wouldn’t take a lot of upkeep except my two-year-old can be a human tornado and my five-year-old loves nothing more than tiny pieces of junk. We had someone clean our house for us every other week while I was working so that we didn’t have to spend time cleaning on the weekends and that time could be used with the kids. Cleaning while staying home with two small children is an evil joke. A tiny piece of hell. I like to get stuff done. I like to check it off my list. Now I have to watch the things I get done on my list each day (cleaning the house, clothes, children and dishes) almost immediately get undone. This is a very cruel punishment for my personality type. I know that it is only fair that I do all of these things since I am not working, but it is wearing. There is no sense of accomplishment. I often think I am not cut out for this, but I don’t know anyone who is. This one is a no-brainer, when at all possible, I would pay someone to get this time back and cut this evilness from life. Winner: Working Me
- I truly dislike the word busyness as well as the overuse of it. But we are very busy as a society and while it should never be used as an excuse for something or someone who is a high priority, it is very much a part of every mom’s life. But they are two very different kinds of busy. While I was working, I had more to keep straight in my brain. I had this entire life outside of home where I had to manage several different clients and projects and complete a giant list of tasks each day. I had to put out fires and expect new things to fall in my lap at any time. Staying at home with two children is an entirely different kind of busy. I have to be alert and on my toes at all times. I have to keep things out of hands, mouths and toilets. I have to be able to multitask and think fast. I am solely responsible for keeping two tiny humans alive. This is a huge responsibility. I know I had this responsibility before, but I was also paying a very qualified team of people thousands of dollars to do it for me 40 hours a week. I thought I would have more time being at home, but that must have been some silly fantasy that happened during my Me Time while I was working. Winner: Tie. No one.
- I mistakenly thought that the root of my Mom Guilt was that I was not spending enough time with my kids because I was working all of the time. Silly me. Mom Guilt is this amazing gift that you receive as soon as you give birth that truly never ever goes away. Now I feel guilty about different things. I feel guilty that I don’t do enough with them. That I am not good at being a stay at home mom. That I lose my temper. That I spoil them and that I am too hard on them. I feel guilty that I want to go back to work. We can always find reasons to feel guilty and probably always will. But I’m learning to be ok with my best and be kinder with myself. Winner: ME. I am determined to beat Mom Guilt at some point. I will not let it win.
- The evening hours used to be a time of celebration. The work day was done! Or at least meetings were over. I could go home and see my babies. Yes, I was exhausted, but in some ways the change of scenery gave me a second wind so that I could squeeze a few minutes in with them before they went to bed. Now the evening hours come with dread. How is it only 6pm? On the days when my husband is gone there is no game of tag you’re it. It’s just me and them. Let the showdown begin. I’m drained. They’re drained, but somehow their tiredness turns into this evil burst of energy where they only have the capability to make loud noises and messes. And my tiredness turns me into a lifeless noodle that only has enough energy to scream commands. How early is too early to put your kids to bed? 6:30? 7? Winner: Working Me
Amount of Beer
- It is scientifically proven that both require the same amount of beer. Winner: Beer. Always.
And the winner is…
I have been very blessed to have spent the last four months with my two amazing kids, but I truly miss working. This probably doesn’t surprise anyone who knows me really well or who has worked with me. I don’t miss working long hours, so work/life balance is a requirement for my next opportunity, but I miss feeling like I am challenging myself intellectually. I miss being surrounded by adults. I miss a sense of accomplishment. I miss demonstrating to Ev that women can be leaders and moms simultaneously. And to be quite honest, I can’t afford to stay home. I want my kids to be comfortable, not spoiled, but comfortable. I don’t want them to worry about student loans. I want to be able to take them cool places and experience new things. I think and hope one day that they will understand why I was a working mom and be proud of me for that decision. And I hope that in the meantime we can focus on the taking advantage of the fleeting moments we have together.
One thought on “Being a Stay at Home Mom vs. Being a Working Mom: One Mom’s Perspective”
Really enjoyed this. This is so true.