I always wanted to stay home with my kids.
I wanted to be there for every field trip and every milestone.
This was a fact that my (not then) husband knew from the day we met, literally. It was an emotional decision then when the time came to quit teaching and walk away from being a “mom” to 125 sixteen-year-olds, to bring an entire new life in the world and dedicate myself to her.
But two years later and I found that being a stay at home mom was not rewarding like I thought. It’s not full of rainbows, sunshine, and un-ending laughter.
Being a stay at home mom is hard. Being a work at home mom is hard. Being a mom is hard.
It takes quite a mindset shift to realize that being a stay at home mom is not going to be idealistic and that it’s not like working… at all. Even working from 7am-5pm each day only to come home to do more work… there is just no comparison to a 24/7 job that doesn’t pay, that many times goes unrewarded and unappreciated, and that sees no change up during the day.
7 Reasons Being a Stay at Home Mom is not Rewarding
1. Common Sense does not exist in the world of parenting.
So in the workplace, common sense is a staple for a functioning person. We make decisions based off of the ordinary, the expected, and the rational. It’s a beautiful world where everything is organized and in its place in the universe and no one is sitting there scratching their head in complete confusion.
At home with babies and toddlers, the most explainable action is the one that solves the problem. My toddler begs for an orange and then screams that I gave her an orange. She giggles while walking towards the dog with a cracker, and then yells “NO, MINE!” when he gets close to her. Tears of anguish are just a few seconds after those squeals of joy. It’s an endless roller coaster of emotions and fires to be smothered.
…And then she comes running to me for comfort when I am the one at fault for hurting her feelings. Or she immediately stops crying the moment she sees me walk around the corner and toddles as fast as she can with the biggest smile to be in your arms.
2. There is a Complete Lack of Feedback.
When working, there were evaluations, meetings, and expectations of those above you that you must follow. They tell you what you are doing is right and what you are doing is wrong. There is direction and a clear cut path and a certain way things should be done.
The Stay at Home Mom has no guide book.
No child is the same and not every parenting technique is universal. Even your child leaves you clueless and gives you no direction. Days of endless screaming, no one to listen to your pains and fears, and no one who understands the exact moment you are experiencing.
…And then at the end of the day your baby hugs you and needs you to fall asleep and you know that what you have done is good enough.
3. Substitutes and Sick Days are non-existent
There were days that going to work was just not an option.
Some days I was so sick I couldn’t see straight and some days I was so emotionally exhausted that talking to even one person would have probably pushed me over the crazy cliff.
The crazy cliff is an every day experience being Stay at Home Mom.
I can’t get away from it.
I can’t eat by myself.
I can’t take a shower without the closest toilet being flushed 200+ times before I am done.
I can’t make sense of my life or my toddler and all I want to do is crawl in a hole.
…And then I sit down on the couch just to get away from it all and my toddler comes up, crawls in my lap, and say “OK?” And my heart completely melts.
4. Your toddler doesn’t seem to develop in a linear fashion and there is lots of regression.
Progress. Everyone wants it in any situation they face. For me, it meant teaching through world history. I went in order, my students learned it and we built on what we knew and kept trucking on. If they had a question, we answered it and kept going.
Babies and toddlers are going through a lot. They develop and then they regress. As their brain develops, their motor skills seem to regress a bit. As they get stronger and more coordinated, they lose their stinking minds. You work with them and teach them and get excited to know that a cow goes “moo” and that a tree has leaves. They master it and then a week later they think the sidewalk is a tree. ((Slams head on desk)). Then they even pick up on a word or behavior that you NEVER ever wanted to see in your child and you cringe because “how in the world are you going to fix this?!”. And it’s all just mind games.
… and then they walk up to you, speaking in sentences saying (appropriate) words you didn’t know they even knew telling you that they’re going to tickle your armpit!
5. The days when no toy or activity in the world could ever satisfy your child.
This goes with common sense. In the workplace, you have the confidence to know that something is going to work and it almost always does even if in a small capacity. There are days with big projects, promotions, and confidence boosters.
You think you have those as a mom and then that pinterest idea is a total fail. Every toy in the house is a complete dud and might as well never have been invented. Even the last ditch effort to distract them with the TV is a complete failure.
…And then your toddler reminds you that all they want is you. They want to dance in your arms and giggle under your tickles and explore the world with you and not just beside you.
6. The mom seems to be the only one the child is a behavior problem for or doesn’t listen to.
If you hold a role of importance in the workplace, there is a certain level of respect. People do what you ask and there is an expectation of how the hierarchy goes.
With babies and toddlers, it’s like the world is coming to an end with crying fits with you and those few hours they’re with a friend while you go on a date, they become a perfect angel and turn you into a liar for saying anything otherwise. They readily listen to the requests of other adults, but the moment you ask for a kiss or a favor, and they’re like “peace out, mom”.
… And then you peek around the corner after not hearing your toddler for a little bit and you see her picking up her toys, organizing her books, and putting everything away. And the whole time she has her babies watching so they know how to do it too.
7. Being a Stay at Home Mom means constantly being on the verge of burn out.
Having a career for me was very rewarding. I sometimes felt overwhelmed, but never burnt out. I found joy in helping the student that every other teacher had given up on and found it rewarding to see a student work as hard as they possibly could to get a D and feel really good about not failing.
Today I felt heart palpitations from the blood-curdling scream of my toddler no less than 7 times in 10 minutes. Why you ask? Because the cart she was pushing was stuck or she had picked it up and it was heavy. In those moments I struggle to not get upset and totally lose it on my toddler who doesn’t understand that if it’s heavy, put it down or if it doesn’t keep moving, go around. I feel burnt out when I think I have given her everything she has requested for lunch and she’s still upset, and it’s because I didn’t realize she didn’t want to sit at her mini-table, but wanted to be in her high chair.
My husband doesn’t seem to understand what it means to do the same thing 24 hours a day. Working moms minimize the job I do at home because I don’t have a job outside the home. Family and friends don’t understand what it means for us to be a one car family only for me to be held hostage inside of this loony bin for 2 years straight.
There are high expectations of being a Stay at Home mom. Those expectations are self inflicted by an unrealistic social media landscape, by skewed views of friends and other families, and by the dreams and idealized life I envision for myself, my children, and my marriage. Expectations are high because there’s now a single bread-winner in the family – one that typically expects chores to be done regardless of how crazy the toddler was that day. Expectations are high because family and friends thinks I can talk on the phone at any given moment because I don’t work or have a car. Expectations are high because I expect the most from myself and I am my own biggest critic.
… And then I realized how blessed I am to raise my children. How I would never want anyone else to have to put up with their crazy days when they lose their minds. And I’m so blessed to have the stories to tell them from the mundane to the extraordinary. I am so blessed because I have learned so much as a single car family and being a stay at home mom has forced my creativity. It forced my complacency. It forced my love of family. I realized that if it weren’t for the days of almost losing it, I would never invest time in myself. The burn out makes the sweet days that much sweeter.
And then I understand that being a stay at home mom is more rewarding than I ever realized.
It just takes more sacrifice than I realized.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!