I know there is a huge debate here. Working moms are always compared to stay-at-home moms. I should start by saying that a mom is a mom, whether she works or stays at home with the kids. At the end of the day I think most moms do what they think is best for their families.
I have been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 15 years and I think it’s one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made. I went to college and had planned on pursuing a career in Child Psychology. But once my first son was born, I couldn’t imagine going to work every day and leaving him in someone else’s care. I still can’t imagine getting up in the morning and having everyone ready and out of the house on time if I had pursued my career. I don’t know how working moms do it.
No doubt, we’ve made some sacrifices so I can stay home. I’m sure there have been times when my husband would have appreciated a second income. However, we’ve always found a way to make one income work because we both feel strongly about our decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom.
There seems to be this idea that stay-at-home moms are lucky or that somehow the job of parenting is easier because they don’t have to go to work. As I see it, stay-at-home moms make a lot of sacrifices and not just financial sacrifices. Speaking from experience, there are a few things I think everyone, including dads, should know about some stay-at-home moms.
Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work. Taking care of one or more kids all day can be exhausting. We never get a break … ever! We can’t talk on the phone without being interrupted. We can’t run into the store really quickly on the way home. As a matter of fact, we can’t go anywhere quickly because we have to get everyone in the car, buckled up, out of the car and through the store without incident. And then, we still have to get home! Sounds simple if you’ve never been a parent but if you have, you know a quick trip to the grocery store can be a monumental feat. A mom is a mom 24 hours a day whether you work outside the home or not. I have friends and family that are working moms and they actually tell me they look forward to going to work because it’s break.
If you’re not a mom, here is a little TMI you may never have thought about. We don’t have the luxury of doing little things like going to the bathroom in private. Most stay-at-home moms won’t admit it, but if you don’t get a chance to take a shower before the kids wake up, it’s highly unlikely that you will get to shower at all that day. A shower seems like such a simple process, but if you’ve ever been home for an extended time with a baby or toddler, you will understand the shower thing. When the kids were small, I used to look forward to my husband coming home from work, just so I could take a shower!
You’re right if you’re thinking working moms and stay-at-home moms have many of the same challenges and no rest. So what does a stay-at-home mom do besides take care of the kids?
Well first of all, we spend a lot time in the car. With three kids, I’m coming and going half the day. Three different schools, three different drop off and pick up times. And more often than not, the stay-at-home mom is asked to pick up and drop off children whose parents are working and can’t be there.
In the middle of the day, we volunteer – a lot. Some parents volunteer one day or more every week at school, not only in class, but for the benefit of the entire school in general. All of those PTA and PTO moms are volunteers. Volunteering can be a lot of fun for moms and sometimes it’s our only chance to have an adult conversation during the day. But volunteering also takes time and lots of it. You have to make a commitment so it’s similar to a part time job … just without the paycheck.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I was in fact on the PTA board at my sons’ school and I loved it but it was a lot of work. The next time you go to a school function or see fundraising information in your child’s backpack, take a moment and thank the volunteer parents that made that program possible. A little gratitude can go a long way.
School is out, then what? There’s ballet, soccer, baseball, school projects, boy scouts, girl scouts … and the list goes on. Each of one these extracurricular activities require volunteer parents too. And once again, we often have a car load of kids to shuttle around because their parents are at work. We not only have to keep track of our family’s schedules, we also have to keep track of other families’ schedules.
I think the biggest thing that people must not know about stay-at-home parents is that we have plenty to do – everyday. You’d be amazed at how many people volunteer ME to do things because they think I have so much free time.
If I leave you with just one thought … Please do not ask a stay-at-home mom “What do you do all day”? We are not sitting in our pajamas in front of the TV waiting for our kids to come home! Our day starts at the crack of dawn just like a working mom. It starts with getting the kids to school on time with a lunch and homework, cleaning up the mess that everyone made while getting ready for school, doing the grocery shopping, planning something for dinner, picking up the kids from school, getting homework done, going to soccer practice or whatever activity happens to be that day, doing the laundry, making dinner, doing the dishes and all of this while keeping the toddler who is too young for school clean and fed and making sure they don’t destroy the house or do anything dangerous. Then there is the yard work, the pets, cleaning the house, helping our husbands with work events, etc. I can go on for hours. The question SHOULD be… What are we NOT doing today?
And although this stay-at-home mom lives in organized chaos, I know my days with kids at home are numbered so I’m going to savor every minute of it while I can. Parenthood is no doubt a different experience for everyone, so I respect the choices of all parents whether they work or stay-at-home. The important thing is to be able to look back and say that you did the best you could, and maybe pass along a little insight into the crazy life of being a parent.
And yes, sometimes I would love to have someone else watch my children while I go to a job that actually pays me for my time and efforts. But in the end, I know I made the right decision for me.