One of the most mind-boggling misconceptions that I come across often, is the idea that stay-at-home moms “have it easy”. Like we somehow sit around all day just living our best lives with no responsibilities and nothing but time on our hands.
Having been a working mom for 5 years who recently transitioned to a stay-at-home, I’m well aware of the challenges you face from both points of view. Now I’m not here to go back and forth on how stay-at-home moms have it harder than working moms or vice versa, they are both hard work.
What I do want to do is shed some light on how hard a stay-at-home mom works and hopefully help dispel these rumors going around that we do nothing all day. How the pressures put on SAHMs can negatively affect us, all due to the lack of understanding from others.
So, I can already see some people rolling their eyes wondering, what pressure? I can see people laughing and saying “oh boy, another SAHM whining because she gets to stay home all day.” Give me a chance to enlighten you. Maybe open up some eyes.
As a stay-at-home mom, you face pressure all day, every day. There’s this belief that because you are not at work you have to be perfect and able to do it all, with no complaints. Imagine being up all night with a baby because you want your spouse to be well-rested for work the next morning, then having to be up all day because you have chores to complete, remote learning to do, food to cook, kids to entertain, and a ton of other things with no help.
How many breaks do you get as a stay-at-home mom? How many times do you get to eat a meal in peace? When do you get some adult interaction? There are barely any moments throughout the day when someone isn’t crying or yelling, "mooooommmm!" On the rare opportunities that you do have some quiet, you are faced with the dilemma of whether to sneak in a nap yourself, eat, or get some cleaning in. Is there even such a thing as me-time anymore? Due to how people tend to view stay-at-home moms, it’s extremely hard asking for help, and that’s really a pity.
It’s the law to be able to get a meal at work; but unfortunately, there are no such policies protecting the stay-at-home mom. What support can a stay-at-home mom expect to get when we are looked down on so often? It’s sad that sometimes we barely want to ask our partners for help because of these absurd expectations that since they are the breadwinners, we need to take care of everything else. As a stay-at-home mom, you are basically programmed to put everyone and everything else before you.
I fell into the trap of not asking my partner to step up more. Since he was working all day, I didn’t ask for his help. I let him come home and have his time to himself, only asking him to take the baby so I could cook. Then I would take the baby afterward, so he could eat, and then take the kids for the rest of the night while he relaxed, so he could be refreshed for work the next morning. At what point did I get to relax?
I am fortunate to have an amazing partner who always has my back. So why did it take me to have a mental breakdown one day, before I expressed that I needed help? It was because I got sucked into the insane expectations set by those who never walked in a stay-at-home parent’s shoes! My partner didn’t tell me I needed to do it all, I just did it because I believed I had to. There was this pressure to be the perfect mom and perfect wife because, after all, “all I did was stay at home”.
Check-in on your stay-at-home mom friends and family, because we are NOT okay! Between caring for kids all day, cooking, cleaning, running errands, and taking care of our partners, not to mention also working on ways to contribute financially from home, we are burning out and losing ourselves. FaceTime them, so they can quit the baby talk for a bit, drop off some leftovers (so they don’t have to cook), offer to take their kids for a little while, or just come for a visit.
Spouses: step your game up. You work for 8 hours or so, but your stay-at-home partner works 24/7. You may get your days off, but your partner gets none, so you can enjoy yours. She’s too worried about making sure the kids are taken care of, food is cooked, clothes are cleaned, the house is presentable, and that you are well-rested enough to take care of yourself. So, step in and give her a break! Find a babysitter and take her on a date to remind her of the beautiful woman she is. Treat her as more than a glorified housekeeper.
Being a stay-at-home mom is such a thankless job. Yeah, yeah, yeah, save the whole “you’re doing what you’re supposed to do so why do you need thanks” speech for someone who cares. If you work, you get paid to do a job, but you can be dang sure that you are not going to continuously give your all to a company that does not recognize your effort. But, why do you need appreciation if you’re already getting paid? The same thing applies to a SAHM; only we can’t be lackluster moms just because we don’t get a thank you. Sure, watching our kids grow beautifully into themselves is a wonderful thing ... but can we get some acknowledgment too? Can people keep their assumptions to themselves? We do it all!
For me, personally, being a stay-at-home mom has been more challenging than my time as a working mom. My mom-guilt was harder to deal with while working; but the lack of support at times, the no “me time,” and the lack of understanding, has been an adjustment that has proved to be more difficult in my situation. The pressure of it all threatens to cripple me at times; yet still, I manage, even while pregnant again! Don’t tell me stay-at-home moms aren’t superheroes. From every boo-boo, illness, Dr appointment, store trip, sleepless night, and everything in between, we are present for it and handling things, every step of the way!
Stay-at-home moms from all over the world, YOU ARE AMAZING! Raise your middle fingers up high to anyone who attempts to make you think or feel differently. You sacrifice so much of yourself every single day, and I salute you. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner you need more from them. If they don’t get it, just tell them you have an appointment and leave them with the kids for the day, and they’ll learn! Ask for the help you need. Sit down with your partner to make a schedule in order to squeeze in time so you can just be you.
There is no greater pressure than the pressure we put on ourselves. Stop it! If your house is messy for a day, you and your family will live. Need to order out for diner, do it. Want to hand your baby to your spouse so you can eat, go for it. Put your foot down and stand up for yourself. People have something to say, laugh and say, “ you could never!” Stop stressing and feeling guilty for just wanting to be a woman for a while.
You will be no good to anyone without taking care of yourself. We need breaks too!
Parents, please be kind to one another, whether you work or not. Look past your biased opinions and agree that parenting is hard. Stop criticizing what you don’t understand. Stop adding to the guilt and pressures of one another, instead rise up in support. Everyone is different, what works for you and yours is not the same for someone else. Stop the comparisons and let go of the judgmental attitudes.