As a stay at home mom, I get a lot of feedback from people about my career decision (yes it is a career, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise). The feedback varies depending on who is providing their opinion, but I have received the same few responses on many occasions.
- Wow you’re lucky, I would love to be a stay at home mom.
- I could never do it.
- Really? You actually choose to do that?
I know that I’m fortunate to be able to stay at home with my daughter and it’s not always a financial possibility for some families. For that I am grateful to my husband who is the breadwinner for the house. But this isn’t about him, it’s about stay-at-home moms and the daily struggles we go through.
Here’s my personal story. I worked really hard in school and got myself a professional job, and worked even harder to be taken seriously in the corporate world as a young woman. When I made the decision to not return to work and continue on the successful corporate path I had paved for myself it was a huge decision that I did not take lightly. I had to consider what I was giving up and what I was gaining. I chose to spend the precious young years of my daughter’s life with her instead of with co-workers and a computer. This is magical in a sense because I get to experience so much of my daughter’s life, but I never realized how much of an impact not going to work every day would have on me. Now to be completely clear, I have never regretted my decision, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t yearned for a bit of the other side from time to time.
The first year of maternity leave was a breeze. Blissfully spending time with my infant daughter as she blossomed into a beautiful tiny child with the world in front of her! But as soon as the year was up and I was officially a stay-at-home mom, reality started to hit in waves. 100% of my days were going to be spent with a baby who can’t talk about politics, television shows, or my favourite books. She wasn’t going to listen to me when I said how excited I was that hockey season is back on and she didn’t care that I got my hair cut. I had little to no adult conversation throughout the day. Not having to get up and go to work is actually more challenging than it sounds. When you have a child who sleeps like an angel (it’s true… She’s probably actually too good at sleeping) and nowhere to be by 9am, it’s very easy to lounge around in your PJs for most of the day. Sounds like a dream? Well, let me tell you, it gets old fast. Having a sense of purpose in the mornings to get up and go to work is something that I absolutely miss and probably will continue to miss as long as I’m a stay-at-home mom.
To survive as a stay-at-home mom I have had to whip myself into shape. Sure, I may not have an office to report to but I certainly have a boss to answer to, and let me tell you she is demanding. Here are some important things I’ve done to ensure the survival of myself and my daughter as we both travel through this stay-at-home mom journey together.
- Remember to take care of yourself. In order to stop myself from getting into a stay-at-home mom funk I have to ensure that I get up and dressed every single day. Hair and makeup done even if I have no plans to leave the house. Having a sense of purpose with the way I present myself means I still care about my own well-being. Happy mom, happy life. It doesn’t rhyme but it makes sense.
- Make a schedule for you and your little one and stick to it. Children thrive on schedules and actually want to be told what to do and when to do it! They may tell you differently but don’t listen to them… schedules are important. Try to eat meals at the same time, nap at the same time and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Be prepared to break your schedule. Yep. Contradicting myself already. Being a stay-at-home mom means you need to roll with the punches. Maybe your kid had a crappy sleep and needs a longer nap. Or maybe they had a fit over lunch hour and needed an extra nap and a late lunch to compensate. Whatever happens don’t be so married to your schedule that you lose sight of what’s important, and that is sanity.
- Get out of the house. Leave the house at every opportunity you get. If you live in walking distance to a store, make it your daily mission to visit the store. Walk around your neighborhood, go for a drive, walk around the malls! Visit friends and family! Getting out of the house is as important for you as it is for the kids. Adults aren’t meant to be trapped indoors 24/7. Get out and experience the world around you.
- Integrate your child with other kids. There are many ways to do this either free or for a charge. Ottawa has a variety of free playgroups located all around the city and there are so many other programs available for a fee. For instance, my daughter does swimming lessons and gymnastics and some crazy dance class where toddlers just jump around and jam out for half an hour. It’s AMAZING because since she isn’t in daycare she can associate with other children her own age and learn how to act around other kids. Plus you get to chat with other parents and get some adult face time in. It’s a win for everyone. We also attend free playgroups as often as possible. She loves it because it’s new toys and new people to play with, I love it because it’s free!
As a stay-at-home mom, you also need to know when to give up. It’s OK to put a movie on the TV and have them veg out for a short time because you need to do the dishes or prepare a meal. I wouldn’t recommend having TV on the entire day because your child needs to play and learn and can’t really accomplish that if they’re glued to a television set. But don’t beat yourself up if you need to achieve some quiet time in your house via the television.
It’s also OK to want to be away from your children every now and then. When you have full-timeme job outside of the house you are likely happy to say goodbye to your boss at the end of the day and get some time away from them. As astay-at-home mom, we are hounded by our boss 24/7, so it’s only natural to crave some time away. When your spouse gets home it’s absolutely acceptable to say “bye honey I’m going grocery shopping” but instead go sit in a Starbucks and read a book with a caramel macchiato and chocolate chip banana bread in hand.
Basically, being a stay-at-home mom means that you will get screamed at, pooped on, ran away from, and cuddled and kissed all in one day’s work. It’s an extremely difficult job with little gratification and involves tons of cleaning up. If you are one of the fortunate ones who gets to have this job, count yourself lucky. If you do it right, being a stay-at-home mom can be the most rewarding job you’ll ever have.