Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom seeking solace in shared experiences, a mom deciding if she should take this path, or someone curious about what the day to day is like being home with children all day- this post will take a deep dive into the heart of the matter. Here’s my honest truth of being a stay-at-home mom. The good, the bag, the ugly – I’ll go over my experience, lessons I have learned, and just a general overview of what other fellow SAHMs feel as well.
I will be exploring the joys, challenges, and complexities that come with choosing to stay at home to raise children. No sugar-coating – just raw, unfiltered honesty that every stay-at-home mom deserves to hear. This journey will shed light on the multi-faceted reality of being a stay-at-home mom, because the truth is while we are so lucky, it is definitely not for everyone and has plenty of downsides that one must consider.
We will touch on the emotional rollercoaster of guilt and fulfillment, the daily battles with exhaustion and loneliness, and the unexpected joys that make it all worthwhile.
Being a Stay at Home Mom: The Joys and Rewards
More Quality Time
One of the most significant advantages to being a stay-at-home mom is the opportunity to spend quality time with your kids during their most formative years. You get to witness all those developmental milestones, provide them with constant care and attention, and form a deep emotional bond.
Unlike most traditional jobs, a stay-at-home mom often allows for a more flexible schedule. You have the freedom to structure your day around your child’s needs – as well as your own.
It’s all about finding the right balance of childcare, household chores, and personal well-being. With some trial and error, as well as organization – you might find that it’s possible to make it all happen each day.
Read this post for more advice on creating a successful stay-at-home mom schedule.
Some Days Are Really Fun!
A lot of the time, depending on a few different variables, being a stay-at-home mom can be really fun!
Once your kids are a certain age, it’s exciting to try different activities with them- like the mall, the zoo, or different playgrounds. Even grocery shopping can be enjoyable. Here’s my extensive list: Fun Places to Take Your Toddlers.
Every once in a while, you’ll have that perfect day where the kids were in great moods. They got along well, and it wasn’t super exhausting taking them out of the house for a few hours.
This is especially true during the summer months, or if you have other stay-at-home mom friends.
Don’t Have to Pay for Childcare!
This is a big one. The cost of childcare these days makes it very difficult to justify going back to work. Hiring someone to come to your home to “nanny” is even more expensive.
After about a year, of staying at home with my first I decided to get a part-time job for my mental health. However, I was basically breaking even with the cost of childcare!
No Dress Code
It can be pretty amazing waking up and not having to get ready for work. Wearing comfy clothes all day long is a nice advantage for the stay-at-home mom.
You Get a Break During Naptime(s)
If you have kids who still nap, this can often mean you get a break – longer than you most likely would at your job. There seems to be more opportunity to fit in some self-care – like a workout, a nap, watching TV, or reading a book. Maybe you’re even able to fit in a side-hustle!
Honestly, getting that nap time to yourself makes it all worth it! Most days, I am not sure I would be able to do it otherwise.It
Sense of Purpose
For some moms, taking care of their children can give them a sense of purpose. Even though I had been working as a RD for 8 years when I started having kids, I never really felt like I had that until I stayed home with my first child.
I think this really depends on the woman, and if they love their career or not.
Being at home means you can ensure your child is getting the care and attention you’d want them to receive. You don’t have to worry (as much) about how they’re sleeping or eating at a child care facility.
When my first was a baby, I became very schedule oriented. I became sleep-obsessed – and loved that I was home to ensure she was sticking to her schedule.
Some research has suggested that children might experience less stress, aggression and do better in school when they have a SAHM.
Being a Stay at Home Mom: The Challenges and Struggles
It Can Be Very Boring
Those early months with a newborn baby are nice because the baby is always sleeping. This can also mean that it’s very boring. As their wake times get longer, it can be more difficult to find ways to fill that time. How are you supposed to entertain them all day long?
Until they reach an age or a wake time where it makes sense to do fun activities with them or get out of the house it can feel very mind-numbing.
Social Isolation and Loneliness
Stay-at-home moms have very little socialization, especially in certain phases of life – like that first year. If you’re like me at all and prefer to keep your kids on a schedule, this makes it harder to find activities or get out of the house. Until your baby is on one or two naps, their isn’t much wake time to get them out of the house and “crap naps” happen if they’re not sleeping in their crib.
This is especially hard if you have an older child as well. Until they both are on a similar schedule, it can be devastatingly lonely. Even the most introverted person (similar to myself) will start to feel extremely isolated and crave a little adult connection. Having stay-at-home mom friends or family can make a huge difference!
Side note: this is WAY harder during the winter months, in my experience. I always found myself looking for jobs when the weather started to get colder. The summer is way more fun!
The Workload Can Be Overwhelming
This is very dependent on how many children you have, what their ages are, or even how their temperament is. For example, the younger they are = the more laundry there is to do. Once they start eating – it’s more cooking/cleaning.
As they get into the toddler years, the more messes they create. Add in more kids, and it’s even MORE mess.
Since you are home all day, you’re also cleaning up after yourself and your kids ALL DAY LONG.
You’re a short-order cook. A dishwasher. A maid. An “octopus tornado” as I like to say- running around the house picking things up with your hands and your feet, to try and stay on top of things. Also add in that they can be SO demanding.
The work never seems to end, all day, seven days a week. It can feel overwhelming and exhausting.
Financial Strains and Career Sacrifices
With only one income source, you become dependent on your spouse. It can really put a strain on your marriage.
My husband makes a good living, yet I still feel like I can’t afford to buy much of anything for myself. When I worked full-time, it was nice to be able to buy whatever I wanted to. Sometimes it feels like you’re walking on eggshells when it comes to any amount of money you spend- even if it’s for your children.
You might miss that financial independence.
Then there is always that fear that something will happen – and then what will you have to fall back on? Will getting a job be really hard after taking years off? I worked full-time for 8 years, and felt extreme imposter syndrome when I started looking for jobs again.
All those friends you made while working slowly start to disappear- and you no longer have a large network for when you do want to get back into the work field.
Struggles with Self-Identity and Self-Worth
When you become a mom, your whole identity changes. I feel like it is magnified even more as a stay-at-home mom – you identity IS being a mom. That’s it. The lack of external validation and recognition that you would get from a career can be challenging.
Society often undervalues the work of a stay-at-home-mom, leading to feelings of underappreciation.
You start to feel inadequate – especially around other moms who work full-time. For some reason, there always seems to be a comparison or competition between the two. The working mom is jealous of the SAHM, and vice versa – there is a lack of understanding that with each one there are sacrifices.
Stay-at-home moms have this stigma surrounding them. Having other stay-at-home mom friends who can relate is very helpful.
My youngest just recently started daycare two days a week, and I struggled with this SO hard for months before she started. I felt like I was losing my identity again. I was no longer just a “stay-at-home mom” taking care of her young babies. A part of me want to try for a third child just to have that sense of identity in taking care of a baby again.
It definitely messes with your head when you sacrifice your career for staying home with your kids!
Overstimulation is the feeling of being overwhelmed by excessive sensory input. It’s having too much going on all at once. This can make you feel irritable or anxious.
Sometimes it’s complete chaos!
It’s Like Groundhog’s Day
Most of the time, it feels like you’re reliving the same day – day after day. Wake up, breakfast, dishes, cleaning, lunch, dishes, cleaning, dinner, dishes, cleaning, bedtime. Repeat!
Lack of Personal Time
Although you might have more time for self-care, especially if there is still a nap break in your day – there are also situations where personal time is really lacking. Sometimes, you can’t even go to the bathroom by yourself. You might be jealous that your husband just gets to drive in his car to and from work and not listen to Disney songs the entire way.
A small trip to the grocery store by yourself can seem like a vacation when you’re with your children all day, every day. It’s important to make time for yourself, and get away every now and then so you don’t go insane.
It’s All Relative
Whether you’re a SAHM or working mother, it’s unfortunate that there has to be such a comparison between the two. There are huge sacrifices made either way. Research shows that stay-at-home moms miss working, and experience higher rates of mental health issues like anxiety and depression (1, 2).
Let’s celebrate all the different motherhood experiences, and continue to support one another.
It does seem like there are more negatives than positives listed. However, I would still choose staying home with my kids over going to work. While it was never part of the plan, I realized that is exactly where I wanted to be – and I am so grateful for that.
Now, 4 years later, I am starting to wonder- what’s next? They say it gets “easier”, but I have yet to feel that.
There is a lot to consider when deciding if you should leave your career to be a stay-at-home mom – this post doesn’t even cover them all! What are your thoughts?