Hey you; yes, you. The one who just said that it must be nice to be home all day long doing nothing. That’s right; I’m talking to you. I’m talking to you because you just said that staying home all day long with my kids must be ‘nice’ because I sit around and do ‘nothing’ all day long. I’m going to be upfront with you; that kind of statement is not a very good way to make fast friends. You see, I’m a stay-at-home mom. Actually, I’m a work-from-home mom, but I was a stay-at-home mom for a while after the birth of my oldest daughter. It’s not an easy job. That’s why I’ve decided to do you a big favor, and help you rethink your opinion of stay-at-home moms.
I’ve been a mother for 7 years, 6 weeks and a few hours now. I have four kids; our oldest daughter is 7, our middle daughter is 4.5 and our boy/girl twins are 1.5. Before my husband and I made the decision four years into our marriage to start a family, I had a job outside the home. Not an easy job, either. I did people’s taxes for a living. That’s right; I was a numbers machine, a punching bag and the person who get a lot of angry phone calls. I did not love it.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I never thought it was possible. That’s why, after I was home for a year and-a-half with our oldest, I decided that I’d just try it. After all, what did I have to lose? If it didn’t work out for me, I still had my husband and our daughter. Turns out, it worked out pretty well for me, and it’s a good thing now that we have four kids to support and a lot of bigger and much more expensive items to accommodate our very large family. But that’s not the point. The point is this; I’ve worked. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and I’ve been a work-from-home mom.
All three are difficult. I’ll go ahead and be honest telling you that being a work-from-home mother is much more difficult than being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), but that’s not to diminish the role of SAHM. Being a SAHM is hard. It’s difficult. It’s a challenge. It takes every ounce of patience, every ounce of energy and every single ounce of everything that you have. SAHMs do not sit around the house doing nothing all day long. They do far more than most people will ever imagine doing in their day-to-day life. Let me just give you a run down on what my day looks like 5 days a week.
5 am – wake up and shower
5:20 am – head to office to work until 6 am
6-6:30 am – coffee and relax for the first and probably only time that day
6:30-7 am – head to master bath to do hair and make-up
7-7:30 – make breakfast for four, get kids up and fed
7:30-8:15 – dress four kids with clothes that are laid out the night before, load car with school stuff and lunches that were packed the night before, hunt down shoes that magically went missing since 10 seconds ago, look for cups that disappeared, encourage kids to brush their teeth, do four heads of hair, dress myself
8:15-8:30- yell at kids to get in the darn car and forget about whatever it is that they are having a panic attack about at that particular moment in time, break up 3 fights, chase toddler twin through yard and down driveway while holding other twin in one arm because a big girl left the garage door open when I was in the bathroom. Buckle four kids in car, drive off, hope I did not forget anything.
8:30-8:45 – cry silently on the inside while the kids watch “Frozen” in the car for the 8000th time and sing loudly the entire time, try to enjoy the lack of arguing
8:45-9:05 – unbuckle two babies, a 4-year-old. Carry two babies, a lunch box, a cup and keys into my daughter’s VPK so to sign her in and unpack her belongings with zero hands because neither big girl is capable of helping. Kiss daughter good-bye, do imaginary happy dance on the inside that one kid is down and out for the rest of the day.
9:05-9:15 – re-buckle tiny humans in car, listen to oldest daughter ask for music, rush to get her to school by 9:20, speed, hope no cops see me, drive through annoyingly long car line to drop her off, kiss her and tell her to have a great day.
9:20-9:30 – drive home with the sunroof open, the movie off and my own music up a bit too loud
9:30-10 – get babies out of car, change diapers, feed them snack of some sort, straighten up bathrooms, unload dishes and start laundry
10-10:30 – entertain babies by playing with them, cuddling with them and chasing them around the house to prevent chaos
10:30-1:30 pm – babies nap, I work nonstop trying to get a minimum of 17 articles written, laundry handled and so on and so forth
1:30-2 – get babies up, feed them and change them
2-3:15 – try and get work done while babies play, hope they find something to do to entertain themselves so I can work/play with them when they aren’t happy playing alone
3:15-3:30 – get babies ready and loaded into car to get big kids
3:30-4:45 – repeat morning process except this time I pick up kids and bring them home
4:45-5:30 – unload backpacks, do homework, get kids changed for cheer practice three nights a week
5:30-8:30 – commute to and from cheer practice, work on my computer while daughter practices to get the rest of my work done. Thankfully husband packs lunches, finishes leftover laundry and cooks on these nights
8:30-9:30 – eat, get big kids bathed and in bed, lay out clothes for everyone for next day, clean up anything that my husband wasn’t able to get to while at cheer practice
9:30-10:30 – shower and have a glass of wine
10:30-5 am – sleep
And that, friends, is on a day in which there is nothing else going on. That’s on a day when everyone is healthy, there are no errands to be run, groceries to be purchased and dinner that has to be cooked by me. This is just a very nice example of my easiest of easy days. In that day, there is no sitting. I sit for half an hour in the morning and a half hour after the kids go to bed. The rest of my day is kids and work and the house and all the things that have to be done. In there, I find time to keep a spotless house, too. I also find time to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms and plan for our very active and busy weekends.
I don’t get a break. When I’m sick, I still do all that. I still work. I work and vomit. I care for the kids and die of a high fever. I do it all during the day, and I rock it. My husband tells me daily he could never do what I do and have any sanity left. He could never change a dozen diapers a day, carry two babies in and out of the car without every putting them down and still opening doors and signing sign-in sheets and talking to teachers. I don’t sit. Sometimes I think that it might be nice to read a book, but I don’t have the time. Sometimes I think that it might be nice to get a wall painted or use the blower to clean the porch or send an email to my grandmother. Unfortunately, I don’t have time during the week. I can find time when we are home on the weekends and I still get up at 5 am to get things like that done so I can focus on my kids the rest of the day.
Being a SAHM mom means doing everything. There are no breaks or vacations. I work from home and I’m very blessed with a very active and involved husband. Without him, I couldn’t work from home and care for our kids. He’s the one that does everything I can’t get to during the day so that I can work. Laundry, dishes, dinner, baths for the kids; he does all that. If I didn’t work, that time I spend working would be spent doing those things, carting the kids to different activities – because they’d be involved in more – and doing everything for everyone else.
The life of a SAHM is not a glamorous one. It’s busy, it’s dirty and it’s often pretty thankless. I can’t tell you the last time my twins thanked me for cleaning their poopy explosion out of their bottoms, their legs, up their backs and out of their clothes, or the last time my kids thanked me for always having a clean house and a clean car, or packed lunches or clean clothes. My husband sees it, and he recognizes it, but I don’t get paid to do that. I don’t get recognized for that. I get the satisfaction of knowing that I’m here to witness first steps and first words, that I never have to miss a school recital or that I have to find a babysitter on a half day. I don’t have those worries. But I also don’t have any free time.
It’s not something SAHMs get. Free time does not happen. We don’t get to lie by the pool and sip mimosas and work on our tans. In fact, I’m a lifelong Floridian and I don’t even have a tan. How sad is that? So the next time you want to tell me that it must be nice to be home all day with my kids not doing anything, I will challenge you to spend one day in my shoes. Just one day doing what I do. It’ll hit you at the end of the day that it’s the most rewarding but most exhausting job in the world – especially when you find yourself annoyed sitting at a red light because you could have done XYZ in that three minutes you just sat there if you’d been home. When every minute of your day counts and is needed, you will understand.
So, hug a SAHM. She probably needs one. She probably needs a friend that thanks her for her hard work and that recognizes her thankless job. She’s probably thinking that it’s nice you get to go to work in an office where diapers are not present, funky smells are not your problem and when you can eat an actual meal and use the bathroom all by yourself. Just remember, it’s not glamorous over here.
And please don’t think that I’m complaining. I understand just how fortunate I am to be able to be with my kids throughout the day, and to have my dream job and be able to do it from home, but it is never easy. It’s a daily challenge. It changes you. Your boss is a tiny person or persons that you cannot predict no matter how hard you try. No two days are the same no matter how much the same they are. SAHMs love their kids and their role in life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or that we aren’t busy.
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