Before I quit my job to stay home with my daughter full-time, I won’t lie, I thought SAHM’s had it made.
The movies and social media as well makes it look like the life. You answer to no one, make your own schedule, go on play dates, run errands at your leisure. Honestly, I could go on forever with the dumb assumptions I had when it came to the whole stay at home mom gig.
I have been both a working mom and a stay at home mom and I can tell you that each comes with their own set of struggles but I am going to share a few things that I have learned over the last year. These are things I have learned, yet somehow NO ONE prepared me for. Things that would’ve been helpful to hear.
- Being a stay at home mom is the craziest rollercoaster of emotions I’ve ever been on. Pregnancy and the newborn stage ain’t got nothing on this. My day can go from us laughing so hard to crying so hard in approximately 17 seconds. And some days you just have to accept that. This is where I say you have to check those parenting expectations at the door. You can’t control your job when your boss is a toddler. Take a second, breathe and know that you are the best mother that kid will ever have.
- Don’t make any expectations for a schedule, because the second you have that down pat, it changes. My daughter went from napping twice a day at 12 months to the next day only taking one and she never went back. I didn’t expect that so early but it happened and we just had to roll with it. To piggy back off that, just when you think you have mealtime down, they hate all the things they loved yesterday and you just went to the store and stocked up on for the next 3 months. Don’t judge your parenting successes on the ability to stick to a schedule. You are doing a great job.
- Just like any other job you will ever have, you will have good days, bad days and downright awful days. The difference in this job is when you feel like you’ve failed, you feel an immense amount of guilt that you are screwing your kid up for life. I promise, YOU ARE NOT. Kids are resilient and I have found that it takes more for me to bounce back from a bad day, bad hour, bad minute than it does our kids. On top of that, don’t ever feel guilty for venting about your child just because you stay home. It doesn’t mean we dislike our kid or our job or that we are ungrateful, it means you are a human being that needs to get her feelings out.
- This job is much harder mentally than it is physically especially once you hit toddlerhood. Yes, I am tired and could use a nap on the regular but our bodies are built for this job, sometimes our minds are not. I don’t think there is a part of our brain that can handle seventeen meltdowns a day to the point where you think you can cry or just go insane. I tell myself daily, “this too shall pass.”
- You will have high expectations on how you think your child should act. You can try to discipline but the fact is, they won’t always listen and a lot of the times they will blatantly disobey because they are human. It doesn’t mean you are a crappy mom and not cut out for this job, it simply means you aren’t raising a tiny robot. You are raising a real-life human that can’t effectively communicate yet and that is frustrating…for both of you. You have got to come to a place where you make it okay in your head that your child is allowed to have emotions just like you are and sometimes those emotions don’t always align with your expectations. Keep trying, the discipline will catch on.
- I never thought I would resent my husband, mom, sister or friends. Basically, anyone that gets to work outside the home because of course I picked this job. My biggest mistake was thinking I was above resentment. I don’t feel that every day, honestly, it’s rare but it does creep in. On hard days, I go back and look through pictures or creep in my daughter’s room while she sleeps and remember why I do this. There is no job that can top watching your child grow every single minute of every day.
- Do not feel guilty for wanting a break. Entertaining a child and taking care of their every need for 12+ hours a day is a big job. Especially when you can’t even pee alone. It is completely natural to want to go have adult conversation that doesn’t include tantrums, getting poop stuck under your fingernail, bubble guppies or anything in that realm. Taking time away whether it’s going to Target alone, taking a girls night, going on a date, getting your nails done…it’s completely healthy and will make you come back feeling recharged. A happier mom makes for a happier home and a better mom.
- Find a hobby outside of your child. There is nothing quite like motherhood that can so quickly suck your self-esteem right out from under you. This starts at birth. You are no longer seen…everything is about your child and sometimes that can feel sad. I share what seems like a lot of our day on Instagram but the truth is most people see such a small portion of life and sometimes that means it feels like a thankless job. Find something that makes you feel worthy outside of mothering. For me that has been essential oils. I feel so blessed to have found a place for them in my life. I get excited to learn more, to do better for our family, to help educate others on how they can help their families. It’s a passion I never expected, a passion some people probably don’t understand or make fun of me for but that’s okay. Find what gives you some self-worth and take the time to foster that passion.
- My child was fiercely independent when she was in daycare and for the months that followed but as time has gone on she has become extremely attached to me. At first, I hated that and felt like I was doing her wrong for allowing that to happen but you know what, it’s a beautiful thing. I am her person, I am everything to her, I am the one person she can trust to fill all her needs both physically and emotionally and I’ve earned that. Do I think I have completely screwed her up and that she will have some social awkwardness as she gets older? Absolutely not. I make a point of doing play dates and taking her on lots of errands so she gets a lot of interaction every single day. Our kids only care this deeply for us for a few years before they want to do everything on their own. I will soak in every minute of being her everything. Wear that attachment with pride mamas, you have earned every single bit of it.
- I have never wished away one moment with Teagan. Yes, sometimes I wish she would wrap her tantrums up a little quicker but that’s neither here nor there. I know these years will go by fast and I plan on making this count. Knowing I get to be her teacher in everything makes me want to cry from happiness. She isn’t being taught all the things from a daycare provider, from my mom, from my sister, or even from her dad. Yes, all of these people contribute when it’s their time to shine but I get to shape her and her education. When she points out all the animals in a book she knows and then tells me what sound they make, I can say “I did that!” “I DID ALL OF THIS!!!” No I’m kidding, my husband is awesome too but you get what I mean.
You hear it so often, especially as a stay at home mom, “The days are long but the years are short” and it’s so true. Some days are so unbelievably difficult that I genuinely don’t know how I can mentally wake up and do it again the next day. The next day comes and I am always excited. Our energy rubs off onto these tiny little humans and how we approach the day can make a world of difference.
This is by far the greatest job in the world and I feel very grateful that we are in a place where we can financially do this. I know I will always look back and be glad I did this and I know Teagan will be too.
Don’t feel alone in this job. I’d say it’s arguably the hardest job out there, but also the most rewarding. Share your feelings. Connect with other moms. Don’t let others judge you and don’t judge yourself. Just know you are doing a great job. Know that no matter how much of a beast your child was today, they love you.