Before becoming a stay-at-home-mom myself, I never completely realized what it entailed. I still recall my young naïveté over the prospect of having a ton of extra time to accomplish projects, since I would already be home anyway. Ha! Let’s just say I didn’t really get it until I was in it. Here are a few of the challenges of being a stay-at-home-mom that I hadn’t really expected.
1. No schedule
If you are someone who thrives on schedules and to-do lists, the adjustment to SAHM life can be a challenge. Though your days will have a general rhythm to them (eat, play, sleep, eat, play, sleep…) there won’t be a super-precise schedule. Life happens and kids are unpredictable, so there is definitely a good bit of improvisation and flying by the seat of your pants that happens… even for the most ardent schedule-followers among us.
2. Lack of grown-up conversation
Gone are the days of lively break room chats on philosophy, politics (or OK, really just what you did over the weekend). In their place are conversations about “choo-choo trains” and songs about monkeys jumping on beds. Sometimes a mama just needs a little grown up interaction, ya know?
3. No true breaks
And speaking of breakroom chatter… there will be none of that, because being a stay-at-home-mom means that you won’t really get any true breaks. Your lunch time will be spent alongside a little one who is throwing peas onto the floor and you’ll probably be lucky if you even get a bathroom break alone. There is always nap time though… the most glorious break of the day, IF you can get them to sleep.
4. Little to no affirmation
In the workplace, there are performance reviews and pats on the head from our boss for a job well done — but parenting doesn’t really offer that. Of course, your partner, friends, and family may occasionally offer you affirmations and remind you that you’re doing a great job. But even though that is lovely and so welcomed, it’s not quite the same.
5. Feeling a lack of accomplishment
As a SAHM, more days than not you will have a difficult time summing up just what you did in a day. Unlike your pre-parenting days where you had quantifiable goals and objectives to achieve, parenting will often leave you asking “Hmmm… what exactly did I actually do today?” When you are attending to a million little things all day long that know one will really notice (i.e. cutting food into tiny pieces, nursing babies, cleaning up messes, changing diapers, etc…) it can make you feel like you aren’t really accomplishing much at all. Take heart though… you are parenting little people who will hopefully become really great big people, thanks to your hard work. It’s just too bad you won’t get to see the fruits of your labor for a good long while yet.
6. Fielding questions
People will ask all kinds of uncomfortable questions when you are a stay-at-home-mom. “So what do you do for work?” or “How do you afford to stay home?!” or “What do you do all day?” Sometimes it can get a little bit awkward. Come up with a few cheeky one-liner responses, and you’ll be golden.
7. Having no reason to dress up
Becoming a stay-at-home-mama means retiring (for now at least) those beautiful dry-clean-only tops and flashy high heels from your working days. While that doesn’t mean you are now relegated to a life of yoga pants and baseball caps, wearing fancy dresses and heels and things that can’t be easily washed when they get puked on just won’t be very practical for daily life anymore.
8. Home becoming less restful
Because you are home more often than not, sometimes home begins to feel like being at the office, because technically your home actually is your office. You suddenly become more aware of all the little things on your to-do list because you constantly have a tally of them in your head. I am a total homebody and definitely still love my home — but sometimes if I want to truly relax, I need to get out and have a change of scenery.
9. Losing identity
When you are home with your kids all day, the role of “mom” quickly becomes all encompassing and it can be easy to lose yourself in the mix. It is so important to remember that despite the fact that your role as a mother is the most important you’ll ever take on, you are still a multifaceted person with passions and interests, hopes and dreams. Finding time to do things that remind you of the other parts of yourself (fostering a hobby, date night with your partner, etc.) can really help you avoid that loss in identity.
10. Difficulty finding balance
One of the most difficult parts of being a SAHM (in my opinion at least) is finding balance in your day. Figuring out how much to be productive, vs. how much quality time you are devoting to your kids. It can often feel like you are being torn in many directions, but figuring out good boundaries for yourself and your time can help tremendously.