Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday Thirteen- The Good And Bad Of Being A Stay At Home Mom

As my husband can tell you, I went into this motherhood thing kicking and screaming. I was Miss Career Woman in my 20's. Not that I had that great of a career (mental health therapist), but I loved working and having my own paycheck. Independence was my middle name, even when all my friends were having babies and the pressure was on. But when I learned my brother and his wife wanted kids, something clicked for me and suddenly I wanted to try out this kid thing. Still, the change over was a tough one. Here is some of the nitty gritty I found out about staying home:

1. I miss my paycheck!! - I knew that relying on my husband's income was going to be tough, but man! I also miss having my own spending money and say so about my budget. It's awful having to ask for money from my husband. I still hate it.

2. Talking to other adults- I was so lonely when I first had kids. One, it's too much to drag all that baby stuff everywhere you want to go, so you can't just go out to see a friend, and two, you just don't have time. The isolation is crushing at first and I got a bit depressed as a result.

3. Setting my own schedule- I love this bonus! I don't have a boss (unless you count the kids), I run the house as I see fit, coming and going as I choose. It also means I never stop working at a set time anymore, but that is ok with me. I get to go to the gym, eat out with friends, shop, etc. No scheduling things around the 9 to 5.

4. Other moms- it was such a comfort to me to be able to talk with other moms about all my worries and concerns when my kids were little. And most of them didn't work full time either, so we had time to talk. And I've made some great friends as a result.

5. Keeping the house in order- this is a good and bad. I don't have to wait until weekends and nights to clean, get laundry done, etc. but I do have 4 other people working against me on this. Man, those kids can make a mess! And apparently I look like a maid cause they keep making messes even after I've read them the riot act.

6. Dinner- ok, pretty simple. But I used to dread dinner when I worked. Dragging myself home after work and coming up with something to make when I'd rather just eat a sandwich everyday was not fun. Now I have all day to throw something together and I often make regular food, not much take out or prepackaged food. Though some days Mc Donald's is all I can manage!

7. Co-workers- I had some great co-workers and some real doozies. I miss the great ones and not the others! But it's nice at home cause I can choose pretty much who I deal with all day now, or just spend the day alone.

8. Having my own business- I just started my own business with my brother in law and his brother (he's my brother in law too, right?). Anyway, having the time to start the business and get it going is wonderful. I can research, call who I need to call, and make meetings without all the worries of a regular job in the way. And maybe I can get back that paycheck too!

9. Taking a day off- At work, we used to have "mental health days" because of the nature of our careers. But any day I needed off, I had to call someone or sign a slip to ask permission. Now, I can take a day if I need to. Not that I won't get behind with my work, but if I don't feel well or just need a day, I can take it. No permission needed.

10. The stigma- I've noticed that society in general tends to look down on stay at home moms. We are catagorized as "housewives" or "homemakers" which sounds a bit old fashioned to me, since we do so much more these days. People assume that if you stay home, you don't have an education or have never contributed to society. Raising kids is not an admired profession, it seems.

11. Keeping up with my profession- My professional licenses require me to get continuing education credits to maintain them. And since I no longer have access to an employer who will pay for me to obtain those credits, I have to do it on my own. Plus, I get behind on new ideas and findings in my field just by the fact that I don't have contact with anyone in my profession anymore, except my husband. And I know he doesn't want to spend time keeping me informed!

12. This is a hard job!- I used to think going to work was hard, but nothing prepared me for the sheer exhaustion of being a parent. And apparently I don't learn too quickly because I have three kids. To say it's overwhelming is a severe understatement. I also had no help so that made it ten times worse. It's easier now, but I still have moments where I'm not sure I'm qualified for this job.

13. My kids- Couldn't leave them out! The best, most wonderful part of this whole thing is that I get to be there for my kids. I realize that I am more than blessed to even be able to stay home, especially nowadays. From skinned knees to an extra hug at the end of a bad day, I can be there for it all. Forget the lack of money, time or any other struggle, my kids are worth it.


CountryDew said...

A lot of that is just staying at home, period, even in a job. I have found it lonely to work from home in my home office. I also miss the steady paycheck at the moment; that has been a difficult one for me to adjust to. Without kids as an "excuse", it is even harder to "justify" being home and not being the greatest housekeeper, etc. in the world. In many respects, having a "real" job is easier.

queen of everything said...

I so needed this. I find it interesting that as soon as I say that I'm a sahm the vocabulary drops to a third grade level.

sweetflutterbys3 said...

Dew- I agree wholeheartedly. The transition from working at the office to working at home is quite tough. And at home it's hard to divide "home work" from "work work". I really just think that people with "real" jobs are a bit jealous of us freelancers and work from home sorts :)

sweetflutterbys3 said...

Queen- Hi! Good to hear from you. I know you are so busy right now with the new little one!

I know exactly what you are talking about with the vocab. drop. And all we crave is intellectual conversation, which makes it ironic!! I really wish people would not view SAHM's like that.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Staying at home to take care of the home fires is one of the most important jobs a person can do. I never wanted to have a job "outside." Why have kids if I'm going to have someone else raise them? Maybe I'm old fashioned but I like it that I have time to clean my house and take my kid to the park and have supper on the table for when Kurt gets home. He works hard making us some money and he gets home and I have my part done, everything is taken care of. A lot of people think they can't do it because they can't afford it but it's often a matter of how much you want to buy. I'd rather have the cheap Hundai (sp?) than an expensive Mitsubishi if it means I can stay home, for example. I think this gives us a good quality life.

Now as far as the money, he just gives it to me and I do all the bills and bookkeeping and give HIM the spending money. So I don't have a problem with that either. We make big decisions together.

I have started many "little" businesses from home. And actually I do much of the work for our flooring business, Shop-At-Home Floors, from home. What kind of business are you and your brother-in-law starting?

sweetflutterbys3 said...

We started a house rehab company. My brother in law has owned his own construction business for years now and he is ready for a change. I have sold homes before and I enjoy the paperwork/meetings end of the business so it's a good fit.

I like your way of thinking about being a SAHM!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Oh, Kurt and I would be good at that. We're hardworking and handy but we're also excellent at selling our own houses. We sold them all ourselves and did really well. We've talked about doing that a few times. Flipping. But we'd want to specialize in turning houses into horse farms (for people like me--they are hard to find all finished like we make them) and old houses. Looking forward to you blogging about your new business!

Beth said...

What a great list, Mary Ann! I concur with every single point on your list. When I first became a stay-at-home mama after my first baby, I thought it would be temporary, until she got in school. But when my second child was diagnosed with autism, we made the decision that I would stay home to work with him, in part because we couldn't afford a lot of the therapies for autism that were offered. And it was the best decision we ever made. When he was little, he didn't talk except to echo what others said and he rocked back and forth and insisted on rigid routine. But now he is in college, making excellent grades with lots of friends, and I like to think that maybe I had something to do with that. But you are so right about there being a stigma to being a stay-at-home mom. And unfortunately, I've noticed that many of those who seem to disparage "housewives" are working women. Certainly not always, but more often than not. I just wish we women could more often respect each other's choices and be supportive of each other. Anyway, when I have to write a description of myself, I always put "successful mother." :-)

sweetflutterbys3 said...

Beth- thanks! I also have an autistic son and I understand your choice to stay home with your son, as I did too. I'm sure you were the reason for your son's recovery. Who knows a child better than their own mother? The sacrifice moms like you make is heroic. I'm so glad to hear he is doing so well. It encourages me that my son, who is 6 yrs old, will do the same. It's the future I always dream and pray he will have!

It is sad how much we women do put each other down. I think if we supported each other we'd be running the show more often than not!