I made it! I have officially survived my first month as a full-time stay-at-home mom. And I have learned a lot of lessons in these 30 days.
- Make sure you get out of the house at least every couple of days, or you will all go certifiably insane.
- Kids need LOTS of physical activity, or they will go completely bonkers (and, as a result, so will you.)
- Don’t try to put too much on your agenda even though “you’re home all day,” or … well … I think you see where I’m going here.
But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is this — being a stay-at-home mom is HARD!
Okay, so I knew that already. I mean, I’ve been doing it part-time for the last four years. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew it was no cake walk.
But it’s a whole different ball game when you have to do it day in and day out every single day forever and ever amen.
That brings exhaustion the likes of which I’ve never known.
But don’t get me wrong! I love the choice I’ve made, and I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that it is what God led me to do.
And there are certainly perks — such as not having to get them (and myself) ready for daycare (and work). Or being home to take care of the household chores in the margins of the day (which aren’t as readily available as one might think … but more on that in a moment). Or being more available to play and invest in them.
Now that I’ve had some time to experience the SAHM life, I thought I’d give my answer to the great debate: “Which is harder — being a working mom or a stay-at-home-mom?”
Yep. Buckle up. We’re going there.
(Side note: I say “working mom,” but of course, all moms are working moms. I’m not suggesting that if you stay at home, you’re not working. Consider that a given. It’s just easier than saying “work-outside-the-home mom 100 times in one article. Capiche? Ok, great. Glad we cleared that up.)
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THE WORKING MOM
Being a working mom is tough stuff. Granted, I’ve never done it full-time for more than the occasional week or two at a time, but I’ve had enough of a taste to know that it is HARD.
Getting everyone ready and out the door on time every day is hard. (Especially when you have to not only be dressed, but presentable enough to be professional.)
Nursing a baby while working is hard. Keeping up a good milk supply, pumping at work, and prepping enough bottles for caretakers is quite a juggling act. (Did you know most employers are legally obligated to provide you with time and space to pump? Make sure you know your rights!)
Running a home and staying on top of household chores while also working outside the home is hard. Coming home from a full day of work to dinner that needs to be cooked, dishes that need to be washed, floors that need to be swept, laundry that needs to be done, etc. etc. is exhausting. And finding time and energy to pour into your children and marriage on top of that? It takes special grace from God, for sure.
Speaking of which, balancing work and family is hard. And everyone has an opinion on how you should do it. And you will probably wrestle with guilt regardless of how well you may, in reality, be handling it. So there’s that added burden. (Which is so NOT helped by people, well-intentioned or otherwise, who tell you that all moms should stay at home or they don’t love their children. Yep, I’ve literally heard that said, and it’s bologna. So cut that out.)
Okay, you get it. Being a mom who works outside the home is HARD. And I extend many kudos to those of you who are doing it and rocking it. (Here’s a post I wrote especially for you if you ever feel guilty for working.)
THE STAY-AT-HOME MOM
As I said, I thought I knew what I was getting into when I decided to stay home full-time.
Oh, sweet, precious, naive little Lisa. You thought you already knew because you did it two days out of the 5-day work week.
As it turns out, staying at home full-time is, in fact, quite different than doing it part-time. Because there are no breaks!
“What’s so hard about being a stay-at-home mom?” you ask. I’ll tell you:
Listening to crying and fighting and temper tantrums all. day. long is hard. So is hearing “Mommmmmmeeeee!” 1,000,000 times every single day. You can’t even fathom how mentally taxing this is until you’ve done it.
On that note, not getting a single moment of peace and quiet except for at nap time (if you’re lucky) is hard. (Why does everything have to be so loud??)
Consistently disciplining and managing behavior 24/7 is hard. Especially when you have strong-willed children. It is utterly exhausting.
Oh, and think stay-at-home moms should have spotless houses because they’re home all day? Well … so are the kids. And those precious little Tasmanians will undo everything you’ve just done before you even turn around.
So which is harder — working or staying home?
When I was doing both, I’ll tell you, there were days when going to work was honestly easier than staying home. When I was sick, I usually went to work anyway, because it was going to be easier than taking care of the kids.
But there have also been plenty of days when staying home was much easier than going to work. And I’m sure that’s especially true for other, more intense, fields of work.
So, basically, my final answer comes down to this — this is my response to the question of whether it’s harder to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom …
WORKING MOM VS. SAHM: My Final Answer
My final answer? …
Are you ready? …
Here it comes …
It might surprise you …
IT DOESN’T MATTER!
Who’s job is more tiring? — Who has it worse? — Who works harder?
Why do we play these games, and why does it even matter to us? (And I think we’ve all probably played it a time or two.)
Maybe it’s pride – maybe it’s so we can impress each other.
But is that really the goal of great motherhood — to outdo and impress each other??
Or maybe it’s insecurity.
Perhaps working moms belittle SAHMs out of their own battle with guilt or in response to perceived judgment. Maybe SAHMs disparage working moms out of their own insecurities for what they feel or fear is a lack of outward success.
Either way, when we evaluate our own performance as a mom based on another mother, we will always miss the mark. Because we’re using the wrong rubric.
Our efforts should always and only be based on our own personal best, what is best for our families, and what best fulfills God’s specific calling on our lives.
Which is harder, being a working mom or a stay-at-home mom?
It doesn’t matter.
Go run your race with excellence, support your fellow sister in hers, and never the two compare.
(P.S. Just to be clear — I wrote this for myself, too! So if you struggle with comparing your race to other women’s, will you do me a favor by letting me know in the comments below? I’d love to know that I’m not the only one. 🙂 )
- How I’m Breaking Free From the Comparison Trap
- Why It Doesn’t Work to Be a Lone Wolf in Motherhood
- Am I a Good Mom? 10 Things All Good Moms Do
- 20 Rejuvenating Scriptures for Weary Moms