I’m at stay at home mom and if I could go back and tell my working mom self a things I would. When I was working and my oldest was an infant, all I wanted was to stay home with her. What could be better than slow days with my baby? Trips to Target on a weekday without the crowds and did I mention all the stuff I could get done? After about 9 months of working full time, daycare drop offs and rushed weekends, my husband’s job took us to Tucson and I finally had my opportunity to stay home. The first month was blissful. I had a baby that slept on a schedule, days to unpack and make us feel at home and didn’t even need to put makeup on.
It. Was. Wonderful.
I’m not sure what shifted, but pretty soon I began to feel isolated. I found myself striking up adult conversations anywhere I could find them and getting out of the house became increasingly difficult because there was simply nothing to do. You can only go grocery shopping or to the park so many times a week! At the time, I didn’t know about the “stay at home mom depression” that I’ve now read so many articles and blog posts about. No one tells you that you forget about the outside world and schedules. For us, it meant a tight budget and those leisurely strolls through Target I dreamt of weren’t as blissful with one income to support them.
Yoga pants for days. Literally the same pair for days because, why not? My clothes were always covered in a mystery stain from little sticky hands and then spit up once we had our son. My husband would often call on his way home and I would run in my room and change just so he didn’t know I stayed in my pajamas all day. Endless scrolling through Instagram, comparing my not so glamorous reality to everyone else’s highlight reel. Too much of that will do a number on anyone’s mental health. I had no outlet, just two kids and 12 hours to fill before my husband got home.
Since the “dark days” I have learned a lot about myself, my limits and what I need to do to stay sane. I had to (sometimes still do) force myself to leave the house alone. Leave the kids with my husband and be a single person outside of the home for a few hours. Running a home, being the default parent, holding the mental load is all consuming and those times when I got out was my equivalent of coming up for air. I found my village. I started to write, post more of my real life on social media and interact with my followers, many of whom were friends embarking on motherhood themselves.
There is a lot about being a stay at home mom that people don’t realize. The loneliness in a full house, the mile long to do list, the wondering where the day went when you’ve literally done nothing but keep children alive. Wanting SO BADLY to have an out and then feeling guilty for wanting to be away from your family. There is good, though.
The good being home with my kids. I get to raise them and just be there. We have slow days that are full of playing, laughing and endless belly laughs. I get to witness the milestones and kiss every booboo. Nap time can be for mom, too, especially when your four year old still hasn’t mastered sleeping through the night. I have attempted to go back to work a few times and after a few job interviews, I just knew it wasn’t right for us. As chaotic as it is, I won’t get these years back with my kids. My family relies on me to be there for them 24/7.
Being on both sides of the fence, I can say being a working mom has its perks and so does being a stay at home mom. Each come with great opportunities, experiences and sacrifices. No mom has it easy. We all feel guilty, pressure from the outside to do it all and we all wonder if we’re doing it right. The good news is, there is no rulebook. You just have to find your groove and what works best for your family.