Leaving the workforce and staying home with your kids is a big decision, and the implications are usually more substantial than we realize. Staying home with small children, day after day, is both physically and emotionally difficult, so it's not uncommon for stay-at-home moms feel misunderstood and even slighted by their working mom counterparts. In fact, I'd wager there are things every stay-at-home mom wishes other moms just knew.
When I chose to leave my job five years ago to stay home with my newborn, I was amazingly unprepared for what it meant to be a stay-at-home mom. The isolation was overwhelming and I struggled with the domesticity of it all. I've never been great at housekeeping, so when I realized that the majority of my day would be filled with tasks that I struggled to complete sufficiently, I became super discouraged. As a result, my confidence took a huge hit. I went from a job I loved and was really good at, to questioning everything I was doing while simultaneously feeling like I was in way over my head.
Over the years I've grown accustomed to the more mundane aspects of my daily life, but the depression and feelings of isolation have lingered and I don't think they're going away anytime soon. I know I'm not alone in these feelings, which is a small comfort. I definitely know there are things almost every stay-at-home mom wishes other moms knew about our lives, up to and including the following:
Sometimes, We're Lonely...
I don't care what anyone says, being home every second of every day with small children is lonely. It may seem like we are free to come and go as we please — hanging out with other moms, going to playdates, and having coffee — but it's not like that. Sometimes I don't leave the house for multiple days in a row. Days, you guys. At home. With kids.
And if you live in a rural area? Forget about it. You can go an entire week without seeing another adult aside from your partner.
...But We're Never Alone
Ironically, of course, we're never alone. Small children follow us everywhere we go. Bathroom? Yep. Shower? You bet. We have zero privacy and absolutely no solitude.
Unless we stay up very late or wake up very early, we will constantly have a little person nearby and probably touching us. I imagine working mothers take for granted the small blocks of time they have alone (probably in a commute) and not home with their kid (or kids). Your commute and your bathroom breaks, and your lunch break (I'm assuming, again) are all time spent alone. Yeah, we don't get to choose.
We Crave Adult Interaction
As much as we adore our kids, we would love to have a conversation that doesn't involve potty training, Disney characters, snacks, or boogers.
We Don't Feel Intellectually Stimulated
Before we chose to stay home (or had to stay at home because it made the most financial sense for our family), many of us had jobs that we found simulating and challenging. Many of us have college degrees, or even post-grad degrees, and days spent wiping butts and cutting grapes in half isn't the intellectual pursuit we once enjoyed.
Our Daily Lives Are Tedious
Stay-at-home moms have routines by default. Our kids have routines and therefore, so do we. We have cleaning routines and laundry routines and taco Tuesday and errand day and it all gets very tedious and monotonous and, at times, a little boring.
Many Of Us Live With Depression
A 2015 study found that stay-at-home moms are more depressed, angry, and sad that working moms. So it's not a stretch to say a great many stay-at-home moms suffer from depression, and it can be exacerbated by the isolation and tedium of our daily lives.
Many Of Us Struggle Financially
Being a one income family in a two income world isn't easy. Then again, paying for unbelievably expensive childcare isn't easy either. In other words, we can't win. As a result, many of us pinch our pennies and stick to strict budgets to be able to afford to stay home with our children.
We Feel Unappreciated
Much of our work goes unnoticed and unappreciated by our partners (as well as other moms, honestly). It's nothing short of disheartening to do all the things we do every day, then have people ask what we do all day or insinuate that we sit on a couch and eat snacks and barely lift a perfectly manicured finger. False.
We Love Being Home (Most Of The Time)
All that said, we love being home with our kids. It's not easy and many times we feel like it would be easier to put our children in daycare and go back to work (not that dropping your kid off at daycare or working a full-time job while parenting is automatically easy, by any means) but, ultimately, this is what's right for our family and we're lucky to be able to do it.
Just cut us some slack. We're doing our best and, honestly, your opinion of us matters more than you know.