I have a confession: Every so often in my freelance life, I fantasize about my old desk job. I think about getting ready in the mornings, putting on a nice blazer or skirt and blouse, and hitting the road. The memories of watching the sunrise while listening to Bikini Kill on the highway, then grabbing a quick fast food breakfast before stealthily running to my desk so my boss doesn’t notice I’m 5 minutes late are more enjoyable now that I’ve been out of an office for three years. Thinking about those work lunches on the boss’s dime, and even those long, grueling meetings, bring feelings of nostalgia.
And it makes sense that I miss these things sometimes. After all, back then I was able to punch out at a certain time and enjoy my happy hour apps and beer before retiring to a quiet home. Plus many women feel that working outside the home makes you a better parent. I'm not sure if it's a "better/worse" situation when it comes to whether or not to work away from home when you have kids, but there are undeniably some benefits that you get when you go to work.
These days, of course, the fun never stops. And it’s true, being a stay-at-home (or work-at-home) mom is pretty fun. I’ve never had a cuter, sweeter, more forgiving boss and I get to work in my pajamas, take mid-day naps, and eat (well, snack) whenever I want. There are, however, some significant downsides to being a SAHM rather than an office employee. For all our hard work in the home, we rarely receive any real recognition for it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are all the ways being a SAHM is much harder than dealing with office politics:
Your Schedule Is Never As Streamlined As In The Office
There ain’t no 9-to-5 when you’re a SAHM. Instead, you are on the clock all the time, no breaks (except maybe when the kids are asleep, but even then, you're still on call and forced to be in the same place).
You Can’t Ask The Janitor To Clean Up The Mess Someone Left In The Bathroom
Yeah, there’s no passing off this task any more. Maybe your partner if they happen to be home.
Speaking Of Which, You Thought Going To The Bathroom In The Office Was Tough…
An old co-worker of mine would always tell me how she could never go in the office bathroom unless she knew no one was coming in. And this was rough on her because oftentimes people would go and hide in the bathrooms to check their phones or have brief conversations with friends. But when you’re a SAHM, you have no choice but to do your business with an audience. Sometimes the bathroom door needs to remain wide open so your toddler doesn’t throw a fit. And then of course there are the times they insist on sitting in your lap while you “go,” which is something folks would get fired for in a regular office.
Your At-Home Boss Is Looking Over Your Shoulder Way More Often Than Your Office Boss
Whereas some office bosses will simply meet with you and then let you work on your own (*the best*), your mini-me will never leave you alone to do the house work or your work-from-home job.
There’s No One To Delegate To (Unless You Count One Of The Older Kids)
You know how sometimes you get swamped and you’ve got a simple letter that needs going out or some faxes sent and you ask your co-worker for a quick favor? Yeah, that doesn’t happen when you’re a SAHM. Although if you’ve got more than one kid, you’ll very likely end up pawning some tasks (like watching the baby) while you grab a quick shower.
Forget Working Lunches — It’s All About Inhaling A Protein Bar While Doing Chores And Keeping The Kids Entertained
I remember when I used to complain about 30-minute lunches, and then hour-long lunches. When I first became a SAHM, I know I would’ve killed for 30 minutes at the time of my choosing to space out on my phone and slowly appreciate a good meal at a restaurant.
Instead Of Long, Unproductive Meetings, You’ll Have Long, Unproductive Potty Training Sessions
“Did you pee yet?” will become the new, “Here’s our progress for this quarter.”
There’s Never A Pot Of Coffee Waiting In The Break Room Unless You Make One
You buy the coffee, you make the coffee, you drink the coffee. And repeat.
Your “Work Space” Is Now Cluttered With Toy Cars, Diapers, And Spilled Apple Juice
Remember that nice, clean, well-organized desk you once maintained? Or maybe it still is, but you’ve got a little monkey trying to climb on top of it.
If You’ve Run Out Of Supplies, You’ve Only Got Yourself To Blame
Instead of monthly orders for copy paper, toner, and staples, you’ll be rushing to Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. when you find out you accidentally forgot to buy diapers.
...And The Supplies Are Never Where You Left Them
Babies have a tendency of hiding your most important items, like baby wipes and your keys.
Office Gossip Is Not Only A Non-Issue, You’ll Actually Miss It
When your daily conversations consist of babbling responses from a 1-year-old, you’ll wish you could have another water cooler analysis of the secret relationships in the office.
You’ll Miss The Old Break Room, Since Now All You Have Are Rooms Full Of Broken Things
The only semi-safe space in a SAHM’s home is the bathroom, but even then, privacy is not always guaranteed.
Rather Than Brown-Nosing Colleagues, You Might End Up With A Brown-Nosing Child
That obnoxious co-worker who was constantly kissing the boss’ ass? You no longer have to deal with them. However, there’s always the possibility one of your kids ends up taking their place, especially when there’s more than one child.
There’s No Such Thing As Sick Days, And Forget About Paid Leave
Sick days just mean feeling lousy and having to pull a double anyway. And don’t expect any real vacations for the next 18 years.
Actually, Forget About Paychecks, Period
Sure, sometimes accounting messed up and forgot to cut you a check for the week (or lied about it and put it off due to some budgetary issues...but I digress). But at least you had a tangible form of payment on Fridays that you could take to the bar, err...I mean, bank.
Rather Than Embarrassing Incidents At Office Parties, You’ll Have Embarrassing Incidents At The Playground, Grocery Store, Shopping Mall, Doctor’s Office...
And you thought getting drunk and doing karaoke at the holiday party was bad.
You Won’t Have To Pick Up The Slack Of Your Lazier Co-Workers — You’ll Have To Pick Up The Slack Of EVERYONE In Your Household
And yes, it sucks and people rarely appreciate it.
And Finally, Forget About Racking Up Vacation Time. You Have To Pay Someone Else Your “Salary” To Cover For You To Get Out For A Night, Instead.
It sucks, but it’s worth it to get into some non-yogurt-stained clothes and go out into the world to have conversations with the other adults.