Being a stay-at-home mom is more challenging than some realize. I mean, really. Before I found freelance and contracting jobs I could do from home, it was just me and my daughter navigating our lives together while my partner (her father) worked and let me tell you: there are some major turn offs every stay-at-home mom really wishes you wouldn't do because it undermines everything we've worked so hard on.
Don't get me wrong. I love being home with my two kids (ages 5 and 10) but I also love having the ability to work while I'm home with them. The independence and freedom that comes with making my own money, and enjoying my own career, is not lost on me. However, in being the primary caregiver for my children, it's dawned on me that all the work that goes into being home is often overlooked or disgraced completely. You know what? I'm over it. Yes, caring for my children is the main part of being here, but there are so many other factors into play — household chores, errands, groceries, meal prep — I don't think it's realized how draining and exhausting it can be at times, especially when I'm doing these things (actual work) and working my jobs (from a literal sense), alone.
Having been on both sides (working in and out of the home), I totally get the peeves from either. Currently though, I'm doing the at-home thing which means my turn-offs are abundantly clear! With that, take a moment to reflect on them so that next time you're in the company of a stay-at-home mom like myself, you'll be a tad more considerate. Please and thank you.
Clutter My De-Cluttered House
I spend a large amount of time fighting the cleaning battle that I know I'll lose, but if I don't stay ahead of it (at least a little), it'll grow into something I can't handle. So, you'll see me following my kids around, picking up their trails throughout the day. I don't mind, and at the end of the day, they pick their own messes. What I do mind is when someone drops by, with or without kids, and gives me more messes to clean. Dirty dishes, trash, whatever it is, don't bring in in my house unless you plan to clean up after your damn self because I'm tired.
Wake A Napping Child
Have mercy on a mother who spends an hour trying to get a toddler to fall asleep and don'y knock, call, come by, or really even think about me during this time. The days can feel so long at times, those naps (or bedtime) are sometimes all that's holding me at a sane level of functioning. When my kids were babies, I'd have raged if either of them were awakened by anything. Honestly, the rest is for them as much as it is me. Without it, they turn into little Tasmanian devils. True story. So, for the sake of all stay-at-home moms keeping it together, just don't.
Walk Around With Your Shoes On (Without Asking)
I admit, this is probably one of my pet peeves more than most because of my obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). When someone comes over, I prefer the shoes come off at the back door because I don't know where those feet have been and there are so many germs and feces and grossness in the world, I don't want it tracked onto the place I sit to play with my kids Sorry, not sorry.
Drop By Unannounced
No, no, nope. If you'd like to schedule a time we can get together, great! If you want to make plans to meet somewhere when I'm able, fantastic! If you decide to stop by without telling me, stop right there. Aside from possibly waking my sleeping children, or disrupting my rigidly scheduled work slots, you could also catch me right out of the shower, exercising, or any number of things I prefer not seen. I don't want to worry about someone coming by when I'm not prepared; it only fuels my anxiety. Just know, if you're coming to my house, it's going to be in my planner first.
Nag For Not Returning A Call
I know some people who really get on me for not returning their call or text. Listen, I hate speaking on the phone and that's never going to change. If you text and I see it when I'm busy but have the intent on texting back when able but I forget, my bad. I apologize. If you really want to reach out, an email will get the fastest response because — hello — I work on the computer! Even when I'm not working, I don't want to answer the phone. It causes a whole other mess of anxiety. So unless you're calling with a kid or family emergency or important career news, try another method.
Drop Your Kids Off For Unspecified Amount Of Time
Even with scheduled playdates, if we could mostly stick to the times discussed, I'd be cool. There've been instances in the past where a parent didn't show up for hours after the time set without so much as a call. This isn't OK.
Likewise, when my daughter was scheduled to go to a house for a sleepover, and the mother was to pick her up at 2:00 but didn't show until 4:00, I was pretty close from losing it. To be clear, meet scheduled times accordingly or face the wrath. I mean, I have other things to do around here!
Tell Me I Shouldn't Complain
Sigh. My biggest turn-off as a hard-ass-working stay-at-home mom is when people tell me how good I have it and that I have no reason to complain about any of it. I agree, I have a pretty awesome set-up here. I get to be with my kids and work. But it wasn't always this way and took a long time for things to settle in just so. Also, working doesn't dilute how much I do around here otherwise. It's basically working two full-time jobs. So yes, I hear you. I have much to be grateful for. If I complain, it's because I'm human and can only handle so much. Life is hard. Basically, unless you've been in my exact shoes, back off.
Whether you've chosen to stay home with your kids or it happens by accident, just know that no matter what happens, you're a rockstar. And if someone drops by when your youngest is napping just as you get out of the shower and they step in with their shoes on, you have the right to say no to all of it.