As a parent for the last ten years, I've been both a "traditional" stay at home mom (i.e. no outside the home employment and no income from a job I did from home) and now a "work from home" mom, and both of these have their own set of challenges. As part of the Mom Life Series here on Mamatoga, I want to open up a dialogue on what you find challenging as a mom, and what you do to tackle those challenges or change them. The grass is always greener on the other side, and motherhood is no exception to that rule. Stay at home moms can envy working moms because they "get to" go to a job every day and "work with adults". Working moms can envy stay at homers because they get to "hang out with the kids all day". In the end, even though everyone's experiences are different, we can come together and share ways in which we all cope with some of these collective challenges.
For me, a big challenge as a stay at home mom was the isolation, or the lack of adult interaction. All day spent with a baby and a toddler would sometimes make me feel like I was losing my sharpness, a fuzziness could creep in and make me crave even the simplest "grown up" conversation. That being said, I would also sometimes find myself unwilling to leave the house to try to make some mom friend connections. Especially in the winter, the idea of taking a baby and a toddler anywhere seemed exhausting, so we would find ourselves at home, doing our normal routine. Here I was, desperately wanting to interact with other adults, but also totally lacking the motivation to make any friends or try anything new because I was so tired and also a little unsure of how to make new "mom friends". Sounds like a win-win, right?
The other challenge I had was the realization that the SAHM job didn't come with a whole lotta "breaks". Even with having a spouse that could come home from work and "help out", you were on the job all the time, 24-7. Even with them in bed (and we all know how well that can go) it is a never ending shift that can be draining when you've been doing it from the minute you wake up till the minute you fall asleep (before they wake you up again).
Another biggie? Feeling like I did "nothing" all day. Even though that was so far from the truth (taking care of children, cleaning up after children, feeding children, cleaning up after children again, over and over and over not to mention all the other stuff I did around the house and for the family) I would find myself at the end of the day, sometimes (okay usually) not showered, not feeling like I actually did a whole hell of a lot. At least not having a whole lot to show for how exhausted I was.
And even with all this, I also found myself unwilling to express how I felt or dare I even say, complain, about any of these things because I didn't want anyone to condemn me for feeling ungrateful. I was lucky to be able to stay at home with my kids, so who was I to complain about it?! Being the first in my group of close friends to have kids didn't help much either, because there was no one I could vent to, and no one I could sympathize with, and so I sorta felt like I was the only ungrateful stay at home parent out there and I should just shut up and deal.
Which brings me to you guys. I'm talking to all of you SAHMs. What are your biggest challenges? What did you do to tackle those challenges, what made things better for you? *some of your comments may be used in future issues of Mamatoga Magazine, no last names will be used in print*