Working Vs Stay at Home Mom: We’re All Great!


Working Vs Stay at Home Mom: We're All Great! | Duluth Moms Blog

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child. I knew instinctively that I did not want to be a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t know if it was the beginnings of my postpartum depression or just me knowing where my limitations were and knowing what was best for us all. The plan was for me to take my twelve weeks of unpaid leave and then go back to work full-time.

I made it eight weeks before I called my boss and basically begged her to let me come back immediately.

I went back to working full-time and my mom watched the baby while I worked (my husband worked full-time, too). We were broke and all was swell. When baby number two came, some people assumed I would stay home and I decided NOPE! I’m going to work full-time because the arrangement was working for my family and I felt like I saw my kids enough, I was keeping the house clean, getting meals made every night, killing it on the weekend as super fun mom, and it was great.

It really was great until my son was maybe ten months old. My dad had a heart attack and my mom didn’t think she could watch two small children full-time anymore. We knew we couldn’t afford daycare so my husband and I came to a decision that I would quit my job that I loved and be a stay-at-home-mom. I thought it would be easier since my second baby wasn’t super needy and I was killing it on the weekend so how hard would it be?

As it turns out it was really hard and lonely and awful and I only made it three months before I was looking for a part-time job. My mom could watch the kids part-time, I could still get out and work and talk to adults who didn’t wear diapers or pee their pants when you wanted to go to Target; it was a win-win for us all. I did that for five, almost six years.

But then I got pregnant with baby number three. My mom really didn’t want to watch the baby all of the time and we really couldn’t afford daycare so my husband and I decided that I would for real quit my job and stay home. And that’s what I did.

I was pregnant with baby number four six months after my third was born and the chance of me working were kaput because her birth was traumatic and life-changing for me in lots of medical and cognitive ways. Being told that I likely would not work again was one of the hardest things I have had to endure. My identity has always been my work. My self-worth was always measured by what I could do at work, what milestones and accomplishments I could do at work.

Working Vs Stay at Home Mom: We're All Great! | Duluth Moms Blog

Now that I’ve been on both sides of the aisle, I can tell you there isn’t a better side.”

Each side has pros and cons. Sometimes I love being home. It’s really nice to not have to get dressed or wear makeup. I can go to Target every day free of judgement because the kids ALWAYS need something, and I can volunteer at school. But… I also can’t pee alone, keep a house clean with two preschoolers tearing it up, and preparing meals every day is so stressful that by the week’s end, I stop caring if we all eat cereal for dinner.

When I was working, I cared about what I looked like and I took self-care more seriously. My house was always clean, we had home-cooked meals every night. Sure, I had a hard time volunteering at school and I couldn’t always chaperone a field trip and I was always so exhausted catching up on mail, bills, paperwork because I couldn’t do it during the day at work.

I will say the hardest thing about being home is dealing with loneliness. All of my friends have kids who are older and almost none of them have the preschooler age, so that means I have to make new friends and honestly, I can’t think of anything worse. Making new friends is like online dating and you’re hoping you get a second date but what if you don’t like them and now you have to nicely turn them down? Making friends as a parent is exactly like dating in your 20s. It’s the worst.

Working Vs Stay at Home Mom: We're All Great! | Duluth Moms Blog

I just know that sometimes women in either camp judge women in the other camp and I’m telling you right now- it’s no good for any of us. Being home all day is really tough and knowing that it all falls on you all day and the crying… oh, the crying!… It’s really difficult to deal with. After two hours of listening to a toddler cry that they don’t need a nap when they’ve been up since 4am and very much need a nap, I will do just about anything find someone and tag myself out of there. But I know being at work and thinking about what you’re missing (because you aren’t missing the nap time screaming, you’re missing the milestones and sweet moments that are really just flashes in the pan), and you’re bummed out that you have to work. Or maybe you like your job but you feel guilty because feeling guilty is our #1 quality as moms.

So before you say, “At least you get to stay home!” or “You’re so lucky, you get to go to work!”, take a pause. That mama might really be struggling with her circumstances and they aren’t feeling so lucky. Acknowledge how they feel and ask what you can do to help. We have to do better and stop judging each other. Being a parent is a really tough job and we’re all just trying to muddle through.