These six honest truths about being a stay-at-home Mom remind us all that while staying home may not be the easiest job in the world, it is one of the best! It’s exhausting, never-ending, and monotonous work, but it is also filled with joy and eternal value!
Staying home to raise my family full-time was something I had always dreamed of. Even before questioning if I wanted to be a mom in the first place.
Deep down, I always knew if I had kids I wanted to be at home with them.
I’m certain my mom is to blame for that.
She stayed home and raised my sisters and me. Though I don’t remember it well she always spoke so fondly of her own memories that I dreamed of creating that with my own family someday.
Being a SAHM is one of the greatest blessings I have ever received. However the image of what I thought full-time mom life looked like vs. the reality- are two completely different pictures.
Most of the time, staying home is looked down on. It doesn’t require any special certification or a master’s degree. No one really cares whether you spent your day being a good mom or taking yoga classes.
They may acknowledge it as sensible when they consider the cost of childcare, but the societal narrative surrounding stay-at-home mothers is generally that they are not achieving their full potential.
What I often consider to be one of the best decisions of my life (following Jesus was the best decision) is seen by others as a lazy and unproductive choice that took me out of the job market and into pointless work.
Romanticized Motherhood vs. The Reality of Motherhood
I tend to romanticize everything.
Standing in TJ Maxx sniffing a mango candle makes going to the beach with four littles always seem so relaxing and dreamy.
I picture their sweet faces when they see the ocean for the first time. Their chubby toes sinking into the sand. Their laughter and squeals as the ocean waves splash up their legs.
But that’s not reality.
Truthfully it probably sounds more like a lot of screaming “No we aren’t there yet!”, and “I will turn this car around, I really don’t care!”.
Traffic jams, juice boxes to the back of my head, and anxiety every time my kids go near the water.
Yeah, now that’s more realistic.
Staying at home full-time was no exception to the over-romanticization my mind could concoct. I saw myself put together, dressed up, calm, and involved in every game, craft, and adventure.
No one told me I’d be 8 months pregnant sprinting across my front yard with no pants on and a toothbrush in my mouth after spotting my one-year-old playing in the street.
I never imagined being the glossy-eyed mom in Walmart shopping while my kids scream in the buggy.
As it turns out there is more to being a mom- whether you work inside or outside of the home- than meets the eye.
Oh and if you aren’t a Mama yet, please- please for the love of all things holy– don’t say “Well my kid would never..”- because they will.
Believe me, they will.
So without over-romanticizing or downplaying the job at hand, here are 6 Honest Truths About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom that I wish someone had told me.
1. There is No Job Description, and yet “That” is part of the Job
I’ve worked a handful of customer service jobs over the years- hosting, waiting tables, retail- all the fun stuff. Something that gets said a lot in customer service is “That’s not my job.” or “That wasn’t listed in my job description.”
The kid eats too much pizza and pukes on the carpet. “Clean that up? No, That’s not my job.”
Drunk Santa walking around eating off of other people’s plates. “Stop him? No, that’s not part of my job.”
An Adult misses the entire toilet. “No- I refuse. That was not listed in my job description.”
But welcome to Motherhood. Where no job description is offered and yet “That is all part of the job.”
When I pictured staying home with my babies, I saw swaddle blankets, sleepy snuggles, and hot coffee never more than a few steps away.
I can laugh about it now, but my first few days at home full-time with my infant first child were like something out of a horror story.
He never slept, so neither did I.
Breastfeeding was new and totally foreign.
He wasn’t peeing much so I was convinced I was starving him.
We couldn’t find a pediatrician who took our insurance and spoke English.
Rafael had to go immediately back to work.
I couldn’t remember to eat- much less where I sat my cup of coffee.
Isaiah spit up and pooped simultaneously every few minutes.
And I was gross.
My body hurt in ways it had never hurt before.
Oh, and I had those joyful baby blues with Isaiah.
Mental health had never even crossed my mind and suddenly it was one of my biggest challenges!
This is not what I thought I would look like or be like as a Mom.
I was overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, and I cried over everything.
And yet- it was all just part of the job.
2. Someone Always Needs You
There’s no other way to put it.
Whether you have one kid or seven- someone always needs you.
That cry your newborn does in the night- that isn’t out of boredom, discontentment, or manipulation. They just need you.
You are all they know.
The beat of your heart, the rumble of your tummy, the hum you make when you rock back and forth.
You are their safe place.
You are their source of food, their comfort, and their protector.
And they don’t outgrow it quickly.
Even when they sleep through the night or can get their own drinks or snacks- they still need you- constantly and desperately.
Sometimes it’s to tattle on their sibling who isn’t playing fair or to tell you their apple tastes weird. (You’re supposed to be able to fix that somehow by the way.)
Other times it is simply to bandage a scrape or check over their math work.
Or if your kids are content for a minute then dinner, the dryer, the puddle of pee on the floor, or your husband desperately needs your attention.
The truth about being a stay-at-home mom is no place is off limits.
You are always needed.
They always need you and they will find you.
If you sit on the toilet and lock the door- little fingers or handwritten notes emerge through the crack under the door.
If you hide to eat a snack- you will be found and you will have to share. (The “this is spicy” trick doesn’t work forever.)
Wherever you go, whatever you do, someone- somewhere- is screaming “Mama”.
Regardless of how tired or touched out you are the reality is as a stay-at-home mom, you are needed.
3. Just Because You are Home Doesn’t Mean the House Stays Clean
This one surprised me.
My mom kept our house spotless growing up.
I was convinced that the house would stay clean once I was home full-time.
I think I managed it semi-decent with my first couple of kids, but now- well I don’t really want to talk about it.
The thing about staying home with small children is they stay home too.
My two-year-old loves to take the basket of laundry I am about to fold and move it to another room to dump it out. Then she empties all her dresser drawers, puts on someone else’s clothes, and eats Ritz crackers while walking in circles around the house. And that is only one kid.
Staying home is a lot of hard work- a lot of constant work- and yet at the end of the day, it often looks like you haven’t worked at all.
The truth is- I have spent years searching for the perfect schedule, routine, planner, and motivation to somehow “get it all done” and have that perfect spotless house.
But the more I listen to older (and far wiser) moms, (not the perfect mom on social media) the more I hear “My housework isn’t a huge priority.” or “I have learned to lower my expectations and let things go.”
That is hard for me.
I am a bit of a perfectionist.
The truth is though- no matter how much you stay home, embrace minimalism, or rework your weekly schedule- your house is going to get messy.
That’s just part of living in it.
Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean your house stays clean.
4. The Kitchen is Your Real Office
As a kid, I remember being in the dining room and living room a lot.
Nothing in my life could have prepared me for how much time I would spend in my kitchen.
I do try and cook most things from scratch, but even on the busy weeks when I plan ahead or buy simple snacks- I am always in the kitchen.
To be fair, it is also the only place I get alone time here and there.
But by the time you get one meal cleaned up and put away, it is time to start preparing the next.
And kids snack- a lot.
Between putting away groceries, meal prepping, dishes, cooking, cleaning, and eating- the kitchen is my real office.
And the truth is whether you feel like it or not, the kitchen demands a huge chunk of your day as a stay-at-home mom.
Make it a place you like to be because you’re going to be there A LOT.
5. There Are No Sick Days or Days Off
It’s a hard truth. I know there are some crazy bosses out there, but my kids rival Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.
It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how important the phone call is, or how bad you feel- when they need you, they need you.
They don’t care if you are leaning over the toilet puking- they will still come to ask you for a snack.
I was once congratulated for being able to “make my own schedule” unlike the average full-time job with set hours, but the thing about staying home is you are always on the clock!
They will walk right past their dad, straight through the locked bathroom door, and climb into the shower with you to ask “When’s dinner?” like they were invited to do so.
Before having kids, I heard the jokes about how you will never go to the bathroom alone and how you are now on Mom duty 24/7.
But none of that prepared me for what it is actually like.
It doesn’t matter if it is 2am on a Thursday morning or 5:30am on Christmas- you are Mama and you have to work.
There are no sick days, no vacation days, no self-care days, and no days off.
6. It is the Greatest Job in the World
In every other job, regardless of how fantastic you may be at it- you are replaceable.
You may earn a picture on the wall, a special parking spot, or a corner office. But someday, someone will fill your shoes there- even if they are big shoes to fill.
But your family is different.
No one can replace you as mom.
No one can fill the hearts and lives of your family the way you can.
Choosing to stay home and raise your family is no small feat.
It isn’t lazy or laid back.
Very, very rarely does it look like Hallmark movie marathons and a box of chocolates on the couch.
It is a lot of work while still juggling a busy life on a single income.
But it is full of kisses and cuddles. There are a million laughs and a million memories just waiting to be made.
Some days you will bake from scratch and keep up with laundry and other household tasks; other days you will spend an entire afternoon nursing a teething baby.
Being a stay-at-home mom means redefining productivity.
It means knowing when to tackle the to-do list and when to toss it.
We may always be amateurs in this profession- but we are changing the world one mundane day at a time.
Here’s to the greatest job in the world, whether you stay home full-time or work another job also!
You manage the unspoken pressure, the loneliness, the good times, and the bad days.
You work through a snotty nose, temper tantrums, and very little time to yourself.
Keep up the long, hard work Mamas, I’m certain it is worth it!
“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.”C.S. Lewis
Want more encouraging quotes like this one? Check out our 40+ Quotes that Inspire every Stay-at-Home Mama!
To the Mama Just Learning to Stay,
The thing is “staying home” sounds really simple.
We have all stayed in on a Friday night or taken a day to just work at home from time to time, but staying home full-time is a horse of a different color.
There is a loneliness there that I never dreamed of.
There are only so many tv shows someone can watch and they are no match for real adult conversations.
I remember spending a lot of my first year crying- watching as friends got degrees, promotions, and celebrated with their co-workers and large groups of friends.
No one cares when you finally sleep 4 hours straight during the night. You aren’t “as fun” now that you have a baby on your hip all the time. And no one wants to celebrate the fact that you checked every box on your to-do list- though that is worth celebrating!
Learning to stay home full-time can be hard, and a lot of Mamas decide it isn’t for them.
But let me encourage you- it gets easier!
Just like any other job- you learn the ropes and balance responsibilities you never dreamed you could.
There may not be a promotion, but just wait until those little arms wrap around your neck at night and whisper “I love you, Mama” in your ear.
That’s when it’s all worth it.
Every battle, every stressful day, every event that didn’t go the way you planned, and every moment you felt alone and unseen.
Someone is watching- and to them, you are the whole world.
You have chosen the good part- enjoy it.