I knew I wanted to stay at home when my babies were little, but more importantly, I wanted the option. The freedom to choose between work and staying at home is a privilege I don’t take lightly and am so grateful to have. I gave birth to my first child and worked from home for a year until I finally got up the guts to let go of work completely and become a full time mom.
I’m honored, privileged, lucky… and a little jaded.
There are definitely a lot of things I didn’t know going into this job. A lot of things I never could’ve understood until the title of SAHM became a reality. Below are some hard questions I wish I somehow could’ve asked myself before I took the position.
- Are you comfortable with extreme loneliness? Your only form of adult contact will be through text messages or scheduled play dates that must be planned far in advance and almost always get canceled. Of course family will come over to see the baby and they’ll ask how you’re doing, but you’re not the reason for the visit and everyone knows it. Seeing other grownups and talking about grownup things is a built in benefit of going to a job everyday. It shouldn’t be the only reason you go back to work, but it can be missed when it’s taken away.
- Are you comfortable having everything about your physical appearance take a backseat? Being “put together” will be reserved only for weddings and the occasional date night. You may have once dreamed of living in pajamas and yoga pants all day, but anything loses it’s appeal when it happens all the time. There’s plenty of evidence that suggests looking your best (whatever that means to you) boosts self confidence and improves moral, but when you’re stuck at home with a sick toddler, it’s easy to stay in sweatpants and forget the last time you showered. If you’re a SAHM, taking care of yourself will take effort.
- Are you a natural care giver? This is hard to answer because of course you love your child, but embarking on a career in childcare is a totally different thing. You may have lots of babysitting experience and legitimately enjoyed it, but babysitters get breaks. HUGE breaks. Have you ever considered what it’s like to be the care giver to a baby or toddler 24 hours a day, everyday? Can you handle the monotony of playing the same games and listening to the same songs for hours, weeks, and months on end? Would you be a kindergarten teacher if you weren’t a mom? If the answer is no (or perhaps hell no), dedicating your life to childcare might be a less natural adjustment than you might think. It helps that the child you’re giving care to is the cutest/greatest/most kissable child on the planet, but it’s still a hard job.
- Are you prepared to have laundry, cooking, and other household chores fall on you exclusively? Housework isn’t reserved for mothers only, but it simply makes sense that the person who has the most access to the washing machine would be in charge of putting clothes in it while the other person is away. Going from running a staff to running a spin cycle is an adjustment. Taking care of a household is arguably important work, but important is not the same as intellectually stimulating. As with taking care of your looks, making sure your brain doesn’t go to mush takes effort.
- Which would you regret more — staying home or going back to work? This was how I made my decision even when the answer to every other question was unclear. For me, I knew I would have less regret from staying home than going back to work. And I understood than either decision would involve regret — I just needed to pick the path that had the least amount of regret for me.
I can happily report I don’t regret staying at home and my experience as an official SAHM has been enjoyable and even magical at times. I also have bad days (really bad days) and I believe it’s the hardest job in the world.
Some moms absolutely know they’re mean to work. Some moms absolutely know they’re meant to stay home. I’m in between, but I’m proof it’s possible to have made the right decision even if you second guess yourself on a daily basis.
What about you, mamas? How did you answer these questions?