Working Is Harder Than Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom October 15, 2014

Me with my kiddos.

I hang with moms and kids. That’s my crowd as new stay-at-home mom. I joke that there are days that the only adult males I interact with on the regular are my husband and the Starbucks barista. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two types of  SAHM’s. There are moms who have never worked outside the home since they had children, and those who have. Meaning, I know moms who stayed home with their first child and I know moms, like me, who started staying home with their second child.

A conversation with a group of moms holding babies went something like this:

A SAHM with two kids who never worked after her first child was born asked me, “So, Amy. Do you miss work? Are you glad you’re staying home?”

I say, “It’s great! It was a really good decision. My daughter loves her preschool. We were a little nervous pulling her out of her daycare. We were sad to leave there. It’s a great place, but I love being home with the kids. I’m actually a ‘stay-in-the-car mom’ Ha! We’ve been so busy.”

She says, “Yeah, but it’s so hard taking care of the kids all day!”

A new mom holding her first baby chimes in, “Yeah, being a stay-at-home-mom is the hardest job in the world.”


I looked around the group to try to catch the eye of a mom like me, one who went back to work after her first baby. No one like that was in this circle. I stayed quiet. I faded out of the conversation that turned into complaining about nap schedules, unhelpful husbands and struggles to decide what to cook for dinner.

Hardest job in the world? No. No it’s not. Working outside the home while still being a parent is harder. It is. It just is. I feel I can say this because I’ve done both. Take all the stress of caring for children, cooking for your family, maintaining your home and add the intense pressure of a full-time job to it. Add the commute. Add the limited time. Add the daycare bill. Add the pressure of counting up paid and unpaid maternity leave days. Add the agony of leaving your baby. Add the guilt. It makes it all harder.

I’m not saying it’s all roses being a homemaker. I’m busy, no doubt. My kiddos keep me on my toes. Napless days of wicked tantrums are exhausting and infuriating. Those are times I miss the outlet of work. I know there are mothers of children with special needs who have much more taxing days at home than I do. I understand there are mamas with colicky criers and mothers of multiples trapped in the house all day. I feel for them. I know they have rough days too.

I’m just saying that since I started staying home, our lives are so much better. There were days that I would spend less than two hours a day with my child. We’d get dressed in the morning. Eat in the car and I’d drop her off. By the time I got to her, I had two hours before she went to bed. That time was mostly for dinner and bath.

When two parents are working it’s like being shot out of a cannon on Monday morning and the cannonball lands on Friday afternoon. The cannonball falls exhausted into a messy house and an empty pantry. While we did have lots of fun on the weekends, we often did not. We often had to clean, grocery shop and do all the mundane things we couldn’t get to during the week. The weekend culminated with the Sunday night dread. I’d prepare with a gripping feeling in my chest because another work week was beginning.

I understand job satisfaction is part of this. I know some women who are very fulfilled in their jobs and feel that’s where they get the most validation. Other women I know work for companies with 12 paid weeks of maternity leave, mothers’ rooms for pumping that have lounge chairs and half-day Fridays. While I liked my job and the people I worked with, I chose careers that were not as conducive to parenthood. I knew that when I went to college and majored in journalism and communications. It’s hard being a mother reporting the news live on TV at 6:00 am or answering my public relations client’s email at 7:30 pm when it’s bath time. My friends who work in banking, for example, start at 9 and end at 5. That’s the nature of their business.

Now I can let my daughter play on the playground after preschool. I can take half an hour and make a gingerbread house with her. Hell, I can lay my head on the couch and take a nap when the kids do on a Tuesday because it’s raining and I have a headache. One parent is home to unload the dishwasher and start dinner so it doesn’t become this huge issue or argument. I can take the kids to the doctor when they are sick without scheduling it on my Outlook calendar or calling five people to make sure things at work are covered. None of that was possible when I was working full time and it was hard. Harder than this.

My biggest fear about staying home was that I was going to be bored, lonely or unstimulated. Those are the complaints I hear from SAHM’s. I can say that I have not felt that way AT ALL. Not once in the last 8 months have I been bored, lonely or unstimulated. Maybe it’s because I immediately planned stuff for us to do and groups to be a part of, I dunno. But, I really attribute not being bored, but being happy to two things:

  1. I am not home with only a baby. I have a preschooler and a baby to keep me busy. Yeah, babies can be boring. Add a toddler, preschooler or older child in the mix? Party time! Boredom be gone!
  2. I know how crazy it is to have two working parents and I know this is better. It just is.

27 Responses to “Working Is Harder Than Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom October 15, 2014”

  1. Trish says:

    I agree with you. I worked while I had one child but once we had our second, financially it didn’t make sense for me to keep working. I miss talking to adults, but it was a lot harder to work and take care of the household/family.
    With three kids now, it’s very hard too. Always somewhere to be, someone’s always sick, etc. So it’s difficult logistically. Also, the older two and their fighting. OMG. Some days I WISH I had a job outside the home.
    Anyway, life is hard. Parenting is hard. We all are doing a good job.

  2. Heather says:

    I work full-time with 3 kids. An infant, a preschooler, and a school kid. I would love nothing more than to stay home. Well, I do stay home – I work from home. So I should say… I would love for my babies to stay home, too. But for financial and health insurance reasons, it is not even remotely an option for me to quit work. And I can’t do my job with the kids home unless I hire a nanny. (Which I’m considering, but that’s a whole other story.) You’d think after 6.5 years and 3 kids I’d be used to it. It’s still hard. But it is what it is. I’m so thankful to work from home and have the flexibility that I do. I’m thankful to contribute as much as I do to our income. But I miss my babies. And the guilt. Oh the guilt. I could go on for days about this but it would mostly just be rambling to ease my own heart.

  3. Rebecca says:

    i totally agree. 100%

  4. Anne R. says:

    Great post!!! Being a full time working mother is hard for sure!!! I have always worked full-time (even after kid #2), but with my husband’s job/shift schedule—he has a lot of days off during the week which helps our family tremendously! (chores, errands, appts). Things would be tougher on us I think if we both worked M-F, 8-5.

  5. April says:

    Wow…when you describe Monday mornings for working moms as being shot out of a cannon for the week, you’re dead on. We too have the messy house, empty pantry, etc. The weekends are exhausting for me because I have the mundane tasks that I can’t do during the week but I also make sure I do fun things with Mia and give her all the attention I can when I can. Luckily my summer schedule isn’t as grueling so I take advantage of that when I can.

    But being a working Mom is really hard for women like me who pretty much work for the money. I’m lucky in that I like my job as something I get paid to do but it doesn’t make me feel fulfilled as a person. Being a Mom is what does that. I think working full time and being a full-time Mommy are equally hard and exhausting but the difference is that SAHM’s have a such a bigger reward for their hard work at the end of the day.

    • Amy says:

      Well said! yeah, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled and I had to weigh the money versus the cost of childcare for 2 kids. That’s ultimately what it came down to.

  6. Kim says:

    you know the saying, if you love what you do you’ll never feel like you are working…

    That’s honestly how I feel about being a SAHM. Like you, I still do freelance work which keeps my mind going but most of my days are spent cleaning drool and poop. Sure it’s hard, and some days are pure exhaustion but I feel so lucky to be able to be the one to be with my daughter. Granted, I’ve never been one that felt defined or super fulfilled by my career.

    • Amy says:

      So true! I agree. If you love what you do, it’s wonderful. I also have never really felt defined by my career but I always felt I should feel that way because it seems everyone else does, you know? Well said.

  7. Hi Amy,

    You look fabulous. I think it would be hard to work and be a parent….like you described especially full-time.

    But, I love my blogging job and staying home.It fulfills me and is finally the perfect fit. The first year, the SAHM was wonderful because I did not like what I was doing professionally, but now that I’ve found my passion, I like the flexibility staying home gives me, but I do work a lot while the kids are around.

    • Amy says:

      Thank you Leigh! It’s great to hear stories like yours of earning through blogging. I LOVE doing this. I love writing. It’s great to hear it worked for your family!

  8. Aisha Makee says:

    You are absolutely right. Being home isn’t easy and sometimes can be overwhelming (especially the younger years), but working and having a family is much harder. I feel very fulfilled (a lot of people ask me this question). At the end of the day I feel like I accomplished something, even if its having taught my kids to blow their nose, or ensure that there’s a parent around to kiss every booboo. Our choice in having kids is to enjoy the family that we have made.
    Someone wise and old told me once, “you can always go back to work later, but you will never get these years with your kids back”. Now that my kids are in school part time, I can try to start to accomplish the ever increasing things to do around the house and maybe carve out some time for myself to do things that are interesting to me, run all the errands uninterrupted and enjoy every weekend with my husband and kids. The economical sacrifice is totally worth it.

  9. Cassie says:

    Oh, Amy! Thank you! I stayed at home with the twins for three months and then again in the summer. While it was hard, it was WONDERFUL! I think every day about how I wish I could stay home with my babies. Going back to school in August was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I remind myself every day that as a teacher I have the summer with my children, and many women don’t even get that. My husband is also a teacher, so you know why we just can’t afford for me to stay home. That also means that he is home in the summer as well, and that is time together that most families never have. For that, I am extremely grateful. But it hurts my heart that someone else (babysitter) gets to spend more time each day with my children. For the first time, I understand why many working moms don’t go to the gym. I don’t want to sacrifice an hour with my children for an hour at the gym when I only have a few each night to spend with them. I don’t even want to cook because I’d rather be playing with them. I know SAHMs sacrifice a lot, but I would do it in a heartbeat if we could figure out a way financially. I’m so happy for you that you’re loving your new career!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Cassie! It’s like getting a piece of your heart back when you see them again at the end of the day. I totally get it. Hang in there. Summer will come! ::hugs::

    • April says:

      Cassie, you made such a good point. I work full-time and I let so many responsibilities go just so I don’t have to sacrifice the little time I get with my daughter during the week. My house is messier than I would like and the laundry piles up but I cut myself slack about it because who can turn down a cute face when they ask if you want to play with them. :)

  10. Johanny Payero says:

    Well I have never been a S AHM at least not by choice ( happened once due to layoff ), and because I don’t have that experience I am of the mind frame that it’s got to be harder. However after reading your post I could really put things in perspective. …I can really sympathize with the sea of guilt that creeps up on you when you fall behind on laundry, lose motivation to cook or even take that step back to look at the chores piling up not only on a list but literally before your eyes. I do feel that it depends on the type of job you have. If your job travels home with you now you have added that additional responsibility on your shoulder. If you are a 9 to 5 gal and “clock out” the minute you are driving home then you are just left with managing a schedule…..How to fit in any tasks for the kids during your work day…like taking kids to the Dr. I am on route to welcome #4…no family in the area to come help…Then I have the handfull of friends who look at me with a constipated face if I ever ask them to take on 3 kids at once…which means literally everything be comes extra expensive….I just don’t know how we could make it if I decided to stay home. Do you struggle without that 2nd income now that you have 2 kids? How to overcome that?.

  11. Kristin G says:

    Gosh! I mean after reading some of the comments on here and on Facebook, I just feel compelled to write my own blog about my response to this. In fact, I think I will. I agree with you though, based on my personal experiences and on what I value, working as a parent is harder (my opinion).

  12. […] is the latest post from a fellow blogger that has received some criticism from fellow parents. Working Is Harder Than Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom October 15, 2014.  What do you […]

  13. Colleen says:

    AMEN! I went back to work after I had my son and It. Was. Rough. I worked FT for about 6 months when I just became stressed to the max and I ended up resigning. I then for pregnant with my daughter and currently I’m still staying home with both. MUCH easier than balancing the work/life thing. I’m not saying I don’t get frustrated or annoyed being home every now and then, but my stress level is so much better being g a SAHM so it’s totally worth it.

  14. Brandy says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve been home 2.5 years after working til my 1st was 3. I’ve been a whiney martyr lately about how hard this is some days and your post reminded me of the nightmare that was working and parenting. Thank you. I have days i feel like it was easier to work but I really only miss lunch breaks, sick days, and the ability to clock out. The rest of it was a nightmare from hell and I needed to be reminded of how good I’ve really got it.
    Happy Mothers Day!

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