Finding Fulfillment as a Stay-At-Home-Mom
Becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom has left me feelings less than fulfilled. While my heart is filled with joy watching my kids grow and teaching them all that I can. My brain has felt quite as engaged. In fact, I feel like my talents are wasted on household duties and general management of the mundane. And I need more in order to feel fulfilled. Because being a Stay-At-Home-Mom isn’t just about caring for and educating children, it’s also a lot about household duties that inadvertently get dropped on your head just because you are stuck at home.
Recently, I came across a blog post that aimed at helping Stay-At-Home-Moms thrive in their environment. And as you gathered from the previous paragraph, I needed some help in that department. I know it is risky to say, as it’s still not an acceptable message in our society, but I do not feel BLESSED to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom. In fact, I mostly feel resentful about this role.
For me, being at home all the time, puts me in a hamster wheel that I cannot escape. When I’m home, I notice all the damn tasks that need to be done and I can’t get them out of my mind. They haunt me day and night. It’s even worse when these tasks cannot be completed by me and require my husband’s involvement. Then I make them haunt him day and night. As you can imagine, he is not happy about that fact.
Most of the tasks are the never ending monotonous realities of the everyday: dishes, laundry, light cleaning, putting things away, cleaning up our sons’ toys, making food, etc. I think I just fell asleep writing this list. But you can’t escape these things and have to do them. What’s worse is because they are just a part of the everyday minutiae, it’s hard to feel any sense of pride and accomplishment from doing them. And let’s be honest, we all need to feel accomplished in order to thrive.
How does working outside the home compare to being a Stay-At-Home-Mom?
Think about your work. You obviously have everyday annoying tasks that need to be done like e-mail, filing, putting things on your calendar, etc. You do them to get them out of the way and don’t expect any praise. On the other hand, you also have projects, career enhancing opportunities, networking events, chats with coworkers. Those things break up your day and give you the opportunity to shine, receive positive feedback, and get affirmations.
That pretty much does not exist when you are a Stay-At-Home-Mom. Most of your work goes unnoticed and even destroyed by the other members of the household. On top of that society constantly sends you a message that being a “homemaker” is not worth anything. Think back to how many times you answered “Oh, I’m just a Stay-At-Home-Mom” when asked about what you do. I know, I’ve lost count. And it makes me sad. It makes me feel like a worthless human being who is not contributing to society. Which in turn makes me resent all the housework even more and makes me feel like none of it is important.
But what if we can re-frame how we view our role as Stay-At-Home-Moms or “homemakers”. What if we approach it as a career? Would that make a difference in our satisfactions levels? I think it might for me.
How to thrive as a Stay-At-Home-Mom
In the blog I was reading, the author talked about not only doing her daily tasks but viewing them as a great service to the household. It all of a sudden makes the minutiae sound much more important. She also talked about developing new skills that can improve running her household.
That kind of blew my mind. I never thought about acquiring new skills that would enhance our life in the house. That is something that you would do at work in order to progress and make yourself a more valuable worker. Not only is learning a new skill great for self-development but it’s also a quantifiable and tangible accomplishment that you can’t just sweep under the rug. You have something to be proud of and can show off.
I think for a lot of us who became Stay-At-Home-Moms after years of being gainfully employed, viewing our new role as a career track may ease the feeling of defeat and lack of accomplishment. Another thing that can help is realizing that all the minutiae tasks are actually jobs. Sure, we don’t get paid for them when we do them but if we had someone else doing them, we’d have to pay them a lot of money.
The biggest expenditure would be childcare. We all know how much schools and babysitters cost. As a SAHM you spend the bulk of your time caring for your child(ren) and are thus performing a very important job. The rest of the tasks you do may seem small in comparison but cooking, cleaning and laundry would also cost a lot if you outsourced them.
I’m going to challenge you and myself to try and re-frame how we view being a SAHM. No more “Oh, I’m just a SAHM” type answers. We all need to stand proud and say, “Yes, I’m a SAHM and I run a household full of tiny humans and animals. And I am proud of my job!” We are the COOs of our households and we should be damn proud of all we do. Us staying at home allows us to save money, be present in our children’s lives and make sure our husbands don’t have as much on their plate outside of work. This way they’ll have the energy to come home and spend time with us and the children.
And if this doesn’t help you feel that what you do is meaningful, then pick up a hobby that will. There is nothing wrong with wanting something for yourself that you can excel at that has nothing to do with washing dishes. Or find a work-from-home opportunity that can help engage you and bring some money home. Here is a wonderful post by Mama in Progress called 11 Awesome Stay at Home Mom Jobs for 2020.
Are you with me?
And one last thing. If you’re struggling with balancing childcare and housework, read Being A Stay-At-Home-Mom Doesn’t Make You a Housekeeper on Baby Chick Blog.
Quote of the Day
“A stay-at-home mom is a working mom. Being a stay-at-home mom is a job.” – Cobie Smulders
Mental Health Tip of the Day
Being a SAHM makes for some challenging and long days at times. When you’re running on low, make sure you take some time to yourself and recharge. It may be that you just spend your child’s nap watching Netflix or hand the baby off to your hubby the moment he comes home, so you can go take a bath.
I’ll be honest, I tried following the advice I set out in this article. I tried re-framing my thoughts and viewing staying at home through a lens of worthiness and importance. I tried learning something to help me excel more at home (decluttering, making organizational lists, learning how to make non-toxic cleaning supplies). And I still netted out at one thing: being a Stay-At-Home-Mom is not for me. I need an occupation distinct from my mom role.