stay-at-home mom during coronavirus quarantine

If I could just make it until 4 pm, I can put a movie on for them and by the time it's over, he'll be home and I'll have a small bit of relief.

It's only 10 am? HOW? I've already done school drop-off, changed pee sheets from last night, did three loads of laundry, emptied and re-loaded the dishwasher, entertained a toddler, finally found where I put the magic erasers so I could clean the wall my toddler drew all over... and it's not even time for her nap yet? Again—HOW?

Write that down. You need to remember the form for the field trip. Add that doctor's appointment to your phone calendar. Order the gift for Grandma's birthday so we don't forget. Change out the clothes sizes, she's not fitting into 2T anymore. Get more of those paint stick things. Oh and new Play-Doh, we had to throw ours out… Or find that recipe and make homemade playdough instead.

These are my thoughts. My stay-at-home mom brain pre-pandemic. The never-ending cycle of reminders and to-do's and movement and lists and constant work, work, work.

I've been a SAHM on and off for the past six years. And even during my working stints, I've never worked full-time. Or out of my home. So even during working seasons, I've always been some sort of stay-at-home/working mom hybrid.

Honestly? I like both. I like being a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. They both have their beauty about them. And they both certainly have their tricky spots, too.

But one thing I'm realizing during this season of quarantine: I bet no one will underestimate the work of a stay-at-home parent ever again after this.

No one will doubt the level of effort they are putting in at home.

No one will doubt the many, many hats they wear—chauffeur, chef, teacher, therapist, entertainer, storyteller, magic maker, memory documenter, cleaner, sibling referee, etc. etc. forever.

No one will doubt the strength they have inside them as they handle some sort of jumping-off-the-couch-injury, snack requests, meal planning and whining—usually at the same time.

No one will doubt their parenting as they wait for the storm of their toddler's tantrum to pass as they walk by them in the grocery store.

No one will doubt how heavy that feeling of failure can be when you can't seem to get a handle on balancing all the many overwhelming things on your plate.

No one will doubt how real and how strong that urge is to list out all that you've accomplished at the end of the day, because while the house looks like it has been ransacked, you've actually gotten so much done.

No one will doubt the fact that stay-at-home parents are a hugely important part of our society as a whole. That their work is just as important and valid as anyone else's.

That is my hope.

Because when you're the stay-at-home parent who often feels like they are schlepping around from one thing to the next, without a moment to yourself, without a moment to breathe—often lonely but yet, also constantly surrounded by people—you wonder about your worth.

You compare yourself to your partner who has a full workload of meetings and conferences and emails and Excel spreadsheets. You watch friends post on social media about promotions and feel a twinge of jealousy. You wonder if this is your life's purpose. You wonder if what you're doing even matters.

I'm grateful the world now fully realizes that what we do every day does matter.

It matters a whole lot.

It matters to your partner who can go into work every day knowing their children are cared for and loved on all day by you.

It matters to your children who have their mama at home with them, helping them learn and grow in a safe and comfortable environment.

It matters to your best friend who is a working mom because she sees you and recognizes the hard yet beautiful work you do every day—and she is proud of you for it.

And it matters to our society as a whole. Because you are putting your all into raising good, decent humans.

Yes—the secret is out.

Many people now know the feeling of being bombarded by tiny voices all day while people are constantly touching or climbing on you while you are also trying to get stuff done.

They know the push and pull of wanting to do this, but needing to do that. Or needing to do that, but wanting to do this.

They know the irony of making a "set" schedule that completely implodes right before your eyes.

They know this 'job' comes with 'work' that can't be turned off. It's 24/7, 365.

It's madness.

It's wild.

It's chaos.

It's rewarding.

It's an honor.

And it's important. So very important.

The term our society usually uses may be "stay-at-home mom," but actually, we don't typically like to stay at home. We like to get out of the house and go on adventures and run errands and interact with the world. So this quarantine is hard for us, too. Sure, we may be more familiar with a lot of aspects of this isolation life, but this is hard. Period.

So, yes, the jig is up. No, we don't sit on the couch eating Bon Bons all day. (Though that does sound appealing.)

We work our tails off from sun up to sun down—mentally, physically, emotionally.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

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Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

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With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

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