The reality of staying home all day with a young child is that it can be quite isolating.
When people inquire about my work status and I tell them that I am a stay-at-home mom, I am most often met with positive responses.
But there is also the stigma that because I stay at home all day, it isn't that tough of a gig and I just sit around and play with my child all day. The truth is, while I am very grateful to stay at home with my daughter, I'm also giving up a lot of things. Yet, what I am giving up doesn't compare to what I am gaining.
WHAT I'M GIVING UP
High-speed Internet and Other Luxuries
After my six week maternity leave, I worked for another three and a half months before quitting my job. My husband and I came to the conclusion that it didn't make sense for us to keep two incomes when one was essentially paying for babysitting services. But quitting meant we were making less than before and would have to keep a close watch on our spending. We cut from our budget some of the luxuries we were living with: internet and TV, eating out and ordering in, new clothes, desserts, and even cloth diaper service.
The reality of staying home all day with a young child is that it can be quite isolating. Besides the few brief encounters I have with family, friends, and strangers at the store, park, or library, it isn't often that I interact with adults. Granted, I don't participate in any meetup groups or yoga classes, but even if I did, that might be at most only once a week. For the other eight to ten hours of my day it's just the two of us, reading the same 6-page book over and over and over. Let's be honest, mamas, as much as we love our baby time, responding to the same request again and again is enough to drive you crazy! There's no reasoning with these kids! Sometimes I just need to speak to another adult.
Outside of those individuals doing physical labor at work, being a stay-at-home mom is straining on your body. My body is always in demand and I am constantly on the move: doing housework, standing up and sitting down, playing with my daughter, tending to her when she's sick, nursing, cleaning up messes, changing diapers – and this is just with one baby!
An Obsessive Control of Every Minute
In addition, there is no set schedule to our day. Most of the day revolves around her needs and when she needs them. Whether it is time to eat, change a diaper, sleep, or play, it's all up in the air. I don't have my own personal schedule anymore.
WHAT I'M GAINING
Learning to live with less has forced me to see things in a new light: many items I once considered necessities have changed into luxuries. The SAHM lifestyle gives me the opportunity to find unique ways to do things. Because we don't have cable or internet, my husband and I must be creative with how we use our time as a family. Because we share one car, we must plan ahead to arrange rides. I've learned to be okay with less and to see simplicity as a value. It has actually given me a lot of joy.
A Watchful Eye
Especially in her toddler stage, my daughter has begun to hold me accountable in what I do. Now that she is able to repeat words and actions I've got to be more careful with how I interact with her and others. Her presence alone gives me more responsibility in general, but I am also discovering just how much she truly witnesses and therefore repeats. Every day is a teachable moment and I am glad she is around to hold me accountable.
A New Me
I have never been truly confident in myself, but since becoming a mother I have noticed how much I have grown in my roles as a wife, mother and homemaker. I am starting to be more confident in my abilities and myself. Without the opportunity to stay at home, I wouldn't have been able to nurture this part of me as much as I have over the past two years.
Choosing to be a stay at home parent is the right choice for me and my family because we are able to cherish what is truly important to our well-being. We've started to focus less on what we don't have and the inherent challenges of this lifestyle and learned to simply appreciate the time we have together.
It's not always easy, but for me, it's worth it.