More confessions of a temporary stay at home mom

Halfway into my maternity leave I was beginning to doubt my abilities of being a good stay at home mom. Now, as I prepare to return to work tomorrow, I’m almost certain I’d make a terrible stay at home mom.

temporary sahmI’ve been noticing differences in my daily routine working vs not working, while keeping in mind that I only had one kid before (not two) and I’ve been treating FMLA leave more like a vacation than a permanent situation (and I’ve been giving myself a bit of a break because hey, I just had a baby). That said, there are some things I love and some things I loathe.

There’s nothing as heavenly as sleeping in with my family. Since being home my daughter has started sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night. She wanders down the hall and into our room, then squeezes between my husband and I. By morning my son is snuggling with the three of us as well. I’m going to miss that this Saturday when I’m already sitting at my desk at 4:30am.

I love having the freedom to make the plans to do things whenever, and not having to work around my work schedule. I love being able to meet up with friends, stay up late, and not have to worry about waking up early for work the next day.

I love spending more time with my kids. My son is literally growing before my eyes, and he’s getting more expressive every day. He’s such an easy baby. Seriously perfect. And watching my daughter learn new things before my eyes is amazing. She is picking up so much and is like a little genius. I can’t get enough of them. No wait… I take that back I CAN.

You know how the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Well when you’re never absent, you can’t grow much fonder.

Being with kids all day every day from sunup to sundown is freaking exhausting. I like to think of myself as an extremely patient person but I’ve found my patience is wearing extremely thin these last few weeks.

As a working mother, when I’d hear stay at home moms say “I never get a break!” I wondered what in the world they meant. How hard can it be? And it’s not like I got a break. At work I was working and the moment I picked my kid up I was giving her 110% and doing the house stuff once I got home. Now that I’ve been home for a few months I can break it down.

When moms say “I don’t get a break” they mean “a break from my kids” and everyone needs a break from their kids. A break from constant questions, and requests, and demands, and meltdowns, and meal-making.

I had dreams of my time as a temporary stay at home mom being spent sewing my daughter dresses while she napped, or making delicious new meals together. But my daughter NEVER napped. So that sewing? Didn’t happen. Unless it was between the hours of 11pm and 2am. But by then I was more afraid of waking her up again, so I instead watched marathon shows on Netflix. Not glamorous, but it was something to do alone in relative peace and quiet.

And those meals? They’d happen occasionally but it didn’t put a pause to the constant requests for other things. If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I’m hungry.” I wouldn’t have to go back to work.

When stay at home moms claim working moms get time to themselves, what they mean is time away from the kids. Time where you’re not making another snack, or cleaning up another mess.

That’s another thing. The messes. I can’t stand cleaning. I thought it would be easier to stay on top of it if I had more time at home. No. It just makes me more aggravated every time my daughter throws something on the floor moments after we straightened up. When I’m working I can justify hiring a helper but when I’m not, I feel guilty and like I should be doing it. And it doesn’t help that every stay-at-home mom’s house I go to seems to always be clean. I don’t understand how you can keep on top of it and keep your sanity.

That work–All the cleaning and cooking that kind of comes with being a housewife is exactly what I hate. Being with my kids? Love it (though I could use an occasional break from them). All the domestic chores? Lothe.

Clean when the kids are in bed? Sure. But who wants to do that when you’re finally getting a quiet moment alone? Not me. Clean throughout the day? Yea, I guess, but it’s doing that between the requests, demands and meltdowns.

I wish there was a way I could work half as much but make the same amount and see my kids more, but not too much.

I enjoy working, and I enjoy my kids.

Moms aren’t cut out from a batch of dough into perfect little cookie-cutter shapes. We all have different experiences, passions, skills. Part of me feels like working makes me an even better mom. When I’m at work, it’s on. And I’m focused on the task at hand. At home, I’m in mommy mode, and ready to commit all of my attention.

I thought I must have been missing so much during the day, while I was at work but I didn’t realize how much of the day was spent doing damage control, meal time, and napping (for the baby, not my toddler–though she would nap at school).

It seems to me that I need some kind of happy medium.

Some of my fellow working-mom friends having their second child kept their firstborn in preschool this summer. “It’s better for both of us.” I’ve been told. But here’s where I’m torn on that. If you ask my daughter if she’d rather go to school or stay home with me, she’d choose me. Every single time. I’m her mom, I’d expect as much. But if I gave her the choice between cucumbers and cookies, she’d choose cookies every single time. Sometimes they don’t know what’s good for them. Granted, I’m pretty awesome (despite my lack of housewife skills) and hard to beat, but a little time apart, a few hours a day I think would hit the spot for us both. A few hours and nine hours is a big difference. And that’s where I’m hitting a roadblock.

I couldn’t justify paying for her full-time preschool when I would be home and available for her anyway during my leave. But I didn’t have anywhere to take her when I needed to write, or read, or have a couple hours to myself. A couple hours. That’s not a lot to ask. To go from too-much time away from the kids to NO time away was quite a drastic shift, that at moments, had me on the verge of losing my sanity. And then feeling horrible for feeling on the verge of losing my sanity because really, my kids are awesome, it’s not them, it’s me…And a little bit of them.

If I ever am a stay at home mom again part-time preschool will be a must. Then I can spread my wings, still do my business things, and give them 110% after I miss them a little bit. And my them I mean her, I can handle the baby. Until he’s a crazy toddler too that is.

So now here I am wondering how I’m going to get back into the swing of things after having 12 weeks off. I haven’t been away from them for more than a couple hours once or twice. And I’m sure after eight I’ll be ready to fall apart. Or awoken to my new-found freedom. One of the two.

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Emmy says:

Love this! There really are good and bad sides for both and we really are all different so thrive in different situations. I am a stay at home mom and feel free to come over anytime and you will see my house is not neat and picked up but if the kids are having fun, being creative and playing then it is worth it in my book.

Thanks so much for being nice! haha. As soon as I hit publish I thought “oh crap, people are going to think/call me a horrible mom!” Of course I LOVE my kids SO MUCH, but oh my goodness, some times I need a break from them!

I’d totally love to come over to your un-picked up place btw!

Nichole says:

I feel you on this! I work PT 2 days a week and the break really IS nice to have.
And OMG the messes! Especially with 2!! My house is a wreck 98% of the time – pretty much unless someone is coming over or if I want the Dad to be able to walk in after work and not see a mess for once that week.

You’ll find your groove! I’m with you on the PT preschool. Trying to find one of those right now for if/when I do stay/work from home.

Haha!! I love this! 98% of the time mess is right about where I’m at too! Thanks for making me feel better 🙂

Quiana says:

I feel ya! After 8 years on corporate America being a WAHM for the past 3 years is nis by far the harder of the two. My almost 3 year old daughter is entering preschool this fall and I can tell we’re both completely ready. The best part of is our city has 100% subsidized preschool regardless of income so she’ll be able to go a short 3 minute walk up the block to school 8:30a.m.-2:30p.m. while I work from home and there will still be time for us to be together when she gets out of school. I think it will be good for the both of us and can’t wait!

Yeah, I think those that have never done the 24/7 home with kids thing just don’t really get it, it is a lot of time spent just preventing complete chaos. 🙂 My husband doesn’t really get it, though he did say work is more relaxing than being home, in a way.

I am home with the kids 24/7 AND working from home 25-30 hrs a week (2 of my own businesses from home). Exhausting? Yes. For some bizarre reason I like it, but I know not every mom would thrive under such circumstances! We’re homeschooling too, I’m just looking forward to the part where they are all out of diapers and can fix lunch for themselves, when we can actually take more field trips without tantrums, and I can talk to them like adults lol My 4.5 year old is pretty much at that stage already and I enjoy her company immensely, she is the cutest little lady. The 19 month old? Tough little guy, he gives me the run around.

Go you!! It was so hard for me to work and get thigns done during the day with my toddler at home. Gives me hope that it’ll be doable when they are older! I think my husband gets it, but if not, he will soon cause he’s taking the next six weeks off with them. haha!

Oooh, I’m looking forward to seeing how THAT goes for him? Has he ever stayed with kids for an extended time before? 🙂

AmyRyb says:

Amen, sister. I couldn’t agree more. I kept my son in daycare (preschool) while I was on maternity leave and it was truly awesome. I didn’t get as much “me” time as perhaps I’d have liked since most of the time my baby slept on me (and he was too small to wear for most of it!), but having time where I wasn’t juggling two kids was really great. I work full time and my evenings are hard now, for sure…and bedtime is most welcome even though it means less time to spend with them. I’m exhausted on top of it all, too, because I don’t go to bed when I should. My dream is to work part time–even two days off during the week. It would be hard to justify once both kids are in school, but man…just to have that time to organize things would be awesome. It won’t happen, but it’s nice to dream about. Good luck going back to work!

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Carla says:

I used to think how great it’d be to be a stay at home mom. And I sort of, in a sense, got a glimpse of that when I was laid off and living off my severance. For the most part, like you, I enjoyed it. But I also missed being able to eat alone at a restaurant, or browsing a store, or just reading a book at the library alone. They were my little shadows and while we enjoyed the time together, I missed my alone time. I used to work late into the night, usually until 9PM which made me think about being a stay at home mom. Now since we’re usually home around 5:30 or 6:00 PM, being a working mom will suffice. LOL!

As a full time stay at home mom to 3, I TOTALLY understand! And anyone who thinks badly of this post just must not be a mom….or has never had to be a stay at home mom. It’s hard work! Of course we all love our kids, but every once in a while mommy needs to stop being mommy and remember who she was before diapers, sippy cups, finger paints, and boogers were a part of her daily (hourly) life. For me? I get an hour every Tuesday night to take a ballet class. It is the best hour of my week! Don’t get me wrong, teaching my 5 year old to read and hearing my 1 year old learn new words and seeing my 3 year old do all the silly things 3 year olds do is totally awesome too, but my hour of ballet is such a stress relief! Even after the kids go to bed I am still doing chores for about an hour. I know I will blink and they will all be in college though and one of these days my house will be too clean and be too quiet so bring on the exhaustion and Lord give me patience!

Those are the two most beautiful kids ever,you must be a proud mother,and i do not believe you would be a terrible stay at home mom at all.

Sometimes a break from the kids really means an hour alone. And often times, in my own experience watching other moms, one hour is very hard to find, and even if it is found, you’ll find yourself thinking about the kids.

There’s a stress that builds up though. I really sympathize with you, but it’s part of life. And one way to make it better is share time with your man.

I agree with Seana, if you take a class, you’re paying money for it and then you will feel obligated to delegate and go to the class. It can really be anything. Take an art class. or a singing class!

Hope you feel better!

Jessica says:

Love your honesty! I sometimes wish I could be a SAHM, but think I would feel the same way you do. Just found out I am pregnant with our second, was just thinking about what to do with our toddler while on maternity leave, like the idea of a couple hours a day at preschool! Hope all is going well back at work!

Jah says:

Longtime reader of your blog, but I took a break this year after the birth of my own son. I’ve been catching up on your older posts and just had to comment on this one. I love the honesty of this post!

As someone who dreamed about staying at home with my kids when I had them one day, it was interesting (to say the least) to see how my pre-baby notions of what staying at home with a baby would be like compared to reality. I didn’t find my groove until he was at least six months old, and every time I get the hang of one thing, he’s on to doing something new!

I love my son and there is so much I enjoy about being home with him. And yet, there are days where I miss listening to audiobooks on my commute to and from work, or chatting with coworkers over coffee or lunch, or stopping to browse through store on the way home from work. As he approaches a year, I’m finding myself thinking more and more about part-time work, and how that might work for us. This post was food for thought.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.

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