Adjusting to Being a Stay at Home Mom
Do you or did you want to be a stay at home mom with young children?
Making the Choice
I taught high school for the first six years of our marriage. I had a five year old, a two year old, and one on the way. We had decided before we got pregnant with the third that once he was here I would need to quit teaching and stay home. There were several factors in making this decision. First, this had always been a dream of mine, to be home with my children and experience all the craziness. When I found out I was pregnant with our first I was disappointed that we were not in a place, financially, that I could quit. So it was a goal we set. This brings me to the next factor, money. Unfortunately so many of the decisions we make in life are influenced by our financial well being at the time. I worked while my husband finished school. He was finally working at a job in his field and making enough to support us. However, nothing prepares you for the transition from two paychecks to only one. We have had to cut out some of the extras. But it is a sacrafice we feel is very worth it. Next, I took time before I actually quit to make sure I would have an outlet. I had heard so many stay at home moms say they felt isolated and lonely, and that they longed for adult conversation. Lucky for me, the church I attend regularly has a large group of moms who meet each week. They welcomed me into the group from the start and it has been a life savor at times. In reality, those play-dates are more for the moms then the children. The baby came in April and after my six weeks maternity leave were up I returned to school for finals week and cleared out my desk. I was scared and excited all at the same time. I had been talking about this day for 4 years, but did I really know what I was getting into...
Someone who is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no vacations, or time off. The person will be expected to cook, clean, wipe bums, chauffeur, budget, and schedule, do all the shopping, take care of sick, tired, fussy children. Daily routines can and will change with no warning based on the child's mood that day. Also expected to be an example of and teach the following: problem solving skills, patience, sharing, integrity, language arts, science, history, math. Needs to be able to answer all random questions about why things happen or how they work. Needs to be able to diffuse arguments, prevent tantrums before they start, and successfully reason and compromise with toddlers that are completely unreasonable. Is expected to do all this with a smile and using calm voices. The pay will be in the form or hugs, kisses, smiles and giggles.
Here Goes Nothing...
Well, they say that the third child is the hardest adjustment, so maybe I picked the wrong time to make such a huge transition, but for the first few months I wondered if I had made a mistake. Let me back up and explain. I went into this new life with very high expectations of myself. I had told my husband several times that this was going to be a breeze. "I will now have 40 extra hours a week," I thought. I expected myself to have a spotless house, nutritional home-cooked meals, happy pleasant children, and so on. Instead I had laundry coming out my ears, a never ending supply of dishes in the sink, and children who alternated from happily playing to yelling at each other every few minutes. I was exhausted with the new baby still waking at night to feed, and I felt totally defeated. At first I of course got down on myself, all I could think was, "What am I doing wrong?" I made 'To Do' lists but the items on there never got crossed off, in spite of the fact that I didn't sit down all day. This went on for a while until I finally confided in a girl friend who had just had her fourth child. She assured me that this was normal with a new baby in the house and promised me that things would get better as he got older. I took her at her word and relaxed, and that is when things started to come together. I began to focus on enjoying and taking advantage of my time with my children and together we found a schedule that worked for us. I involved them more in the cleaning which took a huge load off of me. As I caught up on sleep I had more energy and was able to start crossing things off that darn list. Slowly life came together and looking back on it, I don't know exactly when it happened, but it did happen.
The Little Things
There are still little things that I didn't expect to give up that I still miss. One is privacy, I miss going to the bathroom and not having an audience. I have even come to expect my showers to be constantly interrupted by children needing to tattle, or ask for something, or just wanting to shoot the breeze.
Another is quiet, alone times. I am never alone anymore. When teaching, I had a conference period where my classroom was empty and silent. I didn't realize at the time what an anomaly that was. My children are now 6, 4 and 20 months and there is constant chatter in my house. It is adorable chatter and I love hearing what they are thinking about. But there are times my brain feels like it has overloaded and is shutting down. At which point I have to send them off to play and allow it to restart.
The last is time with just my husband. When he comes home and we sit down to dinner I long to talk to him about my day and hear about his. But apparently the children feel the same way, as they compete with me for his attention. As a result, we have to either wait for the kids to go to bed or leave them with a sitter to be able to concentrate solely on each other.
Life definately changes once you have children and I have felt that change ten fold now that I am with them 24/7. I truely love being home with my chidren, and I do realize that all these things are temporary. I am saddened to think there will come a day when, as teenagers, they don't want our attention so much.
I know staying home isn't for every mom. But in spite of the chaos, there is no where else I would rather be.