We are a few weeks into school, which means I am a few weeks into being a stay at home mom of school-aged children, meaning, I have no kids at home during the day.
Our youngest just started kindergarten, so between the hours of 8 am and 2:30 pm, I am without kids, but still, hold the title of stay at home mom.
For the past 5 years, I have had at least one child home with me for 2 or more days per week. When I left my full-time job when our youngest was 3 months old, I was really very naive. I had wonderful images of how easy and relaxed my life would be like now that I no longer needed to punch a timecard, answer a work phone, or deal with emails over the weekend.
My vision of what my days would look like were picturesque, beautiful moments filled with loving hugs and kisses from my kids, an immaculate home, Martha Stewart style dinners and time for myself. Little did I know, I would be quite wrong!
When I was pregnant with our youngest, my husband and I crunched numbers and decided it made sense for our family if I stayed home to take care of our kids. It made financial sense because paying for childcare would cost only slightly less than I was making, and it also made logistical sense. With a newborn and a child starting pre-k 25 minutes away, we knew that transportation, after-school activities, and our home life would run best if I was able to be home.
Over the years since I decided to stay home, I have been asked by acquaintances, good friends, relatives, and ex-co-workers, “What do you do all day, aren’t you bored?” I usually reply with, “Oh, stuff, and no, I’m not bored.”
Now my oldest is in fourth grade and my youngest in kindergarten and for me, that does not mean I relax in front of the television while drinking mimosas and eating truffles. What it means is I take my “job” seriously. While my children are in school, I do what most of us consider house chores: scrub toilets, vacuum rugs, sweep floors, dust shelves, attempt to get through mounds of dirty laundry, as well as attempt to fold and put away said clothes. I go to the dump, do billing and scheduling for my husband’s business, change sheets, prep/cook dinner, bake snacks, volunteer in a classroom, weed the gardens, tend to the chickens, harvest the vegetables, and many other things I am sure to be forgetting about at this moment. The point is, days are short, hours fly by, and yes, I have the luxury (some would call it) to do all the things a lot of families need to cram in at night or on the weekends. Funny thing is, I still do all these things at night, and on the weekends. Being home, especially when the kids were home full time, meant that the house got messier, more laundry got made, more meals needed to be cooked, and more dishes needed to be washed.
The two biggest differences for me between working a full-time job outside the home and being a stay at home mom are:
- I don’t get a paycheck
- It’s a fairly thankless job
Most of us who have held jobs outside the home received praise This is way more appreciation than you get then when you stay at home. The clean laundry goes unnoticed, the freshly mopped floors get muddy and the home cooked dinner that I began at 10 in the morning does not get eaten because someone decides they don’t like it.
Being a stay at home mom means our family of four needs to live on one income. This means I don’t have the freedom to randomly spend money on luxurious items for myself such as jeans I don’t need, a new dress because I thought it was cute, haircuts every 2 months, or manicures on a regular basis. I think twice about every dollar I spend and am constantly looking for ways to cut back on spending and stretch a dollar. I try to bake as many snacks as I can, we eat at home for the majority of our meals, we brew kombucha (which is cheaper than buying it in the store, and yummier too!) we shop with coupons, make lotion, drive our cars as long as we can so we can to avoid a new car payment, shop at second-hand stores, and we garden, which means I spend time freezing and canning produce to save money.