The stay-at-home discussion can be a serious discussion new parents must have. Whether this is due to the financial status of the family, health concerns (either of the baby or the parent) or simply because going back to work is not an option, it becomes a discussion nonetheless.
And it’s not always the easiest conversation to have either.
Mom may want to stay home and be the primary caregiver while her significant other may feel the same way. Sometimes, the situation is flipped and both parents want to work full-time, but can’t afford daycare or find someone to watch their little one. Perhaps they want to find a work-from-home or part-time position but are having trouble finding work that fits their lifestyle and schedule.
The stay-at-home life can be a tricky one, but when the choice is made – there are pros and cons to the decision (like all choices in motherhood). Some people are incredibly envious of parents who decide to stay home full-time with their baby while others may immediately judge Mom for her decision before getting to know the whole story.
Stay-at-home mamas have heard it all: “You’re lucky.” “You’re lazy.” “You’re making a great sacrifice.” “You’re not really working.” No matter what the opinion is, everyone has one and it’s important to be careful when speaking that truth to a parent who decides to stay home with their child full-time. The stay-at-home mama herself typically has a handful of thoughts and opinions when it comes to the unique dynamic – some good, some, well, different.
Because there is never a ‘bad’ reason to stay home with your little one.
20 You Won’t Get As Much Adult Social Interaction
Being a stay-at-home mom means getting more bonding time with your baby. You learn more about their likes and dislikes; fears and passions. Your little one, in return, also really gets to know their mama – a bond every parent wants their little one to have with them.
Even though that time spent together is precious, it can be tough not having another adult to converse with on a daily basis – or at least until the significant other returns from work (if that’s how the family dynamic plays out). It’s important to find “adult” time – whether that means making phone calls to friends and family members or getting out into the community for playdates.
19 You Have Control Of Your Routine (Well, Baby Does – But Still)
Even though newborns (and most infants and toddlers) pretty much create the schedule the parents thrive off of, a stay-at-home parent can take control of this routine and work off of it. If the little one starts sleeping until a certain time or is able to get down for scheduled naps, Mom can lean on that schedule and make sure the work she needs to get done gets completed (or at least started) during that timeframe.
It’s not always the same every day, however, but it can be nice semi-sculpting your own routine at home. Sometimes the “To-Do List” changes a bit when Baby doesn’t nap for as long or is fussier than usual, but it can be a good feeling going into the day having a general outlook for what may get completed (or attempted) at certain times.
18 The Laundry, Diapers, And Dishes Never End
Some people imagine stay-at-home parents to have all the free time in the world since they may not have a full-time or office job to go to. Many people expect stay-at-homers to snuggle with their baby all day, nap when their little one does, and have more than enough time to get all the housework done.
That is often not the case at all.
Babies mean diapers need to be changed, laundry needs to be done, and if you are bottle feeding, those bottles need to be washed. On top of that, your own dishes and laundry need to get done as well as other housework (especially if you are a very organized person). This doesn’t mean you don’t share the housework with your significant other (if that’s the family dynamic), but many stay-at-home parents can’t stand a messy home – especially if it’s seen as their own personal office space during the day.
17 You Are There For Every Milestone
Being able to walk through life alongside your little one is a tremendous experience not many parents have. Most parents have to go back to a nine-to-five job that doesn’t allow them to see every special moment their little one experiences.
Stay-at-home parents literally are there by their baby’s side for those big, and small, milestones. When their infant starts to babble, they are there to applaud them. When they start going down for scheduled naps, they are there to breathe a sigh of relief. When they learn the word “No” or “Why” and decide to use it nonstop, they are also there to handle the situation. No matter the experience, a stay-at-home mom is there to experience it with them.
16 You May Feel Guilty
Even though providing constant care to your little one shouldn’t cause a new mom to feel guilty, it often does. Sometimes this is because they feel as if they are not contributing to the family the way they want to be. They may also feel as if they are too “traditional” in a very non-traditional society – a dynamic they may not want. If a mom had worked a full-time job before her baby was born, she may feel lost without having that continuous income and continuous routine.
This guilt is tough to kick – even if a mom starts working a freelance, part-time or in-home position. There are many options out there nowadays for in-home jobs, but many stay-at-home moms still feel as if it just isn’t enough (or can’t find the time to even do that). Creating a “new normal” is tough to do and for a new mother, the transition into motherhood is a “new normal” they’re still learning to adjust to.
15 There Is No Dress Code
You don’t have to worry about pleated dress pants or closed-toe shoes. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you wore the same outfit twice in the span of a couple of weeks. You don’t even need to do your hair or put make-up on if you don’t want to.
You can wear pajamas (and go bra-less) all day if you wish.
Sometimes it feels nice for a new mom to put on a few dabs of makeup and wear something comfortable, but if she doesn’t want to that day – she truly doesn’t have to. She can skip the deodorant (and the pants) and get whatever needs to get done that day done without worrying about what her co-workers think.
Well, until they start to talk.
14 You Will Want To Nap When Baby Naps (Even If You Have Work To Do)
Many people tell new parents to nap when their little one does because, well, there may not be many other times a new mom will have the chance to relax. For a stay-at-home mama, the bedroom is not often far from her main living or “home office” space.
Therefore, the temptation to nap is literally often right around the corner.
It’s okay for a parent to take advantage of this opportunity from time-to-time. It’s also important to remember that if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you probably have other things on your “To-Do List” that you’ll want to get done. That nap can either revive a person or tire a person out more – so choose wisely (before the little one wakes up)
13 Say Goodbye To Co-Worker Drama
A stay-at-home mom’s co-workers are not typically adults. Even though some toddlers do think they are much older than they actually are, they are usually pretty straightforward and tell it like it is – unlike some adults, unfortunately. Not having to deal with co-worker drama means no silly cliques, no dealing with people you don’t get along with, and no end-of-the-day, caffeine-low whines from the cubicle behind you.
Even though it can get tiring hearing “Why” or “Baba” continuously throughout the day, it is much relaxing than walking into an office where you know some of the adults will behave like teenagers. It’s an unfortunate truth that even beyond high school and college, the drama continues – it is just on a different level. At least for the moms who stay-at-home, they know their little one either physically can’t talk back or, if they can, don’t have anyone else to go spread gossip with.
12 You’ll Think You Have Time For Everything, But You Won’t
Being a stay-at-home mom does mean you can focus on getting what needs to get done done. However, between caring for your little one, getting work completed (if you work a job from home, that is) as well keeping up with housework – one person often can’t do it all.
Even a Supermom.
Many moms will hear “you can just do what you got to do during naptime, right” or “your baby doesn’t crawl yet so just put them down and get stuff done.” Though these are valid possibilities that sometimes do work out, it’s often not that easy. Even if your little one has a solid schedule, that schedule doesn’t always stay the same – and your schedule doesn’t always stay the same either. You’ll always find something that wasn’t finished or something that you forgot to do. That’s simply motherhood.
11 You’ll Always Have Someone To Talk To (Even If They Don’t Really Understand)
According to Psychology Today, "one of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy is to intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk." Positive self-talk is a coping skill many people use to help them sort out their thoughts. By actually hearing their “To-Do List” out loud, it can organize a person’s thoughts if they aren’t one to write those thoughts down.
For a stay-at-home mom, they have someone they can actually talk to throughout the day (even if that little person doesn’t really understand what’s being said). Sometimes just knowing there is someone else listening can be helpful – especially when being home feels lonely.
10 Cabin Fever Is Real
The first few days with a newborn can be an overwhelming, yet extremely exciting time. You are getting to know your little one and getting to figure out what works ion the family home rather than from inside a hospital or birthing center.
However, once those first initial days occur, cabin fever can really set in.
Since newborns do not have strong immune systems, going into public with them during those initial months can be risky. Because of this, many moms stay behind closed doors. It can extremely tough not leaving the home or only leaving for very short period of time – especially if you are an active and social person. Even after those initial first months, it can be tough to get all that needs to get done at home completed and also make time to venture out. Finding times throughout the week to escape is important. Not only for the baby, but for Mom’s well-being (and sanity).
9 You Are Saving Money Being Your Own “Daycare”
It’s obvious having a baby is an expensive, yet worthwhile endeavor. Being a stay-at-home parent means you are saving hundreds of dollars per week by being your own little daycare center for your child (or children).
According to the Economic Policy Institute, "child care is one of the biggest expenses families face." It’s great if a family is in a financial position to be able to afford daycare. However, not everyone is that lucky. One of the many reasons a parent decides to stay home is because of this and by making this choice, it is often the best financial decision the family could make.
8 You May Wish You Weren’t Your Own “Daycare”
On the other hand, sometimes being your own little daycare center is not what a family ideally wants in the end. This can sometimes mean the home is continuously cluttered, loud, and messy. For the organized mama, this can mean tripling the amount of coffee they drink all day while keeping up with their little one, maintaining the home, and getting as much actual work done as possible.
Many stay-at-home parents wish they could afford daycare – even on a part-time basis. Daycares also provide positive peer interaction and strict routines that are important for toddlers before they become school-aged. According to Cooperative Extension, "a well-planned routine will also help encourage children's positive behavior by meeting their basic needs for eating, sleeping, active and quiet play, time alone, and time with other children." These factors can sometimes make the stay-at-home decision tougher for parents.
7 Getting Hooked On Daytime Talk Shows Happens
When a woman goes from working a full-time job to staying home full-time, they realize there is a lot more on cable television than soap operas (even though they do take up quite a bit of daytime cable space). For those who are not huge fans of soap operas or reruns of Sesame Street, talk shows become the next best thing for background noise.
But instead of simply becoming background noise, some moms get hooked on them instead.
There are some worthwhile daytime talk shows out there that provide intriguing or comical entertainment when the baby naps or is playing alone so Mom can get some work done. Between Kathie Lee and Hoda, The Talk, Pickler and Ben, and (of course) The Ellen Degeneres Show, Moms have some choices when it comes to finding personalities they fit their personality well.
6 You May Feel Lonely
Even though working outside of the home can make people count the hours until they are home again, being in an office or similar setting provides social interaction. It allows for intellectual or social conversations with other adults and even if those conversations can’t happen often, they can happen nonetheless.
Being home all day can get lonely without constant interaction and company. A person can only talk to themselves, their baby, the family pet, and whoever is free on the phone for so long before a little loneliness sets in. It’s a truth many non-stay-at-home moms don’t understand because all they typically see is a mom being able to spend extra bonding time with their little one. This may be true (and a true blessing), but the loneliness still can hit hard.
5 From “Cubicle Country” To “Couch Cuddles”
Sitting in a cubicle behind a computer or running around a classroom all day can be tiring. There will be days when a person will feel flustered or burnt out and just want to leave, even if the full-time job is their passion.
The thing is – no passion compares to the passion that comes with being a parent.
A stay-at-home parent will always have their little one to snuggle with, laugh with, and cheer them up. They can look down at the precious face they created and feel at ease when anxiety. That’s one of the many blessings that come with being a stay-at-home mom: That baby of yours will always be there for a couch cuddle sesh when Mama needs it.
4 You May Let Yourself Go
Being home full-time can sometimes mean not leaving the house or apartment for days on end. Once this becomes the “New Normal” for a mom, she may lose interest in caring for herself, her health, and her overall well-being without even realizing it. The baby’s needs overrule everyone else’s and even though that’s just the nature of motherhood, this can take a major emotional and physical toll.
When Mom doesn’t focus on herself, it can impact her overall confidence level. The postpartum period is an emotional time in itself and a new mom needs to see herself as the unique individual she is other than her new title as Mom. Being a mother is a beautiful thing, but being your own person is just as beautiful. Finding time to focus on the unique person you are will not only help your overall wellness, but your little one will benefit from the positivity too.
3 Learning Happens Every Single Day
Spending personal time with your little one allows you to learn something about each other every single day. As your baby learns how to interact with their environment, you learn what you can do to promote those interactions. As your baby discovers their personal likes and dislikes, you discover how you can rearrange your environment to better suit those interests.
As your little one explores his or her brand-new world, you get the chance to learn about yourself as a mother. You find ways to build your unique parenting style into day-to-day life just from watching their reactions and behaviors. The little details you get to witness are special because not every parent gets the one-on-one time a stay-at-home mama does.
2 You May Feel Judged
It’s unfortunate some people look at stay-at-home moms and immediately think “lazy” or “unmotivated” instead of thinking “supportive” or “dedicated.” The negative words are more often linked to the stay-at-home dynamic before a person takes the time to really know the individual situation at hand. Maybe the reason the parent is staying home is to provide financial stability for the family or better one-on-one support due to the health or developmental status of the child.
Still, some people don’t take the time to dig deeper before throwing hurtful comments at stay-at-home mamas – and that’s simply unfair. Really get to know the big picture before being hurtful or judgmental about any parenting situation. Motherhood is just as unique as the child involved. Remember that before making unnecessary accusations.
1 You Can Truly Bond With Your Little One
The point stay-at-home parents hear about most often, and fully embrace, is they will have additional time to bond with their little one. These bonding moments bring ease and excitement to the chaos motherhood throws at new parents. For those who only see stay-at-home parents as making the decision because of the additional bonding, sometimes that is the ultimate reason the choice is made.
This additional time is what makes being a stay-at-home parent worth it in the end. The parent sees through the loneliness they may face and the financial strains they may endure, but the end result is a beautiful one: The ability to be home with your itty-bitty, bundle of joy.
References: Psychology Today, Economic Policy Institute, Cooperative Extension