It’s not always easy to stray away from the norm and try something new – such as living the SAHM lifestyle. When a full-time, working mother decides to become a full-time, stay-at-home mom, that decision may come with lingering doubts. She may question her decision, wondering if her choice will truly help her family in the long run. She may not feel as if she is financially contributing enough and grow flustered when she doesn’t get a paycheck close to what she used to get. Even though staying home with the baby and spending one-on-one, quality time with them is a true blessing, it sometimes comes with tough thoughts many others don’t see or understand.
It is true that staying home does allow a mama to bond with her little one more than it would if she were sitting in a cubicle, working in business, or standing in front of a classroom. It gives Mom the chance to learn more about her baby’s needs as well as her own parenting style -- not to mention her level of patience.
Even with the many positives that come with staying home, it doesn’t mean a mama won’t question herself. She may not feel as if she is working enough or working at all if she isn’t doing a part-time or work-from-home gig - even though being a parent does mean work (and lots of it).
Forbes says, “Technology’s evolutions allows modern women the empowerment of joining tradition with innovation. Women can raise their babies and work at home, proving that women’s purpose does not lie in one or the other. SAHMs are breadwinners, too.”
This reality is one that takes time to embrace and understand. Even with the negative connotations technology and social media have these days, it allows many parents to stay home and make a few bucks while bonding with their little one. Still, it’s not an easy truth for a new mama to fully grasp until she has taken time to adjust to the SAHM lifestyle.
20 Feeling Guilty
Ever since I graduated college, I worked a full-time job and supported myself financially. I lived a pretty independent lifestyle – living on my own, paying my bills, working nine-to-five, going out occasionally, and taking time for personal hobbies. When my girls arrived, a lot changed.
Financially, daycare wasn’t an option and I couldn’t work any degree-based positions from home while also caring for the girls.
I felt a lot of guilt when it came to making the stay-at-home decision. I felt as though I couldn’t fully enjoy that bonding time with my girls because I was always trying to find ways to make a few dollars or get all the housework done. It took months before I finally got into a routine that worked well for my girls, myself, and my new (much different) working life. Guilt still lingers, but every mama is a work-in-progress.
19 Taking Naps When Babies Napped (Just Because)
Before my girls were born, I was a professional napper. I would often wake up on weekends, eat something, then go back to sleep and “nap” until early afternoon. Of course, this all changed when twins came into the picture.
Since I no longer had to wake up and get ready to walk into “Cubicle Country,” I saw naptime as a time when I could nap as well – and not feel guilty about it. Early on, this was something I didn’t look negatively at. However, once I started finding freelance work to do from home, their naptimes turned into precious work time.
It took some adjusting and personal self-talk before I was able to stay away from that big, comfy bed during naptimes. A lot more work got done when I stayed awake when the babies were asleep. Once I started feeling that relief, the transition became easier.
18 Continuously Focusing On Financial Issues
Money, money, money. When isn’t that on a person’s mind – especially a middle-class mama who is working or staying home with their little ones? It’s tough for other people to understand how often finances are on mama’s mind.
Other people see the beauty that comes with staying home full-time – the bonding, the teaching moments, the memories. Though all those things do happen, feeling guilty about finances occur as well.
Since I freelance write from home and teach aerial arts classes a couple times a week, I do not get the constant paycheck I received before the babies were born. Though I am lucky to do something I love while also being able to love on my babies, that financial fear is always on my mind.
This is a very real struggle many SAHM’s have and it takes time before a groove is made and the income coming in is budgeted appropriately.
17 Not Making “Mom Time” Happen
Being a SAHM doesn’t mean Mom gets time for herself all day long. This stigma needs to be broken because, well, it is not true whatsoever. The moment a SAHM wakes up, she is caring for her little one. She is feeding and cleaning and entertaining her little one all while trying to find time to feed and shower herself – and work, if she works from home.
I still find it to be very tricky making “Mom Time” happen. At first, all my energy went strictly to my girls and my freelance writing. I didn’t put myself high on the list of importance and after a while, I felt it.
Fitting in time for yourself and your friends is crucial to your well-being and mental health.
Finding a few minutes before bed or bright and early before your baby wakes up to do something creative or exercise will make a huge difference in your mindset.
16 Hiding The Burnout
Being someone who has faced mental health struggles in the past, I knew going into my pregnancy that I needed to mentally prepare for everything and anything. I didn’t want to struggle with burnout or “Baby Blues” or postpartum depression, but I also didn’t want it to slap me in the face if I wasn’t prepared. During my pregnancy, I felt incredibly low. Some of this mental strain was lifted once the girls were born, but it became something a little different.
After those first initial months, I started really feeling burnt out. My boyfriend was working full-time – something I am grateful for every day. Therefore, I was home taking care of infant twins while also trying to work from home to make a few extra bucks. I would force on a happy face when playing with my girls, but the reality was: I was working harder than I had ever worked in my life and I was burnt out.
I tried hiding it, somewhat embarrassed for feeling this way when I should be overjoyed for having quality time with my littles. However, hiding it doesn’t make it disappear. To find a way to lessen burnout, you must face it. Do the best you can to re-organize your routine to make it less hectic – even though motherhood never really calms down. Don’t focus on stressors that don’t need to be focused on.
15 Comparing “Parenting Roles”
When a mama is home all day with her little ones, she is the primary caregiver. She is the one prepping bottles, snacks, and meals, doing diaper changes, and putting the baby down for a nap. She is the one entertaining when the baby gets fussy and soothing the little one during moments of frustration.
So, it can be very easy for a mama to use the “I did the diapers all day” or the “You can at least do prepare a bottle” line when her partner comes home.
When you’re feeling in over your head and haven't slept enough in a while, it can be easy using phrases like, “Well, I’ve been cleaning up after them all day” when your partner either tries to avoid the cleaning or rest after their workday. It can be tough to remember that if your partner works all day, they’re working (just like you are). It’s not fair to compare who did what because those roles are totally different, but both very important and crucial.
14 Forgetting To Stop And Be A Mom
As a mom who works from home and takes care of her babies full-time, organizing time can be tough. I rely on the routine I have set for my girls and, luckily, they usually stick to it (if they didn’t, I’d go insane).
However, sometimes I find myself focusing so much on meeting deadlines and finding other, higher-paying opportunities that I forget to sit down and just be a mom with my girls.
This truth is tough to face because a lot of guilt comes with it. I feel guilty that a lot of the day is spent sitting behind my laptop trying to meet deadlines and get a few things finished while my girls play together. Luckily, they do have each other, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to spend more focused time with them.
Every day, I try to make special time for me to step away from the laptop to read and sing and snuggle with my girls. I want this special bonding time with my girls more than anything and it’s unfortunate that with the busy lives SAHM’s lead, that time can sometimes be cut short.
13 Feeling Embarrassed
I will admit – when people ask “what I do,” I sometimes don’t know how to respond. When I worked a full-time, nine-to-five job derived from my college degree, it was easy to just say, “Oh, I’m a Medicaid Service Coordinator” or “I work as a Family Worker in a school setting.”
Now, it’s a little different and, yes, I am embarrassed sometimes.
The embarrassment isn’t because of the specific work I do – I am grateful to be able to freelance and connect with others through my writing. I am embarrassed about the financial situation I am in now that I don’t receive a solid paycheck close to what I used to receive. I have found that to be the hardest transition into the SAHM lifestyle. However, more people than I imagined understand that I am saving thousands of dollars by staying home with my little ones.
12 Trying To Do It All
A SAHM is usually up when the sun rises and not long after that, she is diapering, feeding, cleaning, playing, and soothing her baby (or babies). If she works as well, she may be trying to get a few things done while diapering, feeding, cleaning, playing, and soothing is happening. On top of that, she may want to get some laundry, dishes, and cleaning done while also trying to find time to shower and feed herself.
The reality is: Everything on that never-ending to-do list will probably not get done when and how you want it.
Don’t mentally and physically beat yourself up because you are literally trying to “do it all.” It’s near impossible to go to bed crossing off absolutely everything on that mental to-do list. Sticking to the mindset of “doing the best you can with what you have” is
11 Getting Hit With Serious “Cabin Fever”
During those initial couple of months with a newborn, Moms may get hit with cabin fever. They may not want to go out into the public because of sickness and their little one’s brand new immune system.
After some time passes and a mom is able to bring her baby out-and-about, they still may face frustration due to weather or time restraints or, let’s be honest, Mom’s lack of energy. This kind of cabin fever continues long after those initial months for a SAHM – or, at least, many SAHM’s.
Between meeting deadlines, sticking to a schedule, and keeping the babies happy, getting outside of the house has been tricky for this SAHM.
With twins, even a stroller ride means hauling the double stroller out, preparing both babies, filling the diaper bag, and making sure I have all I need before locking the door behind us. I have found myself going a little crazy after spending days on end inside. It is important to really organize time and make sure to get what you need to get done, but also that you get your little ones out and exploring their world.
10 Keeping The TV On During “Work Time”
Working from home is a blessing and a curse. While you get to stay in pajamas and attempt work while listening to your babies giggle, you also get the distractions that come with being home. This often means distractions including that feisty smartphone, snacks in the fridge, the cozy looking bed, and, of course, the television.
Being I recently moved into the house I live in, it still is not fully unpacked and organized. Therefore, I do not have a specific office area set up just yet and my office is often in the living room or at the dining room table. Both of those places are within view of the TV.
Being someone who is easily distracted, I learned early on I couldn’t have the volume up high or a show on I would get deeply involved in.
9 Dreading Doctor’s Appointments And Outings
It’s unfortunate that I sometimes dread going to pediatric appointments or running errands with my little ones. Since my boyfriend works during the day, I am the one to pack up the stroller, prepare the diaper bag, dress and feed the girls, get them in their car seats, into the car, and out the door.
When you are someone who works from home and needs every second of “free” time to focus on babies and work, appointments or public outings can become painful.
Adjusting your mindset so it focuses on the importance of appointments or the learning experience running an errand can become isn’t always easy. However, I’ve learned that focusing on the stress and time that goes into getting out of the house, doesn’t make the situation any easier.
8 Not Having A Specific Work Area
I have always had a desk or “work area” where I would go to after my nine-to-five work day and write. It would be a relaxing area where I’d sit, take a deep breath, and let the creative juices flow. Usually, my writing would be more personal rather than freelance, but once the girlies arrived – all that changed.
Ever since we moved into our new family home, I haven’t found the time to really make a comfortable workspace. Trying to get work done while sitting on a couch with twin ten-month-old girls climbing all over you is not ideal. I should have made this a priority and cleared out a space specifically for work early in the move.
7 Not Using That College Degree (Anymore)
I have worked a degree-based job ever since graduating college with my bachelor’s degree in child and family studies. Even though my associate's degree is in creative writing, I still find myself growing frustrated about not utilizing that timely and expensive bachelor’s degree. I have worked in the direct care and human services field for many years and even though my passion will always be with writing (specifically novel writing and the author platform), I often feel guilty not getting back into the human services realm once the babies were born.
When I step back and look at the big picture, I realize a few things I need to focus on: I am spending quality time with my babies, I am making a few dollars, and I am doing something I am passionate about – writing.
6 Fearing The Lack Of Contribution
When you go from paying your own bills and working nine-to-five to staying and working from home, you may start feeling guilty. For some, this guilt may be because of a financial struggle. Unfortunately, daycare sometimes is too expensive and doesn’t “even out” with the paychecks that would be coming in (if Mom was working a full-time or part-time, out-of-the-house job).
The thing is this: If you’re a SAHM, you are saving your family hundreds and thousands of dollars because not only are you wearing the Mom hat, but also the daycare provider hat.
I have had difficulty embracing this truth since the start. I still feel as if I am not contributing financially the way I know I can. However, when comparing daycare expenses and how much income would be coming in, barely anything from the workday would be taken home.
The mishap SAHMs make is to worry too much about contributing when they should really focus on all they are doing and all the money they are saving, even when it feels like quite the opposite.
5 Not Feeling Like An Actual “Working Mom”
It’s a sad truth, but many SAHMs don’t feel like they’re actually a “working mom.” Many mamas who feel this way are often working from home in some way, taking care of their little ones, helping around the house, and taking care of themselves all at the same time.
If that doesn’t sound like work, I don’t know what work is.
When it was decided I would be staying home with the girls and my boyfriend would be working full-time, I made the mistake of thinking I wasn’t a “working mom.” It took a lot of time before I realized one very important truth: I was working harder as a stay-at-home/work-from-home mama than I had ever worked in my life.
This includes when I worked those nine-to-five jobs before becoming pregnant. Pushing aside the feelings of frustration and absorbing that truth was tough, but necessary to overcome the mishaps my mind was making.
4 Letting The “Traditional Mom Mindset” Set In
It is sometimes tough for others to see beyond what they see on the outside. Looking at our family, many may see my boyfriend as the “breadwinner” who works all day and I being the Mom who cooks and cleans takes care of the little ones.
Cliché or not, one thing is for certain: Never judge a book by its cover – ever.
“While the image of ‘stay-at-home mom’ may conjure images of ‘Leave It To Beaver’ or the highly affluent ‘opt-out mom’, the reality of stay-at-home motherhood today is quite different for a large share of families,” explains the Pew Research Center. I made the mistake of letting this thought impact me and make me question my beliefs. However, once you are confident with your viewpoints, you won’t let outside factors weigh in.
3 Not Cutting Off Social Media During “Work Time”
Though Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are helpful tools (most of the time), they also can be incredibly distracting. Even for those who work in an office, school, or factory, it can be hard walking away from your smartphone during the day.
So imagine how tough it is avoiding those addictive social media apps and websites when you’re working from home?
I still find myself sitting on the couch with my laptop open, sharing half the screen with Facebook while the other half of the screen is the article I am working on. Though sometimes I need certain sits to help me with content, I find myself scrolling through timelines without even realizing it.
To avoid this, it’s often best to just shut down your Wi-Fi and focus. Focus on the work that can be done without internet or social media and go back to it when you need it.
2 Strict Schedule Versus Flexible Schedule
Some moms are very flexible and spontaneous while other moms need strict routine every single day. I am one of those structured moms who can’t live without a schedule. Early on, I found myself trying not to rely on too much routine since, as Moms know, babies often make their own schedules. I tried to just go through the day doing what needed to be done without a to-do list or feeding, nap, and playtime format.
Well, I learned quickly that wouldn’t work for me. I needed that routine as much as my girls did. They have been in tune with our schedule since they were only a few months old and, magically, they have stuck with it. This doesn’t mean they are bound to break the structure, but it has shown me the importance of doing what works for you.
1 Fearing What Others May Think
Once you start fearing what others think, you start questioning yourself. You may question your beliefs, your emotions, your heart. You lose a piece of yourself when your worries revolve around the thoughts and judgments of others.
Many SAHMs face this fear and it often takes over their day-to-day life. It impacts how they interact with their little one and how efficiently they get their work done.
Letting this fear engulf you is a mishap many SAHMs make. By focusing on what could go wrong or what others think, you aren’t doing the best you can with what you have. You must focus on caring for your baby, caring for the home, caring for your work, and caring for yourself.
Moms don’t have time to care about what others think.
References: Forbes, Pew Research Center