I recently sat down with, well, myself to ask and answer a few questions about the day-to-day life, thoughts, and motivations of a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM for those of you familiar with the mommy blogging world). I hope you find this, admittedly quirky, interview with myself insightful, inspiring, a bit funny (because we all need to laugh at ourselves more), relatable, and above all honest.
[Please note: the views expressed in this “interview” are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of other stay-at-home-moms.]
Q. How long have you been a SAHM and what prompted you to stay home with your kiddo?
A. When Baby Bean was born in early February 2015 I was working as a realtor, so basically an independent contractor. I didn’t have anything like maternity leave, but I knew how important it was for me to stay home with him for the first three months of his life (the so-called 4th trimester), so I stayed out of work until early May. At that point, I went back to real estate, and put Baby Bean into daycare one day a week. For us, it just didn’t make sense to have him attend more than one day. I could work on the computer while I was home with him, and see clients in the evenings and on weekends when my husband was home. Additionally, I was really devoted to nursing at this point and frankly, our finances just weren’t in a place where we could justify sending him for more than that one day. However, after about three months of being a simultaneous SAHM and work-from-home-mom I knew something had to change. I kept feeling as though I wasn’t fully there for my son or my clients. We needed to either step up the daycare, or cut down on my working. So after much contemplation and discussion with family and friends, my husband and I decided that the best decision for our family was for me to stop working and focus full-time on being Bean’s mommy and running the house. My husband and I have always discussed having one of us “available” for our kids, either home full-time or in a job flexible enough to allow our kids easy access to us. Even still, leaving work was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. But in August of last year I attended my final closing and I’ve been home full-time ever since. So I guess that’s only about seven months, but it definitely feels like much longer. Not sure if that’s a good thing…!
Q. Do you stay home because you want to, or because you need to, given the cost of childcare?
A. Honestly, it’s both. I have always wanted to be a mom, and I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a SAHM, it just wasn’t clear to us before we had Bean, and even right after, that it would be a possibility given our student loan debt and other household expenses. But, like I said, we made it through the 4th trimester without my income, I hated having to pull my focus away from my baby, so in that sense I’m home because I want to be. On the other hand, I have definitely played around with the idea of going back to work, and so I’ve looked into childcare. Although we can technically afford to have Bean in full-time daycare, the financial cost-benefit analysis just isn’t there for us given the salary I could potentially bring home after daycare expenses. Additionally, the lifestyle cost-benefit analysis doesn’t make sense either. I know myself, and I know that unless I am doing something that I am unbelievably devoted to, I can’t justify, or be happy, working away from my baby.
Q. Growing up did you have a parent who stayed home?
A. Yes, for much of my childhood my mom was home either full-time or part-time. My dad is a college professor, so he was always very available to me as well. I’m an introverted person, so while I love being around people, I do require a lot of down time. I loved having parents who could be home when I needed them to be. For me it was very beneficial that I didn’t have to go to after-school care, or spend my entire summer in camps or other programs. I was able to go home after school and regenerate after a full day of being around the other kids and teachers. As a parent I want that same option for my children.
Q. What do you think about working moms?
A. Honestly, I am completely in awe of working moms. Two of my best friends are working moms, as is my amazing sister-in-law, and they are killing it. But I seriously do not know how they do it. They work these high-powered, demanding jobs, and then they go home and take care of their children, make them dinner, nurse, sooth, bathe, and basically do everything I do all day, but after a long day at work. So, what do I think of working moms? I think they are absolutely amazing and deserve a whole lot more acknowledgement and support than they currently get in our society.
Q. Ok, here goes, the question we’ve all been waiting for…what do you do all day?
A. I binge-watch House of Cards and eat Cadbury Eggs in my PJs. It’s pretty awesome.
No, my day-to-day life is nothing as glamorous as all that. It depends on the day, of course, but I spend a lot of my time doing basic household chores; spot cleaning, doing dishes, doing laundry, making meals, playing and reading with Baby Bean, managing finances, and shopping for groceries and household items. I also spend a lot of time planning and organizing, as well as researching budget-conscious choices, such as making our own laundry detergent. Occasionally during the day I’ll allow myself to sit and read a magazine article or watch a quick show on Netflix during one of Baby Bean’s two naps, but I usually leave the TV until after bedtime. Since we are lucky enough to live near a park with walking paths we go for a walk 1-2 times per week, and we try to have a playdate 1-2 times per week as well. Looking at it written down it doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it does fill my day, and truthfully I’m exhausted by 8pm. Baby Bean and I also like to have spontaneous dance parties, usually to the rock anthem “Row Row Row Your Boat” or whatever other jam is currently blaring from one of the 372 music-playing toys scattered around our house.
Q. What are some disadvantages to being a SAHM?
A. Aside from the very obvious loss of income, I would say the isolation is the biggest disadvantage. I am somewhat of an introvert, but it gets lonely having no one to talk to most of the time except a little baby. It’s a bit better now because Baby Bean is getting to an age where he’ll at least react to me (mainly by running away with a squeal of laughter), but for a while there I’d find myself rambling on to the cashier at Target only to awkwardly catch myself and mumble something strange about mommy-brain while I quickly walked off in horror at my checkout-line confessions. Another big disadvantage for me is the lack of intellectual stimulation. I was a political science major in undergrad, and I’m a law school graduate, so much of my adult life has been spent debating and discussing relatively lofty topics. These days I spend much of my brain power comparing prices of toilet paper and deciphering poop color and consistency. So needless to say, I’ve had to be much more proactive about engaging my brain in intellectually challenging ways since I began staying home.
Q. What are the biggest advantages of being a SAHM?
A. Truly I could go on and on, but the biggest advantage so far has been my ability to nurse my baby without having to pump throughout the day and/or keep a supply of breast milk. And let me just say, if you had asked me about breastfeeding a month before Baby Bean was born and we hadn’t talked since, you’d be shocked by that response. (More on that in an upcoming blog post). Additionally, I’ve been able to make our baby food (but seriously, this is so simple, it takes like five minutes), I made a mobile for Bean’s crib, and I make our laundry detergent, all of which have helped us save money. At the end of the day, the best thing about being a SAHM, for me, is simply the time I get to spend with my baby. I have a front row seat for every one of his milestones, and that is something I will never, ever regret, even with all the sacrifice associated with being a SAHM.
Q. What is the one piece of advice you would give to another mom who is contemplating becoming a stay-at-home-mom?
A. As I was told by my own mother, as well as other women who I value and trust; you will never regret the time you spend with your children. The days pass so quickly, and they are only little once. But it is imperative that you follow your heart and know your own limitations.
What other questions do you have for this, or any other SAHM? Or, if you are a SAHM, what questions do people ask you, or do you feel you’d like to answer? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.