I Would Claw My Eyes Out In Boredom If I Was A Stay-At-Home Mom

shutterstock_35999596I know being a stay-at-home mom is a noble profession, but not everyone is cut out for it.

When I first had kids, I kind of assumed I would be a stay-at-home mom—at least part of the time—because that’s how I was raised. My husband and I were both raised by stay-at-home moms in religious families in the 80s.

When I had my first son, I was working as a writer at home full-time. I took on the brunt of the childcare and still tried to work on projects part-time. It wasn’t working for me because I was completely stressed out. I felt like I was juggling two full-time jobs at once, which I was. But quitting writing completely was not an option.

First and foremost, I absolutely love what I do. Secondly, I don’t think I would be able to handle round-the-clock childcare without something to distract me. When my first son was a baby and I was working less, I was so freaking bored. I honestly didn’t understand how much time I was supposed to spend with my kid, and whether or not it was a good idea to work, or if I should quit working altogether.

Of course, everything about parenting is trial and error. And the good thing is that my husband is very supportive and considers us a team; one person’s job isn’t more important than the other. Since my husband and I both work from home now, we balance childcare 50/50. It’s not that easy since we have a toddler in half-day daycare and a baby at home all day long, but I can imagine that it is so much easier than trying to wrangle two or more kids as a SAHM.

Side note—my husband and I are really kind of spoiled because we are both home with the kids all day long. We each didn’t appreciate how truly hard it is to care for one or more kids alone, until I went out of town for the weekend and, later, my husband went out for an afternoon. SAHMs, it was hard! You have my utmost respect.

I know some stay-at-home moms are fulfilled and really enjoy what they do. I only enjoy full-time childcare a little bit, and I think spending all day with my kids without any distractions would drive me up the wall. I feel really fortunate to have the best of both worlds since I get to work at home and still spend a good amount of time with my kids.

But I would never under any circumstance consider quitting my job to be a full-time mom. Today, my kids are part of my identity, and I’m happy about that. My job is also a big part of my identity, and I am never giving it up.

(Image: SFC/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
Share This Post:
    • Natasha B

      Hey, whatever works, right? I worked full time when oldest was a babers, and then became SAHM when preggers with number 2. Which, no lie, was a sweet deal cuz she was in kindergarten, so I pretty much got to nap and ‘do lunch’ my entire third trimester. I actually love being a SAHM, but I keep myself busy with personal interests/hobbies, and def make sure I get out of the house daily. The hubby is really good at making sure I get kid free time out also-and same for him. Just because he works full time doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve some time out too. People just gotta do what works for them!

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I as well struggled with the question of how much time to spend with my baby. On one hand, I didn’t want to neglect his needs. But I also didn’t want him growing accustomed to all my attention all the time and I think everyone needs some quiet time to themselves.
      It’s funny, no one really prepares you for the distribution of time. Suddenly there’s everything to do. And then you gets pockets of empty time to fill, but you have no guarantee of how long that time will last either, so it’s difficult to fill efficiently.
      Working again will be so weird.

      • Bethany Ramos

        EXACTLY. I guess you have to figure it out through trial and error, but I seriously would have appreciated a little chart that told you exactly how much time to spend with your kid each day. I was very confused about what to do with downtime.

      • Kay_Sue

        Mommyish. Duh! :-P

      • Bethany Ramos

        That’s what happened!!

      • Kay_Sue

        Explains a lot. ;)

      • Crusty Socks

        Also the 1.75 ltr bottle of pinot grigio

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

        YES! That was one of the things I found hardest about staying at home. I only did it for a year (Canadian) granted, but it was that weird thing of when you do have free time (i.e. the kid is napping or playing independently) you never know how much time you could have. Sure, I could pull out a sewing project or start cooking something amazing for dinner, but what if this nap only lasts 15 minutes? Now I’ve got not only a kid who just woke up and HAS NEEDS, but I’ve got a big mess to clean up or a meal halfway done. So I ended up reading a lot of books, watching a lot of reruns of sitcoms (Golden Girls mostly) and ‘tidied’, which meant I felt like I barely got anything done all day.

      • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

        Yeah, I’m nearly done my year-long leave too. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never stayed at home with a baby all day just how challenging it is to allocate your time sensibly. It’s not that I’m constantly doing things all day, it’s that I can’t practice time management in this situation.

      • PrairieCoast

        OH my gosh, thank you for staying this!!! I also did the one year mat leave and I am now going on to my second year of being a part-time stay at home mom, and I still haven’t figured our the time management thing. I constantly feel so guilty for not getting more accomplished during my days at home, but this is exactly it: how can you start things when you have no idea if you’ll be able to finish them? The nap could be an hour or two hours. The kid could be super cranky and needy all day, or blissfully look at books and play by himself for hours. My husband doesn’t get it, which adds to the guilt factor :-(

      • Toaster

        Aaaagh, I love cooking but it’s so frustrating with kids. It seems like the baby will play happily by himself when I just need a few minutes to do something simple and be whiny and clingy if I’m trying to do something that I need more time for. At least I can park the 3-year old in front of the TV when I need to get my hands inside a chicken or whatever.

      • Lilly

        I still find this challenging even after going back to work — like will my kid be in a good enough mood that I can run an errand after picking him up or will I need to head straight home because cthulhu has taken residence in my toddler. Weekends are the worst because he pulls this really annoying habit of sometimes taking a ridiculously long nap (like 4 hours for a 2.25 yr old is weird right?) so then the afternoon is shot.

    • Kay_Sue

      I enjoy staying at home now, with my three year old. I get my cleaning done, we carve out some time for activities, and I get to stay up on all my favorite websites. It’s a win all around! ;)

      I did not enjoy being on maternity leave with a newborn. It was really super boring to me. The difference for me now is that he’s got a pretty awesome personality and spending time with him is a blast. I keep toying with the idea of going back to work part-time, because I miss it, but the fact is, I’d miss him more after spending this time. Maybe when he starts school things will be different. ;)

    • Amber Starr

      I am a first-time stay-at-home mom…. I miss working and having time with grown ups. I feel like I am on call 24 hours a day and, frankly, I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. It’s getting a little better, but damn, I need a margarita night with friends SOON.

      • Kay_Sue

        How long have you been home? I’m coming up on….nine months? The first one was great, then some pretty intense boredom set in…then it eventually evened out for me, thank the flying spaghetti noodle monster.

        I really can see how it isn’t for some people. I’m loving it now, but I’m also careful to keep a balance, whether it’s my bestie dropping by for tea after she gets off work or spending an evening with my hubby or even just asking for my family to watch them so I can get a couple of hours to myself….I’d go nuts without any adult interaction. Absolutely bonkers in no time….I learned that the hard way.

      • Amber Starr

        Tomorrow will be 3 months. Part of me is so thankful that I get to stay home and care for my daughter exactly as I want to and I won’t miss any of those cute, little “firsts”…BUT, I’ve always been very independent (financially), so not earning “my own money” has been hard. Eventually I will get back to work, but for now I REALLY need to find the balance between ‘Amber’ and ‘Paige’s Momma’.

      • Kay_Sue

        I feel you. It is completely possible. Letting go financially and coming to terms with the fact that I am contributing, just not in the way that I was used to, were both really hard for me. I still struggle with feeling like I am not contributing, honestly. *sighs*

        You’ll get there though. It isn’t as easy to make the switch as folks make it out to be.

    • LadyClodia

      My husband works from home now, though, which makes things easier; like I can leave the toddler with him when I go pick up our preschooler, or I can run to the store while the toddler is sleeping. Being a SAHM really sucked the year he worked away from home 4-5 days a week; that was when I was pregnant with and until our 2nd was about 6 months old. There was no break during the week, and even after the kids went to bed I still had housework to do before I usually crashed.
      It’s not that I love being a SAHM all of the time now, and it can get pretty boring, but I never had a career, and I don’t particularly enjoy working at a job. Before we moved I used to volunteer at a cat shelter, and that got me out of the house and doing something, which was nice. But here the shelters are all on the other side of town, and I can’t drive at night, which definitely limits my options.

    • felix

      This I like because it’s honest. I hate the fake letters from a sham, and from a working mom. They’re bitchy and underhanded and passive aggressive.

    • JulySheWillFly

      This title is interesting because I don’t think it would ever work in reverse. I can’t imagine what the reactions (my own included) would be if a SAHM wrote an article about how she would go insane if she was working.

      Food for thought.

      • Terry

        SO much this!

      • Elisianna

        I could totally write the reverse!

      • JulySheWillFly

        Oh, I am certain the article COULD be written! I just feel like many working moms (who work out of obligation and not choice) wouldn’t want to read it. I feel like “choice” is an underlying factor in all these articles that never gets talked about. It might be a more controversial article if written in reverse, even though I am not entirely sure why.

      • JulySheWillFly

        Take this sentence and switch it from:

        “But I would never under any circumstance consider quitting my job to be a full-time mom.”

        to:

        “But I would never under any circumstance consider giving up staying home with my kids to focus on my job.”

        Just doesn’t seem ok anymore, does it?

      • JulySheWillFly

        Or rather, it should read:

        “”But I would never under any circumstance consider giving up staying home with my kids to be a working mom.”

      • Elisianna

        Haha I guess that does sound wrong.
        Honestly if I wrote the reverse it would mostly just be very silly, and it wouldn’t be relatable because it would have to do with my very specific situation and personality… :P

      • Toaster

        And if you replace ‘mom’ with ‘dad’ then the fur would really fly!

      • PennyCentury

        But you’ve just described 99% of mommywriting on the internet. Very little is actually pro-working mother or even from a working mother’s perspective. Even this article was written by someone who works part-time and in the home.

        Food for thougt.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Full-time! But good point. :)

      • Ptownsteveschick

        I would, not because I wouldn’t want to be away from my kid each day, but because I fucking hate working. Whenever I do go back, it needs to be something on my own schedule and not with a crappy boss yelling at me. I envy working moms and the fact that they get to talk to adults during the day.

      • JulySheWillFly

        This might be controversial or flat out wrong, but I think the difference is that most moms who complain about being SAHMs would still choose to be SAHMs, if both choices were available. On the other hand, I suspect that most moms who complain about being working moms would choose not to work if both choices were available. Just a hypothesis.

    • Guest

      I never ever thought for a minute I’d be a stay at home mom. As we get closer to having children it has become a dream of mine and I literally CANNOT wait. That being said, everyone I mention this to tells me I’m going to be bored or they know I’ll be back to work in no time because I’m not “the type” to handle not working. We’ll see how it goes.

      • Laka

        I think it depends on one of year. When it’s nice weather and you can go outside most days it is great. But sometimes especially during these dreary winter months (if you live in northeast like I do) you can start going a little stir crazy no matter how many fun things you try to plan.

      • Guest

        Funny you mention that because these last couple snowstorms (in the Midwest) I’ve been wishing I could stay home. Nothing like driving in scary conditions on a long commute to work all day. I could see how the nice weather would make it much more fun though.

      • Lala

        I hear ya! When I worked I used to dread driving in snow as well and am thankful to be able to stay inside on those days without pressures of having to get to work. But all of this snow is starting to get old and looking forward to walking weather!

    • aCongaLine

      I read your title, and immediately thought that you and I are again on the same page. Only, I’d omit the word “boredom” and insert the word “anxiety.”

      I truly think that all this time I’m spending with them is making me like them less… Don’t get me wrong, I love them. But, I’m totally over it. And if one more lady with grown kids tells me “Oh, you’ll never get that time back!” Im going to have to be bailed out of the slammer on an assault charge. Seriously.

      HUbs seems to have fallen through a time warp that has landed him in the 1950s, and I’m Betty Friedan Level done with it. I love my kids, but man, I loved my work, too.

      • Bethany Ramos

        My soul sister! I also think anxiety would be a good word to describe it. I think what I was hitting at was getting some of my identity from my work. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to spend time with my kids, in moderation… But it wasn’t until I focused on work again that I felt even more fulfilled/balanced. I hope you get a vacation or a break in the very near future!

      • aCongaLine

        I totally understand the getting identity from the work thing… It’s definitely what is missing in my picture here. I’m glad you’re rocking both worlds. I truly, truly, miss working. With no work, I feel out of balance, and that’s unsettling, for sure.

      • Rachel Sea

        I think that right there is why a lot of people are glad to go stay home. Lots of people hate their jobs, don’t want any part of their identity to be tied to their work, and want nothing more than to never have to go there again.

    • jorgiemama

      Being bored is something you LET happen, not something that happens to you. Only dull people let themselves get bored whether they are at home or not.

      • Elisianna

        I have always thought this must be true… I am basically NEVER bored and never have been the type to be bored. But then sometimes I wonder if I am just the most extremely boring person in the world… :P

      • val97

        Ha, I say that to my kids whenever they complain about being bored!

      • Ptownsteveschick

        I’m the dullest person ever and I totally get bored all the time.

    • Elisianna

      I love being a stay at home mom. I am a huge homebody and I don’t like grown-ups. I used to teach music lessons to children and teenagers and I got along with all ages very well… But teaching adults was uncomfortable. I am so much more genuine with young people. One time I even got fired from a summer job because they could tell I hated them all and told me I “clearly hate adults”. :P
      Weirdest part is that I am not happy-go-lucky and childlike. I am actually fairly serious.

    • lala

      I think it is up to you to decide what kind of SAHM you are going to be and to make your own fun. Are there days that suck and you are tired/miserable/bored to tears.. absolutely. But I actively seek out activities for me and my children to participate in. When it is nice outside we always go for walks and to play at the park. Even though I am on the shyer side I force myself to participate in mom groups and go out of my comfort zone to meet new people to make for an enjoyable experience for both myself and my kids. I think maybe you didn’t give it a shot or put yourself out there (or maybe you did and just didn’t enjoy that either!)

      I have to disagree with another poster. You absolutely do not get this time back. They are only little once. I wonder if the govt offered some sort of compensation for staying at home if more moms would do it since unfortunately a lot of moms out there (and dads) have to work.

      • Guest

        I think this first part is really true. Some people can’t get up and going if they aren’t required to by a job. Some people can plan activities and education for their kids while they’re at home. Some people can keep their house immaculate while they’re home all day. Some people let their kid stare at the tv on tummy time while they play Candy Crush. Each person is different and will have different expectations of themselves and different results, as with anything.

    • val97

      I’m a big fan of whatever works for each individual family. I’ve done most combinations – I was a single mother and in my final year of college when my oldest was a baby. I’ve also worked part-time, stayed at home, for a brief time had two jobs, worked from home, split shifts with my husband, and worked full-time at an office. Of course, now with an 8 year old and 14 year old, staying home would be a luxury. I was laid off for a while last year, and I was not bored, but that’s because my kids were at school. I went on hikes with my dog, read, watched TV, and applied for jobs. It was great!

    • jordana

      Love the honesty here! I really don’t get the sahm thing either…and I kind of think it’s a dying structure in our society, but to each his own. The author sounds like she has a pretty sweet set up :-)

    • Rachel Sea

      I’d enjoy it if I had people to interact with. Just being at home with a kid all the time would drive me nuts. When I parented my cousin we went to the park a lot, or walked to the store, or just walked (okay I walked, and he mostly rode on my shoulders). Even if the only person you have to talk to all day is a pre-verbal 18 month old, the conversations are a lot more interesting when you have more to look at than 4 walls.

    • rrlo

      I just read through the comments – and there wasn’t a single judgmental one. Well done Mommyish readers. I think this may be an Internet first.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I agree!

    • http://www.fitnesscheerleader.com/ Janice – Fitness Cheerleader

      I totally agree – I love working and am not the least bit bored and I love being at home in the evenings fully engaged with my kids.

    • Harriet Meadow

      I’m kind of in the perfect situation right now – as a grad student, I only teach one class, so I’m only away from home for a couple of hours four days a week. This means that I still get to spend the majority of my time with my little guy (which I LOVE), but I also “have a life” outside of him, and I can find some fulfillment through teaching and get my mind off of baby stuff. Of course, the problem is that I’m also supposed to be working on my dissertation, which is easiest to do after little guy goes to sleep for the night (because he doesn’t nap for long enough stretches), and after taking care of a baby/teaching/doing housework for thirteen hours a day, I’m usually too zoned out to get much done. In fact, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now… =)

    • Valerie

      I am very much a “live and let live” sort of person and I am so happy for anyone who has found a situation that works for them. However, staying at home was not that situation for me- it made me very anxious and I took anti-anxiety meds almost the entire 3 years that I did it. So all I can say is that I am endlessly grateful to live in a time where we have the option to work and not be completely maligned for it. I know there are some who will judge but at least its a viable option for any of us-a choice- not like it was 50 or 60 years ago where a mother working was literally almost unheard of and a woman stating openly that staying at home is driving her crazy would have been looked down upon. I am glad I live in a time where I can say “NOPE- didn’t work for me” and move on to something else. Thank you, Feminism!

    • SDM14

      I’m a SAHM to a two-year-old girl and four-month-old boy and I’m rarely bored. There are tons of social supports and activities in my town for parents, plus most of my friends are on mat leave (Canada – one year). I’m on a board of directors for some adult stimulation/giving back to the community.
      However, I constantly worry that people will think that I’m *boring.* I’ve somehow internalized this idea that SAHM’s lives revolve around their children. I don’t really believe this, but I’m worried that people will think that I have nothing else going on, that I’m not intellectually curious, etc. An ultrasound tech once asked me what I did and I said that I stayed home with my daughter and the conversation stopped dead..so then I started telling him what I used to do, but it was too late, he had clearly written me off. Ugh.

    • Pingback: It Could Take Two Kids To Learn How To Co-Parent()

    • Pingback: Stay At Home Dads Get A Pat On The Back For Doing "Women's Work"()