In all my years of adolescent babysitting, I never thought I’d be so unprepared to be a parent…
Then, you become a parent and you realize how different babysitting is again. And as a mom, you either become a “Working mom”, “Stay-at-home mom” (SAHM), “work-at-home mom” (WAHM), or whatever other label they can come up with these days.
Let’s make one thing clear; no title, position, label or job as a mother is harder than another. When I planned for maternity leave, I never knew how hard it would be to leave my baby at home and return to my 9-5 office job. At that time, it was the hardest thing I’d had to do. It came with various challenges; separation anxiety, guilt, stress, pumping at work, insufficient milk supply and the challenges changed as time went on. In short, not having to do this, does not mean a mother who doesn’t return to work took the “easy route”.
But I won’t lie, if I was at home all day, every day with my toddler, I just might go crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I love him to death just like the rest of you but there’s a strong belief in me that knows this works for us. It may just be that I’ve had to convince myself that it does because it’s the only option for us but for now, we MAKE it work the best we can.
Sometimes I wonder though… “What would it be like if I were in a position where I could stay home?” What kind of adventures would we go on? What would we learn? How would our relationship develop? And so on… Even the temptation of leaving my job to become a nanny has struck me in the past… No, that won’t be happening but every once in a while I take the opportunity to entertain those crazy kind of thoughts…
My dear friend recently asked me if I could stay home with her 3 kiddos while she took 1 to a doctors appointment out of state (and yes, with my 1, that makes FOUR kids all to my self). To say these kids are awesome would be an understatement. I thought to myself, “I can totally handle this!” I never really think about how heavy her load must be sometimes. This woman has such a kind heart that I doubt she every views it that way but I can tell you now, I was sure to learn a thing or two, or ten…
Knowing I had that day off from my typical “job”, I was smitten with the idea that she asked me to help. Given that it’s rare I get the opportunity to spend a whole day with four wild, silly, fun, kids, I thought I’d make some light of our experience. Here are a few things I learned while spending “A day in the life of a SAHM” :
- Don’t take your desk job for granted. – Working at a desk all day doesn’t make you lazy but let’s be honest here, you sure as hell aren’t chasing toddlers around all day, catching frogs in the pond, pushing a double stroller whilst a baby is strapped to your back AND front or trying to wrangle a meal and a million questions at the same time. So, yes, go right ahead and enjoy that ergonomic swivel chair your bum RESTS in for today.
- Nap time is not the same as break time – So, you think well, a SAHM gets to a great stretch of nap time to catch up on chores, get a little crafty or even take care of herself…. WRONG. Why? Because with multiple kids, you are bound to find that they all sleep at distinctly different times. Even with the best intentions of laying them all down at the same time, you’re probably screwed. So, next time you complain about how your employer doesn’t pay you for your break or only gives a half hour instead of an hour… Try to appreciate that peaceful quietness you have while eating your lunch without anyone tugging at your pant leg. That is a gift, relish in it, will ya?
- SAHM’s must have superpowers. – I mean what other explanation is there? If you can manage to keep four kids alive and well, while still running errands, cleaning the house and delivering new lesson plans… You must be hiding something! I mean, I feel pretty badass when I can get through the work day, arrive home in time to throw a pizza in the oven, give my kid a wipe down, read him a book and get him to bed so, maybe we should all start rocking capes?
- “Simon-Says” totally counts as an organized activity – If it didn’t before, it does now! Cause’ for real, getting four kids to sit down and do anything at the same time is for fairy tale books. And in my defense, it teaches confusion and promotes leadership… that’s got to count for something, right?
- When all else fails, get dirty. – So, you planned this gloriously perfect day practicing the letter “M”. You were going to have the kids color monsters and practice various fine-motor skills. Well, if for any reason that doesn’t work out for you, let the children take the lead. You’ll find yourself making mud pies, catching frogs, hunting bugs, stacking wood… You’ll end up with a gloriously dirty bunch but everyone will be smiling.
- PB&J is a staple food. – Now, I consider myself to be fairly “crunchy” but forget that organic nonsense for a minute. We are all just trying to survive here. So, when those little buggers turn their nose up at a leafy green salad or you don’t spend your entire Sunday doing meal prep for your tribe, don’t beat yourself up over it.
- Don’t be a SAHM when it’s raining. – Clock out on these days. That is undoubtedly not a real option but seriously, I don’t know how she stays sane while cooped up in a house with four kids when the sky is raining on your life…
- Baby wearing saves lives. – I don’t care what you do or how you do it but if you ask me to take more than one child out in public, you best believe the littlest one is getting strapped to my back.
- If the kids are quiet, they are up to something. – Who are you to think it’s okay to take a pee break or leave the kids adorably playing upstairs while you feed the animals?! They are laughing and playing so well together, so you think you’re safe, right? Don’t be fooled, they’ve already dumped out your second cup of coffee, trashed the playroom and are probably master-minding a plan to stack all the furniture on the bed to reach the top shelf in the closet. No more peeing for you!
- Pooping is too risky. – Yes, I went there. If you think taking a momentary pee break is dangerous, don’t even think about going #2. Lets just leave it at that.
A role change, can really put things into perspective. I was blessed with hugs, laughs, tears and a day full of love but if I really learned anything, it’s that I won’t be trading in my lunch breaks for nap time any time soon…