I’ve been at this stay-at-home mom and home-school thing for about a month now. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. It’s overwhelming. It’s probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted. It’s also the most wonderful and important decision I’ve ever made.
Taking care of kids is all encompassing. It takes every bit of emotional energy that you have.
There are 5 huge realizations I’ve made since I began on this journey:
- Cleaning is magnified
When my kids were in school, we got home around 4:30, started homework and dinner and went to bed around 8:00. There was only so much damage the kids could do between 4:30 and 8:00. Now we are here All. The. Time. It’s amazing how much messier the house became. We eat three meals a day here now. The dishes, oh, the dishes. When the kids spill something on themselves at school, they can’t change their clothes. When they spill something at home, they change, and there are so many more chances to spill something on themselves. I think the current average is about 257 times per day, or something close to that. Anyway, the laundry keeps piling up and piling and piling…
- Work was a break
Previously, I worked as a teacher around young children all day and I still consider this a break when compared to stay-at-home moms. When I was working there was adult conversation and short breaks. I could at least have lunch alone and not have to make it for three small people. I had a nice quiet commute in the car each way. I could sing and hear my own thoughts. Now they are clawing at my feet every minute. I take them everywhere with me. There is no quiet time. Ever.
- Can’t take yourself too seriously
Parenting takes a sense of humor. I’ve been peed on too many times not to have a sense of humor. Now I’m beginning to potty-train my two-year-old boy. I also have a five-year-old boy. A lingering smell of piss is expected. I have gone into the bathroom and pretended I had a penis using a banana to try to teach control. I find the best way to diffuse a tantrum these days is just to break into song. It’s usually a Disney melody that makes them laugh and forget that they were screaming because “she looked at me like that”. There is no shame in the parenting game and you have to learn how to laugh at yourself, especially when you make this your full-time profession.
- I can’t do it all
I was going to lift weights and do sit-ups when the kids were doing home-school. That was an unrealistic dream I had a few weeks ago. Newsflash: It ain’t happening. I really overestimated the amount of things that I would be able to do. I thought I could organize the house, make a nice little schedule for working out and cleaning. Another newsflash: that hasn’t happened either. The schedule is interrupted constantly when the kids are peeling oranges on the couch and wrestling each other. I have no focused time to do anything, except when they go to sleep, and by that time I’m emotionally and physically exhausted and can barely keep up with the laundry. I now realize that I will never be able to do all of the things that I wanted to accomplish. I now wonder how I ever worked on top of all this and how I can find time to “work at home” that makes me some actual money.
- Most valuable thing I could ever do
With all the hardships and setbacks, I’m reminded that this is the most valuable job I could ever do. Raising the next generation is the most important job. The best thing I can do for my kids is to give them a rich and unique educational and childhood experience. I don’t get paid a monetary amount. I do get paid by the daily affirmations that the kids are happy and healthy and being influenced through non-generic experiences that will teach them way more in the long run. Stay-at-home moms are definitely undervalued and overworked. As a newbie to this profession, I salute all of the veteran stay-at-home moms. However, I think the word “stay” should definitely be replaced by “work” in all instances from here on out. Therefore, I salute and admire all of the work-at-home moms for bettering the next generation and making the greatest sacrifice to do the most important work there is. Rock on.