I have technically been a SAHM for over a year now (I was on maternity leave for six months of that, but still full-time at home with Will), and I have to say, I encounter a lot of misconceptions and myths about being in my line of work. It is frustrating and demeaning to have what I do taken so lightly and with less consideration than what someone might do outside of the home. So, I will attempt to debunk some of those myths right here and now.
MYTH: Nap times are my time for eating bon bons.
FALSE. Nap times are not my downtime. Nap times are my times to get things done. Things like laundry, cleaning the house, dishes, paying bills, etc. I might take a few minutes for myself to take a shower or have a quick bite to eat, but for the most part, I am busier during naptimes than when Will is awake.
MYTH: SAHMs just play all day.
FALSE. While I am not going to lie and say that I have never have fun and just play with Will, I will say that only a small part of my day is truly spent "playing." It is a lot of hard work. I am not trying to say that it isn't fun work, it isn't fulfilling work, it isn't important work, because it is. It's just not all fun and games. Like any job, it has its good days, its bad days, its ups, its downs.
MYTH: My husband must make a ton of money and/or we just "lucked" into my being able to stay home.
FALSE. Okay, here's the thing. My husband doesn't make a ton of money. We live in one of the most expensive areas of the country in terms of housing and grocery costs. And WE MAKE IT WORK. It took planning, saving, prioritizing, and doing without some things in the past when I was making a salary. Now that I am not bringing in any income, it takes budgeting, clipping coupons, and having discipline. I do consider myself so blessed to be able to stay home with Will, but it didn't just happen.
MYTH: SAHMs are frumpy and never shower or put on makeup.
FALSE. I encounter this one quite a bit. People are always so surpised to see me wearing makup or cute shoes or trendy clothes. Again, this does take effort, but it's important to me. I do know lots of SAHMs who don't make an effort in this area, and that's fine, but for me, it is one thing that I have never sacrificed. I do get a shower every day and have every day since Will was 5 days old. If I leave the house (and most days, I do), I make sure to have at least some makeup on and my hair in decent condition. I don't wear sweatpants unless I am working out. I put on jeans and cute shoes. My husband has never once come home to find me still in my pjs. Even moms who do stay in their sweats all day still know how to clean up for a girls night out or to work a part time job. Being a SAHM doesn't mean that you let yourself go or stop caring about your appearance. Some mothers don't seem to care as much about this, but those same women probably wouldn't care as much if they were working outside the home, either.
Look, I get it. Before I was a SAHM, I had an entirely different vision of what it would be like. I thought I would have more free time, more time to relax, but it just isn't true. Being a SAHM is a job without weekends, time off, sick days, or retirement. There are no excuses, no one else to step in and do the dirty work, no switch hitters or substitutes - just like a mom who works outside of the home - it all falls on our shoulders.
I do not judge people for working outside the home, in fact, I almost made that decision myself. There are days when I miss working outside the home, the financial security that it brought us. Although I believe that me being at home is the best thing for our family, I know it's not the same for everyone. I think that is what is bothering me most of all. The fact that other moms are the ones that seem to judge and find the role of the SAHM lacking the most.
I worked a very difficult job for 10 years before being a SAHM and you know what? Being a SAHM is just as difficult, but without the paycheck, positive feedback, and RESPECT that it deserves. I know there are challenges to being a working mother, too, and they have my respect for what they face day-to-day. I know it isn't easy, because I don't think being a parent is easy, whether you are working inside or outside of your home.
What is your greatest challenge as a SAHM or WOHM? What myths do you want to debunk about either experience?