The Other Side

Chef Nikki Last week was – in my mind – my first official week back at work. It was actually my third week at work, but my first week with bootcamp every morning at 5:30am and no snow to mess up the schedule. 5 days of a 5:30am bootcamp, and an 8-3+ office schedule. I sprinkled in a couple of high school theater obligations here and there and managed to cook 3 of the 5 nights. We did leftovers one night and we ate out another.

I think I did a great job, thankyouverymuch. Scratch that. I WAS AWESOME.

BUT – being back in the swing of things again I’m reminded why this life is a little bit easier, now that I’m working outside the home. There is something I forgot about when I went back to being a Stay-At-Home-Mom.

Other people are more likely to help you because being a Work Outside The Home Mom seems to make people think you need more help. Like my husband. He’s been helping out so much more because me working in an office gives the illusion that my life is busier. But I’ve had to tell him the truth: It’s Not.

I am just as frenzied at night as I was before I went back to work. When you’re at home all day with the kids, you don’t have much free time to keep up with the basic chores like laundry and cleaning and groceries because you’re TAKING CARE OF THE KIDS, when tends to create MORE laundry and cleaning. I am no more busy now than I was before. It just LOOKS like I am. When I come home now? The house looks the same as when I left because no one was here all day messing it up. There are no dirty dishes because someone else was feeding the kids. No craft messes because they did that at school.

When I wasn’t working in an office, I spent nighttime hours cleaning up messes from the day. No point in cleaning until after the kids go to bed. (Can I get an AMEN?) Now? The house is still clean when the kids go to bed! We’ve been gone all day, no time to mess it up. So I spend the time at night running the errands I probably did during the day before. See? Same level of busy-ness. Just a different kind of schedule.

But since I’m at work all day? It LOOKS like my life is more hectic so my wonderful husband is helping out more. I’m NOT complaining, but until we chatted about it the other night, he didn’t realize I needed the help just as much before.

The only thing more difficult now is scheduling. My schedule is not as flexible. If something needs to be done during business hours? I’m kinda screwed. Even getting off at 3pm, I still have to pick up E on non-rehearsal days and on rehearsal days? Sometimes I have to be at his school too for my own obligations. So – the part where I do need help I didn’t need before? Is with tasks that have to be done between 9am-5pm. So far those tasks aren’t bad, but they will be and then D and I will have to share the responsibilities I normally carried on my own.

Hee.My point? If you’ve always been a Stay-At-Home Mom? And especially if you have a spouse who doesn’t help much? THEY SHOULD. If you’ve always been a Working-Away-From-Home Mom who thinks maybe life would be less hectic if you were at home? It won’t. You still will feel like you’re never caught up on life because you keep having to clean up the same messes every day. And you’re so busy keep the kids happy/alive that you don’t have time to always do the things during the day you normally have to do after work. So you still find yourself waiting until the kids go to bed to do the grocery trips or wash the dishes.

In other words? Are you raising a child? YOU ARE AWESOME and I’m so sorry life is so hectic for you. To me, the biggest perk of being a SAHM is simply being able to be there with your kids. The biggest perk of being a Work Outside the Home Mom? People seem to understand your stress a lot more and either (A) Help out or (B) Don’t judge you if you send your kids to school in the same clothes two days in a row. (They were clean! I promise!) It’s hard to work around a rigid schedule sometimes working in an office, but at least there’s someone there everyday noticing the work your doing and PAYING YOU FOR IT. Having gone back and forth and in several different varieties now – Working, Going to School, Staying at home, Working AND Going to School – I can tell you it is always hard. No one has it easy.

The way I look at it? It’s the trade-off. The universe blessed me with three fantastic humans to be permanently attached to and love unconditionally. And nothing that awesome comes easy. And I’m okay with that.

17 thoughts on “The Other Side”

  1. I agree. I worked outside the home before my son was born and now I stay at home with him. My husband and I are both in school (him full-time, and with a full-time job, and me part-time) and I have my Etsy shop and taking care of the household stuff, all of which gets done after he goes to bed. So I feel like my husband and I rarely see each other. Hoping that will change as Jonah gets older…

  2. Ummm… so why is W wearing a giant beard and nothing else? That picture cracked me up, especially since you just included it as though it is somehow related to your post.

    I have thought about how hard it is to get things done on the weekend and wondered if it was somehow easier for SAHMs. I guess not! Though being able to run errands during the day would be really, really nice.

  3. Well, for me? I did run errands during the day – but I used my post-bedtime hours cleaning up dishes/messes from the day with the kids. Now, those messes aren’t there so I run errands at night. I guess it just depends on your own children and how destructive they are. MINE ARE VERY DESTRUCTIVE. Heh.

  4. Yes. To everything you just said. I work outside the home, and when I have rare time off at home with my kid, I wonder how SAHMs do it! It’s crazy hard. SAHMs definitely don’t get enough respect. I kind of love Mondays because they’re the beginning of a five-day break from the nonstop chorefest of being at home with a (wonderful, brilliant, very-much-loved) toddler. And, then, by Friday, I just want to snuggle with my baby. It’s a nutty balance, but I love it.

  5. So which do you prefer? Are you glad you did both? The whole SAHM discussion has come up a lot in our household as we prepare to start trying to have a family and figuring out what all we want to do in that aspect. It’s really REALLY hard for me to decide either way. I appreciate your insights about it though.

    Oh hey look! I made a blog!

  6. Now this is the kind of SAH/WAH debate I like πŸ˜‰ Someone who can see both sides, and acknowledge that none of us really has it “easier” or “harder”.

  7. This is a good thought process to hear. I want to shift to a more part-time schedule largely because of all those 9-5 things (and I HATE grocery shopping at night). The sanity check is helpful, though, because sometimes I get so optimistic about how much more I’ll be able to do at home. Heh.

  8. You summed this up so nicely. The work is never done, either way. In some ways I miss working because I got a break and now it feels non-stop but the day my toddler told me he was happy to be at home with me and didn’t want to be at our former daycare providers (even though he LOVED her and being there and often times I couldn’t get him to leave) sealed the deal for me staying at home for the time being. What’s funny for me now, is I feel like I get a break when I do dishes after dinner because my husband takes over playing for me. The idea that dishes feel like a break is just insane to me but it’s true.

  9. The Other side looked so scary to me. I left my high powered, HIGH dollar job because it flat out made me sick (nearly to death). So while home I decided that this would be a good time to see how I would like staying home full time. Because I have been in process for having a baby/adoption. I so can’t get back to work fast enough. I got more accomplished while I worked than when I am home. I do get to care for my precious nephew, but other than that, I am so busy I wonder how I had time to work. And my house, forgetaboutit..Being off work, somehow my routine is just go with it and it sucks the ever living life out of me. I should be well rested (I’m not), 5 star dinners prepared, (not happening, haven’t cooked a regular meal during the week in a year or so), baking, um, well only when my favorite waiter asks for my gooey butter pumpkin cake and that takes me a week to plan.

    Women who stay home work I think twice as hard. The assumption is, what do you do all day? Sit the kid in front of the tv, and bam. NOT… Anyway, I am sending out multiple resumes and hoping to the dear Gods above I get a job, for nothing else, my house needs a break from me all day. Also, one bit of interest, since I have been home, my electric bill is higher. Go figure!

  10. This post made me cry. Yes, you did do an awesome job. I’ve done both as well, and you summed it up SO WELL. And I completely agree. If you are a MOM, you are working hard and doing a great job, regardless of where you or your kids are from the hours of 9 – 5.

  11. Thank you so much for posting this! I was an elementary school teacher. Almost one year ago I decided to be a stay at home mom. I know it was the very best decision for my girls (can we say no more asthma and no more ear infections??) but for ME– oh my goodness, it was, still is, so very hard.
    I do not stop cleaning. The laundry is never-ending. I actually looked at my five year old today and said “Don’t you care about my feelings??? I just vacuumed that floor, and you’ve already dropped cracker crumbs on it. Do you know that VACUUMING MAKES ME SAD?” To which she replied, with one eyebrow raised “Mama, I love you, but this is your job now– picking up after me!” I had to count to ten, like eight times.
    They are always hungry. They monopolize the television and always want to go outside while I’m trying to fold clothes. But! I get to watch them wake up slowly every morning, fix them breakfast, talk about their favorite characters in books. Sing songs. Fix their lunch, and take joy in knowing if they ate well (or worry if they didn’t). I get to swing them. I get to watch their exuberant faces as they slide down the slide. I kiss the boo boos. I love every minute of it
    Anyway, Having said all that– I really enjoy reading your feelings on going back to work, because I will go back in a couple of years. I want to know what to expect, how to feel. I know that right now, home is where I’m supposed to be. But that time will very soon be over. Thank you so much for sharing. You’re amazing.

  12. Either way you do it, you’re a rock star. I spend just a few hours a day with three pre-schoolers, and by the time their mom comes home, my head feels a bit explodey πŸ˜›

  13. Yeah. I am a teacher, with a 2 and 4 year old, and the two happiest days of my year are the first and last days of summer vacation. Staying at home is often more fun, but definitely more work. For one thing, it means that I feel obligated to run errands during the day. As in with the kids. Alone, with my children, out in public. That alone makes everything 10x more exhausting. During the school year my husband and I carpool and we tackle the errands together–so much easier.

    However, I have also been a working mom with a stay-at-home husband, when my youngest was a baby. OMG that was so nice! Normal working day, then come home to dinner, knowing my kid was well cared for all day. It was perfect. We had no money, but it was perfect.

  14. Having a stay at home husband was “perfect.”? For whom? It’s funny whenever men say they want a wife to stay at home, they’re called oppressors whose wives are in need of liberation. Nobody says it’s perfect. Funny.

  15. Most of the people around here don’t talk like that. We tend to really appreciate a spouse (either gender) who sees the value of having a parent not tied to a job. It helps when kids are sick or someone needs to be home to meet the cable guy πŸ™‚ Most of us around here would never accuse a Man of being an “oppressor” who saw the value of having a wife who wanted to stay home with the kids. I know women who talk like that exist, but they don’t read or comment on MY blog. πŸ™‚

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