Two years ago, if you had told me I would be a stay at home mom living in Arkansas, I would have laughed in your face and asked if you’d had your meds this morning.
I was days from giving birth to our third child and an 11-year veteran high school English teacher in the Nashville suburbs. I was trying to wrap up the semester and prep my sub for what she would be dealing with in the last few weeks of school (seniors who were close to graduation…you’re welcome, Mrs. Seat!). My plan was to give birth to this surprise baby on May 1, 2013 (the gender was a surprise, and well, the baby was kind of a surprise, too!), spend the summer at home with my three kiddos, and be back at work torturing a whole new crop of seniors who thought they knew everything by August. Easy peasy.
And then, when baby Sawyer was three weeks old, my husband got a job offer from his company in their Arkansas office, and there was the summer of PTSD: husband gone to work at his new job, moving to new state, buying new house, selling old house, and, oh wait…A NEWBORN BABY, a 2.5yo, and a 6yo.
So I’m now almost exactly 2 years into the SAHM gig, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way as I navigate being a recovering teacher and newly employed as a domestic engineer.
- Expect to do at least one load of laundry and one load of dishes every day. Am I perfect at this? Nah. But this is the minimum standard to keep our house running. We wear so many outfits and use so many plates and dishes that the crazy piles up quickly.
- It never ends. SAHM’s, actually ALL moms, need to accept that your house will never be 100% clean and you’ll never have 100% of chores, toys, dishes be completed, put away, and washed and back in the cupboard. Want to know how I know? Look down. See those clothes you’re wearing? Gotta wash those.
- There is no shame in chicken nuggets. Or mac n cheese. Or Lunchables. My kids are healthy and outside all the time. And even when I make an effort to cook, I get the hairy eyeball about what awfulness I could possibly be feeding my poor children. And I am in survival mode sometimes, so…chicken nuggets for dinner. Again. You’re welcome.
- Silence is scary. Silence means someone is trying to flood a bathroom, burn down the house, or stuff our dog in a closet. Not good. I still have a message in deodorant on my bathroom wall from a mere 5-minute silence. That’s all it took.
- We are still late everywhere we go. Does it matter that we really don’t have to be anywhere on time except school and church? Nah. Even if we began leaving an hour in advance, someone would need clothes changed, someone has lost one shoe, someone needs to potty, and I can’t find the car keys (yes, it’s sometimes my fault).
- You may as well put them in the cute clothes. They’re kids, so they’re going to get messy, but if those clothes just hang in the closet and are never worn, that’s no good either. Better to have worn and lost than never to have worn at all. I received an awesome compliment on my daughter’s clothes the other day, and I couldn’t stop smiling for an hour. And yes, her clothes are nicer than mine.
- More kids at a playdate=they entertain each other. This was a new one for me and one I never would have tackled before SAHMotherhood. 7 kids in my house? Crazy!! But the first time I had my three kids plus another four and all I had to do was feed them? SO amazing. I never turned on the TV. I never refereed arguments (they did that themselves). They couldn’t eat until they had cleaned up the toys. The moms got to socialize. Winning on all counts.
- Exercise places with child care rule. I never worked out when I was a teacher. There were not enough hours ever, and if I had extra time, I wanted to hang with the kids rather than hand them off to another sitter so I could work out. Now that I’m at home with them, I love me some Jazzercise. It’s the place to be in our Arkansas town…a great work out and the kids are welcome there. Any place where you can work out while someone else watches your kids is the SAHM’s saving grace.
- Outside is always the best option. I would rather my kids be outside than anywhere else. They’re away from screens. They aren’t jacking up the house I just straightened up. And they’re happier. They are more creative, they make up games and role play, and they’re on their bikes and scooters. There’s nothing like Vitamin D and pink cheeks.
- This is the best job ever. I truthfully thought I would crawl up the walls like a crazy person after two months at home with my kids, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s exhausting and busy, but it’s also beautiful to step back and see them growing each day. It happens quickly, and I’m glad I have a front row seat.
This isn’t a perfect or definitive list, but it’s true. Anything you’ve learned in this role? I’m interested to hear!