“If I get to stay home, the house will always be clean, and I can learn to cook such great food,” I said to Scott at some point in the distant past. This was before I even got pregnant. So, like, back when I was a perfect mother.

We weren’t sure I would be able to stay home with our first baby until right before he was born and we got the ok to move to Dallas from Northern Virginia. There was no way we could live off of one income up there, but in Dallas it became a reality. Sacrifices had to be made, for sure, but it was workable.

We moved into our house down here when Kendall was 8 weeks old. He was not an easy baby. Sleep was not bountiful. I spent much of the first year of his life a shade of my former self, stumbling through my days exhausted, catching naps when I could. The dishes didn’t get done regularly. I didn’t learn any new cooking skills. I didn’t clean toilets. And many days, my husband came home to find me still in my yoga pants with no makeup on.

For a while, this caused me great guilt. What on earth was wrong with me that I couldn’t get it together? This was my JOB now. I was a Stay At Home Mom, and I felt like I was failing. Looking back, I’m certain I was dealing with some postpartum anxiety, too.

Be sure, this was not because my husband made me feel this way. In fact, he’d often be the one reminding me that this was a huge adjustment for us, and that my only real job duty was to take care of our son. Everything else was gravy. I was a Stay At Home MOM. I was not a Stay At Home Mom/Maid/Cook/Supermodel.

When he got home from the office, he jumped right in. We split housekeeping duties 50/50. If we had a particularly sleepless night the night before, we’d alternate afternoon naps.

During work hours, we both had a job to do. His in an office, mine at home with our son. After work hours, we split parenting and everything that came with that (including housekeeping). It was, and still is, a true team effort.

I say all this NOT to tell anyone how to do their job. If you are a Stay At Home Parent who can manage to care for your children, your house, and your appearance all in an 8 hour work day, I applaud you. If that setup is truly filling your emotional cup, and making you feel great about the job you do, that is fantastic. But please, do not assume for one second that the parent who can’t take on all these extra roles is somehow failing.

If striving to be the kind of stay at home parent who does it all is making you crazy, leaving you exhausted, and feeling like you’re falling behind, I urge you to reconsider exactly what this job needs to entail. Then have a conversation about realistic expectations with your partner.

If you’re struggling with what being a stay at home parent should mean, I want to tell you that I promise you’re doing a better job than you think you are. I want to tell you to ignore blog posts that tell you you need to have full makeup on and a spotless house when your husband gets home from work.

I want to tell you that it says a lot more about a man’s character than your mothering abilities if your husband thinks less of you for not changing out of yoga pants all day. 

Give yourself some grace. Of course, strive to do the best you can. There will be days you do get it all done. It’s an amazing feeling! But don’t let it make you feel bad for the days you can’t get it all done. Somedays your biggest accomplishment will be rocking a toddler to sleep for a hard-fought nap. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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80 thoughts on “I Want To Say This To Stay At Home Moms”

  1. God bless you for writing this. I read it to my husband and in found so opened a great conversation. He has always helped out in any way he thought I needed, but I have always seen his helping me as me failing. I HAVE to stop trying to do it all. I’m not coming anywhere close to succeeding but at least this way I won’t beat myself up over it and he can help out so things will actually get done!

  2. I love you so much for this Jill! Get done what you need to get done. Life goes on when the dishes aren’t finished and the laundry is piled to the ceiling (mine, currently). It doesn’t have to be perfect.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. There have been many times that I don’t feel that I’m doing enough and do get overwhelmed. My baby is almost 9 months old and I’m still getting used to this life style. I was a teacher before and thought it would prepare me to be a mother but it did not. Being a teacher was a piece of cake, it was a 8-4, I had the weekends and all holidays off. Now, it’s 24/7 and never feel that I can get anything done. We moved into a house last July to be close to my family and I just recently unpacked all the boxes. I’m used to moving into a house (pre-marriage and baby) and getting everything done and up on the walls within the week. I had a talk with my husband but his priorities are not the same as mine and his solution was to hire a housekeeper. That does not make really help me because that only means that I have to get out of the house so that solution was laid to rest by me. For the last month, I single handedly organized the garage and empties boxes, etc. I’m also trying to help money-wise by selling art items when I have time and have even started selling some of my clothes that I just know I won’t wear anymore. BUT reading this, I realized I am doing plenty and that as long as I’m focusing my attention on my “little mouse” everything is all right. Reading this (earlier today) made me feel it was OK to just take my little guy on a long walk and forget about the house and the 2 piles of clothes sitting on the table waiting to be folded. Thank you 🙂

  4. This is absolutely true! Once my MIL told me I was lazy and “using my husband” because we both did housework and we ate out occasionally, even though I was a mostly SAHM. Made my blood boil!

  5. I SO wish I read this when I was a stay-at-home mom. Now my oldest daughter is..and I’m so very proud. Embrace this time my friends..it goes past quickly. You all will have plenty of time to get your social on..climb the corporate ladder..and dine with adults…and then you will long for the tender moments you had as a stay-at-home mom. Thank you, Jill. You are making a difference in these wonderful mommas lives 🙂

  6. I’m happy for those whose husband/boyfriend actually resemble the man in this article… some men, like mine, do not understand why the laundry isn’t all complete, why dinner isn’t ready when they walk in the door, and why I haven’t had time to shower in a couple of days, when I “have all day to do that”… If my man was anything like the one in this article, life would be bliss rather than heartache and critisism..

  7. I have 4 children and I’m lucky to do my house work every 2 weeks! I have 2 hrs every day to clean bathrooms and kitchen and maybe and I mean MAYBE sweep the floor!! It’s hard being a stay at home mum even if u are a working parent or even a working single parent and than having to deal with home, cleaning and cooking!! It’s tiring and I feel for u all. I wish a man can live like us for just a week and I bet u he wouldn’t survive a few days!! Men think it’s easy and their job is harder – it’s no competition or a game !!

  8. It’s so hard trying to work and manage a family, you really do juggle it all. Coming home from a stressful nursing job and then catching up on everything I missed was crazy!! I just left my job to be a sahm, now I can manage everything without the added stress of a career. I look at it this way, a working mom does everything a sahm does, we are just lose 40-50 hours a week, so we have to do everything at super speed, remember to breathe! Yes I also spend my days in yoga pants and no makeup!

  9. Hemi, a recently employed stay at home dad, was told by his wife when the job was allocated
    1. Don’t smile until you’ve tried it.
    2. Remember it’s a house not a batching pad.

    Hemi struggles to get the dinner on time, home work done and hoover neglects are frequent, and that’s with his son at school for most of the time. Each day is a discipline and self control battle, even without teething sleep deprivation.
    Only now, Hemi understands the hardships his wife endured in the first six years of bringing up their son.

    Hemi is also coming to terms with, having Sky Sports on during the day is not wise.

  10. Thanks for the post, it’s so true!.
    When we got married, my wife and I determined that one of us would stay with the children as we didn’t like the thought of anybody else raising them. It’s been 17 years now and we have 9 kiddos, despite moving a dozen or more times and 5 years of me being gone due to military deployments. As many military families have come to realize, stay-at-home moms are often more to honor than deployed husbands in combat zones.
    Note to frustrated dads returning to a messy house and a wife sitting in a chair reading a book- She’s been waiting for you to come home and help rescue her from an even harder day than you’ve had. Chip him, get the kids and house under control before saying much of anything to her. You’ll both greatly appreciate your discretion, trust me!

  11. This article is very inspiring. As a working mom for about 1 year, I find my life busy but messy. You’re so right, we are only human and shouldn’t push ourselves too hard all the time.
    Olivia

  12. Right on! I’m a stay at home dad, also working from home, and wish my wife would read this. So far, most days, I can stay on top of things, but we’ll see what happens when the baby starts walking and talking in the next couple of months. 🙂 All the power to anyone who can raise a child full-time — i.e., the most important job in the world — and still get anything else accomplished simultaneously.

  13. In other words, the woman’s pace is always acceptable (regardless of circumstance) and the man should just accept it with no questions asked.

  14. thank you for this! this is wonderful. i currently have “baby rabies” and am (hopefully) going to be a stay at home mom. there are so many mixed reviews on it so i enjoy the honesty, too. i even sent my husband this article, ha.

    thanks!!

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