Are you a working mom or a stay-at-home mom? If you stay home, you probably cringe at other moms being called “working.” I have had the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges associated with life on both sides. I worked full-time after the birth of my son and I only became a homemaker after my husband graduated with his doctorate. A year and a half later, I’ve come to better understand just how difficult—and worthwhile—this life is.
The challenges of a stay-at-home mom tend to be sidelined and even I’ve been guilty of trivializing my struggles. In truth, all mothers face challenges, regardless of our circumstances. But the life of a stay-at-home mom is not always easy. These are just three of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced so far. Have you dealt with these, too?
1. The loneliness is real, and it can really hurt.
Some days I go from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. without speaking to a single adult. Toddlers are often talkative, but theirs is not the most stimulating discussion. The result is an overwhelming need for adult conversation.
Thank God I’ve been blessed with a community of mothers who have children nearly the same age as mine. We have weekly playdates and if I’m completely honest, they’re just as much for me as they are for my children. We also try to schedule monthly get-togethers without children, as well as regular events that include our husbands. These amazing fellow moms regularly remind me that while the life of a stay-at-home parent might be lonely at times (or often), we are never alone in our struggle.
2. Separation anxiety is a force to be reckoned with.
Since I spend all day at home with my kids, they do not respond well to strangers. I often find myself reluctant to leave them alone with others. In order to make the transition to school easier, we had a “trial run” with a one-week, half-day summer camp. I’m not sure who cried more on my son’s first day of camp—me or him. I do know that while he was at camp, I was agonizingly counting the minutes until I could pick him up.
But we’ve been able to take advantage of nearby friends and family to help encourage some separation. The benefits of this arrangement are two-sided. My kids get the opportunity to be away from me for a while and I’ve been able to use that time to write, shop, or attend kid-free events with other mom friends, which also has helped ease my separation anxiety.
3. It can be difficult to find a place to fit our passions.
Being home all day, I find myself looking for ways to fill those hours that once were spent on work. Initially, I had to ask myself what I am, other than a wife and mother. What am I passionate about?
Personally, I love to write. So I find time to write regularly during naps and in the evening. In addition, I’ve surrounded myself with other mothers who also see the value in pursuing your passions. We work together to help one another realize our dreams.
More often than not, I find that the answer to many of the challenges of staying at home can be found in a community of mothers. If you have one, hold onto it like the lifeline it is. If you don’t, do what you can to find one. Check Facebook, your church bulletin, your library, the local playground, and any other place where mothers might come together. You’ll quickly find that you are not alone.
What stay-at-home mom challenges have you had to deal with?