“What Does a SAHM Do All Day?”

by Janny Jackson

I first became a stay at home mom (SAHM) 9 years ago, when my first son was born. I worked a full-time job at a credit union before that, and I come from a family with family members that have gone to college and have amazing, high paying, successful careers.

I never wanted that for myself. Though I did graduate high school and attended a couple of semesters at a community college, I never felt like I belonged there. I felt like I was wasting my time and money.

There was never any job that made me say ” I want to do this for the rest of my life” other than becoming a mom.

I was the first in my family to leave the workforce (and not return) to stay home with my kid. I was the first in my family to nurse my child. I was the first in my family to, you guessed it, homeschool!

You may call me the black sheep of the family.

As you can imagine, being the first in my family to accomplish these things was not easy. I had to find and strengthen my voice to stand up for what I wanted. It was also lonely. I did not have the support from my family that one would think I should have had.

But it was the path I chose. That my husband and I chose together. Because we wanted it. For us and for our children.

I wouldn’t say it gets easier. I would say that as time progresses and you learn about yourself, you bond with your children and get accustomed to their constantly evolving needs, and as you become more experienced you learn how to navigate circumstances in a way that isn’t as overwhelming as it probably would’ve been in previous times.

I say ALL of that to say, it’s been a long road to get to where I am right now, and I still have a lot of growing I want and need to do. This is true in all aspects of life, but for the sake of this conversation we will stick to the topics of what it is like to be a stay at home mom.

When I first decided to stay home with my firstborn and my dad would call me, the very first thing he would say is “what are you doing, taking a nap?” Talk about pushing my buttons!

I think that is the very first thought that most people in the outside workforce think about moms, or parents, that stay home with their kids all day. They think that because they go home to relax from a long day of work that that must be what we do all day since we don’t work outside of the home.

Those of you that stay home with your kids, say it with me… “I WISH!!”

I, personally, am not a napper. I either have to be extremely exhausted (think newborn or up with your sick kid all night) or sick (myself) in order to fall asleep in the middle of the day. Otherwise I just can’t. But even if I could, the repercussions of a nap might look like having to push off some chores that could’ve been done earlier, or a kid gets into something they shouldn’t (we’ve all heard the horror stories), or dinnertime and bedtime get pushed back.

I have been home long enough that sometimes I’m jealous of the fact that my husband gets to leave the house and get a “break” from the kids and the responsibilities of household tasks.

As a SAHM (this is not exclusive to moms, I just am one so I am speaking from my perspective) we don’t get breaks. Our job is 24/7, 365. Because we are home with our kids all day every day, we are often the parent with not just the physical workload- dishes, laundry, cleaning etc.- but also the mental workload, which is far heavier and more exhausting than the physical stuff.

Contrary to popular belief, our days do follow a schedule/flow and time line. I know that for myself I am more productive in the morning so that is when I try to make sure my main chores for the day get done. From the moment I wake up I am already planning what needs to get done, and not just for that day, but I also have to think future responsibilities too.

I’ve got to get breakfast started, get a load of laundry to wash, put away any clean dishes, make sure everyone is fed, clean up breakfast, get the kids and myself ready for the day, make the beds, switch the laundry, play/read with the kids, try to keep the peace in the house without losing my sanity, make lunch, clean up lunch, take care of naps, make sure the kids are being productive, make sure they have some outside time, oh no did I forget to take the meat out for dinner?, make sure the house is tidied up a bit before the hubs gets home so it doesn’t look like a bomb went off in here, put the laundry away, make dinner, cleanup, baths and bedtime for the kids, and somehow fit some time in there for me at the end of the day before I have to wake up in the morning and do it all over again.

There’s also taking care of finances and bills, groceries and necessities for the household, making sure all appointments are made and taken care of, having play dates, running errands, cleaning bathrooms and floors, organizing toys and books, making sure the lawn gets taken care of when needed, donating stuff we don’t use anymore…I could go on and on.

I am also the preferred parent, the one that the kids come to when they want a snack, or there’s an issue between them, or they want to show me something (Mom, LOOK!), etc. They just automatically come to me with whatever is on their little minds. It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s also exhausting.

This is not an all inclusive list, nor do all of these things happen all in one day. But even the bare minimum keeps me busy throughout the day when I’ve got three littles running circles around me and I have to attend to the house and make time to attend to them as well, such as reading to them or playing a board game or having to help them settle an argument or judge a drawing contest.. This doesn’t even include ALL of the homeschool research, prep and organization that takes a lot of time and effort to do, managing any DIY projects we have going on and making sure we have everything we need for that, and planning fun outings, library visits, family get-togethers and birthday parties.

If you work outside of the home you might be thinking, well I do all of these things too. That’s right! We aren’t doing anything exclusive as a SAHM, we just have A LOT more time and flexibility with our schedule to get it all done, instead of having to cram it all in over the weekend or days off.

That’s the main benefit of it all, more TIME to spend with our children.

The majority of the things listed are my responsibility, according to me. My husband and I are a GREAT team, and we tag team a lot of stuff around here together, such as in the evenings one of us will handle baths and bedtime with the kids and the other will clean up after dinner downstairs. Or he will clean all of the bathrooms and I will vacuum and mop. My husband is very much so on my team and willing to help, but I don’t expect him to do everything I do since he is gone most of the week. And don’t worry, the kids have their responsibilities too. but they are still at an age where they have to be supervised for a lot of it to make sure it gets done properly.

Are you wanting to become a stay at home mom or dad? Does it feel overwhelming to think about how things would shift, including the lack of extra paycheck?

Let me tell you, I get it!

When my husband and I first started talking about it, I wrote down on paper what our financial situation would look like, and IT DID NOT MAKE SENSE!!

But God.

Here we are 9 years later, after 3 kids and 2 moves across the country, and I’m here to tell you.. IT STILL DOESN’T MAKE SENSE! The Lord has provided in ways that only He can.

But we have done our part as well. We have sacrificed a lot. We are debt free, other than our mortgage, and that’s because we go without, and if we have to get into debt we prioritize paying it off as soon as possible.

Our cars are old and were paid for in cash, we don’t go out to eat, we don’t vacation, we don’t go to the movies or concerts, we don’t have seasonal passes to anything, we don’t buy anything we can’t afford to pay for outright or pay off right away, we don’t buy new clothes until they are too small or too old, our phones are old and were paid for in full, we only buy food and necessities we need, we don’t have many subscriptions, we shop things on sale and clearance, and this list could go on and on as well.

You can’t expect to stop working and continue to live the same lifestyle you did when you had two incomes coming in. It’s not realistic or wise. There has to be a conversation about what your future will look like going forward, and what your true priorities are.

We plan for big things like trips and theme parks. We still have our fair share of fun, we just don’t do it often, and that’s okay. Our kids only know our normal, they don’t know any different so they don’t have any other expectations or desires for things to be any other way. I am a homebody. I prefer to stay home than be out and about. I’m also a saver. I prefer to save which makes me really evaluate what we bring into our home or spend our money on. This is a mindset that has evolved over the years.

I love my job. Is it easy? NO!!! Do I get to be in my pajamas all day? YES! (That makes it a little easier, and a lot comfier!) I wouldn’t trade it for a 9-5 any day.

Your normal will look different than my normal. Your every day will look different than my every day. But (if it’s on your heart) even in this economy if you make the right moves and sacrifice where you can, you too could be a SAHM.

As always, thank you for being here!

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