How many of you have heard someone refer to a ‘Stay At Home’ Mom as someone who doesn’t work?” Hearing this has always mildly amused me because it is certain that these people have no clue what stay at home moms do. In actuality, they work 24/7. They do not get breaks or lunch hours and certainly do not get off at 5 pm. or have holidays and weekends off!
Their morning shift starts anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 (depending on the age of their children), getting everyone dressed, fed and out the door to school. In some cases, she may have two different schools to commute to if she has one in elementary, one in Jr. High or like a friend of mine, one also in high school! She has to plan her whole day around the drop-offs and pick-ups of each child unless they take the bus. She will have to either pack a lunch or make sure that they have the funds to purchase something. In the down time while the kids are at school depending on if she still has little ones at home, she will have to clean up from breakfast and lunch, straighten up from the normal morning rush chaos and try to get a shower or at least a cup of coffee. She will probably have to throw a load of laundry in the wash and have something prepared for dinner which may or may not include a trip to the market. Contrary to many other opinions, this is not her time to sit down and watch soap operas. After school, she may very well have to take her kids to soccer practice, dance class, tutoring, football practice, or clarinet lessons. There is no shortage of extra-curricular activities that her children might be involved in.
Her second shift consist of making dinner, assist with homework and projects, hear about their day, perhaps another load of laundry, bathing little ones and of course the never outdated ‘tucking in at bedtime’. If she has toddlers, there will undoubtedly be the resistance to bedtime which could drag out for forty five minutes to an hour before they finally surrender to sleep. She then will have to clean up from dinner, plan the next days breakfast (cereal won’t work if you’ve run out of milk at dinner), fold earlier laundry, pick up the various articles of clothing, toys, and random objects that have been strewn throughout the house that just comes with having kids.
The graveyard shift is ‘iffy’ depending on the age of your children. If you have a baby or toddler, a full night sleep is a luxury that is rarely afforded to most parents. You will have to deal with anything from bed wetting during the night to nightmares and wee ones crawling into your beds at any hour of the night. Even if you decide you are too tired to bring them back to their own beds, you know that sleeping with a child never leads to actual rest. There is always a foot in the face of an elbow to the stomach. I’ve actually given up from exhaustion at times and just moved to the couch or even the floor. Getting through the graveyard shift is the trickiest because it can set the tone for your next day if you are exhausted!
In the midst of all these shifts she will also have to grocery shop, clothes shop, organize birthday and graduation celebrations, holidays, dentist and doctor appts., sleepovers, potty training, academic planning, chauffeuring, carpools, play-dates, parent/teacher meetings, recitals…do I need to go on?
Now, I know what you are saying, that moms who work out of the home have just as much on their plate, which is absolutely true. My point is that the ‘Stay At Home’ mom often gets a bad rap. People assume that because you don’t have to get out the door to be at an office by 8 am that you really don’t work. In fact, this misconception lends to most stay at home occupations. I ran a home daycare for 13 yrs. with 6-8 toddlers a day and there were many people that continually thought I had all the time in the world because “I didn’t work”!
So the next time you hear someone giving a ‘Stay At Home’ mom a bad rap for ‘not working’ remember that ALL mom’s WORK no matter where they are.
By Dawn Varela