Originally published in April 2012
Being a SAHM is hard work. Most people are willing to acknowledge this fact, despite all the partisan bickering that has put SAHMs in the spotlight in the last week. But there are also lots of things that I love about being at home, and sometimes I need to remind myself of these things when we’re having a tough day or I think about the career (and the paycheck) I left behind. So, below is a list of the things I love most about being a SAHM (not a judgment of anyone who has chosen a different path!).
- First and foremost, I get to be with my baby all day long! Although this aspect of being a SAHM can also be completely exhausting, it’s the reason I chose to be at home: I get to see my child grow and develop right before my eyes, and as a direct consequence of what I’m teaching her! I love being able to see A learn a new word, grow more confident navigating her way around the playground, or interact with her friends. I’m here all the time, so I never miss a thing.
- I never dread getting up in the morning. When I was working, every now and then, I would have a day I really wasn’t looking forward to, because of a meeting, a review with my boss, or some other issue. But being a SAHM, I never really feel that way. Even when I know I have a tough day ahead of me because of something like shots at A’s doctor’s appointment or travel interrupting her schedule, I’m able to see the bigger picture: that she needs me even more that day. Having my daughter as motivation helps me to be the best parent I can be.
- Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Yes, schedules are super important for babies, but really, as a SAHM you have lots of flexibility. For instance, some days when I’m just feeling a little out of sorts, I might decide to stay home in comfy clothes and no makeup, and enjoy A’s company. Other days, when I’m particularly motivated, I might run out to the bank, the grocery store, and the library, or head into the city for an adventure. Generally, I have a list of things I want to accomplish over the course of the week, but it doesn’t really matter when I do them.
- Speaking of adventures, with the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having, I’m eager to get outside, and I can! Sometimes, as I’m taking a leisurely walk along the Potomac River or the Tidal Basin on the National Mall, pushing A in her stroller, I feel a momentary twinge of guilt that I can be out enjoying myself when my husband is stuck in an office building. Being a SAHM means I can arrange my schedule so I can get outside for fresh air almost whenever I want to (or whenever A demands to be released to play!), and for that I’m truly grateful!
- Here’s another issue of flexibility that fellow teachers will understand: I actually get to use the bathroom when I feel like it! This may sound silly, but when I was working at 39 weeks pregnant, I simply couldn’t run off to the bathroom when I needed to since I had a classroom of thirty 16-year-olds just waiting for an opportunity to start some trouble. Now, I have the pleasure of taking bathroom breaks as needed.
- I don’t miss having deadlines! One of the most stressful things about working, to me, was deadlines. I am not one of those people who works well “under the gun,” so constantly having lesson plans due and papers to grade in a rush were huge points of stress in my life. Now, I almost never have anything resembling a deadline, unless you consider an empty refrigerator or an overflowing hamper to be one :)
- You always have company. While I was pregnant, I couldn’t really conceptualize that my daughter wouldn’t just be some inanimate object that required constant care; instead, she would be my little companion. Sometimes it feels silly, but I really do talk to her as I would an adult: I tell her about our plans for the day; I discuss our choices at the grocery store; I ask for her help tidying up around the house. And it’s certainly not a one-way street. Of course, babies always make their thoughts and demands known, too!
- You have time to build amazing friendships with other SAHMs. Once you get hooked up with a mommy group, you can really build such long-lasting and close friendships as you share similar struggles and joys. You can also find other moms to hang with at parks and playgrounds, Gymboree, or out in your neighborhood.
- Being at home all day provides you with choices you wouldn’t have at work. I can eat whatever I want because I have the entire stock of my kitchen available to me. My outfit isn’t really working out; I can go change. I have a headache/cough/stomach ache? I don’t need to go asking all my coworkers for the appropriate remedy. I’ve got it in my medicine cabinet.
- Nap time is whatever you want it to be. As I sit and compile this list during A’s nap, I’m grateful to have a few minutes to sit quietly and do what I want to do. Some days that means reading or catching up on a show I missed last night. Some days I’m more productive, and I get some cleaning done. When I’m really sleep deprived, I take my own nap. I’m just grateful to have a quiet little break during the day.
What do you like best about being at home? Did I forget anything?