On Being a Stay-At-Home Mom: Is It Worth It?

mom and son in sun

Recently, a friend of mine asked me:

“Do you like being a stay-at-home mom?”

What a poignant question, and I thought later on…that would make a great blog post!

I love being  stay-at-home mom, but it does come with it’s challenges. I am committed to thrive, however, despite the challenges!

Disclaimer: In this post when I say “stay-at-mom” I am referring to women who do not go to a job outside the home. All moms work, paycheck or not.

Inadequacy, Superiority , and Holiness

But let me get this out of the way. If you have feelings of inadequacy because you aren’t a stay-at-home mom or because you are, that ain’t nothin’ but the devil (as Kalen Allen would say.)

And something else that ain’t nothin’ but the devil? Feeling superior to other women because you are a stay-at-home mom.

We all have different circumstances and we must discern what is best for our family and our situation. The beauty of the modern world is all the options women now have, we are free to be stay-at-home moms (or dads) if our finances allow, work from home, work outside the home,  whatever. And holiness can be achieved no matter where you do your work, God will provide based on your circumstances, so if you have discerned working outside the home is best for you and your family, Amen sister, more power to you! I think work-outside-the-home moms are heroic to spin so many plates. And if you wish you were a stay-at-home mom, and think you can’t be, please take some time and re-evaluate your financial situation. With some sacrifices, you may be able to find a way! (The book Miserly Moms is a great resource for this.)

My Family’s Current Circumstance

I desired to be a stay-at-home mom before we got married and my husband and I both agreed we’d want one of us to be a stay-at-home parent once children came, before we got married. Since we knew we’d want several children, he wanted to be the main provider for our family, and I was happy to stay-at-home, it just works for us. We have to make a lot of sacrifices to make it happen, however. I watch our food budget very closely and I normally cook 6 days out of the week, and I practice other frugal habits. And now that I have a blog, I have transitioned to being a work-at-home mom, and I do my work when my kids are asleep and as my family’s needs allow.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons:

The Pros

  • Seeing all of the milestones.
  • Being highly involved in my children’s discipline and development.
  • Getting to be the primary influence over my children.
  • More capacity for quality time.
  • Flexibility with household duties and ample time for them – it’s easier to be the kind of homemaker I want be,
  • Opportunities for flexible, creative work like blogging.
  • Not having to call out from work when my kids are sick.
  • Not having to worry about the quality of their childcare providers.
  • Not having to pay for childcare.

The Cons

  • No paycheck.
  • Less social interaction.
  • Must be very disciplined.
  • Feeling like I wasted time and money on my college education.
  • Wondering if I am a weirdo because of the choice I’ve made.
  • Being under scrutiny by people who have no idea what I do all day.
  • More pressure to limit screen time because I am the main care provider.

Make the Most of Your Situation

I view the cons of being a stay-at-home mom as opportunities, not unchangeable circumstances :

  • No paycheck. Get creative and find ways to save money.
  • Less social interaction. Join a local moms group, make friends with moms at the park, nurture relationships with your single friends.
  • Must be very disciplined. Grow in self-discipline. Design a schedule that suits your and your family’s unique needs.
  • Feeling like I wasted time and money on my college education. Your education could never be a waste. All you’ve learned you can share with your children. Also, read this.
  • Wondering if I am a weirdo because of the choice I’ve made. Make friends with like-minded women. Read blogs of like-minded women. But do not exclude women of different circumstances. We need friends of all kinds, not just those who share the exact same life situation.
  • Being under scrutiny by people who have no idea what I do all day. Pray for and bless these people. They don’t understand and that’s okay. 
  • More pressure to limit screen time. Give yourself grace about this. You are likely the only one in charge of your kids all day, to keep your sanity you may have to have the T.V. on more than you’d like. Just do your best to try to increase healthier activities and the screen time will decrease as a result.
just a mom
A design I made that outlines the many hats a mom may wear.

What if IClear‘ve done all the above and I’m still not happy?

If you’ve tried everything and you’re not happy, maybe God has called you to work outside the home, or find some other setup that works better for you. If you or your spouse has been trying to make everything work for some time and it’s just not working, then it’s probably not God’s will for your family but that’s good! Exciting things happen when you seek God’s will.

Additional Resources

Books:

A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul
Delightful book about how to craft your schedule as a stay-at-home mom.
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This mom learned how to live on one income in San Francisco, California by implementing frugal habits.
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This mom learned what “having it all” can look like in the chaos of having 6 kids in 8 years.

Stay-at-home/work-from-home mom blogs:

Image result for kendra tierney
Catholic All Year is the first Catholic mom blog I ever read. Kendra Tierney talks about everything from discipline, to being an introvert, to liturgical living and she even has a few books and some printable prayers.
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On Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog you will find hilarious tales of her family life which may include scorpions and a fiesty Texan mother-in-law. You’ll also receive some great insight and relief that you aren’t alone.
On Haley Stewart’s blog, you can find inspiration for juggling family life in an unconventional way, as well as have some bookish fun.

And let’s not forget the great and holy moms of different circumstances:

St. Gianna and the working Catholic mom

Great post about what holiness might look like for a work-outside-the-home mom.

For single moms in the Church 

Although this post fails to mention women who have never been married that are single moms, it still gives great insight into what it is like to be a single mom in the Church. My favorite part was this idea: Instead of placing judgement on others, why don’t we offer help?

All this talk about accepting differences reminded me of a song! Just check out that awesome 90’s style and great lyrics.

So, is it worth it?

Even though being a stay-at-home mom, and doing it well, is a daunting task, if it’s your heart’s desire you can find ways to overcome the challenges. And for me, it is worth it. But only you can decide what is best for you and your family.

Self-Care: Mind, Body, and Soul – in the Midst of Serving Others

self-care

I learned some new lessons in self-care last week and I was reminded of how much I need it. Last week was a whirlwind of my birthday, Halloween, everyone catching colds and a mouse in the house. The latter resulted in about 5 additional loads of laundry and sanitizing every imaginable surface. Needless to say, I am emotionally drained. (Reality check: I have limits and I need breaks.) So, Saturday night I told my husband that I was going out for the morning. My Sunday plans were:

  • Go to mass
  • Spend time in adoration
  • Send some thank you messages and call my Grandma
  • Work on my blog
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee while it’s still hot
  • Check out Starbucks’ Holiday setup (really? That’s it guys? )

All of these things are 10,000 times harder to do when I have kids and a dog in tow. Because:

You should practice self-care because it is essential to serve long term and maintain healthy relationships. As a wife and mom of two young children and a puppy, I am one busy lady. If I am not intentional with my time, I will go days and weeks without a single moment to myself. And it’s not healthy. I become very ornery and overwhelmed when I don’t take time for a breather. And this message isn’t just for moms. It’s for caregivers of any sort. I think all Christians need to get really good at self-care because if you are a truly committed Christian, you’re never really going to be done serving. (Even if your children have grown up and moved out.)

My Definition of Self-Care

Things you do, uninterrupted, that nurture your mind, body, and soul. Sometimes they are spiritual like spending time in prayer or adoration, sometimes they take discipline like exercise, sometimes they are social like visiting a close friend, and other times they are pure pleasure like taking a nice hot bath, getting a pedicure, smelling flowers or savoring dark chocolate. It’s doing things that remind you, you are are a diverse human being who is more than just a mom, caregiver, grandparent, etc. You may also be a sister, daughter, artist, seamstress, avid reader, etc. All parts of you need nurturing and attention.

Times When Self-Care May Not Be Possible

You just had a newborn. Someone is sick. You are going through a very difficult season where someone needs care around the clock. This is okay and normal. But please, constantly evaluate whether or not it is time to thrive again and if there is help available. Assess and reassess your life to try to find pockets of time for rest.

Signs You Need to Practice Self-Care

The simplest way to know if you need self-care is ask yourself, do you feel happy? If not, it’s time. Here are some other signs:

  • Exhaustion has taken over.
  • You feel lonely.
  • You’re angry.
  • You are snapping at those in your care constantly.
  • You just can’t deal, even with small things like putting your kids shoes on.
  • Little things your husband (or other people living with you) does like breathe and exist are irritating you
  • Another mess or bang makes you want to scream

Why You Can Do It And Still Be a Good Christian

I think as Christians we think if we are strong we will serve at all times no matter what and never take a break – because we are called to a life of service and sacrifice, right? But we must not forget we are human. And we have human needs. Here are some examples to give you permission to practice self-care as a Christian:

  • Jesus drank wine, took a nap in a storm, and went off by himself to pray.
  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta spent 4+ hours in prayer and solitude.
  • Monks and nuns around the world spend time in recreation daily and have time to socialize and relax daily.

Importance of a Self-Care Sabbath

I got the idea of a “self-care sabbath” from the book, a Mother’s Rule of Life. The idea is to take time away from care-giving and refresh your soul through prayer, and solitude and even some activities you enjoy. It can be for the whole day or just 4 hours. It’s completely up to you and your unique life circumstances.

Everyday Self-Care

It’s important to know, though, you don’t need to wait until the weekend to practice self-care! You can find ways to make it work in your daily routine.

  • Take a nap.
  • Wake up early and spend time in the quiet or do something creative
  • Slip away after dinner and take a bath
  • Pack everyone up and take a walk so you can get some exercise.

A Special Message to Wives

I can already hear the wives reading this saying, “but my husband won’t let me do that”. Ladies, you don’t ask, you tell. Your husband is not your boss or your father. He is your partner. If he has a serious need, you need to trust he will let you know. All you have to do is communicate what you are going to do, and do it.

But he doesn’t know how to take care of our kids

The kids will be fine. They might eat cookies for breakfast but they won’t go hungry. They might have mismatched clothes, but oh well. Let him father them in his own way. They will probably all be so glad you are taking time away so you aren’t snapping at them left and right. You want what’s best for them, that’s what keeps you from leaving, but sometimes what’s best for them is to be away from you believe it or not! Because they need time with their Dad. And your name doesn’t start with a “G”. Yep, that’s right. You aren’t God and you can’t control everything. So do everyone a favor and take a break.

My husband still won’t step up

What if you try to follow my advice and it still doesn’t work? It sounds like your husband may have some more serious issues and that’s not good and I hope you will seek counseling. But I have a feeling most of the ladies out there haven’t tried this because they fear they are not being a good wife. I think all of us Christians can agree our number one job is to help our husbands and children get to heaven, Amen? Well let me ask you something: what is most likely to help them get to heaven? Doing everything for them and running yourself ragged or teaching them that everyone has needs, including you, and thereby teach them to step up to the plate, to support you and sacrifice and grow spiritually? I’d say it’s the latter, folks.

Additional Resources

Some great videos:

There’s a part in the video below perfectly exemplifies how I can get with my kids when I need self-care. (When she talks about telling her kids to go play with their toys.) Besides that, it’s just hilarious!

The video below is Jennifer Fulwiler speaking about balancing service to family and personal passions.

Some great articles on self-care:

Some excellent books:

And here’s a cute mug I designed!

We women are highly capable creatures. Just because we can do everything, doesn’t mean we should. Our happiness matters too!

So, now you have been given permission to take a break

Even though it feels impossible to practice self-care when you have so many responsibilities, it is so necessary to make time for it so you can keep going. No one can do that for you. It is a choice you have to make.