Hello, Readers! I wanted to take this time to revisit a topic that I introduced somewhat in my very first post, The Perks of Being a SAHM. I know that, as a SAHM, I am seen in a different light; often, I am compared to other moms or judged for my employment status, or lack thereof. I have often talked about parenting with other moms, and most often I feel like I’m put down by working moms as they lament about juggling a career and a family. It’s tough for all of us moms, working of otherwise. So, today, I want to focus on the positives about being a working mom. And because I am a SAHM, it’s easy for me to see what I’m missing out on in my position.
Your freedom. Working moms may not realize this, but we SAHMs can see it, and we are jealous. Typically, kids of working moms are enrolled in a daycare or preschool facility. These businesses have pretty open hours for parents to pick up and drop off their kids, some even open extremely early and stay open late or are open on the weekends. Regardless, parents pay for either part time or full time services, and typically a working mom can drop her kid off at open, or 7 in the morning, and not pick up until 5 or 6. Now, I know a lot of you working moms are saying “so what? I still have to go to work.” True. But, if you get off work at 4, you still have time to yourself before you have to pick up your kid from daycare. And best of all, you’re paying for it regardless of what time you pick them up.
This means that working moms can wind up getting two hours a day to themselves for practically nothing. We SAHMs have to pay for that, and we all know that babysitters can be expensive! So, we SAHMs don’t have the option to get our nails done every week, attend book clubs, go shopping, and just enjoy our solitude every week. Unless we want to fork over about a hundred dollars a week for that, and at that point we might as well go back to work. No, it isn’t that easy for SAHMs to be able to take a mini break like that from our jobs like working moms do. And, please understand, I am not saying that this doesn’t have its downside as well. I’m just saying that working moms have the option to be a little more free that us SAHMs because of a service they already pay for. Yes, it stinks having to spend money and being away from the kiddos all day, but working moms do have the perk of having some freedom when the kiddos are driving you crazy while we SAHMs don’t get a chance at some freedom like that very often. Believe me. On my son’s birthday, while he was extremely cranky and wouldn’t go down for a nap, I realized I was a little burnt out. And I realized that it’s been over seven months since I’ve been away from my son for more than three hours at a time.
The money. Okay, okay, I know a lot of you working moms might be a little bristled from this, but it’s true! Even if money is tight for working moms (hence, the working sometimes), working moms can feel proud of their purchases and confident in spending money because they earned it. When I first became a SAHM, even before I had our son, I felt awkward spending my husband’s earnings on myself, and even more so on him for his birthday or holidays. And after I had my son and needed a new wardrobe post-pregnancy, I felt like I had to ask to spend money on clothes. I felt weird asking him for money because I felt like I had no right to it since I hadn’t earned it. Even now I insist we do most of our shopping, groceries and gifts, together because I feel like I need his approval to buy things. And my husband has never made me feel like I needed to get his approval at any time; it’s been quite the opposite, in fact. My husband often tells me to spend and that I don’t need him to approve, but it’s a belief instilled since I was a kid that I could only spend what I earned myself. Now, while working moms may feel strapped for cash from time to time, it can be of great comfort to know that the money you spend, even on your weekly groceries, comes from your own pocket.
The change in activity. Let me tell you a little about my day as a SAHM. I get up, get my son up, feed him breakfast, play with him, feed him a bottle, put him down for a nap, and then work on my housework. When he wakes up, I feed him some lunch, then we play, then I give him a second bottle, and then he goes down for another nap. And I blog or continue on housework. And when he wakes up, we have a small snack, play, prepare dinner, have dinner, then we play with Dad, then take a bath, then read a book, and then we go to bed. That’s my day. Every day. I don’t even have to get dressed out of my pajamas. But as great as it might sound to spend every day doing this, it can be quite mundane and boring.
This is where having a career comes into play. While working moms do sometimes feel the strain of having two jobs (or more) at once, there are different hats to wear. They have a role at work and a different one at home. There is a variety of activities and multi-tasking to do. Their days may be long and crazy, but they can feel fulfilled and successful. We SAHMs sometimes don’t have much to keep us occupied with our days that doesn’t involve dirty nappies and nursery rhymes. I envy working moms for this because, while I love being there for our son, I miss having something else to focus on or something to exercise my brain.
The “exercise”. Yes, I said that dirty word for a reason. Working moms get exercise at work, even if they sit at a desk for most of the day. Before I quit my career, I was very small. A size 2 to 4, depending on designer, to be exact. And I didn’t work out. Ever. Instead, I was on my feet and walking ten hours a day, five days a week. I worked in the rental car industry at an airport, and I probably walked (half of it speed walking) for six miles a day. And I rarely sat down. For nearly ten straight hours. And when I left, the weight came on. I won’t say how much I gained nor what my size is now because it’s still hard to take now. But I will say that I now regret leaving my job, even if I am much happier without it. I miss that daily work out of walking and standing.
And working moms get that. Even at a desk job, there are tasks that keep you busy and active. Filing sometimes requires lifting, straining, and squatting. Lifting items can be similar to lifting weights. Walking, even to the water fountain, is still exercise. And then there is the opportunity to go for a walk on your lunch break. SAHMs don’t get that. Sure, I can go for a walk with my son in his stroller, but it isn’t the same. My movements aren’t purposeful. And, I know that some of you may say that we SAHMs can always work out at home, but it also isn’t the same. Trust me, it’s difficult to get a 30 minute workout in when your baby is crying for attention, and it’s even more difficult when they want to be right under your toes. As for getting a gym membership, even that can be a mistake. Trust me. We already did that, and I failed. So, working moms have the chance to get their old bodies back faster because they have something to distract them from the bored-eating, the lack of real physical activity, and to help get some activity in their day.
The styles. I said it before that I could often go a full day without changing from my pajamas, and I have in the past. And as great as it sounds to spend all day in your pajamas, it gets old really fast when you do it every day. I change into clothes every day. I brush my teeth every morning. I brush my hair every day. It isn’t because I need to in case someone stops by or in case we go somewhere. I do it because I feel like a disgusting slob otherwise. I feel lazy and unaccomplished, even if I scrub the entire home from top to bottom.
Working moms get to change every day. They do their hair, they throw on some make up. They care about how they look. And it changes their perspective on life to do so. It matters. As the saying goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” We SAHMs don’t really have any promotions to look forward to. We don’t have opportunity for upward mobility. We don’t even have a dress code. So, for us, getting dressed and brushing our hair and teeth can be important tasks to make us feel accomplished. And we envy working moms for having a reason for everything in their closet or having a reason to look good every day. Frankly, my kiddo couldn’t care less if I wore my pajamas or if I wore a suit. Neither could my husband. But, something about at least changing into jeans and a shirt every day makes me feel a little bit better about myself.
The social aspect. I am going to be honest: I am not a member of a Mommy-n-Me group. I don’t do a book club, either, frankly because I spent years reading books that didn’t interest me in college and I have no desire to do so now. And while I am religious and believe in God, I haven’t found a church that appeals to me in my area. I also don’t want to stay within my childhood religion, Episcopalian, because it doesn’t match my beliefs completely, but I won’t go into great detail on that. The point is this: I don’t have a social group other than on my social media sites and my family. In fact, I was always more of a homebody and introvert before I had our son. So, I don’t have a lot of social interaction other than my family and my baby, and some days I can go all day with only talking to my son and my husband. Trust me, our conversations are pretty boring.
I envy working moms for having something to talk about. I hate getting asked what I’m up to when I see people because my answer comes across as snarky and sarcastic. But it’s true: nothing changes in my life these days. Working moms, on the other hand, have so much more to talk about: their careers, their kids, their colleagues, their physical changes, and so on. We SAHMs are lucky if we can find anything to talk about besides our kids’ naps, eating habits, nappies, and latest growth or development. And because we do this all day, we sometimes want something else to talk about besides our kids.
In a nutshell, working moms have a lot of perks that we SAHMs envy, even if working moms can sometimes see these perks as a burden. We all have our perks in our jobs, and we all have our burdens. And we all envy someone for the life they lead. So, we should really take the time to count our blessings and realize how great things are for us from time to time.
Until next time,