Stay at Home Parents
I have a problem. I resent my husband that he doesn't make enough for me to be a SAHM. I am envious of the SAHMs of school-aged kids at our school, who seem to have the entire day to do errands, exercise, hang out with friends, and relax. They talk a lot about their exercise programs, shopping, planning vacations, remodeling projects, visiting museums during the week etc. and I get so jealous wishing I could essentially be retired like that! I run my own business and work 40-50 hours a week. In our family, we both need to work to pay the mortgage, save for retirement and college, and provide for our kids. My husband makes a decent corporate salary, but not nearly enough for me to give up work. I know it's wrong to be envious, but this is eating me up. Is life as a SAHM as good as it seems? Is it worth moving somewhere cheaper to have this life? worker mom
life is often greener on the other side, but not always.
I know advice in the moment is better, but I'm going to suggest a book. Necessary Dreams by Anna Fels (subtitle: role of ambition in women's lives). It talks about various long term mental & happiness advantages of working and earning money. I found it compelling.
If part of the jealousy comes from being busy *all* *the* *time*, maybe think about hiring a mothers helper type who can do some of the little things, once a week could help a lot. (laundry, pot of stew, dishes, etc...)
I work and it is working for me, but only you will know what will make you happy. happy worker bee, but couldnt do it without my nanny who does extra
No advice - I had the same question a couple of weeks ago. I'm not jealous and actually would feel very sorry that my poor husband has to work while I get the family - but I, too, would like to know how one can go about this. Especially for long term planning. Thanks for asking it better than I could. Gizella
wow, I hope you have some sense of the hornets nest you've just kicked. I live on both sides of the working/staying at home fence simultaneously. I work 20-40 hrs/wk at my own business (primarily pulling night shifts) and I stay home full time w/ my kids, do 90% of the housework, errands, etc. And, what have I learned? It's simple: every single parent is working as hard as they can. No one is sitting around (''essentially retired'' no less!) munching on bon bons and watching the soaps. When you next ''overhear'' another parent, be they SAHM or otherwise, assume you are seeing merely a microscopic sliver of the woman's life. You cannot know from hearing someone discuss her exercise routine whether she's leading a life a leisure but you can safely assume she isn't. So ''should'' you consider becoming a SAHM? Not if you're imagining a life spent twiddling your thumbs. It's a career like any other (except w/o a paycheck and some people will assume you're lazy and retired from adult life.) If you're interested in this career option consider exploring it like you would any career move. I happen to love my life w/ my kids. It suits my interests, temperment and talents better than any other avenue. The hours I keep are brutal and we live on the edge financially (my partner most definitely does not make a corperate salary)but I have a sense of purpose. I see that sense of purpose in parents who work full or part time as well. just another SH/Working mom
I'm so sorry that this is eating you up! But really, the grass is always greener on the other side. There are many wonderful things about being a SAHM, but it is not as glamorous as you imagine. It is also, often, a long, hard day with cranky children, tedious and boring, (Candyland again!) and a blow to the self-esteem of women who previously had fulfilling jobs. Believe me, somewhere a SAHM is envious that you spend the day in nice clothes instead of sweat pants a toddler wiped their hands on, have a lunch hour and probably some commute time all to yourself and that you spend the day with intelligent adults talking about stimulating things other than Thomas the Tank Engine. Try hard to get over it and focus on all that you have that is good in your life. It will only eat you up and make it difficult to form friendships with other moms. Good luck. just a mom
my children now are all grown but I do remember having these feelings of jealousy you did as a full time working SINGLE mom. Not only did I not have any TIME, but I didn't have much MONEY either! (despite the fact that I was working hard..) My recommendation is to find moms/friends whose lifestyles are similar to yours....hang out with them. And remember, things change. Those SAHM's may be home now but next year their husbands may lose their jobs and they will have to work....or they may be divorced and they will have to work, etc. My late 20's daughter has voiced frequently how proud she has been of me working all those years, juggling, putting both kids through classes, sports, etc., and still keeping our home intact. (messy, but intact!) Regardless, you being a full time working mother is a great role model for YOUR kids. full time working mom
I'm a SAHM and feel very lucky... but I don't have the free time to exercise, do hobbies, etc. that the women you mention do. It's an awesome job, and the major reward comes in sharing in discoveries and play with my son. But its more work than you mention. Perhaps its the age (toddler)... but I spend most of the day preparing three meals + snacks, strolling to parks, etc, and taking care of his basic needs. And then cleaning? I don't even really have time for it. At nighttime, if I'm lucky, I have 30 minutes free to myself to catch a show on hulu. Maybe when kids are older SAHM get more of the ''me'' time you are describing?
This is the HARDEST job I've ever had- physically and emotionally. I've gotten really strong, but am also exhausted all the time.
Honestly, working in an office sounds ''easier'' at this age. However, if you want to hang out with your kids more, maybe there is a way to dial back on work hours?
We live pretty thrifty in some respects (1 economy car, eat at home, use library, no cable) so that we can get by and focus my husbands income on our crazy mortgage payment and keeping the power on.
Love hanging with my son though! Good luck finding a new balance. toddlermom
First of all, you don't want to be a stay-at-home mom, you want to be a lady of leisure. Two VERY different things.
Second of all, I'm really getting tired of all of these posts lambasting SAHMs for all this free time we have (I just had to laugh out loud as I wrote that). Yes, I am lucky enough to be a SAHM of two young, school-aged children. Not that it's anybody's business, but when they are at school, I'm helping out in their classrooms or on various PTA projects. Or I'm grocery shopping for the family or cleaning the house or washing the clothes. Oh such a glamorous life I lead! And every once in a while, I do find myself with a couple hours of free time, but you know what? I deserve it!!! We all deserve some time off for goodness sakes! Raising children is the hardest, dirtiest, most thankless, most humiliating, most humbling and most demeaning job I have ever had the pleasure of performing. People who go to a full-time, paid job get to take personal time off, get to have a lunch break, get vacation time. Why is it such a crime for a SAHM to get some much-needed time to herself? Jees!
Being a Berkeley SAHM is really good for our family, but it's not for everyone. Please don't resent hubby, not his fault. You are in this together. Difficult decisions such as having a parent at home &/or staying/moving should be made together. We have a 6 & 7 yr old & I quit my fun, interesting career after our 2nd was born. When we chose to live in this area we also, together, made some tough financial decisions. I don't go to gym, museums or get mani/pedis; can't afford it. Nor do we go out to dinner, movies, buy new clothes, have a flat screen TV, iphone, ipod or video games. We shop craigslist & freecycle. (Not too much to be envious about.) We live frugally, but comfortably. My job is PTA, soccer, clipping coupons, making sure we live within our means, & volunteering as much as I can at the school. I'm hardly retired! It's not glamorous or very interesting, but can be fun & (I think) less stressful than if we both worked (but that's because it's not a true financial hardship for us). I REALLY appreciate my (half-day NOT entire day!) kid-less time to run errands & clean house as well as all the time I spend w/kids. However, I miss my career & being around grown-ups in general. All that said, having a SAHM for our kids was really important to us & we make it work. Honestly, it's much more difficult on hubby, being the only income. He sometimes talks (mostly in jest) about moving because he really doesn't like his job much, but his family is here & he loves the area, so he does what he has to do, as do I. If we needed 2 FT incomes to live here, not sure what we'd do. Thankfully, we didn't have to make that decision. Neither Enviable nor Retired SAHM
When I was a SAHM I wished I could work. When I was a paid working person I wanted to be a SAHM. I think the grass is always greener on the other side. If there is any way for you to work part time I believe it would be the ideal situation. Then you can have a bit of both worlds. If not.....please note that SAHM's are probably a teensy bit jealous of you just as you are jealous of them....hang in there...all moms are rock stars in my opinion anon
I'm going to try to ignore the wording/tone of your post, as it sounded spoiled and selfish. But I do have thoughts on what seem to be some real issues here.
1) It sounds like you (and probably your husband) don't have enough time for yourselves to do all those things you imagine SAHM's do (exercise, museum, socializing, etc.) I suggest that you sit down with your husband and brainstorm ways that you can both make more time for yourselves (and each other, since the resentment you feel toward your husband might be a symptom of an under-nourished relationship). Figure out what the big time sinks are for your family (outside of work), and find ways to carve time for fun. Can you hire someone to clean the house? Can the kids be given more chores? Are the kids' activities taking over your family? Can you eat out (or do take-out) once a week? Try to think outside the box.
2) In a family where both parents work full-time, there is not a lot of energy and time to spare, and it would be understandable to long for more leisure. Can you (or your husband) cut down on the hours worked? You mentioned that you have your own business. Can you work less? That may require making some sacrifices on the spending end. Perhaps moving to a cheaper locale IS a solution.
3) Can you change your work to give you more satisfaction?
4) I am not a full-time SAHM (I work 3 days/week, and I'm home with my 3 y.o. the other two days), but I can imagine it's not all fun. If the kids are in school, then the SAHM is taking care of ALL the household issues: grocery shopping, laundry, housecleaning, errands, bills, etc. Is this something you enjoy doing? Would you want to do it full-time? How would your relationship with your husband change if you were no longer helping to support the family, but rather were spending your day at yoga class and the museum while he worked? How would your self-image change if your sole occupation became ''housewife/mother''?
5) Your resentment toward your husband is unfair. You probably know that. Find a way to reconnect with your husband and strengthen that relationship so that the pressures of working and raising kids don't erode your marriage. grateful to work part-time
You must live in the charmed world of Disney SAHM's. My husband makes enough for me to stay at home so I do BUT here's the deal, it's boring as heck. Truly, utterly, mind numbingly boring. I do it for my kids and because my husband works crazy hours-tonight for 24 hours and he will sleep tomorrow. The brunt of the house is on me, actually EVERYTHING except his job is on me. When my kids started pre-school everyone said, what will you do with all your free time? That 3 hours a day, I spent at Safeway, doing laundry and paying bills. At that point I even had a cleaner who came once a week so for 36 hours my house was clean.My kids went to elementary school, same question... sure I can work in the classroom every week, sure make it two- right I don't work. Sure I can run the PTA, I know I don't work. Sign me up for the field trips-absolutely all 12 of them. I will run the boxtops program and the fundraisers-no problem. Bake cupcakes, cater the teachers luncheons, throw class parties...there was no glamour in it and by the time my kids finished 1st and 3rd grade I was half dead. Most of my friends who stayed home had equally busy lives so grabbing coffee once a month was a challenge, forget long lunches! My kids are now 8 & 11 and we are in a district that has more resources so they need me less. This is the first time I have had one hour a day, 5 days a week to work out. I've gotten used to the monotony-after 8 years but I wouldn't be mad that you are not me. It might seemed charmed from these small snippets but most SAHM's have pretty mundane lives. My all-time favorite is that my husband needs to relax on the weekend so picking his socks off the floor is a challenge but I don't have that luxury PLUS I can't possible need it being that I don't work... CINDERELLA mom
I don't think anyone can really give you advice on this, but I can DEFINITELY relate. I find myself resenting my husband b/c he is not making enough for me to stay home- even if we did significantly downsize and move to a cheaper rental, and budget really carefully, etc. But he doesn't make even near a ''good corporate salary''. Anyway, I do get jealous of moms who get to stay home. I've been on maternity leave (with our 3rd child) for the last few months, and it is glorious. Just so much time to run errands and cook decent meals and I'm more relaxed in general not having work to worry about besides all the stuff to get done at home. But the reality of our lives is that I do have to work, so I try to just embrace it and do it as best I can. I think each family needs to decide if the financial sacrifices are worth the benefits of having a parent full-time at home- and in our family, we just can't stay in the Bay Area if I don't work, and so I do, even though I resent it at times. So no advice- just saying I relate and there are women out here who feel the same way you do! Wishing I could SAH
Frankly I find your post kind of offensive. If you truly are wondering if SAHMs have it so easy and great the answer is NO. I find it hard to believe that you don't already know this, but assuming you don't here goes: Being a sahm is really, really hard work. I am a sahm of two little ones. Maybe it gets easier when they are school age (mine are not, I have a 2 yr old and an infant), but from what I hear from friends with older children it doesn't seem to. As a sahm I am up as early as my working husband and busy non- stop with a multitude of demanding yet often unstimulating tasks. I am in an unending cycle of diaper changing, potty training, feeding, cleaning up after, and entertaining the kids. In between I am trying desperately not to drown in the housework that builds up while I am busy with childcare. I am trying to entertain a toddler, keep a baby busy, and make sure dinner is still ready on time and everyone in the house has clean clothes to wear the next day. It's been so long since I had an adult conversation with another adult that sometimes I feel like a freakin seseme street character or something. I work myself til I feel like I'm gonna drop dead and then I keep going. Unlike my husband who gets to engage/challenge himself intellectually at work, my job doesn't allow me to exercise that part of me. There are times when I long to take a college class just for fun or get a job for a few hours a week. Just some time to be around adults and think about things a little more complicated than colors, numbers, and the abcs.
Don't get me wrong- I love being a sahm at the same time as it can drive me absolutely nuts. I love that I am there to witness every single milestone. I love that I can actively enrich my children's lives and build their minds by taking them outdoors and to children's museums and programs and toddler classes etc. I love that I spend 30 mins a day showing my son flashcards and listening to him learn new words every day. I love dressing my baby in adorable little outfits and kissing her chubby baby cheeks all day long. I love being a sahm, but at the same time it is so, so, so damn hard and I often envy working moms the chance they have to get a break from the kids and the housewife stuff.
So to answer your question, no, we sahms don't have this incredible easy go lucky fun life. We do have fun, we are lucky to be such a big part of our children's lives, but it is not easy, and its high demands are not enviable. anon
Spend some of that retirement and college fund money now! Go on vacation with your husband (with or without the kids).
This is your life, it will not be repeated. My accountant told me he knows a lot of dead guys with large 401(k) accounts. divorced dad from a SAHM
I don't have much advice for you, but maybe some perspective. I've been through most possible scenarios: I worked full time with two kids at home, then worked part time from home for a while, and am now a full-time SAHM. All I can say is none of it is easy. I do get to have a little time to myself here and there now that my kids are older, and I do have ''playdates'' with other moms, where we'll take a few hours to have lunch, shop or go to an exhibit. But if I didn't do that once a month or so, I would have very little adult contact. These day outings once in a while help me keep my sanity and help me make some friends. Otherwise, staying at home with the kids can be kind of lonely.
When I worked, I enjoyed having an entire segment of my life that was all mine. I had work friends, I had a somewhat prominent position in my company and in its industry, and so on. When I first stayed at home, I felt like the family doormat. It wasn't the wonderful existence I envisioned. It has taken years to find some balance and carve out some time for myself.
All I can say is that maybe you're upset because you don't have a choice. That is probably very hard. I am very grateful to have the option. I always find that when I'm upset over something I don't have, I try focus on what I *do* have. That helps me a lot. I can tell you that when the economy tanked, I started to freak out about not having a job and not having worked in a few years. You have job, you can provide for your family. Those are really good things.
I'm a SAHM and have mixed feelings about it. I'm exhausted from parenting (4&6yos) all day. I'm jealous that my partner goes to work and 'check out' of family responsibilities. All travel planing, car care, house work, child health, etc., falls to me as the one with 'time.' (haha) I do the school projects, plan bdays, grocery shop, etc. Wouldn't it be nice to go to work and be able to think about a whole diffrent set of challenges than the same ones 24/7? My partner relishes the ability to be removed from the family during the day-- and enjoys returning 'refreshed' to the home. If I worked outside the home, we might hire a housecleaner, gardener, and other househelpers, but until then, I'm it. Meanwhile, my kids loooove my job and enjoy being my co-workers. Some days are drainig, but others are fulfilling. None are 'retirement.' SAHM
I'm a SAHM but I spend the whole day managing the household; I can barely squeeze my exercise in, and I certainly don't have time to hang out with friends, relax or do other leisure activities during the weekday! I'm sure there are SAHMS in the Bay Area who have that leisurely kind of life, but like I tell my kids, there will be people who have much more than we do, and there will be people who have much less than we. We just do the best we can.
A SAHM with a seemingly perfect life--maybe her life is truly perfect, lucky for her. But you don't really know anything about this person other than what you see on the surface. Maybe her marriage sucks, maybe her spouse is having an affair, maybe she's depressed and secretly addicted to prescription meds, maybe her kid has an eating disorder or is cutting herself. You just don't know, so why envy them?
The one huge benefit to being a SAHM is the amount of time I get to spend with my kids, and I feel that I have a great relationship with them because of it. That would be the main reason I would consider moving somewhere more affordable to be a SAHM, if it were my case, not necessarily to have a more leisurely life for myself. The Weasleys are our role model family
I have a feeling you will get a lot of passionate responses to this. here's the thing, you have every right to feel jealous. And knowing that you ''shouldn't'' will certainly not make it go away!! Maybe check in with yourself about why you shouldn't? And check in with why you do anyway. Are you aggresively showing resentment toward these women? Shooting rude looks, spreading rumors, trying to sabotage their lives? Then why is it wrong to envy something they have? Or SEEM to have? Being a SAHM while your kids are in school is an enigma to me. Huh?! But, hey, sounds great! Im a single homeschooling, working mother, who lives in a 600 sq ft apt. I envy a lot of people. But there's one little thing that I learned that I think if you can come to believe it it may help. It's that there's ALWAYS something about a person's life not to envy. So, the woman who goes shopping alone and then gets her nails done before she picks her kids up? She may just have a mother dying of cancer. Or her husband may be unfaithful and she knows it and pretends not to. Or the lady who goes to the gym and out to lunch with her pals? Perhaps she had 5 miscarriages before IVF to have that kid who's now in school and she's actually as broke as the rest of us and scared out of her wits! The truth is we don't know. You never know what's really going on in these people's lives. We all have pain and suffering, just in different ways. And is what your feeling that you wish you had what they do, or you wish they didn't have it either? Because there's a big difference, though you shouldn't guilt yourself for either! My suggestion is to really think about what you are feeling and why and love yourself for it. No one is perfect, and no one's life is perfect. And whether you believe it or not, every one of those women are probably looking at you and envying something. You may have a smile they would die for. Or a relationship with your husband they could only dream of. Or healthy relatives. So, maybe a gratitude journal may help, keep track of all those things you are so grateful for, and read it over and over. it's really easy as people to focus on the negative, we all do it. But concentrating on th positive helps pass the time. and then give yourself a big break. cause just like the rest of us, you are not perfect! cheers to your honesty!
Dear Jealous, I am a SAHM and I work 24/7. I clean the house, cook all the meals, weed the garden and handle all things domestic. This lifestyle choice that my husband and I have made has meant some sacrifice of material things. We live in a small house in a good public school district. We drive old cars and the kids get their clothes from second-hand stores. We have not had a vacation since our honeymoon and probably won't for some time. We do not go out to eat. We trade baby-sitting nights with friends instead of hiring babysitters. We have paired way down so that I could quit my job. The trade off is that we have a lot of quality family time. It also affords flexibility. If one of the kids is sick, no problem. If one of the kids has a vacation day, no problem. If hubby has a late night at work (most nights) no problem. I volunteer at their schools. I know their teachers and their friends. If they have a field trip, I can go. Yes, I do make time for exercise because without it I would go insane. Please know, it is not retirement! It is a lot of hard work. So please don't be jealous. You are lucky to have your own business, to have a separate life of your own and to be a breadwinner on your own. I often fantasize about what it would be like to run a business! working too
I know what you mean, and sometimes feel the same way you do, because my life is far from easy with FT work, 2 kids with different school schedules and all the logistics of keeping the house and our lives going. I'm proud to be using my skills, education, and time to make a difference working in nonprofit, and I'm also proud to be-and enjoy-being a parent. It's a balance. I know quite a few SAHMs who seem to have a life of idle leisure, and sometimes that looks appealing when I'm feeling tired or overburdened. But you know what...I was home for a year at two different points and if I'm honest with myself, it was boring. I was always dying to get out of the house-I thought what I wanted was adult conversation, but we had plenty of activities and friends, so really it was about having purpose and a connection to the outside, ''productive'' world. When you have tiny kids, you're consumed by their needs and caring for them. As they become older and are spending such a large part of their day in school, they are not benefiting by you being home, frankly, and the school does not actually need all those parents doing busywork. I do worry with all the SAHMs now that women are becoming dependent on men again. 3 friends are cautionary tales-all are divorced after husbands either cheated or had mental health issues develop unexpectedly-all had given up careers and really struggled to establish themselves independently again. There are plenty of stay at home dads now, too, and at the risk of stereotyping the ones I know are not running off to Starbucks and Pilates but are actively engaged in parenting. In short, a lifestyle that revolves around leisure is in my opinion not worth leading. working mom
You are going to get tons of responses to this one, so I'll try and keep mine brief. The lifestyle that you have idealized in your post is not the reality of raising school age children. I have to laugh because you've left out the very important fact that SAHMs spend a great portion of their day either with their children, or in service of their children. Neither of which bears any resemblance to retirement. I think parents who work imagine the school hours to be complete down time, which is not the case. I'm a SAHM and I envy people who work. Why? Because they have an identity outside of their children, they get to control their time, they get to have adult conversations on a regular basis that do not revolve around their children, they make their own money, they have variety in their life, their hard work occasionally gets noticed. I could go on. I guess the difference between us is that I have made a choice, but I did move through the tunnel in order to afford our mortgage and lifestyle on one income. You don't say where you live, but you might consider moving to the suburbs. It's not all it's cracked up to be.
I just got back from an outing with a group of women, none of whom work outside the home. Their kids are old enough so that they spend very little time mothering, and these women (judging by what they talk about) spend a lot of their time shopping, travelling, going to exercise class, and lunching. Sure, it sounds great. It probably IS great. But it's not my life.
There are always going to be people with more money and more free time than you have. Some of them are probably not even nice or very smart. They're just lucky! And there are also MILLIONS of people nicer and smarter than you are who have totally miserable lives through no fault of their own. Again, just luck of the draw.
If you can't stand being around the women who are getting pedicures and going to yoga class, then start volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Try to appreciate what you have. There will ALWAYS be someone with a better life than yours. Don't make yourself unhappy unnecessarily.
Let's face it, neither side has the perfect situation. I am a SAHM and as many others have said, it is far from easy. But for my family, it is more cost-effective for me to stay home as my potential salary would only cover childcare and add tremendous stress due to other factors.
What I would like to put out there to the BPN community is that we need to get out of this thinking of Stay-at-home moms vs. Work-outside-the-home moms and instead look at the bigger picture --the policies that create less than ideal situations for families on either side.
We parents NEED to start advocating for better policies that support families, such as flexible workplaces and affordable high-quality childcare and an environment that fosters work-life balance. MomsRising.org is a great place to start but with so many great minds within this community, there are probably a gazillion additional ways to get the change our families deserve. Patrice
Dear Jealous Your post made you sound very spoiled. But i'll ignore that. I spend 2 years at home with my son then started working 2 days a week when he was 2. Now i do bookkeeping for 6 clients, sometimes outside, sometimes at home, trying to cram it all during my son's school schedule so i don't pay extra child care. Both situation have their upside and their downside. Isn't that how life works? I don't know what you think SAHM do but if you think it's easier you are completely wrong. I enjoyed it very much so it made it all worth it but essentially your schedule runs 24h/day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The concept of ''yeah it's friday'' doesn't apply to a SAHM. You get no sick days, no vacations, no paycheck. The first time i had a lunch break after going back to work i was floored at how enjoyable it was! I couldn't even remember what it was like. Given the wording of your post i think you would be miserable as a SAHM... anon
Drop the focus on you vs. the SAHM.
None of us who have kids without a full-time staff of domestic employees are living lives of retired leisure. (I work part-time am at home part-time.)
Any mother, regardless of employment status is entitled to and responsible for finding balance in her own reality.
I know plenty of working moms that get in exercise, pedicures and girls nights out. I know sahm's who can drop their kids at childcare at the gym and hire sitters to get their hair done. And every single one of them is entitled to those precious moments of free time because we all know the work of a mother - whatever the configuration of her professional life - is relentless and exhausting. If you're not making that time for yourself that is on you, not any other mother.
Seeing a flash of someone going to a yoga class (which I promise you is crammed in between a life resembling a scullery maid more than a lady who lunches) should not engender jealousy, but should rather inspire you to ask: how can I find that time for myself? And yes, it will take trade-offs. Just like the rest of us make.
But it's not about us, ok? It's about you and what you can do to ease your own burden as a parent in order to be a better person for yourself, your family and your community. Namaste
I totally hear you. As a member of a two-working-parents household, I do wonder from time to time what our life would have been like had one of us had a luxury of being a stay-at-home-parent. I think of both of my maternity leaves as wonderful, albeit sleep-deprived, vacations, just because I could spread five loads of laundry over a 7-day period instead of cramming them into a weekend. That's what I don't get about all the angry responses your received from the offended SAHMs, many of whom have somehow overlooked the very first word in your list of things that cause your envy - ''ERRANDS''. Most of us who work outside the house and spend our days ''in clean clothes, talking to other grown-ups'' do that IN ADDITION to all the things dutifully listed by so many respondents: yep, that includes cleaning, doing laundry, spending 3 hours at Safeway (knowing that we pretty much have one shot to get produce for the entire week), writing bills, helping kids with homework, planning their activities, making sure our husbands are wearing matching socks, etc. And while I was not relaxing from morning till night, I definitely had a lot more free time than I do right now. So, again, I totally hear you. Unfortunately, only you know whether or not this is something you want to pursuit. For me one of the biggest challenges of choosing to become a SAHM would be getting comfortable with the fact that my family's entire financial security rests on the shoulders of my husband. Two years ago my husband lost his job and stayed home for over a year - let me tell you, those were stressful months. A friend of mine unexpectedly, tragically lost her husband two weeks ago and is now facing the reality of being a single parent to two little ones under the age of 3. Thank goodness she is self-reliant. Obviously that's an extreme example, but you get the picture. Try to get over your resentment toward your husband; he has as much right to resent you for not making enough money and preventing him from being a SAHD. If this is something both of you really want and are willing to make sacrifices for, then obviously go for it, just make sure you consider every aspect of reality that comes with it. anon
I recently read a book called ''THE TIME BIND'' by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild. I recommend it to anyone struggling with work-life balance issues. She studies a Fortune 500 company with very family-friendly policies that few employees actually use, investigating why this might be. Some answers are predictable (fear of appearing to co-workers as though you are not dedicated to your work, etc) but more surprising is that most people want to be at work because, in this era of extreme ''time bind'', work offers support, reward, recognition, structure etc that home does not. That is, even when we feel we want to be at home, many of us find a lack of support, recognition etc. Not a solution to your problem, but something to chew on when trying to resolve all this. Cheers. Stephanie
I just wanted to chime in about the idea that SAHM's are able to not work because they have the ''luxury'' of this choice. I wanted to be a SAHM because I was a nanny for many years. I was able to see what it was like to be a SAHM AND see what it was like for the children and mothers of those families, so I was able to make the choice that i thought was best. My husband did make a good enough living for me to do this, but we have always been money-poor. We owned a home, but we have never had vacations, savings, retirement, or anything that could be considered a luxury. We can hardly afford sitters, so we rarely go out together. I have been able to have a few part-time jobs where I could work around my child's school schedule, but that doesn't bring in much money. We recently had to sell our home because we couldn't afford the mortgage or the upkeep. Despite all that we have sacrificed, I am glad to be a SAHM. My child has some special needs that make it hard for us to leave her with other people, so this may have been a path I would have had to follow anyway. When you see me at yoga, out to lunch, or getting a Supercuts haircut, remember that I will most likely be making up for that time doing chores way into the night. Sure, it's not easy to see families with nice homes, vacations, and all the best things, but I've chosen to give up pursuing those things (as well as my career) in order to be home with my child. Most SAHM's that I know are in a similar boat. All Moms have hard jobs. I agree with another poster who wishes that this working mom vs SAHM war would end. We all make choices and give up certain things when we choose to stay at home or work outside the home. Supporting all Moms
I have been reading this thread with interest. I have three children and I have been a full-time working mom, a part-time working mom, a stay-at-home mom with babies, and a stay-at-home mom with kids in school. I've worked full-time at a crappy low-paid job with my kids in daycare, worked full-time at an interesting stimulating job with a nanny coming to my house, and I have also provided child care in my home to another baby, with my own baby and toddler, in order to afford to stay home. Currently I work at home half-time as a software engineer, working only while my child is at school.
I will agree that caring for babies & toddlers full time is hard manual labor, the hardest job I have ever had. It can be very isolating, if you don't make an effort to connect with other parents. Staying at home can also result in a big drop in income, although in my case, childcare for 2 kids under 3, plus commuting costs, was the same as my take-home pay, which is why I became a stay at home mom in the first place.
Don't let people tell you that it is harder to be a SAHM. It is much, much easier time-wise and stress-wise to be a SAHM. Please let's all remember that most (not all, but most) working moms are carrying the same load that SAHM's do: preparing dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework, grocery shopping, getting kids to the doctor, paying bills, running the household, etc. etc. and also trying to fit in me-time at the gym or whereever. But working moms are also out of the house 40+ hours a week. So all these tasks typically have to be crammed into the hours of 6pm to 11pm and on the weekend.
Yes, it's tough taking care of little ones all day, but you are in your own home with your own stuff, managing your own schedule, choosing what to do or not to do and when to do it, without needing to check in with anyone. Once the kids are in school - wow! You have a nice chunk of hours to arrange however you like. If you want to iron for three hours and watch a movie, you can. If you want to meet friends for lunch, you can. This is a very different life from the mom who is getting up in the morning, getting kids ready for school just like you, getting them to school just like you, and then getting on BART to go to the office for the next 8 hours. It's even worse if it's a job that you don't much like, and/or doesn't pay well. Then you come home, pick up a cranky kid, rush home to throw something together for dinner, do a load of laundry while monitoring homework, fall into bed exhausted, and repeat.
I personally prefer to be a mom with a job. I appreciate the stay at home moms who keep the PTA running and raise money for afterschool programs and make cakes for the school fair and all that. I am glad they are able to do that. It's not for me, but I appreciate them. But I really do not want to hear about how hard it is to be a SAHM, especially from people with school-aged kids only.
I'm 39 with a preschooler and now pregnant. For our family, my staying at home is the best solution. My husband works long hours and we've relocated to the ebay where we're building community, which at times feels lonely. Pre-kids, I was a workaholic but loved the intellectual challenge and some of the perks (travel) that came with my stressful job. While there are aspects that I certainly don't miss, I do miss having something for myself, intellectual interests/knowledge outside of being a homemaker and mom. I find that a lot of the SAHM Lamorinda moms I meet don't seem to miss their pre-kid work lives which makes me feel a bit abnormal around here. I'd love to make some friends who seem more like-minded, and while I've made some great new friends, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one longing for aspects of my pre-kid life. Maybe I need to outreach more! Volunteering and community service have always been important to us, but my bandwidth, frankly, is limited. And, I think I'm finally coming to terms with knowing my limits (and unfortunately, I don't have a lot of extra energy to give these days) and being present and enjoying the ''gift'' of being home with my daughter (and future kid) and knowing that in the not-so-distant future, I will have more to give to a possible job, volunteer work, etc. I want to continue to nurture my non-Mom ''purpose'' and goals and not losing complete sight of them, though, I feel what I can give to that right now is basically nothing which can be frustrating. I suppose what I'm looking for is similar stories, advice on how to get through day-to-day, when I know intellectually that there will be more bandwidth soon - good books, movies, classes, coach recommendations around this subject would be great too. Accepting this chapter of my life
I remember the time when your concerns were mine exactly, and I sympathize completely. My recommendations for staying alive intellectually are to do what you are doing now. Use the web to your advantage. You write really well. I highly recommend Open Salon.com, the writing wing of Salon.com. If you are a premium member of Salon.com, you are able to post in a most professional-looking way. Your first post could be what you wrote to BPN. Check out 1IrritatedMother, for example. You'll find soulmates. Coaching? Neil Fiore in Berkeley is excellent. And I found face-to-face coffee dates with friends who don't have children to be very uplifting too. And try to frequent a local, independent bookseller's place when you can. The occasional event there can inspire your intellect again. All the best. penny
There are lots of online and maybe some local support groups that you should be able to find through Google. One is www.mothersandmore.org which has chapters in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Those may be too far, but perhaps you could start one for your area. They aim to provide a nationwide network of local chapters for mothers who are - by choice or circumstance - altering their participation in the paid workplace for a time in their more active parenting years. They support moms as they navigate the challenges of daily life - whether they are a full-time family caregiver or struggling to achieve a better balance between the demands of paid work and family care. Years ago, a good friend who stayed at home full- time after relocating from NJ to FL with 2 young daughters found them to a be a lifesaver for many of the same reasons you mentioned in your posting. She found older, like-minded professional women who still valued that aspect of their lives. Good luck! Sylvia
When I was reading your post, I thought I could have written the exact thing. Your story is almost identical to mine. I too, am struggling with being an ex-workaholic/corporate VP, a huge relocation (LA to SF to Walnut Creek????) and being a new SAHM, which I never thought I would do in a million years, but also makes sense for my family right now. I am also looking for new friends outside of my daughters playgroup who like to do other things. Feel free to email me if you would like to meet for coffee some time. I live in Walnut Creek and also belong to the Lamorinda Moms Club, and I am looking to make other connections with like minded moms. Cheers from another ex-corporate refugee in the suburbs. sc
Hi, I hear you! I miss my former work. It was exciting, I traveled, it was unpredictable, and I worked with new and interesting people all the time. Now, as a SAHM, I get to nourish my creative side, and my free-spirit side, which I do enjoy--as well as nurturing this amazing relationship with my 5mo. old son! However, there must come a change... My husband and I's solution? He has his needs to, which aren't being met by his 9-5, so we are working on a non-traditional solution to our baby's first years. We are planning on working/traveling/living on the road! I know not everyone can make that kind of decision, but for some it may be a lightbulb coming on. What is your heart's desire? What do you really need to survive? Sounds like questions from Oprah, but I'm serious. At some point, one must wonder: ''So I'm thirty-something (or whatever), and we live (here), and have (this). And will it be the same ten years from now or can I change something and become happier?'' The 'norm' is just easier because there are a lot of examples to follow. Choose the path with heart. anon
Why would you continue in a lifestyle that does not make you happy, if you are lucky enough to have a choice? There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting your kids into some child care while you continue your career and do things that will make you feel fulfilled. Personally I could never be a SAHM -- though I do understand why you might feel pressure to be one. But I think this pressure you are feeling is all in your imagination. Don't live your life based on what you think people MIGHT think. Your kids deserve a happy mom, end of story. Lisa in Oakland
I highly recommend seeing an excellent therapist, Denise Forte, 510.286.7615, to help you have someone to talk to about this who isn't your partner or another SAHM. She's helped me accept the personal compromises that come with being a Mom of young kids so much. I found her through BPN postings. She's in north Berkeley, but can probably recommend someone good if you need somebody closer. I had never been to therapy before, and was really nervous, but she's been great at helping me have a non-judgmental setting in which to work through accepting this phase of life! best wishes
I worked until my second arrived and boy was I happy to have a break! For a year I was in heaven not having to wake a baby to go anywhere and being able to be exhausted and not go to work. Then I started to need grownups again. I started volunteering for my synagogue. They were completely flexible and open to whatever time and energy I had. There were smart people on the staff, great clergy, and terrific volunteers. Look for a volunteer environment that will let you come and go as you are able. Even if you are just on the committee, you'll get the emails and updates on what people are thinking about. Try the schools, a religious institution if you have one, senior center, community center. I made a lot of friends that way too. Back at work, still a mom
Having both worked with kids and now as a SAHM here is what I find helpful. I need to realize that there are many buckets to how you spend your time - some are filled with family, physical exertion, time outside, socializing, quiet, intellectual stimulation, creative etc. I find the family, time outside, physical buckets pretty overflowing (life with small kids being quiet physical and I find time for exercise). I just recognize that the intellectual bucket as a SAHM is difficult to fill. So that helps me just recognize that I am not in that stage but during other stages of life the other buckets might not be so robust. With that in mind I LOVE LOVE LOVE my IPOD. I load it up with tons of news shows, You name it. I listen to it in the care, when I do dishes. Usually when kids are asleep or gone, but I will admit I do listen to it when the are around too. They find the news too distracting ( my oldest is 8 and too much depressing talk is no good) so I rarely have the live news on while they are there but I might have one ear bud in - listening to an NPR show from the morning while I do the evening dishes. When mine were babies I would listen while nursing. You get the idea - I seek out this more than I would I think if I were working. I also joined a book group very deliberately to have that intellectual discussion. I have over the last few years taken a couple classes some creative, some more analytical. I read the NYT more. So yes some of my intellectual engagement is less ''social'' but it is ok. IPOD ADDICT
Another professional mom with older kids told me that she thought it made much more sense to work while your children are young - babies up to middle school or thereabouts - build up your career, your credentials, and your professional options, with the goal of having the resources to have a more flexible and/or lighter schedule during the teenage years, when YOUR presence (as opposed to that of a paid caregiver) at home is more important. You can't really hire a babysitter for your 16 y.o. to make sure he isn't coming home afterschool to smoke pot and have sex with his girlfriend... This makes lots of sense to me, and I've adopted it as my plan. Go back to work if you want to!
I can very much resonate with your post. I have too been struggling/ed with the same thing. I miss my work so much. I was much better at it than being a sahm for my first. So after 8 mos, I went back to work. I got pregnant within 1 week of working. So now, with my 2nd. I am staying home again. It is different now. We have moved (to more affordable place) and I am looking to find my resources and groups of moms. I don't talk about my previous career with new moms I meet. Being home is a tough job. It takes getting used to and now into my 2nd year, I am finally feeling like I am getting good at this. It is lonely and maybe not as intellectually challenging, but it is challenging my creative side. Planning activities, doing art, chasing kids around, meeting new people out of my comfort zone, laughing, crying, feeling loneliness and joy. I decided in 5-6 years, when my kids get into school, I can go back to my career life. For now, I plan 12 hours a week to do something that works for me. Going to lunch with old colleagues (where I choose not to talk about kids except brief update), reading, catch up on world news/politics. I joined a book club for more intellectual discussion. I gave myself a goal to just become a really good mom and know that I am choosing to be home with my kids. I feel fortunate and very gratious that I am able to do this. Yes, I am spent at the end of the day, but everyday, I catch a glimpse of those babies doing something that I may have missed while I was working I remind myself that this is what my life is about. This is only for me, I hope you find what you are looking for. sahm too
Oh honey...I think that every Mom misses some part of her pre-kid life. The first 18-months absolutely sucked for the many of the reasons that you state (I actually went back to work for a few months and decided that my job was bogus compared to my time with my child, so I dropped that -- it previously had been fulfilling in so many ways). It is really sad to remember that my happiest time before both kids were at least two was when they were in preschool...what I found this summer was a revisit to my passion - running! I trained for and ran an insane trail running series...yes, I was in the bottom half of finishers. But, I wasn't running to win. I was running to regain my sanity. It gave me purpose, a goal, a challenge, etc...I am sorry that I waited so long to do it...my kids were 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 this past summer...I really wished that I had looked for and found something to flip my switch a few years back... -anon
I had to transition into SAHM life slowly. Fortunately, as a writer and editor, I was able to work freelance part time for several years. I haven't picked up any freelance work in over year, so I guess I am a real SAHM now. The first year or two were the hardest, even when working part time. I felt like the lowest person on the totem pole around our house, even though I was the one that made it all work.
You can still read about things that interest you, join a book club, take your kids on interesting outings to museums or what-not. Give the community thing time. I live in Moraga and I thought I'd feel marooned out here, but over the past few years I have met many cool working and SAHM moms. It does just take time.
Classes are probably a good idea, but like you said, your bandwith is limited. Maybe even just a yoga or other exercise class once or twice a week could get you networked into something.
Hi, Being a SAHM at times does feel a bit isolating. I will tell you that once your kids start kindergarten and you see the same families at school and at after school activities around town, you feel a bit more connected. Preschool friends are nice but often they come from all around town and outside of Lamorinda even, and the duration of those ''friendships'' are limited to the preschool years. When friends go their separate ways to kindergarten, they meet new friends who live within blocks of your home. What we do at home as mothers is important and hard work, I hope you find a balance. I was in a mom's group playgroup through Lamorinda Moms Club and that was really fun for me and for the kids too. I saw it as a way to connect with other very local moms. Some were working part-time and if I remember correctly, they may have even had a working moms playgroup. Check out the website. You'd be connected with other moms with kids your kids' ages, and that is nice for many reasons. They have fun playing weekly and you can talk shop -- the trials and successes of being a SAHM.
Good luck, there were times when I often felt a bit isolated too, simply because I was too exhausted to reach out but networking takes time, often a few years in a new neighborhood or after a transition (kids, work situation change). Over the years, many (teachers and sitters) have complimented my children's behaviors and attributed their strengths to my being a constant force for them at home. It's going to work out for the best
I hear you - I have the same sort of ''lost my identity,'' ''not sure what my purpose is outside of raising children'' feelings. After my son was born (now 15 months) I was SAH for about six months. Then, I decided to go back to work for my personal fulfillment. My working created a very hectic situation for our family, but, as fate would have it, I was laid off a few months ago. Since then, I am focusing enjoying my time with my son, how fortunate I am to be able to stay home, and thinking ahead to how nice it will be to completely change careers, go back to school, etc., after the child/children are in school. My advice: enjoy your time - the kids will be grown and you will be working again before you know it. SAHM and happy
You don't have to ''accept'' anything that isn't working for you! There are lots of alternatives to FT work vs. SAHM. Dad at home, both parents work PT, one consults, freelances, etc. It didn't work for me to totally give up my outside identity. I loved the time with my kids, but they are TOTALLY fine in preschool-they love it-and I love having my professional life back. I have strict rules for what I'll accept in a job-no more than 10 minutes from home, ability to work earlier hours and be home just after 4, a fairly low-stress work environment so that when I'm home, I'm really there and not thinking about work, staying late, etc. People glorify the SAHM role, but it's simply not right for many women. If you can think about it in phases rather than an identity, ie ''I'm taking some time off with my kids but I'm an attorney (or teacher or whatever);'' that might help. I think it's women who completely give up on career and ''label'' themselves that tend to get depressed. One of my friends has never accepted that she left her high-powered, high-profile corporate job that she loved 5 years ago. Even today she struggles with identity. Find a compromise that's good for you as well as good for your family. just my 2 cents
There couldn't have been a more planned baby than mine. We took care of everything-got married, started a business, bought a house in Albany, talked about child-rearing philosophies, joined some Moms groups, etc. Our daughter is 17 months old, and I'm so lonely!!!! My husband works 6 days a week, and would work seven if I didn't insist on a family day every week. He thinks I'm being too demanding to insist that we come first, before the business. I was part of 2 Moms groups that fell apart due to other moms' work/school. I tried to start another group, but most of the Moms can take it or leave it. I tried to post here about being lonely, and I got some responses, but most of them are too busy to commit to something regular. It's embarrassing to admit, but I need to have a group I can meet with every week!!! I need to know that I will see people at least once a week or I will go crazy! I need to know that the other parents I meet with also think that it's important enough to show up consistantly. Am I expecting too much? Am I scaring people away? I have some good friends with kids, but everyone seems to have full lives and/or family close by, while I feel like it's all I can do to hold it together for my daughter. She seems happy, but I want her to have childhood memories of a Mom who was happy, too. What am I doing wrong?
Have you considered joining an exercise program for moms/babies or a gymboree type program? Usually moms will come to the same one each week, and there is a perfect opportunity to make some friends. A friend of mine, Anna Gunn, operates Baby Boot Camp in several East Bay locations. Not only are you getting exercise, but you'll be socializing with other moms enjoying an activity. Anna can be reached at: anna [at] babybootcamp.com. You can also look at their offerings at www.babybootcamp.com Also, are you familiar with MOST (Mother's Outreach and Support Team?) They also have a few groups in the east bay, and once again, will provide you with a weekly connection to other moms. You can reach Virginia at www.mostformoms.com, or see their website at www.mostformoms.com.
I myself conduct workshops for new mothers of twins in Lafayette and Berkeley (www.doubletalkfortwins.com) and I find that the one thing all of these moms want is what you want; a regular connection with other mothers experiencing the same things they are. By coming to the group the reduce their feelings of isolation, and have an opportunity to make new friends.
Good luck! You're not alone. karen
I have a 19 month old, and am very lonely as a SAHM, too. This area is really not geared towards SAHMs, as you have probably noticed. Playgrounds are often totally empty during the day, or full of nannies. Have you tried the new Toddler Group at Alta Bates? It's on Thursday mornings from 9:30 until 11 am (I think). I would suggest we get together, but my family and I are moving to Seattle for the cost of living problem. Best wishes and take care. Jennifer
Staying at home with a baby/toddler is so difficult. Don't think that you are all alone in those thoughts!
When my oldest child was 16 months old we joined a program in Oakland called Toddler Family (I'm now back with my second child). It is like a ''mini-preschool'' in that the children have the opportunity to do art projects, play dress-ups, build with blocks, participate in circle time, eat snack together while the teacher reads books, and play outside. Children attend with a parent or caregiver.
While my children loved Toddler Family, I did too. There are parent education meetings monthly with a wonerful woman who has taught for over 50 years. Also, because the program runs the school year you have the opportunity to really bond with the other parents.
I'd really encourage you to check out their website: toddlerfamily.com Best of luck!
I understand completely. I was desperate before and after my son was born. I was lucky to find a group.
Please come to Pt. Richmond. PRAM (www.pram.net) has a clubhouse on the grounds of the Washington Elementary School. Address is 110 E. Richmond Ave. Beginning next week on 20th September the bookmobile will be at the fieldhouse 10:30 every Monday for storytime. Following the bookmobile visit, the fieldhouse will be open for free play until noon. Starting September 28th there will be a free playtime 9-11am on Tuesdays. The fieldhouse will continue to be open for free play time Thursday 1-3 pm and Friday 1-4pm. PRAM also has about seven playgroups with different ages that meet weekly. I do believe there is one for your age group. Also, I walk every Tuesday but i'm out in Pinole and go to places from Hercules to Berkeley. If you're interested, I can keep you in the loop about where we meet. tief
I'm a stay at home mom with a 10 month old. I love being home with him, but lately I've been frustrated with constantly having to be ''on'' with the baby. And when he's sleeping I'm cleaning or doing laundry or other housework. I'm starting to think about working part time, but then I'm stuck with the dilemma of not getting paid much more than it would cost for childcare. So I'm thinking of watching another baby part time. I would love to hear feedback from moms who have tried this &/or found a good part time gig that would pay more than $10/hr? Thanks Need a break!!
your message was interesting in that you sounded like you need a break during the day from taking care of your child, since you are a f/t stay at home mom. many moms decide to look for P/T work so that they have something else during the day to do, aside from taking care of their children. however, you are considering taking care of another child for your p/t work. so, how would you be able to take a break from being a ''mom''? i don't get it. i think that if you gave me this reason during an interview, i would be wary of hiring you. that's just my opinion, based on the fact that it seems you'd rather be doing something else other than taking care of children (for your P/T work, that is). also, i don't think you can really make 10 dollars an hour taking care of a child when you are also taking care of your own child at the same time. i think the going rate is less than that. anon
I am a stay at home mom who has faced your frustrations just a couple of times. :-) You are right! You do need a break. Part-time work may-or may not be the answer (it doesn't matter whether or not you are working jsut to pay the babysitter as long as you are happier as an end result). Taking on a part- time babysitting job sounds like it will just add to your stress.
You do need to carve out more parts of the day that are yours and are not for the baby and not for the family. If you are like me, then you don't even get to go to the bathroom without an audience. Also, if you are suffering from any guilt over 'not earning any money' then you need to get over it (said in the nicest possible way). You are doing a real job. You are making a contribution to your family's bottom line (at the very least reducing the stress -- talk to some of your friends about how dual outside the home working partners juggle who is picking up the kids from day care and who is getting the dry cleaning and why they have to keep their kids up an hour later at night just so they can spend time with them and whose meeting is more important and who has to cancel to pick up the sick child from school. Good on them for making it work.)
Here are some things that I have found helpful to make it work at home:
I look at my house in two ways clean/dirty and neat/messy. I clean it thoroughly (vaccum, dust, scrub, start a load of laundry, etc) about once a week. Certain parts of the house get cleaned a bit more often (obviously, the kitchen). I do this when my daughter is awake. She will play in whatever room I am working on. If she is in a 'hold me mood' then I put her up on my hip and continue my work (I actually get housework done faster when I am holding her). I deal with the 'neat/messy' aspect of my house during the first 15 minutes of her first nap (if I get a second nap out of her -- which is rarer these days -- then that one is all mine) and the first half hour after she goes to bed. I put away toys, clothes or whatever else needs to be stowed to get the house back in shape. It usually doesn't take me that long. I have big plastic trugs (big gardening buckets) in a couple of rooms in the house that I toss her toys into (shelves are a pain as you need to keep them neat), sort the mail or whatever. The rest of the time is for me. I nap when she naps or read or work in the garden (by choice...I am learning about plants) or gossip with my friends. I don't make gourmet meals more than once a week (okay...maybe every other week). We usally just bbq, steam some veggies and whip some potatoes. In the evening after cleaning the kitchen and doing some last pickup, I grab a beer and hit the sofa to read or computer to surf. When my hubby is home (he is on the road half of the month doing his airline pilot gig) we may sit in the back garden in the evening and mull over the world's problems. On Wednesdays, I watch Law & Order.
The house cleaning issue has taken a while to come to terms with. My husband is a 'neat freak (but not a clean freak).' He has realized, thanks to the half of the month that he is home (when he is home, he is home all day and night...none of this sneaking off to a job so that he is clueless about what I do all day), that he isn't going to get a nap unless he does it when the baby is down. He isn't going to get to surf the internet unless he does it when the baby is down. Etc...etc...I would like the house to be neater/cleaner and dinner to be fancier, but not at the sacrifice of my sanity. But, even pre-child, I wanted that and was never able to achieve perfection.
Additionally, I go to the gym a few days a week. My local YMCA has a nursery included as part of the low membership fee. It isn't the most stimulating environment, but it is safe. And, even though she is in the middle of the 'Mommy don't leave me' phase, she seems to be reasonably happy there for the three or four hours a week that she spends there. As a trade-off, I have wonderful abs and biceps now, not to mention the fact that I have kocked 7 minutes off my previous best in the 10k.
Also, I have two subscriptions to the local symphony. They play a morning concert every five weeks. I bring a guest (sometimes my mother-in-law or sometimes a friend). My Mother- in-law will usually babysit, but if not then I hire a babysitter. I deserve a little special time to myself where I get to wear something that doesn't need to be snot-proof.
Also, I have joined the Mothers of Pre-Schoolers group (MOPS) at my church. Many member of the MOPS group don't attend my church as the programs aren't usually religious in nature. Twice a month, MOPS puts on presentations -- usually on parenting subjects. Our children are in the nursery being tended to by wonderful volunteers (usually grandmothers who don't have their own around to dote on) supervised by professional childcare personnel while the 50 to 60 of us ******ize, attend workshops on parenting or general interest issues (today's topic was on 'developing a young reader' while later in the month we will hear from several refugees about transitioning to the US/our area). This is free.
In the fall, I will put my daughter into the pre-school two mornings a week of the school that she will attend for her elementary years. That will cost about $125/month. Those 8 hours that I get will be again, mine to use as I want.
Even with all of this, there are those phases (September -- when she was five months old and mid-January to mid-February when she 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 months old that were just very trying and I don't know why. Perhaps the former because she was done with the play mat, but couldn't sit up and the latter...well, she finally stopped putting everything in her mouth so I can, with caution, let her loose in the backyard while I sit at the umbrella table and finish correspondence, pay bills, etc...). Just know that things will get better around the corner. My three days shy of a year child now entertains herself for a good 45 minutes at a stretch by opening and shutting the door of her wagon/climbing in and out of it. She works on her motor skills whil I read magazines or chick-lit novels. That gives me some time not to refresh before we are back to building towers of blocks for her to knock down or having tickle fights. been there
It sounds like you need some time for yourself, so taking care of yet another baby will probably just add to your stress and need to get away. There are baby sitting co-ops out there that you can become a part of, this way you don't have to worry about the money. I would suggest using the UC Berkeley Parents Childcare digest to try to find one. Or is there a friend or neighbor you could trade babysitting with? This way you get some time to yourself to do whatever you want. Fortunately we have been able to have childcare for my son 2x a week - I can go to a yoga class, have lunch w/ a friend, take a nap, read a book. It's great! anon
I was going through the same thing and started to care for another baby thinking it would make things different and it has only added on to my stresses. I suggest you just take some time out for yourself, even if it's only for an hour, by taking a class of a subject you're interested in. You can also arrange a playmate for your baby and get into a co-op situation and make time for yourself. Hang in there. anon