Lessons Learned as a Stay-At-Home Mom

This morning I walked my five and half year old to the playground of the elementary school, then waved and blew kisses goodbye as she lined up and walked in for her first ever day of (public) school. The doors closed, and my eyes welled up and I began the short walk home while tears streamed down my face. It was such a bittersweet moment. I can’t help but think how quickly the last five and half years have gone by.

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Just born, about 2 minutes old. I was exhausted, but joyous.

As many of you know, I’ve been chatting a lot about my kiddo starting school, and how that gives me the incredible opportunity to begin pursuing being a freelance artist as my full time job. And while that is amazing, there is a lot of sadness that accompanies this transition. It’s the closing of a chapter in my life. I will never be able to go back to those young years where we spent all day every day together. So, I decided I’m giving myself a two week staycation during which I will do exactly whatever the hell I want while my kiddo is at school. I plan to be productive, but if the day comes where I just want to sit on the couch and play Mankind Divided for six hours, I’m gonna do so. It’s almost like a grieving process; allowing this new transition to sink in. So today, since I’m feeling quite nostalgic, I wanted to share some lessons I learned as a stay-at-home mom.

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1. There will always be people who judge you. I’ve heard of people idiots judging working mothers for ‘not spending enough time with their kids’ but I didn’t think it would happen on the SAHM end. I was wrong. It didn’t happen often, but I’ve had a few people who tried to make me feel bad about choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. That it’s ‘degrading’ for me to choose this life. One particular winner asked me what I do, I responded with being a stay-at-home mom, and they rolled their eyes at me. To all these people, a giant fuck you. This was my personal choice, and it’s one I will cherish forever.

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2. Trust yourself. I think all parents have heard the advice to trust themselves and their instinct when it comes to their kids, but you have to trust yourself in terms of what is best for you as well. I had so many people tell me I’d ‘get sick’ of being a stay-at-home mom and want to go back to work, or that I’d ‘eventually’ want a second child. Um, nope. It’s been five and a half years and I’m STILL not ready to be done with my SAHM life, nor do I have any desire for a second kid. People may pressure you, but only YOU know what is best for you & your family.

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3. You can simultaneously love your child more than you thought possible, and also want to throw them out the window. Kids are fucking frustrating. They are utterly amazing, yes. And the love I have for my kiddo goes so beyond rationality. But often she makes me want to rip my (and her) hair out. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY THAT HAVING A HISSY FIT DOES NOT GIVE YOU YOUR WAY??!!!!? So if you ever feel the urge to strangle your kid on a particularly frustrating day, it’s okay, we all do.

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4. You will realize you never appreciated your free time. I no longer remember a time when my thoughts weren’t occupied by the well being of another little human. I truly don’t. I mean, I know that time existed, duh, but I don’t actually remember the feeling of being responsible for only myself. And that makes me realize just how little I appreciated that feeling when I had it. ‘Free time’ as in time where you can just do whatever you want at any given moment basically disappears when you have kids. And I don’t mean that in a bad way; it’s just an adjustment. We still do tons of fun things; we just adjust them to work with the fact that we have a kid.

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5. Being just a mom is not enough. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. When my daughter was born, I threw myself into being a mother. I stopped all other hobbies, I did nothing but tend to my kiddo for more than a year. And when she was about 14 months old, I started feeling incredibly unsatisfied. Which of course, made me feel incredibly guilty. But over time, I realized that I was more than just a mother. It wasn’t my only personality trait. Did I really want my daughter growing up seeing that the only thing I focused on in life was her? I didn’t. I wanted her to see me, all of me, and that includes all the things I loved. Being a parent will take over most of your time, but it’s not all of who you are.

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Those are the biggest nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned from a little over five years being a stay-at-home mom. I am so incredibly lucky that I’m in a situation that allowed me to make that choice, and it’s a decision I have never regretted for one second. My little miss went off to school today to start a new journey, and she was bursting with excitement about it. They grow up so fast!

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If you have kids, what was the biggest thing you learned after becoming a parent? If you don’t have kids, what scares you the most about becoming a parent someday?

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  • Wow this is a fantastic post! I don’t know what it’s like to be a mom (yet), but I’m storing these nuggets of information in the back of my mind. Sometimes I feel like I have too much time on my hands and I know one day that will be a distant memory. But what I liked most was what you said about being more than a mother. Being a mom is obviously very important and something that changes you, but you’re not just a mom; you’re a woman and human who has other interests as well and I think not many women let themselves admit that, which is sad. Thanks for sharing this!
    ~Sara

    • Kay

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed! Thank you for the kind words! I feel like motherhood in general can bring a lot of guilt haha, and for awhile, I definitely struggled with wanting to more than ‘just’ a mom. But like you said, I’m a woman and a human too, and those bits can’t get left behind!

  • Aw I love this <3

    No one understood why I wanted to be a stay at home Mom either. I feel like I sort of lost my identity along the way, and despite that… I would make the same choice all over again. It's just the right choice for some families and there's nothing wrong with that.

    I hope Ellie loved her first day of school… and her love for cats still seriously cracks me up. πŸ˜€

    • Kay

      Yup! It’s entirely a personal choice. There is SO much shaming that happens between parents (I’m definitely guilty of shaming thoughts!) and sometimes I think people forget that generally, people are just doing the best they can. They may make different choices than you, and that’s okay too. I too, would never make a different choice. I wanted to be home with my child, to raise her and soak up every minute, and that’s what I did.
      She loved her first day! And considering both my partner and myself are both crazy cat people, I’m not too surprised at her cat love. πŸ˜€ I love that both her backpack and lunchbox are cat themed as well, picked out by her of course.

      • So glad she enjoyed her first day! Oh how cute… didn’t notice her backpack was kitties too πŸ˜€

  • Obviously I’m not a mum but I think the amount of judgement they all get is INSANE. Like if you’re a stay at home mom you get judged for not working, but if you’re working full time you get judged for not spending enough time with your kids. Like what?! That doesn’t even make sense. I think if I had kids I’d want to stay home, too. My mom stayed home with us and we had a lot of great experiences together! I’m sure when Ellie gets older she will say the same πŸ™‚ I hope she enjoyed her first day. She looks so excited hahah. Love her backpack too!

    • and now that I’m looking at her backpack again I noticed it matches the washi tape I just got lol.

      • Kay

        AHH that’s amazing hahaha!! I need that tape! And thank you! I definitely loved choosing to stay home, and would do so again in a heartbeat, but I also totally get that not everyone wants to do that. And that is just fine!

  • Enjoy your Staycation!! You’ve definitely earned it! I think being a SAHM is SUCH a difficult job, so props to you!!

    • Kay

      Thank you Katie!!

  • Danette Perez

    Ah, what a great article! I don’t have the experience of being a mum, but I can so relate, and feel the importance of trusting yourself through new territory and through lands where you worry about the “shoulds” and “everybody else does it this way”s. Only you know your own experience. No ‘experts’ or people who’ve ” been there before”- even those who are very well meaning, know exactly what you feel or what you need. Also, what beautiful pictures <3 Little kid days may be behind you from here on out, but you have all the memories you've spent together, and these wonderful images to always remember those times πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      So true! It’s an exciting new chapter, but with all newness comes a bit of wistfullness of the past I think. So far, it’s been a nice transition! I’m so glad I’m taking time to just do WHATEVER for the first two weeks instead of trying to throw myself into thing immediately. It’s a nice mental break to process and just RELAX for some time.

  • Danielle Knapp

    I love this so much and it’s all so true! My son will be 5 in Decemeber I just love being a SAHM and thankfully no one has given me any shit about it. I do want another though, but we shall see πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      Thanks! Best of luck with #2 Danielle! I always thought I’d want three kids, and then after one I was like, wow, this is kind of perfect! So one it is haha.

  • Mariah Kaercher

    This was an awesome article. I’m not a mom and I’m not sure if kids are in my future, but I definitely still want to have time for myself if I end up raising a child.

    • Kay

      Thank you! It can be so easy to let YOU slip to the wayside as a parent, but I think it’s so important to take time and do things for yourself too!

  • What scares me the most about becoming a mom someday is probably my anxiety. I am super apprehensive even with my parents that are over 60 now, and my cat (okay, especially with my cat!), I am constantly worry about them and I’m afraid I’ll suffocate my future child with all this anxiety I have.

    I’m happy you’re going to have some well-deserved staycation! Oh and I kind of started using Habitica again… πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      Ah, yay! I’m using it still as well, mainly for to-dos for the day, and my dailies (though I only have three).

      As for anxiety, I had the same fear. In fact, I even started therapy for it when my kiddo was four because it had basically taken over my life. I couldn’t leave my house, couldn’t take my kiddo anywhere; the anxiety was just incredibly crushing and overwhelming. BUT honestly, the fact that I had a child was what made me seek help. I didn’t want her growing up seeing this anxious unhealthy behavior, as I knew she would start to emulate it. So in a way, having her is part of what made me seek help! I guess my point is, I think becoming a parent makes you stronger is some ways you may not even know, and can give you the strength to deal with those tough things!

      • I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m happy you managed to find help. I’m going to treasure your advice for sure!

        I’m just using dailies on Habitica, since my to do list stays in my bullet journal, but I like to track silly things like “floss” “reading” on a daily basis and “weekly review” “photo backup” on a weekly basis πŸ˜€

  • Jen

    Aw this absolutely warmed my heart <3

    I'm not a mother yet, and probably won't be for another 10 or so years, but I've always wanted to be a SAHM or at least a work-part-time-from-home Mom. You are so lucky you got to spend the last five and a half years watching your little girl grow up (even though it came with its overly frustrating parts). It really made me excited to have my own little nugget one day.

    Enjoy your staycation, dear! Being a mom is almost like a full-time job in itself and you really deserve this break for yourself!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much! I’m excited for a break just for me. It’s been a LONG time haha! Being a SAHM was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • MagicCatJenny

    This is such a great post! I’ve read a lot about the SAHM lifestyle and I really like how honest and straightforward your lessons are. I hope one day I’ll have that opportunity. (or at least a work-from-home mom) Also, I love that she loves cats! I wonder what she’d think of the musical…hehe.

    • Kay

      Thank you! Being a SAHM is incredibly rewarding, and it’s a choice I’m so glad I had the opportunity to make. And I have that same question about CATS. I haven’t seen the musical in SO long that I want to rewatch it first and make sure it’s all child appropriate haha, but I definitely want her to see it!

  • This post is amazing. It’s ridiculous how much judgment people are willing to dole out no matter what a woman decides to do once she has children. Personally, I want to be a stay at home mama, but I totally understand why some people might not want that. It’s all personal preference people, stop judging!! Actually, the big reason holding me back from having a kiddo is that I would want to stay at home and the hubby and I just wouldn’t be able to afford that living where we do. I think it’s awesome that you were able to choose that and reading your words of wisdom was such an inspiration! Your little one is gorgeous and I hope you enjoy your two weeks off<3

    • Kay

      Seriously, people will judge EVERYTHING. And while I adored being a SAHM, I deifnitely understand that it isn’t for everyone. I didn’t have a career I was working on; the only job I’ve ever truly wanted WAS being a mum. My best friend is a teacher, and she has rocked the working mom lifestyle, because her career is as important as her kids, and that’s great!

      And thank you so much! I’m planning on doing some productive stuff over the two weeks, but also excited to play lots of Mankind Divided on our new PS4 haha.

  • What a great post to read especially as a new mummy myself! It sounds to me like you did a great job so far and your girlie is so lovely! Enjoy your two weeks off!!! You have certainly earned them! I’m going back to work in January. I have my own business and a supportive husband so I can go back for two days. I’ll slowly up my hours so it’s not too much of a shock!!! Time with my baby boy is so precious.

    • Kay

      That’s so great!! I completely didn’t realize your little boy was your first, for some reason I thought you already had a kiddo! Silly me. Congratulations again, there’s nothing like it. πŸ™‚ Enjoy the time, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy going back to work as well. It’s a balance, but I think easing into it is a great plan!

  • Emma

    I hate the fact that people have the audacity to judge others. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS – GAWD!! I don’t think you’d catch a break either way. If you’re a SAHM you get judged for not working, and if you work, you get judged for not spending enough time with your kid. It’s impossible to please people isn’t it. I think you’ve done amazing. You’ve helped this obviously amazing child become who she is, AND in the process have started your very own career. You are incredible, and I’m glad to hear you haven’t let any of the haters tell you otherwise!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Emma! And it’s true, people will judge EVERYTHING! I’m certainly guilty of some mom shaming thoughts on occasion. At the end of the day, I truly believe that for the most part, people are just trying to do the best they can. And that may be different from how you or someone else does things, but that’s okay! Live and let live, right? πŸ˜€

  • B.

    The amount of judging people do of parents is crazy. And all the random “advice” people try and give. If you stay home, you’re judged. If you work, you’re judged. If you let your kids watch TV, judged. Play outside alone, judged. Can we just stop? And that school photo is ADORABLE. I hope she had a great First Day!

    • Kay

      Seriously, people will judge EVERYTHING. What happened to live and let live?! And thank you, she is loving school so far!

  • gamerwife

    This is fantastic. And good on you for giving yourself to grieve and readjust. I really feel like our society dictates that we have to be busy all the time, but being able to take the time to just brief and adjust to new situations is priceless.

    • Kay

      It really is. It felt super weird at first, but I’m so glad I took the time. I think if I’d just tried to dive right into freelance work with a set schedule everyday it would have been overwhelming. Using that time to plan was such a boon!

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