5 reasons not to be jealous of stay-at-home moms

The grass isn't always greener, says our SAHM blogger Jennifer Pinarski. Here are five reasons not to be jealous of stay-at-home moms.

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Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

Earlier this week Jeanne Sager, a freelance writer with The Stir, wrote a post about how stay-at-home moms often don’t get the respect they deserve, especially when their children start school and they opt not to work outside the home. (Sager wrote in response to an essay on Salon, in which SAHM Jessica Stolzberg described feeling bullied by a working mom; like me, Sager wonders what’s up with women who pick sides on the SAHM and working mama debate). Sager ponders the little things (would her house be cleaner?) and confesses envy about the big things (volunteering in her daughter’s school) in her honest post.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this gig isn’t what you think it is. Here are 5 cheeky reasons why you have no reason to be jealous of me.

1. Our houses are not cleaner.
For the first few weeks as a stay-at-home mom, I worked tirelessly so that our house would be spotless. I mean, that was my job, right? So the kitchen was cleaned after every meal, toys were picked up each night and we could’ve eaten off of the bathroom floors (if we’d wanted to). But with two young children whose sole mission is to play with ALL THE TOYS, ALL THE TIME, I burned out quickly. These days my house looks like it’s been ransacked by hungry gypsies and I’ve come to terms with the fact that my house will never be tidy again. Ever.

2. We have underwear older than our kids.
I fit the stereotypical SAHM role in that while my kids are impeccably dressed, my wardrobe is (for lack of a better word) a little dated. On one income, spending on ourselves seems frivolous and if you’re like me, there’s a good amount of guilt when you spend money that you didn’t earn. I’m pretty sure I finally just threw out the underwear I went into labour in seven years ago.

Read more: 5 signs you need to update your wardrobe>

3. We yell at our kids more.
When I worked full-time before the birth of my daughter, I rarely yelled at our son, who was our only child and in full-time day care. At the time, my friend Mel had a son and daughter who were roughly 18 months apart and she confessed to yelling at her kids way more than she wanted to. She warned me that, one day, I would too. (One hilarious visit to Chapters with our kids in tow saw her buying a copy of Scream-Free Parenting and me buying Simplicity Parenting – all while our kids ripped around the store and we drank lattes). I shout at my kids more than I’d like to admit, ironically often to tell them to be quiet. My friend Jason, a stay-at-home dad of three, sums it up best: “If you’re not yelling at your kids, you’re not spending enough time with them.”

4. We struggle to be organized, too.
Last month I bought a small can of chalkboard paint, clipboards and magnetic strips with the dream of organizing the mountains of paper and appointments I needed to keep track of. My three year old “helped” paint the chalkboard wall, which meant more paint ended up on her and the floor than the wall. The clipboards can’t hold all of my overdue bills and the kids have drawn tornados and stick people overtop of the meal plan I wrote on the board last week. On the bright side, the defacing of my chalk wall means my kids are no longer playing Sharpie graffiti artists in their rooms.

Read more: The wonderful chaos of baking with kids>

5. Volunteering isn’t as fun as it sounds.
Don’t get me wrong, one of my favourite things about being a stay-at-home mom is the fact that I am free to volunteer as often as I’m needed in my son’s school. I’m there at least once a week and I’ve rarely missed a school trip. I love getting to know his classmates and the teachers. But there are two ugly reasons why volunteering is not all it’s cracked up to be: you’re exposed to all the boogers and germs that a grade school offers (it’s a lot, trust me) and sometimes popping an extra-strength Tylenol before you start your field trip chaperone duties isn’t enough. Instant coffee, a thermos, enough Tylenol for all your friends and a sense of humour are mandatory.

What’s a less-than-glamorous aspect of being a stay-at-home mom that you find funny? Tweet me @jenpinarski

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