9 Truths about Life as a Stay-At-Home-Parent

Raising children is a job. Running a household and making a home is a job. We are allowed to occasionally feel shitty and disillusioned about our jobs, even when these jobs are honorable and valuable.

Most people who love their jobs, don’t love it every single moment of doing their jobs; this doesn’t make them less effective, efficient, or sincere about their jobs.

Part of what makes any work environment “satisfying” is the relationships we have with our peers. Thus, stay-at-home parents absolutely MUST create for themselves a network of peers, meaning: adults with whom we would otherwise socialize because we share common interests and values.

These networks of peers do not magically coalesce from vapor: we have to schedule in the time to scout out — or reconnect — with these adult peers. Even if you commit to making 1 phone call a day just to chat for 5 minutes with an adult — it’s a good first step to rebuilding a peer support network.

Our kids are not our peers; our kids are our kids, we don’t need to buy into the myth that “raising children” alone should fulfill our need for different dimensions of stimulation, from the intellectual to the emotional to the physical to the spiritual.

Certainly my child fills up a big chunk of the feelings in my heart and soul — but I also need to feed my brain, and feeding my brain goes beyond “let me figure out an innovative way to teach him this concept”.

A corollary to the above: other parents of young children may not be our peers either. I used to think that because I’m a SAHM (stay at home mother) I should socialize with other SAHM. That’s like saying “now that I’m married I should mostly socialize with married people”, as if nothing else matters. Sure, other SAHParents may readily identify with many of the issues I struggle with, but that’s no longer enough for me to build a friendship on.

I got out of that myopic mindset and look at “interests”, and I’m not always interested in talking about raising children because that’s what I’ve done all day long for the past 7 years. I’m interested in talking about other topics that interest you as a person and press your mental pleasure buttons. Now my peers include 20somethings who don’t even have children (but they love rock climbing, which I’ve recently gotten into), as well as 60somethings whose kids have all grown up (but they run companies and colleges, which I’m interested in learning about).

It is completely normal to feel adrift and lost in our somewhat amorphous identity, especially when we straddle our past/present selves. Even as I’ve built over time a network of peers and intellectual channels — I feel lost about “who I am” much of the time.

Maybe there are parents who are firmly grounded in their parental identity and they are pleased with this anchor: I’m not such a person because of my former self being a frenzied ambitious professional and entrepreneur. So I learn to deal with feeling lost and disoriented and still — do the best I can every day, whatever “best” means.

You are allowed to plant new dreams for yourself and rekindle old dreams you’ve forgotten. In fact, you are required to remind yourself that you still have dreams about (your own) future, not as “parent of 2 children” but as “you-the-human-being.” I know you can’t believe this now, but your kids will grow older and both will eventually go into school and, over time, you will regain more time.

You are allowed to let the house get messy or let things slide some days of the week. You’d still be a fantastic parent and director of household.

You are allowed to ask for help, including paying for a parent’s helper or a babysitter one or two times a week. If you aren’t comfortable, you don’t need to leave the house, you just need an extra pair of eyes and hands to help you (parent’s/mother’s helper may work well in your situation).

Remember to breathe.