I acquired the job of stay-at-home mom shortly after my first child was born. I didn’t want the baby I had just made to go to a daycare where I didn’t know what would happen all day. I told my husband one of us had to stay home with this new life we had just made. He nominated me for the job.
Starting From Zero
My only qualification for the job was that I had learned to make milk and the baby felt that the only way to eat was straight from the tap, as it were. I also learned to change diapers and was successful at keeping the baby alive each day. Really, the absolute bare minimum that should be expected of a stay-at-home mom.
While I was pretty confident in the “mom” part in those early days, I did not have the skills of a homemaker. I couldn’t really cook. Heating up things from a can or making things that came in boxes was the extent of my cooking skills. I also had no idea how to make a budget or clean a house. I really had no clue what I was doing.
But, I treated my new SAHM status as a job. I did a lot of on-the-job training while nursing. I watched the PBS cooking shows and learned from America’s Test Kitchen how to brown meat until it “caramelized.” I learned the difference between chopping and mincing and could eventually make heads or tails of most recipes.
I committed myself to cooking dinner each night because that was what my husband said was the number one thing he would ask of me. I told him that asking one thing in addition to keeping the baby alive was probably all I could do. So, we worked it out.
Eventually, I became a pretty good cook. Of course, that aspect of the job has changed over and over as our family has added new food allergies and issues. Eventually, I couldn’t just serve our child my milk for all meals and had to up my game to make 3 meals a day.
I was always crafty. So, I saved a lot of money making all our holiday gifts for family and friends. I made candy one year. Another year I sewed aprons for everyone. Yes, even the men. I used my time to make things so that we didn’t have to buy them.
But I didn’t take on every household task. My husband still had to be an active participant in our home. Why couldn’t he just come home and put his feet up and do nothing? Because I didn’t get to do that. Our baby still needed me to parent 24 hours a day. There are NO breaks when you are the mom. So, yes, he had to help around the house. He also parented his children.
As we had more kids, this job became a lot harder. I spent all day caring for kids, cleaning up after them, and feeding them. At one point, I took a part-time job outside the home, and it was SO easy compared to my work at home. At work, no one follows you to the bathroom. If things go wrong at work, you aren’t alone to deal with the fallout.
Working My Way Up
I love being a SAHM, but it was far harder than a typical job while my kids were small. Now, my kids are teens. The job is easier. I’m so glad the diaper days are done. I’m thrilled to not have to deal with car seats. But I also feel like I earned this. Much like at any other job, you work your way up and the job gets easier.
If you are new to being a SAHM, I wish you well. I hope that you find the right media to watch to teach you how to do the skills you need. I hope you pat yourself on the back each night just for keeping them all alive. I hope you realize that your work is hard and important and that to your kids, you are the most important person on earth.
And on the hard days, take comfort that after her third kid, even Marie Kondo gave up on tidying up!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.