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The Case for the Stay-at-Home Mom

As I write this post, all three of my children are in school, and I am home alone in a quiet house. I'm currently a stay-at-home mom. And it's glorious.

stay-at-home mom alone in her house

My youngest still has two more years of (mostly part-time) preschool, so any plans to re-enter the workforce are way off in the distance, but I certainly have given thought to what will happen when everyone is in "big kid school" full-time. I'm not sure if I will continue to stay home, go back into teaching, or go back to school myself, but I do know that when the time comes, I don't want to rush.

Which is why I was so surprised by a post I came across on one of those mom chat boards. (You know, the ones connected to the sites you eagerly sign up for when pregnant and then send you weekly emails about what fruit your fetus most closely resembles.) In this post, a stay-at-home mom was asking for opinions on whether she should go back to work now that her child was in school.

This mom had a particular concern that others would judge her for staying home even if there were no kids at home with her. While there were plenty of who-cares-what-others-think comments, I was surprised to read several comments telling this mom that it was her turn to go to work now and basically that she was being selfish for staying home.

Working moms, this post is not for you. Whether you are working outside the home by choice or necessity, you are a rock star. I know you are sacrificing something (probably sleep) to make the magic happen, and on behalf of your kids, I just want to say thank you.

No, this post is for all of you stay-at-home moms out there, particularly the ones who may feel like you're not contributing enough or who feel guilty for being home or who just need a little validation.

Stay-at-home moms, we are needed!

Although I have worked as an adjunct instructor for the majority of motherhood, I identify most strongly as a stay-at-home mom. I still tend to mention that very, very part-time work first when asked "what I do," so I need this message as much as anyone. But now that I've been doing this gig for so many years, I've discovered the benefits of being home even--and sometimes especially--when the kids are not.

  1. Volunteering at my kids' schools. Book fairs and field trips are just as much fun as an adult, and it's a bonus getting to see my kids in their element. I also get some face time with teachers and staff in a casual setting, which helps make the school feel more like a community. Being able to drop them off and pick them up adds consistency to our days as on a field trip
  2. Volunteering in general. I teach at an adult education center once a week, but there are plenty of places to get involved, such as animal shelters, food pantries, park conservancies, and blood drives. Knowing that I have the time in my schedule to incorporate service satisfies a need within me even more than a paying job would.
  3. Being on-call for all the things. Not all of these benefits are quite so altruistic. There is the very practical matter of what to do when a kid inevitably gets sick or has an appointment or schools are closed for weather, etc. This past year, I worked outside the home one day a week, and it seemed like all of those scenarios happened on that day. On those occasions (which we started calling "WTF Wednesdays"), my husband and I would have to scramble to coordinate who would stay home or pick up the kids, and it was always very stressful. It is so much easier when the unexpected arises on a day I am already at home.
  4. Running errands. It is also so much simpler to run quick errands solo. No car seats to fiddle with, no car naps to disturb, no chasing children through stores. Plus, by taking care of the weekly grocery run during a weekday, I am freeing up time and space for everyone who has to shop in the evenings and weekends. Speaking of which...
  5. Free evenings and weekends. I readily acknowledge--although not apologize--that my house is messy. Of course it is. Several other people live there. Yet because I have the time to maintain the mess, I don't have to spend every weekend cleaning, doing laundry, and all those other tasks necessary to make a household run. Maybe one of these days I'll actually be able to get a handle on the clutter that always accumulates. A girl can dream...
  6. Projects and self-care. With kids out of the house, I also have time to get to all of those projects that get put on the back burner. I really enjoy organizing family photos for instance, but it's a time-consuming job that is not exactly urgent, so it often gets bumped to the bottom of the to-do list. The time to focus on this and other tasks is a gift I don't take for granted. And sure, maybe I can also sneak in a pedicure or a hair appointment or time at a coffee shop with a book.cup of coffee and a book is a perk of a stay-at-home mom

Only time will tell how much longer our family continues with this current arrangement with me as a stay-at-home mom, but I know that if I do go back to full-time work outside the house someday, I will look back fondly on these days, appreciating the benefits of staying at home--with or without kids there.

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