Friday, February 18, 2011

Assumptions About the SAHM, Balance, and Making the Most of Our Lots In Life

It is one of those rare moments that I wake up earlier than the kids and I have a few stolen minutes to myself before I'm needed by three little ones and my time is a wooosh of putting out fights, wiping up messes, answering what seems like thirty people at once, wagging my finger with a growl on my face as I try to talk to someone important on the phone and keep my kids at bay, giving kisses, playing little people, racing cars, pretending to be a princess, always making more snacks, getting drinks, cleaning up paint, crawling around like a horse, trying to get three kids focused, dressed, and ready for school, gymnastics, or doctor appointments and an endless list of other things that make me happy.  I also have those breaks where I get to steal away for a few minutes at a time to check my e-mail, read a snip of something funny or know, connect with other ADULTS...even if it is on the computer and not the once visited staff room or teacher meeting after school.  Sometimes I even have a moment to make a phone call to a friend...preferably a friend with kids so that they understand the sound of seeming chaos in the background.  I love my life.  I love that I chose to make my present career to be at home with my kids.  I'm putting my Masters Degree to good use I'd say.  And what I love most is that I CAN do this.  I know it isn't something that everyone wants or can do but I'm thankful for it and I'm treating it like anything in my life and making the most of it!  I know that I'll have years ahead of me to go back to school.  Get that Doctorate and teach at a University if I want.  Write my book.  Go back to teaching. You know, become the President or marry a prince.  But for now, I am here.  I'm a Mom.  Day in and day out.  And I love it.  But that doesn't mean it is a cake walk.  It doesn't mean that I'm just kicking up my feet all day and eating cheese sticks and watching Dora eat cocoa beans off the trees in the rain forest and telling Swiper to Stop Swiping!  

I guess one of the things that I've been ULTRA sensitive to lately is the small comments or conversations I hear about how nice it must be to Stay At Home and Not Work!  Not just the comments that mention how lucky I am or how wonderful it must be because it IS wonderful and do consider myself lucky and these are such good intended comments.   I've received so much love and good support about my decision to be home with my kids.  My close friends and family know how important my teaching career was to me and they know how passionate and in love with learning and being active in the education field is to me.  It is my good friends and family that know that it was NOT an easy decision to give up something that made me SO INCREDIBLY Happy and ALIVE! The comments or suggestions that seem to be getting under my skin lately are the ones that make the job as a SAHM seem "cute" or "small" or ....wait for it....."EASY".

I mean really, doesn't SAHM mean:
*  staying in your jammies all day 
*  Every day is like a weekend or day off (um, not when you do it every day!)
*  drinking coffee and reading blogs (um, coffee, yes!  Necessary!  Blogs, only on the fly and with little kids tugging at my leg and blocks flying overhead.)
*  Going to thy gym and dropping kids off a daycare (what?!  Not yet...Jillian on the living room floor maybe.  But with a kid or two on my back and under my stomach when I'm doing push ups).
*  Letting my kids watch t.v all day while I read or talk to friends.  (um, again no.  Don't get me wrong, I have my uses for t.v but it usually waits until quiet time in the afternoon and some days they don't get any.  I'm kind of hardcore about the screen time.)
*  Sit on Facebook and e-mail and write blogs all day!  Surely this must be what you SAHM do all day because when we working people get home from work, we see so many postings from you on FB.  (yeah.  Well, you have a staff room and adults to engage with people!  Thank GOD for social networks or I think I'd lose my friggin' mind!  And Yes, I do take a moment here and there for e-mail, blogs, and keeps me sane.  Helps me stay connected and involved and for Goodness Sake, I get to use my MIND!!  But as always, I have goals in life, and one of them is to spend way less time getting sucked into the computer)   
*  You get the gist....we basically sing songs, play with play dough, eat snacks, and have one big long vacation (okay, so the majority of you don't think this but there are a few that do)

I think we all can find things with our life and our jobs that are hard.  Things that make us feel over the top with stress.  We can all feel out of control and lost sometimes.  But it is so important to not get trapped in that "Grass is Always Greener" mindset.  Life is about finding Balance.

Life as a SAHM is about Balance (as with any job) and putting intention and focus into being with my kids, creating a magical childhood for them, making my living/working environment work for me (this means trying to keep it clean and organized...I mean, I'm here a lot!),  and making sure I take time to nurture and support MYSELF!  Right now this means setting and accomplishing personal goals, connecting socially and intellectually with other adults, and continuing to reflect, write, read and set goals for my personal life and career life after motherhood.  Part of this for me is writing my blog, staying connected with friends and family on facebook and e-mail and taking time to get away.  This is the public side that people see and perhaps why some people assume that being a SAHM is so easy and why we SAHMs can't possibly understand how difficult it is to work outside the home and still juggle family life, etc.

I guess my purpose in writing this is just to touch on the issue of accepting our lots in life, our jobs, our situations and making the most of them without assuming that we have it better or harder than others.  It isn't about what job is better or harder to balance or who has more on their plate.  I mean really, it is about balancing the life we do have and making the most out of our situations.  We all have busy lives and bumps to work through.

Wooooo weeee, looks like I had something to get off my chest (as little as my chest is, it sure did have a lot there)!    Thankful that I have this blog to vent!

Things I'm thankful for today:
*  I had a graston technique therapy session with my Sports Chiropractor yesterday and am feeling better.  Thinking that my problems had a lot to do with the Kinvara Shoes that I was trying to run in.  I over pronate so I'm thinking I'm good to stick with some more supportive shoes. Still taking it easy on the running front...this is important to me...I don't want to be stupid.
*  My purchases from Portland Running Company ( next blog)
*  My kids sleeping in late so that i had time to write and reflect.
*  It's Friday
*  I love my job!
*  I've got a beach house all picked out for my marathon weekend and will get to stay 3 nights with some of our best friends!
*  Most importantly, today I'm thankful for supportive and understanding people that make the most of their life and support and encourage others.

I'll leave you with a picture of my office at work.

1.  If you made it this far through this blog you either A.  Are one of those few people that really read it all  or B. Scrolled down to see what questions I might ask in hopes that they are easy to answer without being obvious that you didn't read the blog.  Ha, I get this!

2.  Balance.  What's an area of your life that you would like to give more attention to in order to live a more balanced life?  

3.  When you start feeling out of control with your life, what are things you do to find balance and peace?  

Happy Friday!  I'll be back next time with a shorter and more interesting post...I promise!  Probably about Running Shoes and Bras...Exciting!


  1. Being a SAHM is hard. Even though I work from home, I still consider myself a SAHM and it is far harder than anyone without kids can imagine.

    I used to let some people get under my skin about spending time on the computer and making "imaginary frinds", but I think in this instance, the internet is a wonderful tool for stay at home parents to have a social life with adults that isn't always possible when you are at home taking care of your kids. It is much easier to socialize with a few key strikes then it would be to pack up the kids and try to take them somewhere (between the different nap times of said kids) to "try" to have an adult conversation with someone. It totally helped me in the early years with my kiddos.


  2. Oh, I get what you're saying here! And I'll admit that I've definitely got days when I think "must be nice to be a SAHM"...but honestly those are my delusional days when I'm just stressing out about things in my life. I'm blessed to have a little of both. Most of the year I'm a working mom, but for a couple of months I'm a SAHM. I tell you what, it's not my forte.

    The majority of SAHMs that I know are, like you, making a career out of the choice to stay with their kids. That is, they're not just home; they're interacting, planning or seizing great opportunities, disciplining, balancing all those different needs and generally putting off their own. They put easily as much thought into most of their days with their kids as I do for my job.

    You know how it is...most of those comments or thoughts come out of a temporary frustration or feeling of being overwhelmed with what's going on in the commenter's own life rather than a judgement of how easy yours is. None of us know what anybody else is really living unless they're there. And for me, while all the craziness can make me, well, crazy...I have the life I chose.

    And balance...I'm just going to put my head under the covers and pretend you never said that word.

  3. I read the whole post. I understand why some comments can get annoying. Because three months a year I am a SAHM I get to see both sides of the "grass".
    I need to emphasize spirituality more. It is the first thing that gets lost and all the sudeen I realize I am worshipping triathlon, or my kids.
    To find balance and peace, I eat cookies! Maybe I need to work on this. :) Have a great weekend.

  4. Great comments kate and Julie! Thanks. I think being a SAHM is what it is and I think that if you do it well, it is challenging but rewarding too! I don't think that it is any harder than working outside the home and trying to juggle family life, etc. I can't imagine what it takes to do this and still feel like you are getting it all done but I think we all need to just respect that we are all working here and one job isn't easier or better than the other...just different.

  5. Heather, thanks for reading my whole post! :) I love your comments. Julie, you're time through typing is so much easier with kids. :)

  6. I just found your blog... and I enjoy reading it a lot, thanks for sharing!

    I burst out laughing at 'wagging my finger with a growl on my face as I try to talk to someone important on the phone and keep my kids at bay'... as I had a picture of myself as I do this exact sme thing! Being a SAHM is one of the most underappreciated jobs. I have to say, it is not as hard in MOST ways as juggling a full time job and kids, but it's not a cakewalk either.

    Balance... I feel sometimes that my husband and marriage take a backseat in my life.I always put the kids first, personal time next, job/home duties, then my hubby gets whatever is left over.
    To find balance and peace, I will often go for a run, somewhere quiet, to reflect on the past day/week, and come home with renewed vigor and a plan to work on whatever is bothering me. I am also lucky to have a couple of good friends to bounce issues off of.

    Kudos to you, in your quest to be a SAHM, it is not a decision you will ever regret. While your kids and other people might not appreciate it, you will always have that satisfaction you did what you felt was right for you and your family. Every situation is different... and some compassion for the naysayers might be needed, as the have either never been a SAHM, or wish they were able to be one.

  7. I love this post! I'm one of those people that WISHES and HOPES one day to be able to stay at home with my boys. But husband is a teacher and that's not going to happen anytime soon! And I have my ups and downs on coming to terms with what my life encompasses and just enjoying and being grateful for all I have.

    And trust me on my days off - I know for sure that staying at home is no picnic...and thankfully my husband stays home all summer with the kids and he also knows how hard it is. So hats of to you for doing it and loving it!

    And good luck with the balance thing...I can't do it...but thankfully running has helped me get the special me time to reflect and just be with myself!

  8. 11 years as a SAHM here. I hear you I hear you. I think my kids are a bit older than yours so I just want to tell you it gets worse....ha ha just teasing. I CHOOSE to be a SAHM and don't regret it for a second.
    I remember one day when my husband was out of town and I hadn't spoken to another adult all day and I called him crying saying "I just can't play Candyland anymore...I just can't" I have 4 kids and my oldest is 11 and he has moved on and I'm still here playing Candyland with my 2 year old.

    A wise leader of my church once said "No success can compensate for Failure in the Home"
    I think this is so true and when I have moments of "No more Candyland" I remind myself that I do have a college degree, I did have a job in my previous life (before children) and I could go get one again but is that what I really want? For me the answer is NO. So many things I want to teach my children and there is so little time to do it. Seems like yesterday I held my first baby, I blinked and now he is 11, too soon he will be out there on his own and I pray I have prepared him enough to face the world and be successful in his own life. My days are my time to be with the little ones, check blogs while they nap or play but when the clock hit's 3:30 that is when my whirlwind starts. Everyone is different and hopefully we can all support each other, working in or out of the home, kids or no kids, hopefully we can all find a way to enjoy the journey.
    To answer your questions:
    1. I read the whole blog
    2. I feel fairly balanced (overall) some days are better/worse than others.
    3. For me personally, praying, going to church keeps me "refueled" I definitely notice when I miss it that things just aren't quite right.

  9. I read the whole post and was having these same feelings last week when someone made a silly SAHM comment on my facebook page. I am blessed to be a SAHM, but I will be honest there are days when I wish that I could put fancy clothes on, talk with adults all day and go out for drinks after, but you know what usually happens my four year old does something funny or my 1o year old gets a good grade on a project and I realize that what I do really matters.
    My balance is my running. I am lucky that all 4 kids are in school now so on days when I am alone I try to make sure I get a run/swim in for a little while. Being injured I have come to realize how much I really count on my daily exercise in order to be a good mom and wife. Am I balanced all of the time, no way, is anyone? but I try my best! Great post Amanda!

  10. The whole judgment thing about SAHMs vs. working moms/working peeps in general drives me crazy! At this stage, shouldn't we all be past it? And yet we're not...

    You're doing a great job and a valuable one at that. Don't let 'em get you down.

    I love it when all things in my life are in balance. Doesn't always happen and when I sense it's not, I try to pull back on whatever is tipping the scale in the wrong direction.

  11. I love staying at home with my daughter. But I only do it part of the time and for part of the year. I felt like I missed out on so much of her first year by not being home with her. Now it is about helping her grow as a person but sometimes I wonder if I should be doing more. I am always worried that I am not doing enough for her. Those darn "your Baby Can Read" commercials make me paranoid.

    My personal balance is running. But I need to figure out how to get my husband better into the mix. We just go, go, go and forget about just being us sometimes.

  12. I don't have kids, but I can understand what you are saying. I imagine being a SAHM is a very hard job, one that I don't know I have in me to do! You are awesome!

  13. One of the main things I think people don't realize about being a SAHM is that you don't get to go home after 8 hours and leave your work problems there. You're pretty much on call 24/7, if by "on call" I mean "at work". Plus, no sick days or vacations.

    That being said, I envy the crap out of you. I look forward to having kids and staying home with them. Not because I think it will be easy, but because it's an amazing, wonderful job.

  14. I did SAH for 5 years before I went back into the workforce. It was EVERY.bit as challenging as going to work. Kudos to you and all that you do and gave up. You're right have a long life ahead of you to accomplish lots of things...any THINGS and right now you're doing something pretty freaking fantastic.

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  16. ah dear...I am a SAHM...and it is the best and HARDEST job on the planet. I adore my kids. I do. but there are days that I want out..I tell Bill I need a new job! It is hard because it has no end. I always thought I would be a work outside the home mom. It was a very difficult decision for me to decide to stay home. I had post partum depression...twice. the first time was worst. I lost myself for a while there. My kids are 18 mos apart. First 2 yrs were hard. Balance is hard to find. The thing that is always left out is Since I started running almost a year ago is better. But not perfect. There are times when I feel like a single parent. Bill works really long hours and sometimes he does not see the kids before they get to bed. So it is all on me. That is a lot of responsabilities! If they fail then it is on me. I am an "older mom" and I am glad I waited. I got to have a career for a few years. It makes me furious to hear people telling me things like "Oh you are JUST a mom!" I always ask "what do you mean by JUST?"

  17. When it hit me how fast this all goes by was when my oldest got his license and started driving and working....i was no longer in the car with him to catch up on what was going on, I only saw him when he happened to be home between school and work and activities. and he only really shared about his life when he felt like talking some nights, late at night...then was when it hit me, this went by SO VERY fast, just like everyone HAD TOLD ME IT WOULD!! (didn't really believe it at the time) ...and i WAS SO VERY GLAD that when given the opportunity, i stayed home and made my family my career....
    It was a huge decision for versus staying home... because both decisions where good situations for me...and all i really knew previously was my job, so staying home was the unknown for me...
    When we could afford it, I chose home.
    It was a huge adjustment too. Took about 2 years for me to unhook from my former life.
    but now, 25 years glad I made the choice to stay home when i could...(still have 2 at home, but starting to think about paid work again...but for now, still working for love)

  18. okay, you KNOW i have something to say about this...but i can't read the whole post right now (GUESS WHY???). i'll be back later to read the rest...

  19. Really, do people say that SHAMS have it easy? WOW! I think they have it SUPER hard. I can close the door of my office and take a nap or surf the net uninterrupted if I want to, but a SHAM can't. Sure, I have work deadlines and stress, but not the constant worry and "whys" that come with being around little people all day. I think some women are better at being SHAMS than others (I would be horrible, and probably my son would end up watching too much TV). I have a ton of respect for SHAMS!

  20. I printed this post.

    I stayed at home with my girls for 6 years. Some of the most rewarding but challenging years:) I remember being so thankful for the opportunity to stay home and loving the constant interaction with my kids but then feeling resentful to my husband at times because he GOT to go to work!! Hours of working doing something I loved while socializing and drinking coffee sounded pretty freakin' good to me some days!! (don't get me wrong-I was so appreciative and thankful of his work ethic and desire to provide for us) So right about a job, engaging with people and needing a social outlet as a SAHM!

    Crawling around like a horse-ha ha! When I was in labor with my 2nd, Joe went off to try to find someone to watch my oldest since the sitter we lined up was nowhere to be found. She only wanted to ride on my back while I crawled around the house like a horse through contractions and she wouldn't get off. Well, I turned into a lame horse that day and physically threw my jockey off after about 5 minutes (onto a soft bed....don't report me). Ahh-reminiscing!! Your kids are so lucky. Getting the best of both worlds-an awesome teacher and a great mommy! Clueless ignorant people would dare to classify your job as easy!!!

    You made just so many excellent points in here-especially the accepting our lots in life paragraph. I have 3 SAHM sisters right now and I would love to show this to them.

    I laughed at #1 because I honestly do that sometimes (OK-maybe even more than sometimes but not on this blog because I seriously eat up what you have to say)! Have a great afternoon watching Dora!!

  21. I always read YOUR posts entirely. There is always a special little nugget of wisdom hiding somewhere. Don't want to miss it!
    I think that staying home with your kids is just a WILD and fun ride but NEVER, ever easy. The strong, the dedicated, the smart and the hard core can do it but it is NOT for the weary little woman. I think it's 80% mental as well. You have to put everyone first and then be wise enough to take care of yourself, when you can.
    I stayed home for four years with my babies but it was very challenging to put teaching aside since I truly loved it so much. Going back was a break!! I did feel fortunate to have a teaching job to return to and it was the best job to have with kids since we went to school together, had the same vacations and played together after school. No day care was wonderful for them and for us.
    I think we should all do what makes us happy since that's what keeps our kids and husbands happy.
    GREAT post and thanks for the HOT comments :) !

  22. Amen! This SAHM read this post 5 hrs ago, is just getting to comment now, and also had the first opportunity to eat lunch at 5pm. But... I love it. Wouldn't change a thing - except maybe be more intentional about feeding myself!

  23. So the hubby and I are contractors. When one of us comes upon work we go for it and the other watches the kids. Right now I have the nuun gig so I work. Its not busy at all right now so we both have this happy bubble.
    We try and live frugally. Well he reigns in my spending :)
    We save as much as we can since our time is worth more than anything. We both agree that we don't want to have these kids and not enjoy them so we homeschool and work unconventionally.
    I get flack for it sometimes but its great that alot of people do get it. Bloggie buddies seem to get it :)
    I dig your office!

  24. so the balance thing. I wish I mangaged my time better. I would like to cross train more and work on strength but can't seem to bring myself to go into the basement and do it.

  25. I think you're lucky to be a SAHM (It took me a while to figure that out at first!) because you get to be a MOM! :-) Yay!!

    Honestly, before I started being a blogger and reading other blogs I never had a thought either way about SAHMs. I didn't think it was a cake walk, but I also never even thought about how much work goes into it at all. Kudos to you! I imagine some times you just want to be in a quiet spot of your own to just enjoy silence and calmness!

    I think right now I am such a pre-race spaz that I don't even know what I DON'T need to balance! I mean everything right now is run run run, pack pack pack, think about my pace, mentally run the course. I can't focus on anything at all! So really, I just need to balance it ALL!

    This is terrible ...when I get stressed and overwhelmed at how much I may have to do ... I procrastinate! I watch a movie. I play silly games on facebook. I decide to organize something. Anything but what I am stressing about.

  26. I always thought it'd be almost easier to go out to work than to stay home and be full-time Mum. I worked from home which was the best of both worlds but an awful lot of juggling. Don't feel bad about your decision. We each do what we think is best and it is a lot of sacrifice both in your career and financially to be a stay-at-homer. But the pay-off in what it does for your kids is worth every bit of the sacrifice.

  27. I love being a SAHM and wouldn't want it any other way. I've been doing it since before I had kids because of my husband's older 6. I get the same comments you mention nice and not. Seems like you do an amazing job navigating the 'balance' angle :) Wish I were able to do it as well!

    This is a wonderful post! Can't believe I almost missed it! Multiple postings in one day…WTG!

  28. Ive been a SAHM for 7 years. vie worked here and there at jobs that only require a minimum of time. These are times that I forget how awesome it is to stay at home with my kids. I wouldn't have it any other way. It is HARD but I wouldn't trade it for any amount of 2 income household has. Like you said everyone is different, but I only have a small amount of time where I get my kiddos all to myself and I get to be such a huge influence on them. I WILL TAKE every moment that I can and sacrifice all that I have to do it! My Ex didn't understand this, and now I am SO VERY blessed to have a husband that would rather me be home then to work! But I understand where you are coming from!

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  30. I rarely get to post comments...ha! I am a SAHM mom with a busy toddler who never seems to let me sit down to my computer to post!!! But, I loved this post! I felt like you were typing my thoughts and feelings out exactly (however, you are more humorous than I am) but I can totally relate. I love being a SAHM but it is HARD!!! I love that I use my master's degree to build forts, collect leaves, take nature walks...but I am so happy with my decision! I feel so blessed that I get to have this time with my child! But so grateful for blogs, e-mail, and social networking to keep me connected and tapped in with other friends and moms!

  31. I read your post last week and have been contemplating it ever since and I must say that I think you nailed it. If there was a "like" option on this post -- I check it off. Thanks for being so honest.

    This is my favorite part: "it is about balancing the life we do have and making the most out of our situations. We all have busy lives and bumps to work through."

    We're all in this together and perhaps it's too "rose colored glasses" to say, but it would be great if we could put aside the working mom vs. SAHM debate and just support each other no matter our situation.

  32. I believe that being a sahm is one of the most selfless and important jobs around. I would have loved to be able to stay at home with my girls, but it was not in the cards for us. I do, however, love my summers at home with them. Your job is just as important as (if not more so) than all those jobs outside of the home. enjoy every minute of it and ignore those naysayers. What you have chosen to do will have life long implications for you and your kids. I applaud you.

  33. Great post, Amanda! I definitely think it would be really tough to be a stay at home mom. I think it's important to keep yourself connected so you don't go nuts! I definitely hope to be a sahm someday!!

    In order to stay balanced I often remember my blessings and see what I can do to try to do more things that make both myself and my family happy. I read an entire book this weekend while I was on my trip. I loved it. Why don't I do it more? That's my new goal.