#003: Stay at Home Moms, Your Job is Just as Hard as Your Husband's
Stay at home moms, I wanna tell you something I wished someone would have told me when I first started staying at home. What you do day in and day out is just as hard as your husband's day job outside of the home. Because when you don't have the right perspective, you will cut yourself short of the rest you need in order to love your family in the most loving and joyous way. How do I know? Cause I've been there.
My husband does physical labor. He works 11-12 hours a day, 5 days a week; and on Saturdays he works till 2. That sums up to a total of over 60 hours a week.
That's a lot of physically-draining work. Most nights he comes home tired and spent.
I, on the other hand, stay home with the kids. I get up early to write before the kids get up and I write when the kids are taking their naps. Throughout the day when they're awake, I sprinkle work in as I see fit. But mostly, I'm feeding them, playing with them, running errands with them, and taking them places to burn off the energy.
For someone who's never taken care of kids allll day long, you'd think, "so, what's the problem here? What's so exhausting about it? Sounds like a vacation to me."
Well, I can tell you that taking care of littles is emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining.
When you have little kids with you all day long, you're not just playing with them. It's not all rainbows and sunshine and unicorns. You're disciplining them; you're training them. Your limits are getting pushed as they push your button again and again. You get lots of precious opportunities to get sanctified throughout the day. Seriously.
So a lot of times, by the end of the day, I'm tired and spent.
I want some time to myself... without an energetic little person doing flips over my shoulder... without a whiny little person whining about whatever it is he can't seem to live without.
So I draft out this plan in my head: as soon as when he walks in I'm gonna peace out. See ya.
Well, maybe not quite literally. But - you know what I mean - I really want some alone time to recharge.
But as soon as my husband walks in, I see how tired and drained and exhausted he is - how he just wants to unwind by himself - in that moment, I think, how could I peace out? I don't need some time to myself, right? I can do this. I've been doing this all day long anyway, I can handle another couple hours before the kids go to bed.
This whole scenario would repeat itself time after time for weeks. And in those weeks, I gradually become less and less patient; I yell more and more. The expectation I have for myself as a mom - the gentle in spirit, the opening her mouth with wisdom, the teaching of kindness on her tongue - that kinda mom? Well, it's pretty much nonexistent at this point. I'm more of a grumpy-old-man-who's-ticked-off-at-everything kind of mom.
Standing where my heart is (this grumpy old man place) and looking at where I want my heart to be (this gentle, loving, joyous, patient, kind, heavenly place)... I feel like an onlooker from far away like I probably won't reach that destination. I feel downcast... I feel hopeless.
You can't compare your husband's hard with your hard
Mamas, you don't have to go down this rabbit hole of wanting time to recharge but feeling guilty for taking time to yourself and for feeling hopeless when you can't get that me-time.
It starts by adopting the right kind of view of what you do day in and day out.
You are not babysitting your children. You are caring for them and teaching them to go according to God's way. You are building up godly characters who you prayerfully hope will follow God with all their hearts some day. It is not rainbows and sunshine. In fact, it is emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining. And you can't continually do this without rest, without refreshing your soul.
Your husband works hard but so do you. Your husband could use some time to unwind but so do you.
You can't compare your husband's hard with your hard. No one wins. Because his kind of hard work is a different kind of hard than yours. Both are hard work. Both require time to recharge.
I'm not asking you to peace out as soon as your husband walks through the door. That is probably not loving nor helpful. But. Talk to your husband, work something out where you'll have a devoted time to get unfrazzled and refreshed. Make it a regular part of your life so your battery isn't sucked dry. Because you need that rest. You can't go on like this forever. It doesn't work that way.
A few me-time ideas that have worked for my family
Keep in mind that these are ideas that have worked for my family at times. As life changes we adjust. Your family works differently but I hope these ideas might spark some light bulbs in you.
I sneak out of the house Sunday morning before everyone is up. I spend a couple hours at a coffee shop. Read my bible and do whatever gives me joy. This works because then I don't feel like I'm taking away from my family time. Because, my family is still asleep.
I schedule me time in advance. After I lay the kids down for their naps on Saturday/Sunday, I leave the house for a couple hours. That way I don't feel like I'm putting too much on my husband's shoulder and he can kinda relax too when the kids are napping.
I stay up late when everyone is in bed. In the quiet hours at night, it can be incredibly refreshing to just be alone. Sometimes I browse the internet. I've also heard of moms who clean during this time, it's therapeutic.
Swap me-time/play dates with local mom friends. If you feel like you need some alone time to yourself, your local mom friend probably feels the same way. It might be a good idea for you to watch her kids for a couple hours this week so she can recharge. And then next week she'll watch yours so you can recharge as well.
Mamas, don't let yourself go too long without refreshing your souls. Your job is too hard and too important NOT to get recharged. Go ahead and put that on your schedule this week to recharge.
Photo Credit: Alabaster Jar Photography
Podcast music: Sunny Holidays & Summertime by Nicolai Heidlas