The MOST Difficult Thing About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

The MOST Difficult Thing About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

All jobs have pros and cons, but one thing makes being a stay-at-home mom extra taxing.

By: Lorraine Allen

Being a stay-at-home mom, like any other occupation, has upsides and downsides. It’s great to get to see your little ones grow, hour by hour, and be there for each smile, giggle, boo-boo, and new challenge. “My mom was never around, and though I miss my career, I am so grateful to enjoy this time with my kids,” shares Ming, a mom of three in New York. At the same time, it’s also really hard to be there for every single tantrum, potty fiasco, sibling fight, and new challenge. “Taking care of kids all day is the hardest job I’ve ever had!” exclaims Suzie, a former finance manager and mom of two in Massachusetts. But what exactly is the hardest thing about it? I asked 30 stay-at-home moms what they thought, and their answers were overwhelmingly the same (24/30 agreed!):

The hardest thing is “more personal” than any of the challenges of child rearing, reveals Irene, a mom of twins in New York and former pediatric neurosurgeon. It goes way deeper than the frustrations of endless meltdowns, arguments, and messes. “It’s the feeling that you’ve lost your self, somehow, and everything that you were before,” she shares. And this, as we all know too well, is a crucial element to feeling balanced, and to living a full, healthy, and happy life.

Riva, a mom of one in Texas echoes this feeling. “Not only do you give up your salary, intellectual focus, and entire former lifestyle for your kids, but people also seem to stop seeing you or speaking to you as anything but a mom,” she shares.

“You so quickly lose all sense of identity of the adult you were before becoming a mom,” agrees Sarah, an architect in New York who stayed home for six years with her two kids.

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The wife, the career woman, the coworker – all those facets of yourself feel like they vanish. Without an individual identity being recognized and appreciated, anyone would feel lost. “It’s true, you even look different because you’re not dressing for work. You’re dressing for house cleaning, block-building, somersaulting, and soccer playing instead,” says Marina, a former assistant college professor and mom of two in Connecticut.

Another part of “losing yourself” is the sense that you’re “losing sight of personal goals” when you stay at home too, says Rachel, an advertising executive and mom of two in New York. “All my new goals became family centered,” she shares.

Many stay-at-home moms feel even more alienated because they lose touch with their adult networks, which further separates them from the people they were before, and from their more balanced, personal selves. “It’s unbelievably hard to even find time to talk on the phone or send an email anymore,” adds Marina. “And that’s so hard!” How can a mom stay connected and in touch with friends and colleagues, if she can never communicate with them anymore?

These stay-at-home moms all agreed that to help maintain or regain a sense of self, it’s important to get out without kids, on a regular basis. “It’s the only time I feel I can reconnect with myself,” says Irene. Anything a mom does on her own, that’s not for her whole family, can help her feel more balanced, once again. It might be taking classes, visiting a museum, reading a book, or taking a trip.


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Working on personal relationships outside the home is important too. “Whenever I make the time to see my friends, or do something on my own, I feel so much happier, and more sane,” says Elaine, a librarian mom of one in New Jersey. In the end, there are many ways to regain your sense of self, moms agree, if you make it a priority.

“I started working out regularly and found it’s a great way to make new friends, regain my body strength, AND set personal goals that brought an important sense of achievement back into my life,” says Erin, a former high school teacher and mom of two in New York.

So while it seems that many stay-at-home moms feel they’ve lost touch with themselves by making a full-time job of parenthood, it’s also clear that this feeling can be alleviated when moms take the time to nurture who they are, and not only their kids. To focus on all that they’ve studied and worked hard to achieve, before becoming moms. To respect and follow their dreams and personal goals, beyond raising a family: This, it seems, helps bring back the healthy balance that gets lost for moms who give it all up for their kids. And restores their very important, personal sense of self.

What do you feel is the hardest part about being a stay-at-home mom?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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