My husband and I have been married for 10 years, and until this past September, he had a fairly predictable weekday pattern: he got up and went to work 5 days a week, for at least 8 hours a day.
I’d like to say that he came home every day to a clean house and dinner, but once we had children and I became a stay-at-home mom – sometimes that was true. Other days, it was not anywhere close.
As any stay-at-home mom knows, days with kids can be unpredictable, so when Brad would call on his way home each day, I got into the habit of recounting what I’d spent my day doing. My sweet husband would say, “You don’t have to defend your day.”
Brad didn’t understand my need to pinpoint any tasks from the day that I managed to complete that weren’t immediately undone by our three boys or us just living in our house, or why I was always marking the moments when the boys and I got to make crafts or cookies or go on a little adventure together.
My husband didn’t get it until his position at work was eliminated during restructuring last September. Suddenly he found himself with a front row seat and a backstage pass to the everyday reality of my life as a stay-at-home mom while he looked for a new job.
Now he understands what it means like never before, and I’ve asked him to share what he’s learned during his time “off” about life for a stay-at-home mom. Here’s what Brad had to say:
What I’ve Learned About My Wife’s Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom
When I was working a regular 9-5 job, I thought I had a good idea of what my wife’s day looked like. I knew it was busy, and that some days were better than others. It was cleaning the house and staying with the kids.
I didn’t realize how chaotic it could be, even with just two of our three at home during the day. This was, of course, after Kishona got them all out the door in the morning to drop off our oldest at school. (She also had to take the younger two back out later to pick him up in the afternoon, which usually meant waking one or both up from a nap.)
I was at work, so I didn’t see every meltdown or spilled cup or random boo-boo she dealt with throughout her day.
I also didn’t realize that the housework was as frequent or constant as it is. I thought things would stay neater or tidier a bit longer.
But one thing that I quickly noticed when I was staying home was that the daily chores are nonstop – dishes, vacuuming, laundry, cooking, having the kids pick up their toys or cleaning up after them.
Also, when working a day job outside of the house, you can call it quits after 8 hours without the fear that tomorrow (or even as short as an hour later), you might have to redo it all again.
Now I notice the dirty socks on the floor and the dishes in the sink. And I realize that training the boys to help with chores, like actually getting their dirty clothes into the hamper, requires a lot more patience and effort on my part.
Meanwhile, our one-year-old is bouncing from one thing to the next all day long – jolting to the stairs, pulling things from the cabinet, splashing in the dog’s water dish.
Then with Elijah at school, Josiah is missing his main playmate and can be needy for someone to do stuff with, too.
During the day, you can’t just run a quick errand. You have to get everyone’s shoes on, get them out the door, and get them loaded into the car. That’s assuming you already had them dressed for the day.
I don’t know how Kishona doesn’t feel trapped sometimes. When I was going to work or driving here and there, I kind of got a break. I don’t have to have the kids with me every moment of the day even now. I haven’t experienced the “joys” of getting all three children ready to go anywhere or having them all day by myself. Or taking them grocery shopping with me. Or getting up with Isaiah as often in the night.
Plus taking a random nap in the middle of the day isn’t an option unless you know everyone else is asleep, and it’s not time to pick up Elijah from school.
I expected that Kishona would have a lot more downtime during naptime, too. But I’ve learned that it’s not always consistent between the two boys, or not as easy to get them to sleep, and they may not sleep as long some times.
And I think I actually feel more tired at night now than I did at the end of a regular work day. It’s pretty exhausting keeping up with the boys and the house all day.
But the day isn’t even the end of it. Once our older two are in bed, our youngest still stays up until 10:30pm or later because he won’t sleep longer than an hour if he goes down any earlier. He also doesn’t sleep through the night yet despite our efforts.
Being at home day in, day out, gives me more of an overwhelming feeling of responsibility and ownership. Never have I felt more compelled to clean the house because I realize that if we don’t do it now, we will have to do it sooner or later (And worse yet, dragging my feet means Kishona will do it all without my help, like she’s used to).
There’s also all the behind-the-scenes planning and organizing that I still don’t have to worry about because she does it, like our schedules and doctor appointments, birthday party planning, switching out the kids’ clothes as they grow or change seasons, and more, along with most of the cooking and meal planning.
Even still, Kishona seems to feel a lot less liberty than I do to get distracted with something random, like stuff she would just want to do, like reading or working on her blog. Even getting to watch something on TV for a short bit is hard won. Sometimes the only way she might catch a program is if she watches something on her phone while doing dishes or folding laundry.
She’s also more aware, I think, about the need to train our children in their spiritual walk throughout the day because she’s with them all day long. She’s good about showing our boys how to put their faith into action, like on our family vacation. She doesn’t try to spiritualize everything, but she knows the importance of including God and our relationship with Him in our everyday lives in ways that our children remember and take to heart. She’s quicker to catch the instances when things might have transitioned from the natural to the supernatural or the everyday to eternal, where we might need to pray about a situation or attitude or take advantage of a teachable moment with our children.
However, being at home isn’t all work and pressing responsibilities. There have been plenty of bonuses and blessings that I’ll miss once I’m back at work.
I’ve had more time than ever before to bond with my children. I’ve gotten to witness more of Isaiah’s milestones than I did for my older two boys. I’m hearing his new words each day and watching him discover new ways to get into things. 🙂 Some days I get to snuggle him to sleep at naptime and see his sleepy grins when he first wakes up.
I’ve also been able to deepen my relationship with Elijah and Josiah through time spent reading with them, playing together, being here for the daily conversations, and even being present to discipline them as needed.
Taking Elijah to school every morning, I was the one who prayed over his day and saw him walk (sometimes run…) into his school building. Picking him up from school meant that I was the first one to hear how his day went and the first to offer help and encouragement when he had a rough day.
I also get to spend more time with my wife, but honestly, with two or three kids around, our attention is still divided and distracted. Sneaking in a kiss or two and even being able to witness how she handles this whole mothering thing have been special. I’ve also been able to contribute more to giving her breaks and lightening her load (somewhat).
While this time wasn’t what I thought was ideal in the beginning, it’s given me the opportunity to be more involved in my family’s everyday lives, and it will be time that I cherish.
This time has taught me that being a stay-at-home mom requires diligence, perseverance, multitasking, patience, planning, and an awareness of everyone, as well as a resilience and positive mentality when things are not going as planned or when tasks are piling high. It’s more than just damage control, cleaning house, or “keeping kids alive.”
It’s making sure there is peace and order when the older two want to fight or be too adventurous in the middle of dinner prep. It’s doing laundry again today, even though you thought you did it all yesterday. It’s making sure your child eats something other than peanut butter and jelly this week. It’s juggling housework, homework, and playtime constantly. It’s getting cuddled with off and on all day long. It’s taking an entourage of little people nearly everywhere you go, even to the bathroom. It’s witnessing your child’s pride in brand new accomplishments, like climbing the door frame or getting the LEGO building completed. It’s being content to put your family’s needs ahead of your own and still managing to find a moment for yourself (and your sanity). (Actually, I guess this could be said of all moms – stay-at-home, working-outside-the-home, or working-from-home.)
It’s definitely not easy. But it is definitely special.
So after my months of being at home and seeing most of what it’s like for my wife in her role as a stay-at-home mom, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that, while I love the extra time I’ve had with my family, I’d never want to change places with her. I’ve learned a greater appreciation for her (and all stay-at-home moms) and all that she does in this rewarding, but often-thankless, job.
Moms, you are amazing!
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Day 4: What I’ve Learned About My Wife’s Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom, Told By a Dad at Home Unexpectedly by Me 🙂