Monday, January 11, 2010

The SAHM Blues

I hate to admit this but there are (many) days where I wish I was not a SAHM. It's not that I don't love spedning time with my kids. I do. I laugh every day. I am so happy to see their little faces in the morning. I am blessed to see the grow and learn.

But even blessings can get really old, really fast. And having your home also be your "place of work" is hard for me. When I met Billy, he worked out of his apartment. He was part of a start-up company and the other guys were in Chcago (I believe). He traveled there and Europe quite a bit but, for the most part, he was in his 600 sq. ft. one bedroom, working all day. I was astonished that he had the discipline to get anything accomplished because I knew if it were me, I would slack off and procrastinate and probably not do a very good job. I know that I need to be in a certain place and have a certain frame of mind to be productive. And I know that place is not the same place I eat and sleep and relax. So, I often feel unmotivated being at home all day.

And, if I'm being really honest, quite trapped. Having twin 13 month olds is never going to be easy, per se. But sometimes I feel that my job as their mom is exacerbated by the fact that I say at home with them all day and don't have another adult around for up to 4 days at a time. Running errands is a project, not a quick hop-in-the-car-run-into-the-store-get-what-you-need outing. Cooking is something I enjoy but lately, I just don't have the energy to cram it into the 2-hour opportunities I get during naps and after bedtime. I won't even talk about a social life.

I'm sure a lot of you are nodding along and thinking, "hey, just go back to work. We won't judge you." And sometimes I consider that. But my unique issue is that I don't have a job, or career, to go back to. I was in the middle of switching "careers" yet again (I'm so Gen Y) when we were trying to get pregnant. I wanted to become a high school math teacher and was working my way toward that goal. I got my certificate while I was working part time at a local school. Then I applied to a teacher residency program with BPS. And I got accepted! It would train me, in a classroom, for 13 months and then I would graduate to my own classroom. I would automatically have a job once I finished my residency. It was perfect. But then I got pregnant. With twins. And a hard core residency program didn't really seem to fit in with that. I would be delivering the kidlets half way through my term and I didn't want to leave my babies when they were weeks old.

So, I am kind of in limbo. I could go back to the residency program but, again, I'm pregnant so I face the same dilemma. And I'm not sure if I really want to not be a SAHM or if I just have a case of "the grass is greener on the other side." I know the struggle so many couples go through when they both work. And if something comes up with the kids, it's on me to leave work and deal with it because Billy is almost always an airplane ride away. My guess is I won't feel this way once they are in preschool. Countdown 'til Fall 2011...?

15 comments:

  1. Tough situation. Personally I know I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom so while I wasn't ready to return to work after 3 months now I can't imagine not having Cameron in daycare. They end up doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to art work or other learning activities. I'm just not that creative! I think one thing you'd need to consider carefully is the childcare costs for 3 kids. Unfortunately most teachers don't make that much money...

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  2. I never saw myself as a SAHM until I had quads. We simply can't afford child care. We fortunate to have a family member watch my girls once a week and I can work part-time. It's only retail, but we need the extra income. I keep talking about going back to work full-time when my girls are in first grade, but I will have been out my field for so long that I just don't know if it will work.

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  3. I do think you'll feel different when they are in school but it is a hard 4 years to get there (before all 3 are in school). It is wonderful you are home with them but I feel the challenges of running errands on the weekend. I feel guilty during the week if I leave them during our ONE HOUR together each morning to put in laundry - at least you can spread out your quality time. Sometimes having a career is just as much pressure - to work - and because you can't imagine not having a job. If you can swing it why not have a babysitter come in one or two afternoons a week and you can tutor kids in math at a local school? Use a teenager. Get in the routine NOW before the baby is born.

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  4. Having been doing this for 4 years, I'd recommend developing some sort of system to organize your day and increase productivity. Really, I think we Moms need routines as much as the kids. I'm a member of Flylady, not because I need the cleaning help, but because it is a ready made system with support emails. SAHMs don't get a lot of positive feedback or support, but Flylady is all about positive reinforcement and I feel less alone. It's really amazing how much less annoying it is to grocery shop with the kids when I know ahead of time that I'll be doing my shopping every Tuesday at 10:30.

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  5. how abouuuuuut, training a BABYSITTER for petes sake?! you need to be able to do those things (run errands, go shopping, etc.) when you need to quickly w/o having to worry about packing up 2, then 3, kids! it's really not that hard to watch the twins, i should know :) i know it's hard to let go but honestly, it will be worth it!

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  6. I have those days too, I totally get it. My hubby works for his families business, and I get him home most of the time. :( Do you have anyone to help with the kids while you get out? Even if I get out for 30 minutes, its great to get away.

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  7. @Fav Auntie: It's really not about me letting go. I have to say that its 95% cost issue. For me to feel like having a sitter is worth TO ME, it would have to be a lot of hours per week and that's just not affordable for us on one income. Even if I pay a teenager, that's still $10/hour (MINIMUM!!) and if she worked just 2 afternoons per week, that's $240/month! That's a significant addition to a monthly income that's already stretched thin. We save a decent amount of money but I wouldn't stop that just so I can have a sitter. And to be honest, I'm not sure I would feel very different if I had someone come for 6 hours a week. Soon, we will have to shell out serious cash for preschool and I think its wise to suck it up now and save that money.

    @Rhonda: I'm a FLYlady member too and I really did like it but I had a hard time keeping up with it. It's 100% my fault - I just lost the motivation. It is kind of a New Year's resolution to get back on the wagon, so to speak. Following her guidelines definitely made me feel more in control and way more productive.

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  8. How about giving yourself one 6 hr block per weekend when Billy's home? I used to go out for two hours once a week after Aaron got home (but he only travels 1x day per week) just for some time without kids/for me. Re: during the week - if you do private tutoring you can charge money and still have some left over after paying the babysitter. Standing playdates are good ideas during the week if you can swing it (for some schedule) and our nanny has built circle time into the prenap routine and a few other thigns we can talk about when I see you this Saturday. I'm burnt out about my job so you can listen to me vent about that in return. :)

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  9. Totally nodding along, of course. I have definitely hit various points where I was burned out on the whole SAHM thing. That's when I need to shake it up. Are you taking any classes? Regular scheduled outings keep me sane. Maybe Music Together? Your kids are old enough, and there's one pretty close to you. One way or another, sounds like it's time for a routine change, even if MAJOR shakeups (like going back to work) aren't quite in the cards. Babysitter? Playgroup? Together in Motion? Something, clearly.

    Also, though I wouldn't exactly rush to change it, I suspect you're pretty burned out on the restrictions of the two-nap schedule. While I missed that morning break when it went away, once we were on a single nap, a lot of other things opened up as possibilities.

    So, that's my vote. Shake it up, try some new activities, change your routine. That helped me get through the burnout phases.

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  10. I have been thinking about this alot lately. WIth the next child I may stay home for a few years. As much as I would love to spend every second with my children I am nervous about "working" at home. I get in those ruts you describe after a couple vaction or weekend days. Can I possibly do it everyday??? Then I think I will just keep us busy with music lessons, community meeting, etc. But seriously??? That all sounds great but I know its not so easy. Those little things require so much work to pack up and get there.

    I think what I need is a part time job that doesn't require me to bring home any stress or work. Does that exist? I am sick of doing 2 hours of work after I put Gemma to bed, do the dishes, cook dinner and pack up for the next day.


    Paul travels alot (not as much a Billy) and I make sure to get some "me" time. Last week he was gone 7 days to Dallas. I had 2 nights out. One night I went to a memorial service and the other night to the gym. I hire high school girls. They come over at 7 right when I have put Gemma to bed. All they have to do it watch TV! its so easy.

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  11. Right there with you, right down to being in the middle of a switch to a teaching career and discovering that 1) we can't afford daycare on a starting teacher's salary and 2) my husband's job means he's mostly unavailable to help with last minute problems so it would fall mostly to me. Anyway, don't have great solutions, just commiseration since I'm in the same rut.

    Well, okay, one suggestion: no matter how much of a drag it is, get out and do something with the kids. It's almost always worth it. Take them to lunch, or out to coffee, or for a playdate with friends. It can be a drag, and so much work (even MORE when the new baby comes), but it keeps the day and week from dragging on and on. Good luck!

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  12. Yeah, I think we've all been there. I do a bit of parttime work, but am home alone with the kids 95% of the time.

    I'm with Liz-shake it up! Add in a class, a regular playgroup---some structure to your week. I found that when they were babies I didn't need this as much, but as they became toddlers, I really did. We did music together, gymnastics (Little Gym is easy with them when they're younger), storytime at the library...stuff like that. I also think that the occasional babysitter is money well spent, even if you don't save as much. With your husband traveling, you don't have the luxury that many of us do to go out in the evening---that's when I do my "me" stuff, like dinner with friends, work, yoga. If you can spend a little money and enjoy your kids more, then it's worth it. That's one of the reasons my kids are in preschool two mornings a week right now, even though they really shouldn't have started until next year.

    As for social life, I've found mine consists much more of afternoon playdates, Saturday mornings at the Children's Museum and things like that. I've found developing a support group of other moms really helps. Many of us get together if you ever want to get out and vent...let me know.

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  13. I totally understand how you feel. I love being home with my 3, but I get lonely for adult interaction especially after being a social worker and having my job consist of interacting with people. I am finding a lack of connections with other adults. I also can understand the career issue. I had just gotten my MSW 2 months before I got pregnant with Michael then I got pregnant with the twins 3 months after I had Michael. My goal was to branch out and do something other than nursing home social work and now I am starting to wonder if I want to be a social worker at all. Thanks for writing this post. everyones comments have really helped me get some ideas on how to increase my interaction and get out of the house more.

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  14. I should post about the transition from working mom to SAHM...between you and mommy esq!
    After reading the comment the only idea I can add is: Can you join a gym or community center with free babysitting? We recently joined the Y. For up to 2 hours a day I can drop the kiddos off at the playroom and take a class ALL FOR ME! Or just sit by myself somewhere. It makes for the perfect chance to break up the day and a big difference to my sanity!

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