Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Being a Stay-at-Home Parent is Harder Than Being a Working Parent

Now before you slay me with your rantings about how you work very hard and staying home is all trips to the zoo and eating bon bons while the kids nap, please know that I am also a working (outside the home) parent. I only know my own perspective, and that is one of a mama who goes off to my cubicle home every day. I leave my two kids home with the most hardworking, patient and loving man in the world: my husband.

If you had asked me who works harder -- a staying home parent or a working parent -- when we only had one, adorable, perfectly-behaved baby or toddler, I may have answered differently. I certainly came to work many, many days going "Seriously? They're taking a walk to the park today and I'm sitting through a 4-hour conference call?" But boy, have things changed. We now have an out-of-control toddler and an infant. Talk about a busy day-job!

My hubby calls me sometimes at work needing advice. Like "When I dropped him off at preschool, he was hysterical. Should I go back and get him?" or "He has completely destroyed his room and, oh, wait now he's just peed on the floor. How would you handle it?" or "I had to let the baby cry herself to sleep today so I could get him dressed to leave the house. In the end, I left him in what he wore yesterday and to bed last night. Is that okay?"

So at least I get a glimpse of the world at home when I'm not there. And I get to feel a little bit a part of the parenting choices. But really, I sit here in my cush office, eating a leisurely lunch filled with conversation about TV and what everyone's going to be up to this weekend. Meanwhile, he's trying to slap together something, anything that one will eat will simultaneously putting a bottle in the other. Those of you out there with 3, 4, 5 do you survive? How do you get through each day? Seriously, my husband needs to know. Could you shoot him an email?

Of course some days are better than others, but I just can't imagine a job harder than raising kids. They are one minute adorable, sweet, fun-loving huggers and the next urinating, screeching, fighting sassy-faces. Even my worst day at work does not involve cleaning up anyone else's soiled underpants, or explaining why it's not okay to go outside in 3 degree weather without a coat on.

So to my hubby, Mr. Pumpkin, I say: you are doing an amazing job, and you are a great dad. Even if some days you'd like to fire yourself and/or hire a nanny, or you feel like there's nothing at all graceful or admirable about what you're doing, you are awesome.


Lisa at Lil Fish Studios said...

I used to manage large groups of people, handle complex underwriting issues, deal with unhappy customers and demanding insurance agents. I used to fire people who would cry in my office and tell me about the family they needed to feed. I would feel guilt when I dropped my son off at daycare and he would cry at the window.

Now that I am home with my kids, I can tell you without any hesitation that my new "job" is far more difficult than anything I've ever done. Without question.

Yes, it's the most important one I'll do, and yes, it is worth it, and yes, they are my joys. But...

There isn't a break. My kids don't respect bathroom breaks or lunchtimes. They tag-team me and they do incredibly creative destructive things to my house, etc. And the pay sucks...


About once a month I reach my breaking point and either head out alone for a while or send hubby and the kids out of the house so I can just hear myself think for a while and kind of re-center. I only come back or allow them to return once I'm clear.

My situation might be a little extreme because we don't live in town and don't have access to neighbors or babysitters, but I think that most people who stay home with the kids feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed at times. Hang in there, pumpkin family.

Pin and Paper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pin and Paper said...

It'll all be worth it in the end. At least that's what we tell ourselves. I work outside the home and my husband is home during the day with our 2 kids.

That isn't his only job though, he works the second shift at a call center. So basically we see each other for 15 min. each day between the time I get home from work and he gets ready to leave for work and most of that time is spent recapping what the kids did/need to do.

I like to say that we both have 2 jobs, our corporate jobs and then our single parent gigs.

It's rough and it takes a toll on our sanity and our marriage but it has its rewards as well.

Thankfully my children are a little older, 7 and 4, so we don't have to deal with bottles and diapers anymore but those things are replaced with soccer practices and homework and sibling rivalry.

The thing that keeps us going is knowing that we're raising our kids ourselves. They're not being raised by babysitters or daycare center employees, they're being raised by us, in our own home and that's something that they may not appreciate but it's something that means a lot to us.

So hang in there and keeping fighting the good fight. My best piece of advice is to take time for yourselves. If possible, ship the kids off to Grandma's for a weekend every month, that saves us quite a bit.

Jen said...

Tell Mr. Pumpkin he's doing a rockin' job raising two rad kids. We love you all!

Anonymous said...

Oh man. I really love kids, but now that everyone is having them and I spend a lot more time with them... I love them in a different way now.

It is NO joke, kids are certifiably maniacs! Props to your good husband and great daddy. He's doing a great job.