Tell me if these thoughts sound as common to you, as they do to me:
“If I could work fewer hours during the week or stay home with my child(ren), maybe my house could actually stay clean for more than one day!”
“I wonder what kind of well thought out and more time consuming homemade meals I could serve for dinner if I was a stay at home mom?”
“If I were home right now, I could be finishing projects x, y, and z, but they will be pushed to the side once again because I will be earning a paycheck.”
“I wonder what experiences with my child I am missing out on by having 6-8 hours less time with him/her each day during the work week.”
“How can I earn enough money from home to somehow make up for not getting a steady income?”
“Will I ever be able to work fewer hours or stay home with my child, like my heart desires to, and like I feel I was made to do?”
These are thoughts I have at least once per week; they are usually the result of coming home yet again to a fairly shambled house and knowing that I have one of two options-I can relax because I’m tired from the work day or I can start a load of laundry, pick up the living room floor, put away the dishes, etc. These thoughts of mine are not surprising to me because I’d say about 50% of my mama friends stay home with their kiddos or work a few days per week versus 5. Naturally, I wonder what it’s like for them. Truthfully, I struggle with envying them or thinking their daily life is the stuff of fairy tales (insert laughter from stay-at-home moms who could tell you otherwise).
Maybe you can relate or maybe you totally can’t. It could be that you absolutely love your job and can’t imagine leaving it, even if it meant having more time with your kids at home. Maybe the first thing you picture when you imagine yourself as a stay at home mom is complete and total chaos and a slow descent into a frazzled existence; you can’t imagine not having the break from your kiddos that work offers or the socialization with other adults.
Maybe you’re like me and truly desire to stay home or work part-time but currently cannot see how it would ever work out financially. Maybe you’re discouraged and feel judged by other women who have told you that it’s possible; there’s always a way to make staying home work. Maybe you know in your heart of hearts, that it’s not possible for your family, at least right now, and in this stage of your life. Bills have to be paid, groceries have to be bought, student loans need to be paid off…the list goes on; right now, that means 2 incomes for your household.
I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party-I do enough of that on my own time when I feel like my desires are unreachable. My purpose in writing this post is to offer some encouragement for my own heart, as well as yours, if you find yourself working outside the home instead of staying home with young children, as you desire. Let’s face it-being a wife, a mom, and working outside the home can be very wearing. It can add extra pressure and a time crunch that stay at home moms may or may not understand, at least not in the same way.
I was able to speak with a friend at a women’s retreat this past spring about the desires of my heart. She asked what they were and I was surprised-not that she would care, but because nobody had ever asked me that before. I feel like my desires are typically tucked away somewhere deep, and not often brought into the light because they don’t often seem attainable.
Anyway, she encouraged me to pray about the desires of my heart because God puts them there for a reason. He has a specific plan for my life that is unique to me and nobody else. If my memory serves me correctly, I think I’ve prayed maybe once or twice about staying home-for clarity, for wisdom, for encouragement, etc. It can be hard to wait for something you long for, but feel may not happen for quite some time.
In searching my thoughts for practical ways to maintain a hopeful and encouraged spirit when you are a mom that works outside the home, this is what I have come up with….keep in mind that I am making this list just as much for myself as I am for you:
- Pray. Pray for God’s peace each morning when you wake to get ready for the work day and ask for a heart of gratitude-being grateful that God has provided a job for you in which you can use the skills and abilities He has given you. Pray for eyes to see and know the most important things to accomplish when you do get home so that the evening with your family can be the most relaxed and enjoyable. Pray for energy to keep going when you feel like you just spent it all at work and you could make a book long checklist of the things that need your attention when you clock out at your workplace. Read some encouraging Bible verses to help set the tone for your day, such as those found in: Phil. 4:12-13, Isaiah 12:2, Phil. 2:14-16, Joshua 1:9, Eccles. 1:9, Col. 3:1, and Phil. 3:14.
- Look for ways you can be a light for the Lord at your workplace. Maybe that means offering to pray for your supervisor when she is having a stressful day or going out of your way to encourage someone who could use an extra helping hand. Offer a genuine, positive comment to someone in the midst of what can sometimes be a negative work environment.
- Talk to other working moms about any tips they may have about juggling a marriage, the kids, a job, the housework, meals, etc. Some women, I have found are very skilled at time management and can offer some simple tips to help you feel less crazy because they’ve “been there, done that,” and know what helps.
- Maintain open communication with your husband if you are feeling overwhelmed with the weight of juggling it all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the kids, picking up a few things at the store, daycare drop-off, etc. It takes two to make a baby 😉
- Try to think through a list of things at night before you go to bed, that could help make your morning run more smoothly. Some of these things could be laying out your clothes and your child(ren)’s clothes for the next day, setting the coffee pot to start brewing at a certain time, taking a shower before bed instead of rushing to do so in the morning, making sure you have everything you need to take to work near your purse, the door, etc.
- Recognize that being a stay at home mom comes with its own set of challenges. There are pros and cons to most things and the grass may not always be greener on the other side. According to a few stay at home moms I’ve talked to, staying home every day with your kids can mean that you are with them for 14 or more waking hours per day, leaving you feeling like you are in desperate need of some alone time. Sometimes being a stay at home mom can leave a woman feeling lonely and isolated, as much of her social interaction is with little people who either cannot talk, talk constantly, or cannot hold a conversation at your level.The house can actually be messier more often because the kids are at home to make a mess during the day, more dishes are dirtied due to 3 meals at home during the day, etc. The daily routine of staying home can become mundane with not a lot of change, etc. I’m sure stay-at home moms could make a pros and cons list to staying home much longer than I can!
- Acknowledge the fact that you cannot do it all. This means that your house is not going to look like Martha Stewart’s. Your meals may include frozen pizza, mac ‘n cheese, corn dogs, etc. at least one or several days per week. The laundry may pile up and look like it’s going to encompass your entire basement. You may not look as done up as a fashion model magazine when you leave for work in the morning-in fact your shower may look like dry shampoo, your makeup may look like just the bare minimum or nothing at all, and you may not always arrive to work early…or on time for that fact. (That last minute poopy diaper could have happened at a later time than when you’re about to go out the door!) You are not a Pinterest working mom who can perfectly super-mom juggle it all. You are a woman who is blessed to be a mom, who can juggle many things, not all, but many with the help of your creator.
- Know and believe that not staying home with your kids does not make you an inferior mom. You are making a sacrifice for your family and helping to provide for your family’s needs by working outside of the home. If you and your husband have reached the agreement that it is best for you to be working and helping to provide financially at this time, you are acting in obedience to the Lord in submitting to your husband’s leadership in this area.
You may never be able to stay at home with your kiddos or you may someday, but have to wait for the time being. Whatever the situation, God is still in control and has His guiding hand on you as a mother-stay at home or not. Bless you, working mamas!