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Why Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Is Nothing Like Being a Nanny

When my husband and I first got married a decade ago, I took a part-time job as a nanny for two little boys. They were super sweet and I really loved them, but I found taking care of small children exhausting and fairly dull. So after five months I quit and got a desk job.

Five years later, I had a child of my own, and I left my job to stay home with her.

To my enormous relief, being a stay-at-home-mom was almost nothing like being a nanny.

1. You are the boss

There's none of that "Well, my mom lets me eat cookies for breakfast" (doubtful) or "I'm telling my dad that you wouldn't let us watch that show!" For better or worse—but usually better—the buck stops with you.

2. You don't HAVE a boss

Being a nanny felt like a job, which meant I didn't feel like I could just sit around on the couch or read a book while the kids were awake. As a stay-at-home mom? I can set my toddler up with a stack of books and take a nap on the couch if I need to.

3. You're at home

This, frankly, was one of the biggest differences for me. The ability to do my laundry or prep dinner during the day is a game-changer.

4. You're invested long-term

Sometimes, as a nanny, bad behavior or difficult habits are just easier to ignore than to really deal with. But as a parent, you're all in. Teaching your child to sleep might be rough, but since you'll be the one putting them to bed and dealing with their sleep (or lack of) for the next 18 years, there is some serious motivation to deal with a few hard days or weeks to make the next months and years easier. As a nanny, I was fine to have them eat chicken nuggets for lunch every day, but with my own children, I'm willing to resist their picky inclinations.

5. Bodily fluids from your own child just aren't nearly as gross

I don't know what laws of physics are at play here, but a blow-out diaper from someone else's child makes me want to barf. My own child's? Gross, yes, but not really that big of a deal. Same goes for vomit.

6. It's not as lonely

People talk about motherhood being isolating, and I certainly see some of that, but being a nanny (unless you're in a big city with lots of other nannies around) is extremely lonely. I was much younger than the moms with kids the same ages as the children I watched and I didn't KNOW many moms to begin with, so I spent the vast majority of the time by myself with those little boys. When I had my own children and started staying home, it was so much better to be able to have friends over, swap mornings out and go on outings together.

7. I love my own children like I don't love any other children

I think some people are blessed with the ability to deeply love other people's children, but I'm not one of them. I like other children, but I was shocked by the immense difference between my feelings for other children and the love I felt for my own daughters.

Being a nanny made me wonder if I was cut out for being a mother, especially a stay-at-home mom. I wish someone had told me staying home with my own children would be a thousand times easier and more fun than being the nanny.