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I'm Done Trying to Be a 'Good' Stay-at-Home Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

If I had a dollar for every time I've felt sorry for myself as a stay-at-home mom, I would probably be hiring myself a nanny. I admit, I throw myself a pity party quite often.

It's just too hard.

I literally never get a break. Even taking a break takes work!

No one understands what it's really like.

It must be nice to be able to take an actual sick day!

Maybe I'll end up with hate mail for admitting that, but it's the truth. I threw a pity party this morning, in fact, but the fact that I had 1) coffee, 2) two of my best friends to offer text support (haha, get it?) and 3) leftover Halloween candy helped me pull through it.

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Is it possible that I have inadvertently made my life as a mom more difficult than it needs to be?

Here's what happened recently, however, to make me change my thinking. While complaining, like I do, to my husband about the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom (which included approximately 10 million school duties and errands and running kids and play dates and laundry and grocery shopping), he delivered this little pearl of wisdom:

"Is it possible you're making it harder than it needs to be?" he asked, gently, knowing what my immediate reaction would be.

Which was of course, an open-mouthed, "Are you kidding me?! It really is that hard!"

But later, after I had cooled down and thought about it, I wondered if he could be right. Is it possible that I have inadvertently made my life as a mom more difficult than it needs to be?

As it would turn out: probably.

Honestly, part of what makes being a stay-at-home mom so hard is that we completely start from scratch when we take on the role. There's no job responsibility that someone hands us, no performance review that we sit through to know if we're doing the right things, no supervisor we answer to about our qualifications. It's just us, staring at this tiny little baby and wondering, WTH do I do now?

So we try to cobble together our own idea of what a "good" mom does. She does crafts. She stays on top of the household chores. She organizes. She spends absurd amounts of time on Pinterest. She volunteers. She's involved at the school. She makes life fun for her kids. She chugs coffee, drinks wine, wears yoga pants and is always tired.

Sounds familiar, right? But how much of that is truly you? How much of that rings true to what you really want in your life?

Not every mom does this of course, but for some of us, we may lose track of what makes life worth living for us. We may be too scared, too tired, or too honest-to-goodness lost to do anything but try to just survive using the script we have all heard.

And I'm not saying that all of the things we do as moms are not true—a lot of them are. I genuinely am super tired, I really do chug coffee, and I honest-to-goodness want to be organized and have a clean house. But not everything I think I "should" do as a mom are things that make me overjoyed with happiness. And more importantly, not everything I do as a mom are things that are even necessary for, well, anyone.

What if we stopped trying to be "good" stay-at-home moms and started from scratch on what made us feel good as moms?

Will the world end if I don't make a meal plan?

Will my kids suffer if we just hang out at home instead of going out on "fun" play dates?

Will anyone truly care if I leave the laundry in baskets instead of folding it all day?

Will I be a bad person if I decide that going to the gym is important for not how someone else thinks I look, but because I love escaping my kids long enough to slam some weights around?

Will anyone even notice if I send black frosting to the Halloween party instead of going to three stores because the first two were out of the requested orange?

Nope.

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So here's my challenge: What if we just stopped? What if we just threw out the script and started over? What if we asked ourself what we wanted our lives to look like, babies and toddlers and kids and all, instead of assuming it should look a certain way just because we are moms?

What if we stopped trying to be "good" stay-at-home moms and started from scratch on what made us feel good as moms? Maybe that means getting out of the house more, maybe that means less, maybe that means cooking simpler dinners, maybe that means hiring a sitter every now and then, maybe that means literally letting the laundry pile-up or maybe that means simply not apologizing for a single thing that we don't do anymore.

Either way, lets go into the holiday season forgetting everything we think we "should" do as good moms and start rewriting the script.

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