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What People Think Stay-at-Home Moms Do vs. What We Really Do

Photograph by Twenty20

"What do you do all day?” is a phrase I heard more than once when I was a stay-at-home-mom.

It was usually delivered with a twinge of incredulity, often by someone who wasn’t a parent.

I know that to people who don’t have kids, staying home all day sounds equal parts intriguing and boring.

There are a lot of assumptions about what SAHMs do, so I’m here to set the record straight.

Expectation: Sleep in every day.

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Reality: Wake at 12a.m., 3a.m., 5a.m., 7a.m.

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Let’s get this out of the way: There’s no sleeping in. Stay-at-home-mom life is not an endless weekend. During the newborn phase, you're up at all hours of the night, often while your spouse sleeps. Moms of toddlers and little kids don’t get a full night’s rest either because there’s always something. (I need a drink of water! I need to use the potty!)

Expectation: You must have so much time to work out!


RELATED: How I'm Constanty Missing Out Even Though I'm Always There

Reality: Lifting babies is my cardio.

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I know it seems like "not working" would give you ample time to do things for yourself like hitting the gym on a regular basis or being all about #wellness. But during my tenure as a SAHM, I was shocked by how little time I had to myself. I was always feeding someone, changing someone into a fresh onesie or cleaning up a mess. No gym selfies here.

Expectation: Your home must be spotless.


Reality: It's easier to get used to the LEGOs being everywhere.


Some SAHMs might be domestic goddesses, but I certainly wasn’t. On many days, I just had to throw my hands up and be thankful I’d made it through one more day. Life lesson: There will always be laundry to wash, fold or put away, so lighten up.

Expectation: You must have lots of money.

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Reality: Budgets are life.


You might think only those with a lot of money can afford to have a parent at home. But it's not like many of us are sipping mimosas while a nanny tends to our little ones. Many households with a stay-at-home parent are stretching one income and budgeting throughout the month.

Expectation: You’re a modern-day Mary Poppins.


RELATED: I Need to Change the Way I Talk About My Only Child

Reality: Practically imperfect in every way.


Strangely, we don’t spend most of our day singing songs or using magic to clean up the house. We might struggle with crafts, art projects, baking and other idealized mom tasks. That doesn’t mean you won’t try, but usually, you’re far from perfect. Group hug: That’s OK.

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