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All Parents Need Breaks... Not Just the Stay-At-Home Ones

All Parents Need Breaks...Not Just the Stay-At-Home Ones

Photo by: Cassy Berry Photography

I know that many parents who either work from home or stay home to be with their kids full-time have moments — a lot of moments — where they feel completely unappreciated. I have them, too. There are days — a lot of days — when I’m pretty sure the only thing I’ve succeeded in doing is putting things back where they once were. It feels as though I rarely put a dent in the never-ending to-do list. The house looks exactly the same as it did when my husband left for work in the morning and nothing substantial appears to have been accomplished. Even though he doesn’t say it (like, ever) I’m sure there are days he’s thinking, “What did you do all day?” I wouldn’t blame him for thinking that, because I often think the same thing. I swear! I really did do a lot… you just can’t see it all. The wiping and dancing and singing and cleaning all tend to go unnoticed, for the most part.

But the thing is, as thankless as the job of being a parent who stays home is, I think it’s probably sometimes even more thankless to be a parent who works outside the home. I know, it sounds crazy, but I can explain.

To those of us that spend the majority of our days wrapped up in the beautiful mundanity of poopy diapers, trucks, dolls and sticky floors, the idea of actually leaving the house to go to a place of employment sounds kind of wonderful. As much as we may love getting to watch our children grow up and be a part of their daily endeavors, there are some days when it’s exhausting/frustrating/boring as hell. We are surrounded by tiny “co-workers” (Who am I kidding? More like tyrannical bosses, half the time) who often can’t even communicate their most basic needs, let alone give us accolades for that awesome block castle we just built. The notion of having real adults to talk to and collaborate with on a daily basis and a boss who gives you positive feedback sounds pretty appealing. We probably envy the daily schedule of our bread-winning counterparts.

By the time the end of the day rolls around for those of us in the stay-at-home set, we feel exhausted and like we just want a break. Chances are the moment our spouse walks through the door we’re bombarding them with a thousand pieces of information and begging for him or her to take over so we can just freaking pee in peace (and maybe enjoy that piece of dark chocolate without having to share any of it). I get it. We need a minute to recharge and we’ve probably earned it. Oftentimes the idea that dad/mom who just got home from work might need a break, too, completely escapes us. “Why would they possibly need a break? They haven’t been doing kid damage control all day and they’ve gotten to have actual adult interaction… in the outside world! Didn’t they just have a break… ALL. DAY. LONG?”

I recently realized that this had been my mindset. As much as I might say that I appreciated the fact that my husband works outside the home every day so we can afford for me to be here with our daughter, I didn’t really ever think a whole lot about it. Aside from the standard “How was your day?” type questions, I just kind of assumed he had it better than I did in a lot of ways. Don’t get me wrong… I love being a mom and I love our daughter, but it’s not a particularly glamorous gig or anything and there were plenty of days when I’ve found myself a bit resentful and like I was doing “everything”.

Then my husband mentioned something recently that really got me thinking. He told me that sometimes he wished he had my job, because people get to see what I do and it gets noticed more. My first thought was, “Are you for real?!” He went on to clarify — even though he gets to leave the house all day and work with adults, it doesn’t mean he’s getting a ton of feedback either, and the people that really matter to him don’t ever get to see the work he does so they can’t appreciate it, nor do they really think about it. With my job, we have friends and family over and they can see the hard work that I’ve done. They can hear the songs my daughter knows how to sing because I taught her. They can enjoy the dinner I prepared because I was home early enough to have time to grocery shop for the ingredients and make it. They can appreciate the coziness of our home that I put careful thought into setting up. Yes, my husband’s income pays for the majority of the food and the mortgage and all the extra niceties we get to enjoy, but nobody really thinks about that. In his mind, my job is often more visible. I had absolutely never thought of it that way. As elementary as it might sound, his words kind of blew my mind.

At the end of the day, we’re all working hard to do the very best we can for our families. We are all doing jobs that are often thankless and exhausting — albeit in different ways — and we all just need a little understanding and most definitely a break from time to time. Maybe he had a day where he got chewed out by his boss and just needs 20 minutes to compose himself before jumping into “dad mode”. Maybe he has had a month of feeling completely unnoticed and unappreciated by his superiors and co-workers (boy, can I relate to that!). Whatever challenges I’ve had throughout the day of being home as a parent, he’s had different, but just as challenging, moments throughout his day as well.

So, let’s stop feeling resentful of one another and really take the time to listen, because we’re each probably struggling in our own ways. All parents need breaks sometimes… not just the stay-at-home ones. Truly communicate how you are feeling with one another and give each other a bit more grace and a lot more breaks. It’ll go a long way.

Photo by {Cassy Berry Photography}

 

Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on TwitterFacebookPinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

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