Being a Working Mom is Easier Sometimes

by Ginger on November 29, 2011

in Mom Thoughts, Working Mom

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post where I laid out my reasons why I thought being a working mom was harder than being a stay at home mom. Specifically, why I thought that it was more stressful and harder physically to be a working mom, *especially* the first year.

BUT! Before you all come beat me up for contributing to the mommy wars! I did say this:

I get the feeling that after the first year (or earlier maybe if you’re not nursing and your kid sleeps through the night) the balance might tip the other way.

Well, folks, I can honestly say that I think it’s got to be harder in a TON of ways to be a SAHM after the first year. Particularly when you get into the defiant/boundary testing/button pushing/tantrum phase(s). Or maybe that’s just me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Being a working mom isn’t a cake walk. The scheduling nightmare isn’t any easier, if anything it only gets harder. And it’s still tough physically when your kiddo is sick or not sleeping or contributing to you not sleeping in any way. And yes, the envy, guilt, and disappointment are still there. It’s definitely not that being a working mom is easy (any more than I think being a SAHM pre-one year old is easy). Again, I come back to my general belief that parenthood if freaking HARD. No matter what your tax return says.

But OMG, there are days that I thank my lucky stars that I get to go to work and leave the brunt of the day’s tantrums and defiance to someone else (sorry honey!). I don’t think I have the energy for a 24/7 toddler. I know I don’t have the stamina. I’m pretty sure I don’t have the creativity or ingenuity. And there are times when I’m pretty sure I don’t have the mental fortitude to handle those teaching moments right.

I don’t know how those of you (including my husband) do it. I mean, I know, you learn as you go, but I think being home with a toddler all the time has got to be one of the most stressful, trying, mentally and emotionally taxing, and frustrating things in the world. Again, maybe it’s just my toddler (doubtful), but it’s freaking EXHAUSTING.

I salute you ladies (and men) who do it. You guys are my heroes. Being a working mom is filled with tough parts, difficult decisions, guilt, and frustration. But I’m fairly certain that your job is harder with a toddler than mine.

Reading (and chickens) November 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

I’ve done both and here is what I can say: there is no easier job. I think they’re both difficult in their own ways, but I am more stressed-out by the traffic/commuting/scheduling/sick days than I am by the tantrums etc, so I think that’s what it comes down to for me. That said, I sometimes dream of going back to work and doing big fun things like typing while sipping coffee. Ahhh, I dream big.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I think each has it’s challenges, but I also think that each of US deals with different parts better. For example, for me? I would have been a way better SAHM J’s first year than I was a working mom. But I’d be a pretty awful SAHM to him now that he’s a toddler. Turns out, I find infants easier than toddlers. Who knew?

That said, commutes suck no matter what. I hate commuting.

Cloud November 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Yes- I agree with this (although my stint as a SAHM extended only as long as my maternity leaves)! I have an old post on this topic, actually: Anyway You Do It, It Is Hard.

Basically, I think it comes down to which set of problems will annoy you the least.

Lisa November 29, 2011 at 11:06 am

I recently saw a fellow Twitter mom saying she wanted a break sometimes and that she wished her husband was more understanding about it. His reply was “When is my break? Work?” I wanted to shout YES at him.

Work has it’s own stresses, most definitely, but a lot of the time I can sit here with my headphones on and generally only worry about myself and what I am doing. There’s no constantly watching anyone else to make sure they don’t break their face, no feeding someone else, no whining, no crying…

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm

No biting, no hitting, no kicking, no poop.

Or, we should hope anyway.

The Sweetest November 29, 2011 at 11:34 am

My friends who are working moms always say they don’t know how I do it. One friend even takes her kid to daycare when she has the day off because she can’t handle it. And yes, there are days when I just want to run away. or send my son away for awhile. But I am grateful for the situation I am in, just as I would be if i had a job I could go to every day. A job other than mothering and blogging 🙂

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I know it’s also what you become used to doing. I’m not used to dealing with the toddler 24/7, so I don’t feel like I have a handle on it. If I had stayed home though, I would have GOTTEN used to it. I think. Maybe.

Tania November 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I get nervous when I write about anything which can be a “heated topic” among women and I always wonder we beat up each other for our life choices. No one’s life is exactly the same and there compromises and sacrifices with each choice we make. Women should support each other, period.

I don’t have children. Always wanted to but it didn’t work it in my marriage. Now I’m 43 and have made the difficult decision at this late stage in life, I don’t want to pursue it. I’d feel very different if I was say 35. I’m always amazed at the sometimes emotional reactions I get from people because I’ve made this decision, often with no sensitivity or understanding that it wasn’t the way I thought my life would turn out either.

I admire all mothers SAHM or office bound, you are all amazing in my opinion.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I always find it interesting how people are so quick to judge, particularly women. I think whatever works for an individual (and their family) is what’s best for that individual and their family–whether that’s kids, no kids, 1 kid, or 5, working, staying at home, or joining the circus (how cool would it be to join the circus?).

Girl With Curl November 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I do not have kids, but I have cousins and a much younger sister that I practically raised and I can completely sympathize. I know from experience that my husband is a MUCH better stay-at-home-husband than I am a stay-at-home-wife. And he would be a better SAHD too, no doubt.

It comes down to personality. Some personalities feel great taking care of others and giving, some feel great achieving, some feel great creating, some feel great spending gobs of time alone. We are all unique.

@Tania – I agree. Support your friends and loved ones in whatever they decide works best in their lives.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I agree, a lot of it comes down to the individual. I’m good at the taking care of (sick/hurt/upset kid? I’m your lady), but not so good with the constant handling of the boundary pushing and tantrums. It really does come down to each individual in each family!

Brooke @ mommalytics November 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I am so with you there, especially today. I did the SAHM thing for almost 3 years, and even with K in daycare part time and then preschool I still was going out of my mind. I love working, and I hate tantrums and all-day whining, which is currently our non-school days and our after work time. Working works best for us. I agree that the first year is probably hard to be away from your baby, but after that, some peace and quiet and the freedom to drink my coffee alone with my thoughts makes a huge difference in my health and sanity.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I was saying up further in the comment chain that I would have rocked it as a SAHM J’s first year. After that? It got much easier to have some of my own time.

It doesn’t make it easy, but having a few hours of no one hitting me and the only boundaries being pushed coming from adults that I can yell back at is a lot easier on some days than dealing with the tantrums.

Alexis November 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

This a perfect example of how in parenthood the grass is always greener, but all that grass still needs someone to heave the mower around. Maybe that metaphor (is it even a metaphor…who knows, my SAHdom has turned my brain to mush) got a bit derailed, but you get the idea. I think the challenges are very different, but they are challenges none the less. On days when I fantasize about working with adults and doing paperwork without 33 pounds of toddler on my arm I realize that getting myself out the door and to such a job seems so overwhelming that I need to lie down a minute. I am in awe of people who WOH, I am in awe of people who do the SAH thing way better than I. This parenting thing is a killer, no matter how you do it.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Amen sister. It’s hard no matter what. At the end of the day, it’s just hard no matter what.

Michelle November 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I would never, ever say that SAH is harder (or easier) than working outside the home. Mostly because I know that it is different for each person. But I will say that some days, going to work would definitely be a welcome retreat. Because some days, I have a different kind of patience for different things. Some days, I have zero patience for toddler tantrums or fighting over EVERY THING like diaper changes and sitting in his high chair. I know that other days I would have VERY LITTLE PATIENCE for adults acting like idiots.

The biggest difference is that you get to LEAVE work. I don’t get to LEAVE “motherhood”.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Oh, don’t get me wrong. When the grownups in my office start acting like my toddler, it makes me want to tear my freaking hair out. But like you said, I get to LEAVE that. A full time toddler, you can’t even leave for lunch to take a breather, or lock yourself in an office while your crazy coworker hunts you down. You just HAVE to deal with it.

That is HARD my friend. HARD.

Your Husband November 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Well, as Your Husband, I can honestly say:

What helps the most is putting the child in a cage. Now, before everyone bites my head off, understand a few things:

1. The kid just LOVES the cage. I put games in there, I give him his bottle and sometimes even some food (if he’s good) and he just… has a blast! I can tell by the tone of his screams that he’s having a GREAT time.

2. The cage isn’t used for the full day. Often I’ll hold off on this “special treat” until he’s been especially charming, hitting me, or hitting the dog, throwing an epic tantrum, or screaming his head off because I won’t let him launch himself over the back of the recliner (I can be a meanie sometimes, I know) or some other such fun signal that says “hey Dad, it’s super fun cage time!” Then we hop on over, him kicking and squealing with glee, until we can have our special interactive role playing prisoner-warden pretend time!

3. It isn’t like I just leave him unattended in the cage. I put the monitor nearby and go off and take a nap. Trust me, there’s no way I would put my child in any kind of harm. I usually leave the dog in there too, to protect him. Nothing is TOO good for our little baby.

Ginger November 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Ah, the cage. Now I know how you do it. 😉

Elizabeth November 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

I’ll be a student next semester, but the semesters after that require part time internships as well classes, so I’m a bit scared of being away–for me, being home has been thrillingly easy. That’s probably because Eric is home too, but I’ll just have to have him consult with NC about which cage to get now that he’s going to be having Hannah a whole lot more to himself!

clara November 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm

There are days when I think my home life is about on par, annoyance wise, with my job that I am not currently at. (I try not to think about the money aspect) But yeah I really did work with people who acted like toddlers. Like the crazy lady who fought with me because I threw out her salad dressing. I mean..she’s not related to me! I have NO INSTINCT to protect her from my wrath.

Both hard, in different ways.

And I concur with the person above me who said that thinking about getting out of the house in the morning makes her need to lie down. Seriously that was 80% of why I decided not to go back to work after I had #2.

Of course if you lie down, someone jumps on you. But yeah. I need a cage.

Kate December 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I have so many thoughts, but I can’t type fast enough. And, I am so late in responding. I could never be a stay-at-home mom 24/7 to a toddler. I need a break – big time. Leaving a four month old is heart wrenching, but leaving a spastic, slightly neurotic, albeit enjoyable toddler is really a breath of fresh air. It’s all in finding that happy middle ground where you are happy, the kid is happy and your family life is happy… Let me know when you got it all figured out – okay? 🙂

Christa the BabbyMama February 8, 2012 at 6:13 am

I think it also has so much to do with temperament. I loved being at home from 0-1 and from 1-2, and would have loved to been able to stay home for 2-3! Mostly because I have an “easy kid” and I just plain like being at home. Some people, I know, dig the whole talking to grownups thing, but I wouldn’t have worked from home for 4 years before Babby came along if I wanted to talk to people! I still have to drag myself through each day in the office… and if I let myself, will ignore work to look at pictures of my family and just plain work myself into a case of the sads. But I understand it’s not that way for everyone! For some people, being a working mom is easier and for some, being a a SAHM is easier. The lucky ones who TRULY have it easiest, I think, are the ones who get to make the choice for themselves and aren’t thrust into one position or another by circumstance.

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