How Social Distancing Has Taught Me to Further Appreciate SAHMs

Outside of maternity leave, the whole time I’ve been a mom, I’ve worked full-time outside the home.

 The situation has its challenges—the time to take care of the household and spend time with friends and family is so limited, and there’s a lot of guilt over the milestones I sometimes miss. 

And until now, I could only imagine the immense challenges of stay-at-home motherhood—I’d never experienced them firsthand. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, my office closed and my daughter’s daycare shut down, and we’ve been home together for a few weeks.

These temporary closures aren’t the same as being a full-time stay-at-home mom, but these weeks have given me a glimpse into the difficulties as well as the joys of this particular situation. I always had an incredible amount of respect for stay-at-home moms, because as a parent you know that any type of parenting is hard, but now I am completely in awe of the strength this role takes.

During this time, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a stay-at-home mom, and I know it’s improved my parenting overall.

 

The long days require routine and discipline

It shouldn’t have taken me over five years and socially-isolating to discover this, but it has. 

In my years as a parent, I’ve had a tendency to play the role of “good cop.” I feel bad if I make my daughter sad (even if the sternness is deserved) and am known to be a softie. I often cave when there should be a punishment or a stricter adherence to a routine. I don’t always enforce or follow through on my warnings. 

 

During this time, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a stay-at-home mom, and I know it’s improved my parenting overall.

 

When we’re all home from work and school in the evenings, sometimes I just want to be the fun mom instead of spending my limited time disciplining a strong-willed child (even though I’ve always recognized that this probably isn’t the correct stance).

But being a “good cop” does not work at all when there is an endless stretch of hands-on parenting time, every day. This is something I didn’t necessarily understand while working out of the house five days a week. 

 

Source: @threadmama_story via #sharetheeverymom

 

Within the first week of being home, I noticed my reluctance to discipline or enforce a routine (my two biggest struggles in parenthood) were already being challenged. Being home with a preschooler that isn’t always cooperative, for days at a time, completely frazzled my nerves, and I realized my years of lackluster discipline was really backfiring on me! 

I now know firsthand that there’s no way to be in the house for hours at a time without needing to strongly enforce the rules and routines, even if it requires some severe warnings and timeouts and punishments. I realized I would go absolutely insane with a headstrong 5-year-old calling the shots so much without any repercussions. We’ve had to enforce discipline about putting down the tablet without complaining, eating what’s for lunch without asking for something different, cleaning up activities before moving to the next one, leaving the cat alone when we say so, and so much more. It’s been eye-opening.

 

Within the first week of being home, I noticed my reluctance to discipline or enforce a routine (my two biggest struggles in parenthood) were already being challenged. Being home with a preschooler that isn’t always cooperative, for days at a time, completely frazzled my nerves, and I realized my years of lackluster discipline was really backfiring on me.

 

It’s not my proudest parenting accomplishment that I haven’t been great with discipline and enforcement so far. It shouldn’t have taken self-isolation to figure it out, and I know there are plenty of parents who work outside the home that have already mastered this, but for some reason, I hadn’t. 

I now know that you don’t have to always be your child’s best friend for them to love you. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had some tough days of time-outs, but at the end of the day I still feel her love and trust—and, I dare to say, it’s even stronger than before. 

 

I can help academically educate my child

One of the best discoveries since being home is that there are SO many high-quality, free learning resources available. I don’t have any type of background in early childhood education and thought that helping with the learning process wouldn’t be my strongest area because I didn’t know how and I didn’t have the resources. 

However, I’ve learned so much about the availability of some great content online to assist with schooling during the closures. A few weeks ago, I didn’t know about any of these options, and now I have a pretty full arsenal of activities to attempt to keep learning in progress during the days. I’m glad to be prepared with these resources for future schooldays and am much more prepared to work through some difficult homework concepts that may come up once my daughter starts elementary school next year. 

 

Source: @thechicagogoodlife via #sharetheeverymom

 

I have to embrace the mess

I tend to be a neat freak. Since my family is mostly out of the house during the day, the house usually stays pretty tidy, and I’m satisfied. 

Of course, that’s not happening anymore now that everyone is home during the day. Keeping a preschooler occupied is definitely not tidy, and that’s OK. Learning to bake is messy, creating art is messy, building LEGOs is messy, and coloring with chalk is messy. But I’ve learned that I’d rather be present in the activities and learning taking place than scurrying around to tidy up the mess. The clutter can always be cleaned up later and the fun moments are worth putting that urge aside for.  

 

This time at home has been tough, but I’ve had some bright spots in learning how to improve my parenting and the joys in seeing my daughter learn and grow during the days. Any type of parenting has its challenges, whether you’re at work, at home, or a combination of the two. 

I’m glad that this situation has given me an opportunity to see firsthand the challenges of a parenting role I hadn’t taken on myself yet. It’s given me even more respect for all types of mothers and a sense of awe in the strength stay-at-home moms have throughout the day. 

 

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