When it comes to being a stay-at-home mom, there are always those (the former coworker, the couple next door who doesn’t have kids, your own mom) who might see it more like a glamorous lifestyle and less the real-life mess that it can oftentimes be. In truth, it’s a job that requires unending patience and fortitude, and 27% of you are choosing to do it. In honor of the crumbs and carpool lines, we came up with a few words of encouragement for stay-at-home moms everywhere. You’ve got this mom! 

It’s okay to be exhausted, and admit that you’re exhausted.

Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t a walk in the park; in fact, there are a lot of things you just don’t know until you know. Chasing a toddler, walking the dog, cooking the meals, folding the hundredth towel for the hundredth time, being a positive influence and doing it all with a smile; it’s exhausting! This isn’t the kind of job that lets you sit down very often, and at the end of the day, it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open. You know what? That’s okay. You are absolutely a superhero to your family, but in real life, you’re only human, so it’s time you learn to be okay with admitting that you’re tired. And what goes along with admitting you’re exhausted? Making yourself rest. That’s right, you need to rest. So put those feet up every now and then, and let Dad put the kids to bed, or let that lovely little man who delivers the takeout from your favorite restaurant bring dinner tonight. You’re allowed to be tired, but only if you promise to rest.

You’re still allowed to have things that are just for you.

Sharing is one of the first things we are taught as children, and it’s probably something you try to instill in your kids as well. Share the blocks, share the popcorn, share the backseat. With all that ‘share’ mentality that you’re putting out there for your kids, it’s easy to forget that there are some things that can be just for you. Many two-year-old’s favorite word is “mine,” and while it can be excessive, there’s nothing wrong with letting a few things be “mine” when it comes to you. Maybe it’s a blog that you write, or a dream of one day opening a bakery, or Madame Secretary that you binge watch at night when the kids are in bed. You’re still an individual, and it’s okay to have things that are just for you.

You’re worth a million dollars (and $162,581 a year).

There’s nothing more frustrating/annoying/rage-inducing than a partner that believes that they make the money that supports the family or that a SAHM’s monetary value isn’t as contributory to the family. On the contrary, a recent study found that given everything that a SAHM does, her annual salary would be $162,581 (we believe it’s even more than that!). Imagine paying for a nanny, coach, housekeeper, groundskeeper, dog walker/pet sitter, interior designer, laundry manager, plumber, photographer, tailor, nutritionist/chef, accountant, art director … the list goes on and on. Of course, put on top of that someone that provides romantic company? Well, you get the idea. Your value is immeasurable, mom, so never doubt for a second how much you truly contribute to your family.

It’s okay to fantasize about your life before kids.

Staying out until two, enjoying long, leisurely brunches, going on last-minute getaways, having a clean car, flying with just a carry-on, having extra money, sleeping until you wake up, riding in the car with the windows down listening to anything but Baby Shark on repeat … these are all things we temporarily kiss goodbye when we have kids. Those good old days when life was just about what we wanted are over, girl. But that doesn’t mean you can’t think about them while you’re washing spit-up out of your hair for the fifth time or picking cereal out from in between the seats of the car. You had a different kind of life before the kids arrived, and there’s no shame in reminiscing about those times.

You’re allowed to love your life, just exactly as it is.

Doesn’t it always seem that when people are unhappy, they want you to be unhappy too? It’s like people want you to feel bad about not feeling bad. Well, brush off those haters. There’s nothing like being a mom, and there’s nothing wrong with liking your life exactly as it is. Nothing cuter to you than matching up teeny, tiny little socks? Embrace it! Love being there to pick them up from school and hear about every moment of their day at school? Savor it. It’s true what they say about time moving quickly, and this is the only time in your life when you’ll get to have these special times with your kids. So slow down and appreciate your SAHM lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with loving it exactly as it is.

A little screen time here and there isn't going to kill them.

When’s the last time you truly used the bathroom by yourself? Or read something that wasn’t on the back of a box of cereal? Or had an adult conversation with your partner when they come home from work, a conversation that wasn’t interrupted by a chorus of “I’m hungry”’s from the peanut gallery? Sometimes you need a moment to yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with letting your kids indulge in a distractive activity while you do so. Sure, hours of screen time isn’t good for developing minds, but a little Llama Llama here and there isn’t going to kill anyone.

It’s okay to take a break.

You know how the flight attendants on the plane remind you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others? This is a simple concept; if you can’t breathe, you can’t help anyone else breathe. The same goes for your everyday life—if you haven’t taken a moment to take care of yourself, then how in the world are you going to take care of anyone else? Take a break, girl. Slow down, take a deep breath, and add a little self-care into your day. Sign up for a weekly yoga or spin class, plan a lunch out with a good friend, heck, just go walk around the grocery store by yourself for a change. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help from Grandma or Grandpa or hiring a sitter, so you can take a moment for yourself. Or look into local Mother’s Day Out programs so you can have some time for you. You’ve earned it, and it’s more important than you think.

You don’t have to be supermom.

You food-prepped for the week with only organic goodies, great job! Everything is labeled and stocked in the fridge ... but you hit the drive-thru on the way home from school because you Just. Can’t. with dinner tonight. Guess what? There's no shame in your game. Some SAHMs plan out art projects with the appropriate parts and pieces, and some SAHMs create ideas on the fly with paper napkins, Q-tips and whatever else they can find. Stop comparing yourself to others. The kids will be happy either way. You don't have to be a supermom, just a mom who's there for her kids.

Even if they forget to say it, they do love and appreciate you.

If you’re an employee of a big company and you have a great year, you might receive a nice bonus payment. If you’re a fundraiser and you throw a big event that raises lots of money for your charity, you might receive a big pat on the back. If you’re a chef and you create a wonderful meal, the patrons may leave a glowing review on Yelp that you can proudly read. But moms rarely get any type of recognition or accolades for the jobs that they are doing, and few jobs are more difficult. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mother’s Day came every month, just to remind you that you are valued and appreciated and that everyone is truly grateful for your help/time/patience/love? Well, even if they forget to say it, your family does love and appreciate you. Try to remember that.

We feel you.

Sure, sometimes it feels like stay-at-home-mom survival, just making it from naptime to bedtime, but know this: we feel you. There are moms everywhere that are going through what you’re going through, the good and the bad. The smiles and the meltdowns, the poop diapers and the PTA meetings, the carpool lines and the after-school snacks, and the hugs and the bedtime stories. Hang in there, Mama. You’re doing an amazing job!

—Laura Holloway

 

RELATED STORIES:

The Very Real State of Stay-at-Home Mom Guilt

I Never Thought I’d Be a Stay at Home Mom, but Here’s How My Attitude Changed

5 Things I Considered Before I Left My Job to Be a Stay At Home Mom

“Returnships” Are Helping Stay at Home Moms Get Back Into the Workforce