Being a stay-at-home mom is tough! You’re dealing with so many things at once, and it takes an incredible amount of work to raise children. To top it off, you’re usually dealing with unrealistic expectations about what you should be doing all day. There’s this unfair perspective in our society that SAHMs aren’t working, and it’s insane. So, if you’re struggling with those expectations, then it’s good to talk about what some realistic expectations for stay-at-home moms are.
Realistic Expectations for SAHMs
I once saw a TikTok by a woman who was talking about how she and her husband effectively split the work. She was a SAHM, and she and her husband decided that she would only be responsible for the things that they would reasonably expect of a nanny. So, things like washing bottles, cleaning up toys, and doing all the child care tasks during those 8-9 hours she was home alone. Once her husband arrived home, having both finished their work shifts, they would then begin splitting all the other household duties as well as child care tasks.
I thought this was brilliant. I thought this was a great way to create realistic expectations of her and create an environment in which both parents are equally contributing to the home. So, with this premise in mind, let’s go through the realistic expectations for a SAHM.
Perform necessary care tasks for the children
Obviously, you’re taking care of your children. You’re doing things like creating good meals for them (or at least the best meals they’ll eat), changing their diapers, putting them down for nap, getting them new clothes if they get dirty, etc., etc. This is typically what comes first because you’re meeting all of their needs. Maybe not all of their wants, but you are meeting all of their needs. You are actively taking care of your children. This is the most important thing, and perhaps the only important thing at the end of the day.
Play with the kids
Kids need playtime. Even babies need playtime. Teaching them to play by themselves is important, but it’s also important that they have some time during which they have your active attention. Playing tickle monster, reading to them, or doing a craft if you have the energy lets them have fun and maybe experience new things. Getting your kids outside is great for them too, and helps them get out some energy. It’s also worth getting them out of the house and going to the library or the park. These activities have the added benefit of killing time until naptime. We love things that kill time until the next active care task.
Work on kid milestones
If you’re the active daily caretaker for your children, it’s important to take the time to work on their important milestones. For babies, this is going to include things like supervised tummy time and crawling exercises. For toddlers, that’s things like coloring, sorting exercises, and having conversations. Every doctor’s visit is going to come with a list of milestones that your child should be working on, so it’s crucial to take that time to work on those specific milestones that your doctor wants them to hit. Luckily, this will also kill some time.
Perform household tasks AS NEEDED
I firmly believe that you should not be responsible for every household task, especially while you’re actively caring for children. Being an active and involved caretaker takes time and energy. So, while you’re doing that, you should only be responsible for the things that need to happen in order for you to do that job effectively. These are things like washing bottles, cleaning up toys, making meals, and maybe throwing in a load of laundry if you’re out of something.
Any other household tasks that can wait should wait until you and your partner can split them up, whether that’s in the evening or on the weekends. (Looking for tips to keep your house clean? Here you go!) If you don’t have a partner, it’s still good to wait until you have concentrated time (like after bedtime) to do the things that you weren’t able to do during the day. Give yourself grace because, yes, this is absolutely difficult.
Being a stay-at-home mom is a hard and often thankless job, and you deserve all the accolades in the world. You’re often dealing with high stress, sadness, and isolation. Keeping in mind these realistic expectations will help you to create a schedule with your partner and maybe help you give yourself more credit.
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).