The Life of Bon: Staying at Home: A Tough Gig?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Staying at Home: A Tough Gig?



Wednesday was the first day of school.  Any normal year I would be in the midst of it all, surrounded by anxious teens desperately trying to fit in, fellow teachers back after a not-long-enough summer, an opening assembly welcoming us all to the best years of our lives.

But on Wednesday I was not there.  I am currently on "maternity leave" and will not return to teach until September 10.  (Also, I don't really know why I felt the need to put quotation marks around maternity leave.  It just felt right.)  When I do return I will work part time, teaching three classes every other day.

I was surprised to find myself quite sad on Tuesday night.  Greg is teaching this year at the same school where I teach,  For the past few days I had listened to him fill me in on all the orientations and meetings I had missed, and trust me, I didn't mind skipping those one bit.  But then, as I watched him iron his shirt Tuesday night, pack his lunch, set his alarm early, a wave of sadness washed over me that I would not be participating in the first day festivities.  I felt so left out, so sad to not be there.

The first day of school is one of my very favorite days to teach at a high school.  There is such a unique energy, a tangible excitement in the air.  The kids come filing in, trying to act like they don't care, but it's so obvious how much they care.  They have on their brand new clothes, have their new notebooks and folders all organized, are determined that this year, THIS is the year they're really going to take school seriously.  I love to see them with their schedules in hand, looking for their classes, but trying to act like they're not looking, like they're cool, like they know exactly what they're doing.  I love to see all the other teachers after the summer break, refreshed and ready to go.  I just love everything about the first day of school.   (My other favorite days at a high school: the day of the homecoming game, Halloween, the day before Christmas break, Valentines Day, the day the students check out.)

The weather was absolutely perfect Wednesday for the first day of school- cool and rainy- the kind of days we rarely get in Utah in August.  The kind of day that makes you want to go to school, to pull our your notebook, to wear a light jacket.  I got up the same time as Greg did, mostly because I wanted to feel involved in some weird way. I made him breakfast and packed his lunch and then just like that he was out the door, on his way.

I sat on my bed and fed June as I watched the rain drizzle down out the window.  A school bus drove past, and I admit it's the saddest I've ever been to not be at work.  I don't know that it was a sadness that I was missing that one day, but maybe just an overall difficulty adjusting to a new life.  I will go back to work in a few weeks, but it's only part time.  I hope that part time will be enough for me.  I worry that the days that I'm home that I'll be bored by the monotony, miss teaching my classes, feel unfulfilled.  I know some people dream of staying at home, but I know myself well enough to worry that it will be a constant struggle for me.

Those of you who stay at home full time or part time, what do you do to keep yourselves busy?  Is it hard for you or do you enjoy the long, open days with your kids? Honestly, I think more than anything I will feel lonely.  I mean, I adore my little June bug, but she's not exactly one for stimulating conversation and you can only go to Target so many times a week.

39 comments:

  1. I am a teacher as well and won't be returning to teach. All the teachers were back this week and I was so sad to not be with them. Like you said, I did not miss the meetings, but I am going to miss meet the teacher night and that first week when the kids are just so excited and everything is a first for them! Glad you get to teach part time. Wish that was an option for me :)

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  2. Students start back the day after labor day here but staff has started back. I too am on maternity leave until November and I am feeling the exact same way. I told my husband I wished I could go to work but bring Grace with me. He looked at me like I was crazy

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  3. I know exactly what you mean. School started the other day and instead of taking part of the first day excitement I was at home with my baby [toddler]. Everything you said about the first day of high school is so true, and it is one of my favorite days too [I also really like all the others you have listed. they really are the best days of high school]. But this year, even though I am so happy to be home with my little munchkin, I was so sad to see the buses drive by my house and to think about the students and the teachers starting this new year and all I was missing out on. Though, I'm not going to return to the classroom as soon as you are, this past week or so I have really wanted to be back at school.

    The little days spent at home with your peanut are special and fleeting, but you're right, there's not much conversation going on and I find that I miss the banter I had with my kids at school. We spend most of our days at home because I babysit [her mom is a teacher, so I've been living somewhat vicariously through her. ha. sad. I know...], but I try and take the babies outside and play. Usually I get in a rut and we play inside with the same toys and read the same books over and over. But, they seem to like it, and even though I miss teaching and meeting my new kids this year, I know that I would be missing so much of my peanut if I were in the classroom. If I could get a part time teaching gig like you have that would be awesome! Seriously. Some days are harder than others and I am more lonely than others, but I do find joy in being home and know that I am still teaching -even though it might be a 18 month old as compared to a 18 year old.

    Anyhow, just know that you're not alone. It's a week into school and I'm still a little blue about it. One of my teacher friends turned stay at home mom told me to go out and buy some pens or other fun school supplies. It's really amazing how happy a new batch of pens can make you feel. :)

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  4. I am sahm and some days I love it. Some days it feels so easy. Some days I feel alone and like I can't handle it. Pretty sure thats common! You can do this! ;)

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  5. I stay at home with my kids currently... mostly because I can't make enough to pay for day care. Honestly, I would love to be able to work part time because then you get the best of both worlds. Staying home with a newborn is different than staying home with a toddler/preschooler. When it was just me and baby Eddie, I watched a lot of HGTV while I nursed, read a lot of books, went on a lot of outings, and our house was never messy. Now that my kids are 6 & 3, we still watch a lot of TV, we read, we go to the park, we have tea parties, we build with Legos, we run errands (which is a much, much larger chore once your kids are mobile), and our house is always a mess.

    I think it is different for everyone. Some moms are really structured and put their kids in various lessons, host play groups, cook nutritious meals, etc. :) I don't do those things usually because I rebel against structure. So we hang out at home and my kids learn to entertain themselves. I read a lot of books. I do laundry and clean the house. I have developed a lot of my own interests like sewing and knitting and blogging. And now that Eddie is in first grade, I'm starting to think again about working part-time, but only if I can find exactly the right job. Because it is not worth it to me to disrupt my kids' lives excessively and pay my entire paycheck to a babysitter.

    So you've just got to keep it in perspective. Yes, some days are excruciatingly boring. And some days are intensely irritating. But most days are filled with fun and snuggles and little teaching moments that will mean so much to your kids. And find a friend who also has a baby so you can have some adult interaction on days when you're not working.

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  6. i'm not going back to teaching again this year and this week has been hard for me not being at school. i miss the routine and the excitment. i miss getting dressed and talking to my work friends. but i also can't imagine being away from addi either. I would love part time to be an option and hope it is next year! I'm lucky to have a lot of stay at home mom friends and we have plans just about everyday. without that I would go crazy!! it's helpful to have a routine, which didn't come for us until after three months :) she is adorable and I'm glad you'll get to work and be home more with her too!

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  7. I'm also taking a few weeks of maternity leave and I'm already missing teaching.

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  8. I always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, but it's still hard some days. It helps if I get out of the house every day, whether to go to the store, or the park, or the library (where I try to convince my 6-month-old that books are friends, not food. So far so *not* good. Haha!).

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  9. It gets a lot less "boring" as kids get older and you add more to the mix. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Boys. Constantly moving around. Always keeping me busy. I can't wear a white shirt to save my life. It's a lot harder to keep the house clean with toddlers. Constant clean up, even if they're taught to clean up after themselves. Playing with them. Reading to them. My older one doesn't nap, so I don't get that break.

    I'd like a day to myself to read.:)

    I worked full time until I had myyoungest. There's good and bad for both, but for me-I love being home with them during the day.

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  10. Staying at home with baby is hard- especially in those early months. My son is now 9 months and it's getting better and better. Although, I do miss adult conversation. I think part-time would be perfect! A little bit of everything :) Despite the monotony, I couldn't imagine someone else raising my baby 75% of the time. It would drive me insane. At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you.

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    1. Parents who work full time and have their kids in daycare still raise their children :) Just wanted to clarify that. This is why there are mommy wars. SAHMs and working moms should support eachother because we are all making decisions that are best for our families. For you to say that someone else is raising my child because she is in daycare four days a week is heartbreaking to hear. Lets just agree on one thing---we are all doing what is right for our families and tearing down what someone else chooses isn't the right bath to take.

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  11. I know I've written to you about this before-- so you know I think it's hard too. I had a friend once tell me that it took her a good two/three years to really "love" being home. I'm about 2.5 years in, and I agree. The first year was not fun for me at home. I often had thoughts of regret about my decision to be home, and then felt guilty for having them. I connected with some other stay at home mom's, texted my sister constantly, and read "In Praise of Stay at Home Moms" by Dr. Laura. All of that helped. And slowly but surely, as Blythe became more of a human :), my days began to fill with activity and conversation and routine and joy. This was the third first day back that I've been home…and I still hated missing it, but I didn't cry, and my chest didn't hurt all day, and when I woke up at 8 I was happy instead of sad. So 2/3 years I think was good advice for me.

    This friend also said that when her first was born, her mom told her, "You brought her into this world. She owes you nothing. You owe her everything." I thought of that often early on when I was bored, or resentful.

    I've written a lot about this. You are SO not alone :)

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  12. I have been a stay at home mom since my son was born 6 and a half months ago. It was wonderful until recently. Now I can't wait to get a new job and have some real structure in my days. Enjoy those baby snuggles while you can, they grow so so fast, my son is 20+ pounds and 32 inches already, I miss my 7 pound baby.

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  13. Bon, as a mommy to four kiddos (that we had in four years) and a career-minded woman who earned a Ph.D. in between birthing babies....I know exactly what you're talking about. Might have to write you a blog post to get it all out...

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  14. I hear ya! I'm currently on maternity leave and it's hard because everyone else is busy or lives far away, and I don't get that productive feeling like when I am at work. I have a feeling I'll miss spending my time with my son once I am at work though. I always get that feeling of grass is greener on the other side, so I'm just trying my best to enjoy this time. Good luck!

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  15. Ok, here it is: http://www.mommylifeafterphd.com/2014/08/a-few-minutes-ago-i-read-post-from.html Hope that helps you Bonnie!!

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  16. Okay I think I'm the odd woman out here! I LOVED staying at home with one baby. But I like making myself busy with projects (it's living the interior designer dream pretty much!). When Olivia was awake we would run errands to Home Depot and Hobby Lobby, and when she was asleep I would spray paint or sew or hot glue stuff. And blog. I totally got into blogging when Olivia was a baby because it was a great way to socialize with out having to shower first :)

    Now Olivia is starting preschool and I'm so excited for the structure that will bring to our days, even if it's only Tuesday/Thursday.

    Also, you should read Bringing up Bebe. I just read it and wish I read it when Olivia was little. It's all about keeping your identity despite being a mom. It speaks to me :)

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  17. first of all, i love reading your blog.

    i've been a stay at home mom for two years now, and some days it is still tough! i miss teaching SO badly...it's hard not being able to do a job you love and are actually really good at! but then again, i love being able to spend my days with my two kids, and i know i would miss way too much if i went back to work. i love being the one who raises them, and i can't imagine only seeing them for a few hours in the evenings. what really helps me is getting together with other moms and having adult conversations.
    working part time will be so fun for you! i'm definitely a bit jealous! i think you will really enjoy your off days though, especially as june gets older and she starts to be interactive and you get to see her have fun and enjoy new experiences.

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  18. I am secretly always jealous of teachers because of the back to school stuff. I LOVE all the back to school ads and the excitement. And I LOVE fall, and they just go hand in hand.

    I think I may have missed my calling. :)

    I would love to work part-time. I think it is the perfect gig for moms. But if it isn't for you, you'll get it figured out. Maybe not right away, but eventually.

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  19. I retired in May, 2013...5 years earlier than expected. I had taught 5th grade for 33 years! I was diagnosed with Charcot Foot...10-12 broken bones in foot. I spent the last 2 1/2 of my teaching career in a wheelchair. I could not drive for 6 months, and was dependent on everyone to go anywhere! In the middle of it all, I was called to be in the Stake Relief Society Presidency. When I was set apart by the Stake President, he blessed me that I would heal, and not need surgery.
    Now, I have a life!!! At first, I missed teaching, and the kids...but not the politics, testing, meetings, etc. And I especially don't miss checking papers and entering scores on the computer!!!
    When I taught a Relief Society lesson in January at a ward conference at a rehab center in our stake...former General RS President, Julie Beck, was there. Her mom was there, being rehabbed for a broken hip. We chatted for about 30 minutes (Her kids went to the elementary school I taught at growing up) She gave me great advise. She said you have to "reinvent" yourself. (She had spent last 20 years being on general boards, general YW presidency, besides general RS president.)
    So..."reinvent" yourself! And, I'm sure you'll enjoy the day off in between to grade and read papers, create lesson plans, and be a more organized teacher.
    The retired teachers from my school go to lunch once a month! Had 20 at our 1st day of school lunch!!!

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  20. I'm not a Mom so take my opinion with a grain or mountain of salt, My mom was a stay at home mom and with 5 kids she was always busy with different activities of ours, but she also made time to grab lunch and stuff with other mom friends when we were in school, etc. I on the other hand have never had the desire to stay at home when I do have kids. Sooooo basically this whole comment has no point to it haha...sorry :)

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  21. I commented on your insta the other day, but I also had a baby in March and started teaching this year part time. It is the perfect amount of time for me. I think you'll find that part time is really nice. You get out, have a break from your baby, yet don't feel so overwhelmed with working full time.

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  22. This is exactly why I chose to go back to school this semester. I can't be away from this. And when I graduated, I'll be a teacher too :) I'll have a million more first days of school.

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  23. My daughter was born in October and I took the rest of the school year off for maternity leave. Recently, I decided to resign from my position, after teaching for seven years. There were a lot of factors that helped make that decision but the biggest ones were that I taught at an extended day school that was 45 minutes from home and because of that I would never get to see my baby. It was so hard packing up my room and now looking at it all in the guest room and I know it will be hard next week when school starts but for me, I wanted to be home more than I wanted to be at school. I wish I had a part-time option but it wasn't the case for me. It gets easier to be home as the baby gets older because now we can read, play, run errands, and nap time is longer so I have time to myself. I think you will really like teaching part-time because you are getting the best of both worlds. It will seem slow at first because she is so little but use that time to prep for school when she's sleeping and enjoy her when she's awake. It goes so fast.

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  24. I stay at home with our little boy and I'm 30 weeks with boy #2. There are some days that are tough, I'll admit. There are days I've longed for conversation and feel lonely, then I feel guilty for feeling lonely when I'm with my son because I love him so stinkin' much. I'm mostly an introvert and wasn't too great at first at getting out there and making connections. I felt the same way you did- is this all there is? But as my little guy has grown, I've had the privilege of being here for every single learning experience. I can see how my time and investment into his life and learning is paying off and shaping him and that's the best feeling in the world and intensely gratifying. I've also found that connections are vital. Even now, I could stay at home all day with him and GO CRAZY or I could go and DO things, meet people, give him learning experiences, etc. As your little one gets a little older you'll enjoy so many fun things in your community, things that might have sounded silly or corny to you before.Even now my son can't really have full on conversations with me at 21 months, but we have so much fun and our bond is really strong and so so special. There are times that I miss feeling "productive" and wish I had a "real job", but I think some of that is feeling like I'm not investing in ME. So many SAHMs I know have things on the side - direct sales, booming blogs (check for you!), small businesses, private tutoring, etc. There are so many ways you can find balance and still invest in who you are while being at home with your children. It's not an easy decision and a VERY personal one. I'll be thinking about you as you work through this and find what fits best for you and your family :)

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  25. I think it depends on your personality. Personally I could spend all day every day at home (by myself or with kids) and never get bored. (Though I can get lonely.) So it's works for me to be a SAHM. My BFF is more of an extrovert so when she first became a SAHM it was important for her mental health to get out every day (often just to Target). Other mom friends really enjoyed filling their days with playgroup, music class etc. You will find what works for you!

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  26. I decided to cut hours back to part time after returning from maternity leave. I would've probably quit and stayed home full time if the budget would've allowed. My husband would prefer that, I know. But even now - working part time...honestly it's a constant back and forth for me. I love being able to be home with my daughter. LOVE IT. But I'd be lying if I said I don't also enjoy a little work/people/somewhere other than home with a baby stimulation. I often wonder how it'd be if I was home every day. I think some thing would be far less stressful. Like babysitters. And also feeling the stress of packing all my errands in on the couple of days I'm off work. But also, other things would probably be more stressful. Like going crazy when she won't nap day after day. Or when I need a break from her. But I can't. Anyway everything works differently for everyone. I think part time work and part time mommy is pretty perfect though, in the grand scheme of things. This time flies by, as everyone says, and they need us so much. It's nice to be needed, even when we're feeling otherwise sometimes :)

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  27. I imagine it's a shock to the system. My mother-in-law (grade school teacher) retired last year and she said she found it so bittersweet to now be returning. She said she was thrilled not to have to sit through all the meetings but she really, really missed having a class of kiddoes to welcome!

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  28. I go back to work on September 29th - full time. I struggle with wondering if I will miss anything due to work obligations and work travel. Like the 1st steps, her beginning to crawl, her saying mama for the 1st time. But then I also know that I will 100% go crazy if I am stay at home mom.

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  29. I think some women are not cut out for staying at home with the children all the time I was I loved being a stay at home mum but I have known some women who hated it they felt bored and like something was missing from their lives. As children grow they become more interesting and it is great when you can really start to talk to them and know they understand what you are saying

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  30. I second the suggestion to read Dr. Laura's In Praise of Stay-at-Home-Moms… it will give you a fresh perspective and validate what you are doing. I remember having a hard time when Em finally grew out of her colicky ways and I was back in TN. I remember talking to Beck on the phone and saying how long the days were and that I'd get bored and feel unfulfilled. She told me to ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS. Which is so true because now my life is VERY full with three. She told me to read all the books I want and watch all the movies I want and to not feel guilty! Easier said than done, I know. Do you have a playgroup you can attend? If not, you should create one within your ward. I was in charge of the playgroup in California. It was always something to look forward to. Also, get outside as much as you can. Now that you have June in your life, your decisions are made with the question in mind, "What is best for June?" Her needs take priority and the need for a new baby to be loved and snuggled and cared for and raised by her IRREPLACABLE mother outweighs anything else.

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  31. I left the work world when my first child was born. I was blessed to be able to stay home for 15 years with my kids. It was extremely isolating, however. Finding a mother's group certainly helped with the social aspect. I didn't do that with my first, by the time I had my second I was plenty busy with two kids under two.

    A couple years after the birth of my fourth child (who arrived eight years after my third), our financial situation forced me to take a part-time job when he was just three. It was, and is, one of the most difficult things I've had to do. I'm missing things with him, that I didn't with his older siblings and it's been heartbreaking for me.

    I'm am lucky that my job is flexible, but I have to weigh missing time at work (and the money) to taking part in field trips or class parties (he'll be in first grade this year) that I did without a thought for the older kids. My kids are now 17, 15, 13 and 5 and, for me, it's hard to juggle even a part time job with the running of a household and the needs of my family. My vocation is definitely being at home.

    Staying at home isn't for everyone, but finding the support of other moms (MOPS groups, play groups, friends with kids, etc.) is a good way to deal with the isolation and boredom when the kids are small. Knowing what feeds you as a mom whether you kids are little or big is key.

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  32. I've been a stay at home mom since my now 6 year old was born. I now have 3 in school (7th, 4th, 1st grade) and a 4 month old i'm starting all over with. The first days and months are tough, but it gets much easier and fun!!!

    Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily

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  33. I stay at home with my toddler, but it doesn't mean I stay AT HOME. We are constantly on the move - parks, playgroups, activities, whatever. I can't sit still. I do miss working outside the home sometimes, but the grass is always greener, right?

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  34. I have a 17 month old and am currently pregnant with #2 and have worked full time my childs entire life and I'll tell you, I WANT TO BE HOME with him. I wasn't the least bit excited to go back to work and constantly feel like I'm missing out on my little man's milestones.
    Because of our current situation, my husband is in between his under-grad and grad school and cannot provide for our family as well as I can at this point, and so I work.
    He struggles similarly. Our university started today and he can't wait to bring our son up to campus to get into the hullabaloo of the first day of school even though he's not studying this semester. He also struggles with knowing what to do all day, and it's funny because I can think of 1,000,000 things to do all day staying at home with my son.
    Reading time at the library, homemade fingerpaints, discovery walks, 1,000 house chores that don't get done while I'm working, NAPPING, etc.
    It's funny how we always want what we don't have.
    As for with a newborn, there are definitely less 'interactive' options for you. You could always go visit Greg at lunch or pick up a new hobby you've always wanted to try. I'd probably finally teach myself how to sew!

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  35. After I had my first I continued working until she was about to turn two. At that time, I was expecting another baby, I felt like I was missing out on the little moments with my little girl, and I just felt like it was time for me to quit my job and do the 'stay-at-home' mom thing. Quitting my job and staying at home was one of the toughest decisions and transitions I have ever made!! Everyone said I would love being home, but it was so HARD!!! Like you, I enjoyed being in the workplace and feeling like I was making a difference. At home I felt so completely lost, bored, lonely, unfulfilled, anti-social, confused and all the other feelings people have mentioned. I too would wish I was at work only to find myself feeling guilty for not wanting to be home. I missed the interaction and relationship I had with my co-workers and colleagues. And, not to mention, working 10-hr days with only 1 or 2 hours off my feet, was often so much easier than being a mom. I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing at work.

    SO, you are not alone Bonnie! Your sister gave you awesome advice, to join or start a playgroup (I think playgroups are more beneficial for moms than for the kids), to watch lots of movies, to read lots of books, and to get out and do things as often as you feel or can. I would also recommend reading Dr. Laura's In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms, and other mommy 'pick-me-up' books. Also, another thing that helped me was reminding myself that I was still doing work that does and will make a difference. It is easy to feel unfulfilled and under-appreciated as a mother during the everyday mundane routines, but it will be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling decisions. It will take time to find the new balance, it did for me. Some days I still wish I could go to work, but I have found a lot of happiness in staying home with my children. You are awesome Bonnie! I think part-time will be great. You will still get a little of that satisfaction that comes from being in the workplace, as well as all the joy from time and memories with your sweet little June. Being a mom rocks!

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  36. After I had my first I continued working until she was about to turn two. At that time, I was expecting another baby, I felt like I was missing out on the little moments with my little girl, and I just felt like it was time for me to quit my job and do the 'stay-at-home' mom thing. Quitting my job and staying at home was one of the toughest decisions and transitions I have ever made!! Everyone said I would love being home, but it was so HARD!!! Like you, I enjoyed being in the workplace and feeling like I was making a difference. At home I felt so completely lost, bored, lonely, unfulfilled, anti-social, confused and all the other feelings people have mentioned. I too would wish I was at work only to find myself feeling guilty for not wanting to be home. I missed the interaction and relationship I had with my co-workers and colleagues. And, not to mention, working 10-hr days with only 1 or 2 hours off my feet, was often so much easier than being a mom. I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing at work.

    SO, you are not alone Bonnie! Your sister gave you awesome advice, to join or start a playgroup (I think playgroups are more beneficial for moms than for the kids), to watch lots of movies, to read lots of books, and to get out and do things as often as you feel or can. I would also recommend reading Dr. Laura's In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms, and other mommy 'pick-me-up' books. Also, another thing that helped me was reminding myself that I was still doing work that does and will make a difference. It is easy to feel unfulfilled and under-appreciated as a mother during the everyday mundane routines, but it will be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling decisions. It will take time to find the new balance, it did for me. Some days I still wish I could go to work, but I have found a lot of happiness in staying home with my children. You are awesome Bonnie! I think part-time will be great. You will still get a little of that satisfaction that comes from being in the workplace, as well as all the joy from time and memories with your sweet little June. Being a mom rocks!

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  37. I am glad you put maternity leave in quotes. I hope labour laws will be changed in the states in the near future to enable a mother or father to stay with their baby for longer than three months! Obama please do something!

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  38. I hope that you are feeling better about this now that the first day has passed, and also you are getting closer to going back! Honestly, I think it is hard either way. I stayed home with my first for 2 years and loved it mostly, couldn't see doing anything else, but I also had been a nanny beforehand and still babysat on the side. Once I had my second it got pretty crazy and a job fell in my lap and I took it. I work part-time (well 30 hours), half at home and half in the office. I love not having to put my baby in daycare but also having the extra to put my son (the toddler) into preschool which he LOVES. It's a great balance between family/home time and being out and seeing other people. I would love to stay home too and have the extra money since that would allow for a mother's day out program two days a week for my son and a bit less strict focus on a budget, but this allows a little more flexibility.

    I think part-time will be great for you. I know lots of people who are extremely happy with that balance. It's all a HUGE adjustment though!!

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