It's true, it is hard work. Being a SAHM constantly tests my patience, ingenuity, creativity, and resolve. I can't eat or go to the bathroom without addressing someone else's needs first. It's difficult to never have a break from your children and putting them before you. Juggling two children presents it's own special challenges, especially when the needs of one are in direct conflict with the needs of the other. Even when they're sleeping (and if I'm lucky enough that they are both asleep at the same time), I'm listening for them and wondering when they will wake and planning what to do after that happens and recovering from their latest adventures and picking up the leftover messes. And god forbid I ever need to go to the dentist or get my hair cut. It's messy, painful, tiring, relentless, and thankless.
So why on earth would I put myself through that?
So many reasons.
Bonding: A special kind of bond is formed between a child and a parent when the parent is dedicated solely to the process of caring for and raising the child. This bond creates a feeling of security for the child. And in turn, that security breeds trust: trust that I will always be there and that their interests will always come first. That trust makes so many other aspects of parenting so much easier.
Breastfeeding: As a SAHM, I can breastfeed my children as long or as often as we need/want to. I don't have to worry about pumping or supplementing or weaning or finding an appropriate place/time. We can just do what comes naturally whenever it strikes us.
Stress-free kids: With no deadlines to meet or time cards to punch, my children are free to explore, play, sleep, and eat on their schedule. There is no mad rush to get out the door in the morning, no commute home wondering if I'll have time to make dinner for the family before the kids need to get to bed. Also, if my kids are not enjoying a situation, we can change it up. If they are getting stir-crazy at home, we can go out somewhere. If we are out and about and one of them melts down, we can leave and head home. This is a stark contrast to a day-care environment where, if the child doesn't want to be there... well, that's just too bad. The kind of liberty I have as a SAHM creates a nurturing, relaxing, easy-going lifestyle for my children that reduces their anxiety and stress.
Parenting my way: By being with my children 100% of the time, I assure that I make the parenting choices. I decide how much TV they can watch, what foods they can eat, what punishments/consequences to use, what lessons to teach, what experiences they are exposed to. It's a big responsibility, but I would rather take it on myself than leave those child-rearing decisions to someone else. Also, I am able to oversee their social interactions (and they do get lots of social time with other kids thanks to my network of other SAHMs) to make sure they are learning how to be polite and share and avoid physical violence and take turns.
Go, Do, Learn, Play, Explore: As a SAHM, I have the joy of being able to take my children places like playgrounds, parks, ponds, pools, museums, playdates, rides, activity centers, etc. If they were in a day-care situation, they would miss out on being able to go do these things with me every day. It is rare for us to spend a day at home, we are constantly going out and doing fun exciting new things specifically for the girls to enjoy. (And it's nice for me that we are usually out doing these things with another SAHM or two, so I have some adult company.) Bouncy houses, baking classes, gymnastics, dance classes, train rides, museum visits, nature walks, zoos, farms, puppet shows, story times at the library... these are the things that fill my days and these are all things that I'd hate for my children to miss out on.
Never miss a moment: Every day, I am creating loving memories with my children. And I know that I will be there for every first: crawling, teething, walking, laughing, talking, etc. These are memories that I will cherish and I can feel sure that their earliest childhood memories will be of the time they spend with me.
So many reasons.
So many reasons.
Is having a parent at home with the kids the right choice for every family? No, of course not. If staying at home is a choice that would be regretted or one that felt forced, then children will not thrive with a reluctant parent. Also financially, while some monetary sacrifices are acceptable, if having a parent at home would be too hard on the budget, not having the money for groceries is not in the best interest of the family.
But for me and my family it was clearly the right choice and I'm so glad I made it. Even if it means that my successes are measured in whether or not I have bodily fluids on my clothes at the end of the day.