Before having kids, I was well-acquainted with the daily full-time work grind. While that grind is exhausting, becoming a stay-at-home mom is more draining than any other job I’ve ever had. With a full-time job, I was better about separating it from the rest of my life. But when your work is being a mom, you’re always on. And even though I know your job is exhausting for you, I’m tired too.
Unless you live a stay-at-home mom life, it can be hard to fully understand what goes into it. Even though you do your best to be supportive, it will never be the same. The exhaustion you feel is real, but so is the fatigue I experience.
Before we had kids, it was relaxing being at home. Once having kids and making staying at home my norm, things changed. Being the sole caretaker for children without additional support can be physically and emotionally draining. Whenever a child needs something, it’s up to me. Whenever they are fighting, it’s up to me to break it up. Their desires are on me to fulfill while you’re at work.
I’m the only support our children have, so I’m always on. It is hard being everyone’s everything all day. I don’t ever get a break or to relax. Everything is on me until you return in the evening.
When our kids were infants (and sometimes even on difficult days now that they’re slightly older), I would often count down the minutes until you got home so I could take a shower alone. I wanted a few minutes without someone touching me, without needing to break up fights, and time just to be alone.
Passing the kids off as soon as you walk in the door can be rough on you too. But some days, I am losing my mind by the time you get home, and I can’t stand it another minute on those super hard days. I know you work hard and need a break too. I know you need time to eat and relax after being at work all day. But it’s different.
You get breaks at work while I often don’t. You deal with other adults instead of toddler tantrums. Although adults can tantrum with the best of them, at least they don’t scream as much. You get to eat lunch without stopping every few minutes to get someone a napkin, more water or cut more apples.
You also get a change of scenery. While we get out of the house on some days, other days, it just doesn’t work. Maybe they’re cranky, I’m grumpy, the timing is off, I have too much to do, or the weather is crummy. While being in the house all day can take a toll, sometimes it’s easier or necessary. Taking kids somewhere is much more complicated and involved than going somewhere alone.
I appreciate all you do, and by communicating well, I’m sure you’ll realize all I do as well.
Your tired but appreciative wife
No matter how much you wish he could, your partner can’t read your mind. You’re probably putting out a bunch of clues about how grumpy you are, but until you spell it out as I did above, he may not know what exactly you need. Tell him how your day is going, and listen when he tells you about his. Both of you have valid feelings, whether being tired, frustrated or overwhelmed. By listening to each other, you’ll better understand what the other one goes through during the day to better support each other.
Just because we’re home all day doesn’t mean that the house is spotless or we’re super productive. If there’s anyone who can mess up carefully laid plans, it’s children. Despite how productive you intend for your day to be, they will usually find a way to derail it. Tell him what it is that you need. If you’re having a bad day, tell him you need a few minutes to yourself once he gets home. If you could tell him ahead of when he walks in the door, it would be much better than springing it on him as he comes in. And if you need time on the weekend to just be alone, tell him that too.
Taking care of kids all day is exhausting, and you’re often touched out. Sometimes you may want to be alone—and that’s okay. The key is communicating with each other to understand where each of you is coming from, so you can support each other.
Parenting is a rough business, and being a stay-at-home mom is no picnic. We’re all tired, but so are our partners. Our work may be different, but we are just as exhausted and worn out. While we love our kids with every fiber of our being, taking care of and raising children is hard. Instead of competing over who is more tired or who works harder, let’s work with our partners to support each other and keep things balanced.