Mayhem & Margaritas

The stay at home parent career-and the heartbreaking burnout

Stay at home parents don’t need the riches of a paycheck, they deserve a wealth of respect. 

For many, there comes a time when their family is growing and one parent makes the decision whether to work outside of the house, or remain at home as the primary caregiver and household manager. The decision is not as easy to make as many believe. Choosing to give up your current lifestyle for this new role is not something that anyone should pass judgment on. This is not the path to freedom, it’s a new career!

Your new career title is Stay-at-Home Parent, and it doesn’t come with a training program, salary, pension, vacation time, or sick days – and your boss is extremely demanding!

This career comes with some exceptional occupational hazards and is not for the faint of heart. You are challenged physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

One of the greatest opportunities in parenting is the ability to be a stay at home parent. But with that opportunity comes a lot of responsibility, stress, and unbridled opinions of others.

There have been plenty of humorous yet sincere blurbs written about the extraordinary salary of a stay at home parent, if a stay at home parent were to actually receive a salary. 

*Check Salary.com for an interactive Stay-at-Home Parent calculator. If you are a SAH parent there is an opportunity to fill in the survey and calculate your personal income and print a “paycheck”, if you ever need to validate your worth – for humor!

Picture source Salary.com

Let’s be honest, there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. Failure is not an option. For every one thing you check off the daily to-do list, 4 new tasks appear in its place. It often feels like parenting has you stuck on a real life perpetual tea-cup ride.

And just like riding the tea-cups at the State Fair, the stay at home parent ride starts with smiles, laughter and bliss, but within an undefined amount of time, turns to monotony, fatigue, and a peculiar amount of nauseum.

Oftentimes stay at home parents hit their stress and exhaustion threshold, and ultimately… a burnout. For anyone who thinks otherwise, I suggest taking a ride on the tea-cups for awhile.

There is plenty of advice and options to be found on avoiding traditional career burnout, but what if your career doesn’t offer that support and what if you can’t quit or even (if you really wanted to) get fired from your career.

What causes these burnouts

Stay at home parents feel inferior to their peers and even their significant others who are working in the traditional sense of the word. 

SAH parents have a tendency to feel less than. Society foolishly relates success with one’s level of education, employment, and social status. None of these ideas factor into the career of SAH parent, which intern creates a sense of being sub-par or worthless. It’s hard not having a social outlet during the day that asks about your goals and achievements. It’s challenging to hear about other’s business trips or lunch meetings at the club, while you spend your day running to the grocery store and pediatrician’s office, and not start to question why you aren’t doing those things too – you’re qualified!

Stay at home parents feel as though they aren’t providing because they don’t contribute financially.

SAH parents can easily be the outlet of stress for their significant other when financial stresses occur. Many times creating a massive amount of guilt on themselves for not providing in this aspect of the household. In fact, SAH parents are contributing tremendously because a lot of things most dual income households need to outsource, the SAH parent is providing at no cost for their family.

Stay at home parents don’t take sick days. 

SAH parents spend their sick days in their office (the home). They don’t get to call in sick and stay home in their bed away from their co-workers. More often than not they continue to provide the daily needs and tasks required to keep the household running.

Stay at home parents don’t practice self-care.

SAH parents don’t practice self-care because they find it challenging to justify their own personal time when the perception of them is that they have the entire day off already. They also have a hard time finding time within their extremely busy daily schedule of tasks. If self-care requires a monetary contribution you can almost bet that luxury will not happen, simply out of guilt.

Stay at home parents are lonely.

SAH parents often feel isolated and lonely. They feel like others don’t understand their decision to take on this role, and that makes it hard to try to connect with others. Many of their peers are busy in the workforce or tending to their own children, so the time to spend with other adults is extremely limited. Spending quality time with your children is a blessing but adults need adult interaction and socialization.

Stay at home parents lose sight of the precious moments.  

SAH parents don’t see all the precious moments right before them because they never step away to be able to notice they are happening.

Stay at home parents feel they are “Just”.

SAH parents are far from just anything. They work as hard, if not harder – all day, everyday, just as any other profession does. They are self-taught professors of their career. They are all things to the next generation of our society. Being a SAH parent takes everything not just something.

You probably start to wonder if all these negative feelings are worth it. Have I lost myself along the way? Who am I?

The answer is yes! This struggle is worth it! Your children are worth it! You are worth it! You are an unbelievably unselfish totally amazing PARENT!!

You need to remind yourself that these humans you created are the best, most important gift. They have created a NEW you. A better, more well rounded version of you. Nobody understands how it feels to love something so deeply as a parent. Nobody understands sacrifice or adaptation like a parent. You are more talented than you give yourself credit for. This is the most important work on the planet, and YOU are leading the way. You are shaping and nurturing our future. You have been afforded the gift of being there for them everyday. This time is more valuable than you can put a price tag on.

Stop for a moment and look around. Take in the chaos, it’s not all bad. Relish in the happiness. Pay attention to your child’s development. Watch their little hands and hearts grow each day. Enjoy this day! The days are long, but the years are fast. This day will never be here again. You have an opportunity of a lifetime to be part of all the moments, don’t worry about the noise of other peoples judgements. Tune that all out and focus on why you and your family chose this!

When everything is done, and your time has passed, your children are going to remember all you were there for, not the little mistakes you made along the way. Your presence, not the presents, is what that they will remember you for!

Having a stay at home parent career is not easy or glamorous but it does come with some pretty amazing benefits that can’t be measured by a paycheck! Knowing that you were always present for your children when they needed you most.

Stay at home parents don’t really want a salary – although it would be nice! What they really want and deserve is respect. Respect from friends, family and significant others. They have earned it!

6 thoughts on “The stay at home parent career-and the heartbreaking burnout”

  1. So accurate! Being a stay-at-home Mom is so difficult and so rewarding. Being there for all of your little one’s milestones is the best!

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