Stay at Home Parenting, Part 1: Psychological impact of spending too much time with illogical humans
As a working mom, I had the utmost respect for stay at home moms because as I liked to put it, “I think I would go psychotic.” I have to give my working self kudos, because I hit the nail on the head. Two months into this gig, I’m about psychotic.
Stay at home parenting is funny, because it doesn’t fully hit you until months (or years?) until you’re into it. It has a building effect. 1st week of stay at home parenting: “Look how cute they are listening to stories.” 4th week of stay at home parenting: “There is too much crime in this paw patrol city. Mayor Goodway needs to up her game.” 5th week of stay at home parenting: “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy does Paw Patrol exist?”
First week of staying at home, I gushed to Chad, “It’s so easy. Now I don’t have to cram cleaning the house and giving the kids attention into 3 hours of a day, after a full day of work.” And certainly, I had a point there. The house is cleaner; and, I have endless time to spend with the children.
The difference between being a working mom and a stay at home mom is more of an emotional/psychological difference than anything else. You have both the benefit and the disadvantage of a full day to spend with your children.
When I worked, I had a built in group of friends/ adults who I got to interact with 8 hours a day, 4 days a week. I was able to use my brain to think about complex topics and problem solve on a high level. I was thanked for my work. We had adult conversations! I didn’t have to run around at lunch time, negotiating a meal that would satisfy the cheese stick only child, picking up food off the floor and wiping messy hands. Most importantly, I got to drink my coffee in peace and didn’t have to talk to anyone until I had consumed a full mug.
Now I interact with extremely emotional children who are completely illogical. My brain cells are now used to calculate avoidance of tantrums. My creativity is used to devise a plan to put a diaper on a running 2 year old as she yells, “Naked baby!” I serve as a referee between illogical arguments:
Child 1: “She’s my mommy!”
Child 2: “Nooooo! She’s my mommy”
Me: “I’m not sure how to explain this without going into too much detail, but it is possible for a female to mother two children. She has plenty of eggs.”
Child 1: “Can we have eggs for breakfast?”
Me: thinks to self, “argument averted, self high five!”
I answer endless why questions:
Child: “Mom, why won’t the bug in the pool hurt me?”
Me: “Because it’s dead”
Child: “But why is it dead?”
Me: “Because bugs can’t survive in the water”
Child terrorist (chanting): “Bugs can’t survive in water. Bugs can’t survive in water. Bugs can’t survive in water!”
Then child sees a water bug. All hell breaks loose because BUGS CAN’T SURVIVE IN WATER. Or can they?
My initial goal as a stay at home mom was to raise well-adjusted children who don’t need to see a therapist in their adult years due to poor parenting. I wanted them to be smart, have good manners, and treat others kindly and with respect.
My goals now: Maintain sanity. Survival of self and children.
In spending such vast amounts of time with these young children, their illogical behavior has begun to rub off on me. I’ve changed my parenting tactics and they are aimed at survival only. Favorite lies I’ve told my children to encourage good behavior:
- “If you don’t brush your teeth, they will fall out. Then you won’t have any teeth. Then you won’t be able to eat.” This has backfired a few times when the kids were exhausted, needed to go to bed immediately and I tried to skip teeth brushing. It triggered a full blown meltdown: “But I don’t want my teeth to fall outttttttttt!!!”
- “If a car runs over you, you will be squished like a pancake and I will have to eat you.” (got this gem from my Dad, works wonders in parking lots)
- “Alligators can hear whiny children and they will come eat you. You better stop whining so they can’t find you.” They are legit terrified by this one. It is especially great if the doorbell rings when they are whining because then I can say, “Uh oh, I think the alligator is here.” It shuts down the whining real quick.
Certainly, being a working mom had its own set of difficulties, and that could be an entirely different blog post. So often, “working mom” vs. “stay at home mom” are compared as if one is better than the other. Having lived both realities, I’m learning that one is not superior to the other. Each has its own difficulties. Each has its own joys. But maybe more importantly, in each reality, the kids will turn out okay. And maybe I will too.