It was an unusual couple of months for me. I had committed to taking a group fitness class for several weeks straight. It involved spinning combined with insanity.
As we adjusted the settings on our individual bikes, my friend shouted out something that stuck with me. After just delivering her second baby only weeks before, and being on maternity leave during this particular class, she yelled, “I told my husband last night that if he lets me quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom, I promise to lose all my weight and look like a gorgeous, skinny model.”
When it comes to body image, my friend is not alone. We are all working tirelessly to attain a certain figure and shape that is sexy, attractive, and appealing. We have a desire to be thin, skinny, lean, and fit. So while she may have declared a universal desire of moms everywhere, I am here to reveal this is a complete misconception when it comes to stay-at-home moms.
I have heard an infinite number of times, “Oh, you are so lucky you are home with your kids.” Sounds very positive, until the thoughts continue on.
“Oh, it must be so nice to be able to work out and exercise whenever you want.”
“…to be able to sit down and enjoy your meals instead of rushing to your next meeting.”
“… to eat healthy foods since you are in the comfort of your own home…
“…It must be so nice to have the time to be able to cook a lovely meal for your family for dinner.”
And the number one most common comment:
“I would be so thin if I was a stay-at-home mom instead of a working mom.”
Being a stay-at-home mom is, no question, a luxury. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love nothing more than waking up, taking care of my kids, changing their diapers, teaching them life lessons, and experiencing life with them through special activities or even just by going on a walk with them to enjoy the fresh air.
But let’s get one thing straight here. Though being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and we take many walks around the park, it is NO WALK IN THE PARK.
Work out and exercise whenever I so desire? Did you forget I have my baby and toddler running around my house? Do you suggest I leave them to watch each other while I leave to go for a run? If I’m not mistaken, child social services would be at my door upon my return.
Time to sit down and eat a meal? Unlike the hour lunch break most working individuals are granted, I have my kids. During a meal in my house, I act like a clown to get Austin to take a bite, constantly remind Levi that he needs to be careful drinking out of a… “Uh oh, Mommy, I spilled my orange juice.” Uh oh! I just sat down to take a bite of my sandwich, and now I have to get up, clean the entire orange juice mess, wash the floor to remove the stickiness, and refill his cup. Finally, I sit down to take my second attempt at eatng lunch, and Austin is, “All done, Mommy.” And as if I didn’t hear him the first time, he screams again, “All done, Mommy!” And since my response is not quick enough, he chooses to throw his plate on the floor.
Staring at my sandwich, famished, I have only one option at that point: to devour it as quickly as possible before catching up with them for the next activity. Relaxing lunch hour? I think not.
Time to prepare and cook dinner for my family? Have you ever heard of the witching hour? If not, “It is the time in the early evening when kids all across America seem to fall under a spell that causes mass meltdown, or at least the sort of stress that make staying late at work start to look mighty good.” This article even declares the state of relaxation, or lack thereof, for stay-at-home parents compared to working parents. And, you think I can make a meal? One child is riding his airplane toy into the wall, the other is yelling at him not to, and all of the sudden, my kids are beating the shit out of each other while I am adding ingredients into the chicken dish. Screaming and begging them to stop so I can just finish the recipe, they appear to have either gone deaf in the last five minutes or are just choosing to completely ignore my pleas. Making a nice family dinner with little kids? I don’t think so!
And, finally, because of all the daily chaos and inability to sit down and actually chew and swallow food in a peaceful fashion, most stay-at-home moms are inhaling food in the car. This way the kids are actually strapped in seats, but it does not typically qualify as “healthy.” Or, we are trying to eat with our kids, but because of the million interruptions, we are forced to eat as quickly as possible whatever foods we are able to grab and swallow, and spoiler alert—that’s usually not a salad.
So, despite the common misconception that stay-at-moms have the time, ability, and opportunities to exercise, eat healthy, diet, and cook at our leisure, we do not. We just survive. One day at a time. And wouldn’t trade that lifestyle for the world.