I often debate with myself whether it’s harder to be a SAHM or a Working Mom. And—while it’s undoubtedly physically exhausting to have to wrangle kids into daycare every morning and squeeze errands into the weekend—I eventually come to the conclusion that being a SAHM is harder.
We wear the same hat all the time: Mom. We don’t have the chance to take the Mom hat off for a while and don the Employee hat. Or the Fun Friend hat. Or, God forbid, the Sexy Wife hat (I think I might have accidentally thrown that hat out during the latest decluttering purge.)
We’re Mom when we wake up, Mom when we make the kids breakfast, Mom when we’re trying to sweep amidst all the toys. Even during naptime, we’re still Mom, because one ear is always attuned for those tell-tale thumps and cries that threaten to interrupt our afternoon tea.
Which is why Mom’s Night Off is my new favorite thing.
Give Yourself Permission. Seriously, It’s OK.
It all started when I read this article earlier this year. It was such a life-changing and revolutionary idea that it took me a while to come around to it.
Me: “Babe, I read this article that said parents should take a night off every week to just do whatever they want.”
Hubs: “I’ve been telling you to do that. You know I’m fine with watching the baby.”
Me: “Yeah, but if I start taking nights off, then you’ll have to take them too, and I don’t want to have to feed and put her to bed all by myself.”
Ultimately, my sanity won out (and now that Hubs goes to class two nights a week, I’ve gotten to be a pro at being alone all night). While I don’t take a regular, weekly night off, I do schedule them during times when I feel the boredom and monotony of SAHMotherhood getting to me.
I mean, think about it: your husband eventually clocks out at his job, right? He gets weekends and holidays and time off to recharge so he can get back to work on Monday with renewed energy. You deserve the same amount of respect for your job.
So, What Is It Like?
Most of the time, if I’m taking a night off, I “clock out” as soon as my husband gets home from work. He’s in charge of getting both of them fed and taking care of her bedtime routine (which he rocks at). So, once he’s changed out of his work clothes and figured out what Bear is eating, I leave.
Without the baby.
Without the diaper bag.
It’s so freeing.
Most of the time, I start with a trip to my local Once Upon a Child, because it’s hard to go with a toddler in tow. (Seriously, those small aisles can’t fit a stroller or a tiny shopping cart, how am I supposed to bring a baby?) I pick out clothes leisurely, without having to placate a bored child or worry about when naptime is. Sometimes, because I’m a cool mom, I pick out a toy or two.
After that, I grab dinner. I like to pick a place that I don’t frequent with a baby. Like Panera, because I have both hands free to carry my food back to my table. Or a place with actual servers. Sometimes I get to (gasp) read a book while I eat.
It feels so scandalous. But so right.
Then, get this…
I do whatever I want.
Shopping? Sure. Movie? Don’t mind if I do! The key is to indulge in whatever I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. In my case, that’s spending time by myself on my schedule.
When I come home from these nights off around 9:30, I’m actually pretty tired. I’ve been out running errands or thinking about my book, and this is after running after my kid all day.
But mentally, I’m refreshed. I got a chance to feel like Old Me again. Not the Mom version that I’ve become, but Me. Don’t get me wrong; Mom Me is great. She is strong, kind, and more productive than Old Me ever was. But Old Me knew how to take care of herself in a way that Mom Me sometimes can’t. Old Me is like the knee pain that forces you to rest so you don’t injure yourself further. And I think Old Me deserves a little attention too, don’t you think?
If you’re not already doing so, take a night off in the next couple weeks, just to see what it’s like. You might feel a little guilty at first, but it’s not only good for you, it’s good for your kids to see their parents taking care of themselves. After all, our job is to teach our kids how to become adults. If we make it look boring and monotonous, they won’t want to grow up.
And, while I love my job to pieces, I eventually want to retire.