When I made the difficult decision to leave my full-time job and become a full-time stay-at-home mom, I was ready for some big changes. I accepted that I'd be doing way more laundry and cleaning up, I assumed I'd lose my sh*t a little more often, and I anticipated having those "what is the point of my life?" thoughts on occasion. I even wrapped my head around (ahem, got excited about) my new workout clothes-only uniform. But what I didn't see coming was how different weekends would be.
When both parents work outside of the home Monday through Friday, finally reaching the weekend is a glorious change of pace, an occasion to be celebrated by both parties — unlimited time with the cute kiddos you miss all day during the week; outings and adventures as a whole family; time to catch up on things at home. Eating out and hanging out with your little unit is a real treat after you've been staring at a screen all week. Of course, there are moments when you start longing for the next workday, so you can eat lunch in peace, but for the most part, everyone is on the same page when it comes to the weekend vibe.
But when one parent stays home with the kids, one of you reaches Friday excited to spend two days off with the family, and the other reaches Friday excited for the weekend only to realize you'll be doing all of the exact same things in the exact same place for two more days. There is no "change of pace." Sure, I get a few extra hours to "sleep in" (does 8 a.m. even count?), since my husband gets up with the kids, but once I'm out of bed, I'm right back on the clock.
The same place you've put in unlimited, unpaid hours during the week is the same place you spend what is supposed to be your two days of "downtime."
As a stay-at-home parent, you never leave the "office." The same place you've put in unlimited, unpaid hours during the week is the same place you spend what is supposed to be your two days of "downtime." It's like trying to rest and recharge in a rolling office chair with a boss asking you to finish your weekly report. And, with your partner potentially on a different weekend wavelength, you have a recipe for 48 hours of frustration and chaos. (Who am I kidding, every day is chaos with three little ones).
To make it even more frustrating, as the stay-at-home parent, you're, obviously, the one home the majority of the time, so the kids are conditioned to come to you for their every problem, need, and complaint. Even when there is another parent in the room, you're the go-to. You're the one managing schedules and practices and appointments during the week, so you're the default weekend activity planner and schedule master. Only now, if you have a partner, you get to coordinate everything for an additional person, too.
Sure, some of this is just the reality of weekends when you have kids, regardless of your employment status. But I seriously do not remember this insanity taking over from Saturday to Sunday when I had a 9 to 5.
Now, when Friday night hits, I find myself desperately wanting to escape the walls of my home but also relishing in the idea of family movie night. I want to immediately get in the car and take a kid-free girls' trip while also being excited to see my husband and hang out as a fivesome. Usually, I do what any selfless mother would and devote all my waking weekend hours to my family. Family first, right? But after months of this, it seems I'm doing it wrong, because lately, every Saturday and Sunday, I'm cranky, irritated, and exhausted.
Did I miss this chapter when I studied up for stay-at-home mom life? Did I not hear my fellow SAHMs warn me about this phenomenon, or did no one mention it? Am I the only one struggling to find a weekend strategy that works with my new role? Or is the only answer taking vacation time?