When Staying at Home Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

As I am writing this, it's a perfect Saturday afternoon. 

It really couldn't be more picturesque, really. The wind is softly blowing, the sun is shining gloriously without being too hot, and the promise of fall and adventure is in the air. 

Except for me, the only “adventure” I have going on in my day is a couple loads of laundry to look forward to. 

You see, I'm a stay-at-home mom whose husband works a lot of weekends. And while it feels like most of the world is off having fun on this gorgeous fall weekend, I am stuck at home with four young kids and nowhere to go. And can I confess? I'm pretty lonely. 

The truth is, sometimes it feels like staying at home isn't all it's cracked up to be. 

There are days like today and moments like right now when I confess these thoughts to you, the anonymous reader I will most likely never meet but whose comments I will read (so please don't judge me too harshly); when I try to tell myself to snap out of it; when I remind myself that this life is the life I have chosen—that I love being able to stay home with my kids—that I am lucky for the opportunity. 

And a lot of days, that's enough to get me through. But every now and then, on a day like today, I feel utterly, miserably alone and defeated when I wonder, Is it supposed to be like this?

Image via j&j brusie photography

Is that what “staying at home” looks like for other moms? Is it normal for a grown woman to be 100% OK with being alone with young kids day in and day out, doing all of the housework and the shopping and the bill-paying and the cooking and the remembering of which kid needs what doctor's appointment when, all while keeping a smile on her face?

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I read the most perfect post the other day from one of my favorite bloggers, Dwija of House Unseen. Life Unscripted, in which she described what it's like for her to be at home with young kids vs. what it's like now that she has older children at home, too. She said, 

“It's hard to decide which one of the many biggest differences to note here, but I guess the most important one to me is that I don't feel like it's me fighting a losing battle against a tiny army anymore. I don't feel alone. The loneliness, the mental game of all small kids, is the hardest thing for me.

When I read those words, I wanted to cry because that—that loneliness and mental exhaustion that she described—that is exactly what it feels like to me. I believe that every mother is skilled with different talents as a parent, and alongside that, different struggles. And my struggle is definitely in the mental exhaustion, staying home with young children. 


It seems like it should be easy, doesn't it? I mean, they are kids! They are cute and cuddly! But it is exhausting; it's repetitive and monotonous, and at times, completely ludicrous. (Have you ever talked to a 2-year-old? I mean, really. Yesterday I spent 10 minutes trying to talk my son into putting on pants!)

It seems like I should enjoy being home 24/7, doesn't it? I mean, it's my house! I'm comfy here! I can wear my pajamas! But there's something that makes you feel totally inadequate and, frankly, pathetic in being home all the time. You start to just not care what's going out there in the world, and the fact that you don't care makes you feel even worse. 

It seems like an easy solution would be to kick my lazy buns into gear and get out of the house then, doesn't it? Adventure! Fresh air! Go to the park! But it's not that easy. It's like fighting a losing battle to get young kids, especially if they are in plentiful amounts and newly born like mine, out of the house. Someone is always going to throw a fit or poop their pants or lose a shoe, and you will end up exhausted and cranky before you even leave, which kind of defeats the purpose. 

And although I don't want this to be a thoroughly depressing post (and on that note, I will urge any of you who feel depressed/lose interest in your activities/have trouble sleeping all the time to seek help), I do want to be honest in this space with you on a very real struggle for me as a stay-at-home mom. Because the truth is, it can feel like my husband doesn't get it sometimes, and he probably can't understand because I don't think anyone who hasn't stayed home with kids can get it. It's just impossible to explain unless you've lived it day in and day out.

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But I know you get me, right?

On a day like today, when it kind of feels like it's just me and my kids alone in the world on this beautiful fall day, I know there are more of you out there with me. 

More of us moms, the ones who get up day in and day out, plaster a smile on our faces, and brainstorm another fun way to keep the kids engaged, even when we're exhausted. 

The ones who soldier on even when we wonder if it ever gets easier, if being home with us is even good for our kids, because deep down, we couldn't imagine doing anything else. 

The ones who sometimes draw a blank when our husbands ask, “How was your day?” even though it seems like just seconds ago, a million different thoughts were racing through your head about the 10,000 things that went wrong that day. 

The ones who, tonight, will kiss our children in bed, say a prayer of thanks for another day, and brush away a tear as we watch them sleep. 

And get up and do it all over again. 

What's the biggest struggle in staying at home for you?

What do you think?

When Staying at Home Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Cherie says:

    my stuggle is i feel soooo alone! it feels like its always just me and my girls (21 months and just turned 3). ive got one due in march and just getting the girls around to go any where let alone have the energy to do it is awful. i feel like i never have any adult interaction, my house is always a mess, both my husband and my son (11) are in school 5 days a week so its just me and the girls. none of my friends have kids my kids age so no “play dates” for us, and whenever i want to go anywhere by myself it needs to be when my husband isnt at school or his part time job or refereeing/umpiring a game (basketball ref, baseball ump). we live in town and can walk everywhere (only have 1 working vehicle right now and hubby uses it for school) but it takes a lot to get out the double stroller or the 2 seater cart/trailer for my bike, make sure everyone has sippys, plenty of diapers, make sure we are where there might be a bathroom because the eldest girl is contemplating potty training, snacks, and make sure we go when it isnt nap time. my youngest girl is only now starting to drop her morning nap and every nap is 2 hours long! (i know lucky right? but i never have time to go anywhere because its nap time the entire time everyone is at school! ugh!)

  2. Sarah says:

    I’m normally away from home all the time so I am looking forward to some much needed time at home, a little rest and relaxation before baby arrives. Not to mention when my first child was born I worked full time so I am super excited to be at home more with my second!

  3. Jill says:

    I appreciate what you are saying, but I think every job, whether it be a stay at home mom. an architect or a mail person all come with good days and bad days and pluses and negatives. The great thing about being a stay at home mom is that it is very easy to be pro active and find other moms in your community. We used to have a Whine and Wine. Each mom had to bring a bottle of wine or an appy and we could whine while all our children and babies played. It was glorious. No one glammed up or pretended to be super moms. Each time we rotated houses. We have three local community centers that offer free and or very cheap drop in programmes where you get to interact with other moms and parents. Wonderful to make those ties. Excellent to walk into a room where all the other moms have spit up on their shirts, a baby nursing and a toddler or two running around somewhere. These programmes are a godsend because not only do they bring the stay at home parents together, it gives the little ones something super fun to do and run off their ya ya’s and hopefully come home for a nice long nap. If you are feeling overwhelmed, have your husbands and partners give a helping hand. Their job and day doesn’t get to end just because they have left the office. Let them make dinner, or order pizza and take the kids to the park for you. Or hand him the basket of laundry when he walks through the door. You had a family together. You can both share the extras. And if your house is messy, who cares? What do you want to remember in 20 years, how often you spent cleaning the toilet bowl and folded laundry, or the amazing times you had with your kids? If you are tired, pop some popcorn and put a movie on for the whole family. Spend the day in your pj’s!!!! Pajama days can be fun. Leave the dishes, hubby’s are good at those too. Remember that you are awesome and an amazing mom! And when you feel lonely, ask for help, find a local community centre, a church group, a local health clinic that joins families together. Do a mommy and baby work out programme, there is a ton out there!!!!

  4. Grace says:

    My biggest struggle is not feeling good enough, every room in my house is not clean all at once, dishes never end, and my spouse works 3 jobs, just me and 4 young children (one a newborn)

  5. Brandi says:

    I’m sooo glad I’m not alone in feeling this way! All of my friends work my husband works out if town mon- fri. So I get the loneliness part. Then my kids come up to me and do something to make me feel more loved than ever! It’s those moments that make it worth it!

  6. Kristina says:

    Oh my gosh, this is so how I feel! And I never know how to explain it to my husband. Thank you for your honesty and how it can truelly just be lonely and exhausting being home with little ones. Its crazy though how I feel this way so many days, yet could not imagine doing it different if it came down to it.

  7. Tiffany says:

    I just recently had to quit my job. I worked for the same company for 6 years,Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and our son went to daycare.Now, I go to college classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings our 3 year old son goes to preschool from 11:30am-3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. My fiance works 5 days a week, and doesn’t get home until about 6pm every night, so our son goes to a really close friend of ours on days that I have class. I had mixed feelings about being a stay at home mom. At first I was excited about it, thinking that I would be able to get sooo much more done at home. When I worked I had to juggle the cleaning and cooking and taking care of our son, most of the time I would be stuck doing all the laundry and cleaning on the weekends, which really sucked cause then my weekends were wasted away on housework. I have been a stay at home mom for over a month now, and I am starting to feel just like you. Some days are better than others, but most of the time I feel really lonely. I have nobody to talk to. I have no friends and my family live 45 minutes away. I didn’t have friends when I was working either, but I could at least have conversations with my co-workers. Also, I forgot to mention that our son lost most of his hearing when he was about a year old, from unknown causes. So, it can be very difficult at times to get him to understand things, like he can’t have junk food for supper. He has a lot of tantrums because he doesn’t understand. He is getting a little better at understanding words and he is starting to talk more and sign more, but it’s still a struggle sometimes. I just try to be more positive and try to keep myself motivated to do things. Days that I don’t do things right away usually turn out to be a very unproductive day and involves me sitting on the recliner watching tv and nothing getting done, and then I am rushing to get things done before my son gets home from school and before I have to go to class. Our close friend that watches our son always reminds me that spending time with our son and enjoying life is more important than the house being clean.

  8. Naquesha says:

    This is exactly how I feel! I’ve been a stay at home mom now for a little over two years and at first it was ok! When we only had one child! Now we have 2 and another on the way! Most days I’m exhausted from having to take my husband to work, my daughter to school, getting my two year old up to tag along, cleaning, cooking, doctor appointments, school functions, and just doing my motherly duties! I’m never rested not even on the weekends! But although I’m always tired I couldn’t see myself doing anything else right now! Plus my husband doesn’t trust anyone else with our children!

  9. Cassandra says:

    I stay home with our 2 toddlers and baby #3 is on the way. Rainy days like today are the hardest on me, seriously trying to explain to a 2 year old why she can’t play outside in a thunderstorm is exhausting! Then hubby comes home and sees the house is a mess and asks what I did all day. I think that’s the hardest part for me, feeling like I need to explain how the house was clean til about a half hour before you got home, and that while it looks like nothing has gotten done I have in fact been working hard all day. 🙁 So yeah, I definitely get where you’re coming from.

  10. Brittany says:

    Beautiful and so honest and true

  11. GenaV says:

    I am a stay at home mom. I babysat 2 toddlers along with having my 2 1/2 yr old for literally the past 2 years. I just recently stopped working all together because I am due to give birth in 3 weeks. I will admit that babysitting was virtually no different than being a stay at home mom of 3 instead of just my 1. It drove me crazy most days and was yet very rewarding for myself and my daughter. It was slightly better in the sense of having to stay on a schedule of getting up and out to their house. I’ve found that since I’ve been home, if we don’t get up and dressed within the first 2 hours of being awake, we don’t end up getting dressed at all until after lunch the earliest!! Those are the days I hate the most. I feel like the day is waisted, I feel sloppy and blah, my house ends up messier because I just let her play while I sit reading or anything else I consider relaxing but unproductive. See that’s my problem! If I don’t feel productive in anyway that day, I feel exactly the way you described. Most days, even though I know it will be a short term struggle, I will get us up, dressed, and ready to go anywhere. Depending on the weather I will take her to the playground or the library so she gets some fun and social time. I’m not a crazy social butterfly but I usually get a conversation with a mom or two which makes me feel good also! The best advise I can give is, yes, staying home can get monotonous! But consider the craziness of having to balance work and home! Home is enough work in itself! If you have a “real job” your laundry still needs to be done, dinner still needs to be cooked, and house cleaning is inevitable. So if you have the ability to stay home and pace all of that and watch your kids grow…being able to raise them your way (not the babysitters) is sooooo work those 10min talks with your 2 yr old about getting dressed!! How many of those talks will you actually get before time has passed, kids are away in college, and you find out what lonely really is!?! Enjoy it! It’s a gift to be a Mommy!

  12. jesster131 says:

    Not only will I not judge you a part of me is wishes I could be you. Even in the lonely moments. I have a 2 1/2 year old boy who is home with Dad rt now. In a couple hours he will go to a sitters for a few hours until I get home around 10:30 tonight. Thankfully this is only 1 night a week the rest of the week I am home by 3pm & Dad normally goes to work at around 8. But still I feel like I am missing out on everything with my little man. The other night that I have to work the double shift Grammy steps in & watches him over night. I work 4 short days & 2 long ones. Dad works 5 nights. This way we don’t have to do the daycare thing & the 1 weeknight that the little man goes to a sitter it is our neighbor & my son is in love with her. He goes down after dinner & falls asleep in her apartment I just scoop him up & bring him back up to his own bed. If we could find a way for me not to be working I would trade both of my jobs for the time with my son. 2 year old speak & all. But I am lucky I live in a building & neighborhood other families that have young children so I’d have less of the loneliness to deal with. We all play outside together. It’s our own little parent support group rt there.


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