It’s a job that requires endless hours, chef services, chauffeur services, maid service and sleepless nights. But it also pays in milestone moments, contagious laughs and constant exploration.
After a long-term decline of stay-at-home mothers, studies show a rise in the past decade of mothers choosing to stay home with their children.
Two mothers sat down and shared their story of the day-to-day life of a stay-at-home mom.
Dana Chambers, of LaGrange, has two children: an 11-month-old and her 15-year-old niece.
Chambers never envisioned she would be a stay-at-home mom. She worked as a director of operations for West Georgia Physicians even while pregnant and after having her baby, she never intended on staying home. Six weeks after returning to work, Chambers made the transition of leaving her job and staying home.
Like any working mother, Chamber’s day starts at 7 a.m. getting her children ready and dropping her teenager off at work. She comes back to cook breakfast for her 11-month-old. Once her baby goes down for a nap, Chambers takes the opportunity to shower and take care of household chores. Her afternoon consists of running errands and caring for the home. Come 3 p.m., its time to pick up her niece from school and get dinner started.
“I had this ideal of what my day-to-day life was going to be as a stay-at-home mom and everything I was going to accomplish within daylight hours and it was going to be amazing,” she said.
The reality was much different. Chambers said the 20 minutes she spends in the shower and getting ready is her only personal time of the day.
“I may get a shower every day, but that doesn’t mean I get to fix my hair or dress myself the way I would like to everyday.”
Chambers said part of her identity was her professional career, and since her decision to stay home, she has had to redefine who she is.
Though she still thinks about her career every day, Chambers said she never regrets staying at home and never views her choice as a sacrifice.
“I don’t exaggerate when I say there is so much satisfaction [and] rewarding moments literally every hour,” she said. “It could be something as small as Emalyn’s face radiating with pure joy,” she said. “I find it satisfying to watch her explore the world and see it in a beautiful way.”
Chambers’ transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom has given her a unique perspective into the clash between the two kind of mothers.
“There’s been a a lot of literature circulating over the past year over stay-at-home-moms versus working moms… we’re all doing what’s best for our own families and for me that was staying home,” she said.
“I’m very grateful every day that I get to do this job. I’m grateful that I’m being afforded this opportunity and the gift of being a mom.” Chambers said.
Bobbie Harrington, mother of two said being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t get any less chaotic when they become teens.
Harrington, mother of a daughter, 13 and a son, 12, said she couldn’t imagine not being at home with her kids. Once her children entered school, Harrington took on extra responsibility by heavily volunteering with their schools.
Harrington said being a stay-at-home mom allows her to be present in her kids lives at all times.
“That’s my biggest reward,” she said. “I have raised my children, I have watched my children grow up, I have not missed anything.”
Those rewarding moments of being there for her children have become her greatest challenges as well as the kids have grown older. This is the first year Harrington’s kids have gone to the same school, but before she has had to balance two kids going to different schools and being involved in multiple after school teams and groups.
“I’m trying to be at two different schools volunteering, going to field trips, field days, any kind of special activities,” she said. “You feel like you’re spread really thin.”
Harrington wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to get her children ready for school. Her day is filled with household chores, running errands and being present in the schools. Add on top of that after school activities, Harrington said sometimes the day doesn’t end until 8 or 9 p.m.
“I have a husband on top of all of that, which sometimes can become another job,” she said. “He works all day, every day so I really try to do everything.”
Harrington said being a stay-at-home mother means being a nurse, teacher, chauffeur, cook, nanny, laundromat and more.
“I just really appreciate being able to stay at home and do the things that make my family function,” Harrington said.
This Mother’s Day, both Chambers and Harrington will prove that there is no rest for a stay-at-home mom. Chambers will be helping her brother move into his new home and Harrington will be working in her church’s technical department making sure the Mother’s Day program runs smoothly.