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When you’re at work all day, you may think life at home is a breeze.
You drive to work, deal with the meetings, the expectations, the annoying requests that come in, and the stress of meeting deadlines. You have to talk with your coworkers about a project and no one really seems interested in getting the thing done in the way you want it done. You sit and work for 8 straight hours with no break, and just a quick lunch. When you get home, you just want to decompress from the long day.
You feel like your life is about as stressful as they come with having to work all day. You don’t get to sit around the house and simply watch a baby. You don’t get a break while the baby naps, and you don’t get to enjoy any quiet time to yourself. When you get home, you’ve earned that...at least you think you do. For you, work is way more stressful than spending the day at home with a kid.
If you think that’s true though, it’s time to take a big step back and look at what life is really like at home with a child. If you think work is hard, try staying at home with your child all day long. Most parents that work only need one day at home with their child all day long to realize that going to work is generally much easier than going to work all day long. Try doing it for one day and you’ll be glad to be at work.
First off, staying at home with a child all day long means that you’re not getting any social interaction with another adult. Sure, you can talk to your child, but the interaction is very different. Going for multiple days in a row without social interaction, even if it’s work related, is really draining on a person. Even if you’re an introvert, just listening to other people talk about adult things is a huge boost.
Next up is all that free time that you think you get at home with a kid. Good luck with that. Sure, the child may be sleeping several times throughout the day, but there are tons of other household chores that are being done as well. If you want to have all of those chores left for you when you get home, then yeah, there will be downtime. Otherwise, cleaning, cooking, and keeping the house in order all happens during that free time.
Furthermore, a child simply doesn’t want to listen half the time, and many times they can’t even understand what you want. Imagine telling your child something dozens of times and they simply won’t listen. If you had a coworker like that, they’d probably be fired very quickly. There’s no firing your child - you have the one that’s yours. They don’t listen, they scream and while, and then they do what they want.
All of that screaming and whining and not having anyone to talk to really drains a person and will often lead to major stress. You need to be able to decompress after a full day of watching your child. You can make it work for some time, but if you don’t get time to actually take a break from parenting, you’re going to have some type of mental breakdown. Just like you need a break from work at the end of the day, a full time parent needs a break from the kid.
Staying at home with your child can be rewarding, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. When you get home from work, offer to let that parent take a break for a bit so that they can decompress from the long day that they’ve had. You’ll find that everyone is happier if you do, including yourself.