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24 Unexpected Confessions From Stay-At-Home Moms Who Revealed What Their Lives Are Actually Like

We recently asked the stay-at-home moms of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the most surprising things about their lives that they wish more people knew. Here are the eye-opening results:

1."When my husband and I made the decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom, I didn't realize how I actually viewed the role. When people asked what I did for a living, I felt a slight shame in not having a career. It wasn't until I started talking to other mothers that I realized being a stay-at-home mom is a dream to some."

"Although I hadn't considered this path for myself earlier, I have realized it's a privilege to be home with my daughter and wouldn't trade it for anything."

Kara McCloud

Silhouette of a mother lifting her child in the air, expressing joy and playfulness
Oleg Breslavtsev / Getty Images

2."This might just be a me thing, but I have a huge amount of guilt for not contributing financially. My husband loves that I'm a stay-at-home mom to our two kids and reminds me that if I worked, the amount we would have to pay in childcare would likely be most of my income. As a result of this guilt, I find myself needing to do EVERYTHING around the house so that I can prove my worth, I guess."

"On the other hand, I absolutely love being home with my kids, and I feel so fortunate that I'm able to do so."

S_uffel

Mother and child happily baking together in a kitchen
Valerii Apetroaiei / Getty Images

3."I thought I would love it, and I AM glad I got to stay home with my kids when they were small. But it’s incredibly lonely and isolating, having no adults to talk to all day, and the only people you talk to are small kids who have constant needs. You get completely taken for granted by everyone in your life and have no resources of your own."

"When the marriage went south, I had been out of the workforce for eight years and didn’t have a penny to my name, and couldn’t even begin to afford a lawyer. I did eventually land on my feet, but it took years of luck and scraping. I so valued the time I had with my kids, but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone. This country needs decent maternity leave so mothers don’t have to choose between spending time with their small children and independence."

sprivey

A mother holds a baby and sits among toys as another child and adult move in the background, depicting a lively family scene
Natalia Lebedinskaia / Getty Images

4."I think the assumption is that your home will be cleaner because you're home and not 'at work,' but if the kids are too little, the house is still messy. My kids are 4 and 1, so they need constant eyes on them. I try to clean what I can while they're up, then the rest at odd times. I'm not an overly neat person, but it drives me nuts that I have to arrange a sitter or sleepover to properly clean my house."

dellarock

"Yes. The mess. My house is a disaster at times. I have lately been trying to tackle one room at a time for 30 minutes at a time. I put the kids in their room or playroom alone and just get what I can get done. A Roomba has been my best investment. While I'm playing with the kids, the robot can clean different rooms in the house. Plus, it's helped me keep things off the floor. The kids now know that unless they want 'Alex' to 'eat' their toys, they better put them up high 🤣."

toomanykidsnotenoughtime

Living room with scattered toys and a basketball hoop, depicting a family space
Thanasis Zovoilis / Getty Images

5."I love being a stay-at-home mom! It's exhausting at times but incredible. My house is a disaster because I never get time to clean, since I'm constantly with my kids. I also homeschool them. It's been wonderful being a stay-at-home mom and taking my kids to every appointment they have, especially the twins and the three- or four-times-a-week therapy appointments we did for their first three years! There are times I'm lonely, but I've now got SAHM friends, and we try to get together with our kids. Being home and hearing my kids' first words or the first time they walked was an incredible joy that I never experienced before — especially walking, because we worked so hard on that!"

"Being a stay-at-home mom is not for everyone, and I'll never shame anyone for working and putting their kids in school. I'm thankful that I get this opportunity every day, and I feel blessed to have such a supportive husband who also works hard to provide this life for us."

toomanykidsnotenoughtime

Toddler taking steps holding an adult's hand, expressing joy and achievement
Jessie Casson / Getty Images

6."I constantly feel unappreciated and lonely. I am forever cleaning up after people and looking after people, but who's looking after me? Also, getting told that 'staying at home' all day is an 'easy' option...at least with work, there are set times, and you can book holidays and get days off. I don't get any of that."

famousturtle65

"The constant mental load can be exhausting. There’s no clocking in and out; it’s 24/7! It can be difficult to make yourself a priority."

MessieB

Mom vacuums while child sits on a sofa with a tablet in a living room setting
Marco Vdm / Getty Images

7."I actually love being home with my little ones! I was raised by a single mom who missed every big moment because she was always at work. I have more memories of daycares and babysitters than I do of my own mother. It has been so healing to be in the present moment for my children that I needed growing up. Even when my toddlers are wild, I’m still grateful."

"I loved my career, but I do not feel like I’m missing out in any possible way because nothing I’ve done has been more fulfilling than being present for my children."

AL

Mom kneeling to adjust a child's backpack outside school; they're looking at each other and smiling
Aaronamat / Getty Images / iStockphoto

8."I recently became a stay-at-home mom in September after being a preschool teacher for eight years. My son is a year old, and he spent a few months in the infant room at the school where I taught. I left due to issues with the administration that caused far more stress than my body could handle. I love being at home with my son and seeing all his firsts, but it has taken a toll on me."

"I can't go to the bathroom whenever or just grab something to eat. I lost some freedoms I hadn't considered. But I wouldn't change it for the world."

dmcrowe12

Mother holding her baby, both facing the camera, sharing a tender moment of bonding
Sarah Mason / Getty Images

9."I worked as an attorney before becoming a stay-at-home mom. As an attorney, I received respect and accolades for the work that I did. I discovered that being a stay-at-home mom was more work, harder work, and longer hours. However, I received very little respect and appreciation for these efforts. Our society seems to default to dismissing the incredible contribution SAHMs make."

"SAHMs perpetuate our species, shape and mold the human beings that will be our future, and give all of their selves for the betterment of these little human beings. Their efforts should be respected more than a profession that makes money off the conflicts of others."

—41, California

Woman at a desk with a gavel and legal documents
Bymuratdeniz / Getty Images

10."I have three young children at home, and 'spontaneity' is not in my vocabulary. Don’t call last minute to see if I can 'go out' unless you have a babysitter with you. I love being home with my kids, but it’s a 24/7 job. The kids are up early, need things constantly, and are awake overnight, and you spend every moment planning, preparing, or playing referee."

"By the end of the day, I’m touched out, talked out, worn out, but still feel really lonely."

AriEPow

Mother and child playing soccer together in a park
Aire Images / Getty Images

11."It can be super rewarding, though my family is on one salary and I can’t afford to shop like some of the social media moms do. It has been so cool to watch my child grow and see the changes. However, after month seven of being home with my first child, I really miss work. I miss being the breadwinner. Now I’m ready to continue with my career and am thankful I have a partner who is ready to switch and work part time to be with our little one."

"Trust me…I’m sure once I go back to working full time again, I’ll miss being home. But balance is good for our family."

Anonymously Anonymous

Mother playing with two young children in front of a house
Momo Productions / Getty Images

12."I was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. I loved every moment of raising my four oldest (living) children, who are 18 months apart. We homeschooled and spent hours around the table engrossed in learning. I taught them how to clean, cook, etc. We did service projects, played sports, and explored woods, museums, galleries, and historic places. I worked nights and weekends to make ends meet. Eventually we had a surprise baby. Then my husband got a better job making almost three times the income. So he traded me and the kids in for a younger woman and a new baby."

"We got left behind to make ends meet on a single-mom budget cobbled together out of three jobs. We lived really small, but we love each other. The big kids are now grown and have life skills, jobs, and enormous compassion and respect. The little is now a teenager, and she’s a fierce force of nature. I qualify for food stamps and can’t afford healthcare. He travels the world with his new wife. Advice to other future SAHMs: Be careful who you trust to take care of you. It might just end up being yourself. Be prepared."

—49, Southeast, USA

Woman reads book with toddler and baby smiling on bed
Fly View Productions / Getty Images

13."It's not a luxury. I sacrificed my full-time income because I want my priorities to be reflected in how I spend my time. And if I prioritize my family, I will do everything I can to make sure that they are healthy, like cooking nutritious meals, and that they know their mom will always be there. Some mothers, however, have no choice because they make too little to even cover daycare costs."

—30, USA

Mom and child enjoying a meal at a dining table, passing food, smiling together
Violetastoimenova / Getty Images

14."It is so isolating. You can have playdates and mom friends, but it’s still so lonely. Having so many things to do around the house prevents you from having a busy social life. I have mom friends, but with my husband working and a busy household, I either talk to myself or a 3-year-old most days. It can be depressing."

—31, Canada

Mom and child embracing, looking out a window from a bed, in a dim bedroom
Justin Paget / Getty Images

15."I am more than 'just' a stay-at-home mom. I add a lot of value to the household even though I don’t bring in an income. I would much rather lose out on the income and be able to spend more time with my kids than pay for daycare and have to fit everything into three hours after work."

"With that said, I do feel guilty for spending money on myself or planning date nights, since I’m not the one bringing the money in (working on that one)."

—31, Iowa

Mom smiling at child in her arms, both casually dressed, in a well-lit room
Imagesbazaar / Getty Images

16."I spend my day trying not only to get things done but also to enrich my kids' education. I take them to cultural events, musical outings, storytime, etc., whatever I can find for them. My job from 9 to 5 is them. My second job is everything else for the house. So my partner also needs to get this second job and put away some dishes!"

—32, Canada

Mom and child sitting in an art gallery while the mom is pointing at something, with other visitors around
South_agency / Getty Images

17."Even when everything is 'fine,' you are always aware of how vulnerable deciding to be a stay-at-home mom makes you. You put this huge part of your life on hold to devote yourself to your children, home, and partner, and it can be very rewarding. But you always know it means that if things go wrong — divorce, serious injury, death, etc. — then it is going to be a really hard, uphill climb to pull yourself and your children into a place where you're stable again, financially, mentally, and emotionally."

"It takes a lot of trust and can be super risky. It is by no means an easy choice."

—32, Maryland

Mom kissing a baby in a carrier held by her partner
Fatcamera / Getty Images

18."First, a disclaimer that I have more privilege than so many folks. I have a master’s degree, but my husband earns enough that we don’t *need* my (much smaller) income. It is really hard to justify putting my kids in full-time childcare in order for me to work, just to send my salary to the daycare. We’d have less time together, and the cooking, laundry, and household management would be so hard to keep up with. I feel guilty almost daily for not using my degree, but I really think our family benefits from me being home."

"I also wind up taking on a lot of 'family responsibilities' that other working adults in our extended family do not have the flexibility to handle. Mother-in-law needs to be taken to a doctor’s appointment? I’m there. Kids’ school needs volunteers? That’s me. Grandpa in the hospital? I’m making a snack run and stocking the room. My work is constant, unpaid, and sometimes hard to see. But it does fill a lot of gaps."

—34, North Carolina

Mom driving a car smiling at her daughter sitting in the backseat with a seatbelt on, both look happy
Damircudic / Getty Images

19."The loss of self is real. I had a demanding corporate job that I was laid off from when I was eight months pregnant (thanks, 2020). Going from that lifestyle to being fully at home with a child who was completely dependent on me was incredibly difficult. It’s been three and a half years, and I’m just now starting to feel like myself again...just in time to have another kid and lose myself again."

—34, Illinois

Toddler's bare feet in a stroller, with a focus on safety harness
Olena Ruban / Getty Images

20."It's difficult to explain, but I've never had this level of space (mental and emotional) to discover myself and feel connected to myself. At work, I was naturally defined by my job. In college, I was defined by my major. In grade school, I was defined by my extracurriculars. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel so much more freedom to be who I am and own my passions!"

"This is not to say I'm not insanely busy, but there are random moments of quiet that are very centering. I'm shocked by all the places I find the ability to be creative. Home design, gardening, art with my kids, and even creating recipes and meal planning are creative outlets for me! I wouldn't trade this place in time and my role as a stay-at-home mom for anything."

—33, USA

A family gardening, with the child watering plants with the mother and sibling watching
Fatcamera / Getty Images

21."It can be really lonely. I love being with my kids, but a lot of days, I don’t have any adult conversation or interaction. Also, people assume that we must be well off because I can afford not to work, but it’s just that the cost of childcare is so high. We only just get by with my husband’s wage."

jennifers4eb4b7bed

Baby crawling on an alphabet floor puzzle in a playroom
Aaronamat / Getty Images / iStockphoto

22."Being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest relationship dynamic to have. My husband is busy all day working; it can be hard for him not to be resentful of me having every day 'off.' I also struggle not to resent him for being around adults all day (and being able to use the bathroom without spectators, etc.). He feels that I should take care of all the household duties because I'm home all day and he's making all the money."

"I think he should jump in and help with the kids when he gets home, since I am always with them without a break all day. We struggle to communicate and appreciate each other, and many other couples struggle with this as well."

—37, USA

An upset couple sit on a couch not facing each other, both appearing thoughtful and distant
Hiraman / Getty Images

23."I look at other moms who work and am jealous how much they cherish the time they have with their kids. I feel so guilty that I want time away from mine."

—33, UK

Mom looking at crying newborn twins lying on a soft surface
Sanyasm / Getty Images

And finally...

24."The judgment. I gave up a lucrative career to be a stay-at-home mom. I have two kids (3 and 2) and a third on the way. My parents hint that they are disappointed I wasted nine years of study and a good income to stay home. My MIL thinks my boys will not respect me because I don't work and contribute financially to the household. Family members think I wasted my potential."

"We are not financially reliant on anyone and have a great quality of life on my husband's income. He is happy because he loves his work and doesn't want to do any of the household chores (it was how he was raised) except play with the kids. I try not to let it affect me, but I get defensive when someone asks me, 'Why don't you go back, even just part time?' I have been blessed with this amazing opportunity to soak in these precious moments with my kids. I was never as passionate about my career. Why would I give up this rare opportunity?"

—34, Australia

A mother holding her baby close, both looking content and calm
Fatcamera / Getty Images

SAHMs, what are some other surprising things about your life that you wish more people knew? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.