Being a new mother or father is a really hard job. In fact, many stay at home parents claim that it is harder than the job they were working pre-baby. Is this claim over-inflated or true? The answer is that it all depends on a) your prior job, b) your child and c) your temperament.
The case for the pre-baby job being harder
- Groceries, errands, laundry etc still need to be fitted in after a long workday
- The job may be stressful or intellectually demanding
- The job may keep you on your feet even more than being a stay at home parent
The case for stay at home parent being harder
- 24-hour on-call job; no vacation time
- Work schedule revolves mainly around the child
- The frustration of dealing with tantrums
Why there is no one-size-fits all answer
On the one hand, caring for a highly active toddler can be harder work than a sedentary job with a standard workweek. But for those whose work requires them to be on the feet a lot, caring for an average child is going to be physically less demanding than the job was. The amount of job stress can also play a big role in whether or not the work of a stay at home mom or dad seems easier by comparison.
The unique factors about your particular child also play a big role. Age, temperament and any medical or special needs will affect whether it feels harder for you to be a stay at home mother or father than it was when working your pre-baby job. The number of children you have will also play into the difficulty level of being a stay at home parent.
Take heart: if you worked a physically active job, there is no reason to be intimidated by the physical demands of parenting.
Ultimately, being a stay at home mom or dad is almost always harder than people think it would be… but not necessarily physically harder than the pre-baby job you worked. However, it is important to remember that there are other factors that come into play as to which type of work is harder, such as job stress, your child’s age, and his or her needs. Unlike some would lead you to believe, there is no blanket, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It all depends on the nature of your job and your child.