I've read dozens of debates about who has it harder - stay-at-home-parents or working parents (those working outside the home).
Genuinely, I don't presume anyone has it harder or worse, necessarily. But, back when I was at home all the time, I speculated over how the two really compared.
Now that I've experienced both avenues first hand, I've reached my own conclusion - that a day looking after two young kids is definitely more physically and mentally exhausting than a day at work. For me, anyway. And I'm a massage therapist (well, almost). And that's a tiring job, believe me.
After a day at work, I still have the energy to go for a run.
After a day at home, I'm depleted and ready for bed by 9 pm.
Two months ago I started my massage therapy practicum - a job, two days a week. Aside from the anxiety of leaving my kids for the first time, I anticipated the exhaustion that would follow. The working day promised to be hectic: dropping the kids off at the dayhome, working for the day - doing several massages, picking them up afterward, preparing dinner, catching up on all the things that needed to be caught up on in the evening.
But actually, it only took me a couple of those days to realize that my energy took way less of a beating on working days. Despite the whole procedure of getting through the day, I wasn't as exhausted as the days I was at home.
Because, after the rush of the morning, and once I was at work with my coffee in hand, things moved slowly. I could sit quietly with my books and paperwork. I could work with clients in a calm, focused manner. Each task I performed was uninterrupted. In between appointments, when there was a quiet moment, I could make a list, or scan my diary to remind myself of upcoming appointments or birthdays. I had time to get my thoughts together.
At home, an average day includes (deep breath) getting the kids up, changed, dressed -- making and feeding breakfast -- making beds -- clearing up breakfast -- preparing activities for the day -- doing laundry -- cleaning the kitchen -- talking to family and friends on the phone -- clearing up after craft activities -- making and feeding lunch -- putting kids down to nap -- clearing up after lunch -- taking out garbage -- doing more laundry; catching up on emails -- changing more diapers -- doing more activities -- preparing a mid-afternoon snack -- clearing up toys -- making and feeding dinner. And more stuff I can't remember.
An agenda many of you are familiar with, I'm sure. It doesn't pause for breath.
On top of the physical demands of being a stay-at-home-parent, there's the emotional side, too. I don't know about you, but on any given day, there are tears, tantrums and a whole host of other feelings and reactions to deal with.
I think, having considered both sides, what makes being a stay-at-home-parent harder for me, is the combination of nonstop activities, physical tasks and emotional confrontations. It's like a concoction of all the most tiring things a body can endure rolled into one period.
And after another weekend with the kids (while I was at class - whoo!), my husband, I'm pretty sure, will agree.