48 answers

Sahm's: How Do You Get a Break?

I'd like to do a little poll to see how (or even if) SAHM's get a little break for themselves during the week when your husbands are at work.

I've been a SAHM for just less than a year after leaving a full time job. I have a 3 year old and an 11 month old. My husband doesn't believe in Mother's Day Out and my family lives out of state. I do all of the nighttime parenting (always have), in addition to caring for the kids all day, and trying to do all of the laundry and keep up with the house and bills. His idea of giving me a break is watching the kids while I get a shower that lasts more than 3 minutes, or he lets me run errands by myself for a couple of hours on the weekend sometimes.

I am grateful that I get to stay home to raise my kids. I hated working full time once I became a mom. BUT, I've been going non-stop for nearly a year. Every other SAHM I meet uses family or Mother's Day Out so they can clean or run errands more easily. My husband says they're spoiled. My mother says she raised 5 kids without any help. She said that she put us in play pens a lot. I don't do that and now I'm paying the price...getting burned out. How do you get a break?

4 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow! Thanks for all of the advie! I appreciate hearing about your experiences and learning from what you do. Becoming active in a Mom's club is a great idea; and I plan to do that. Sometimes, it's comforting to know that there are other moms out there in the same situation. You are all so kind to share your advise and experiences. I'm going to keep working on my husband to get him to appreciate how hard SAHM's work. :)Thanks again!

Featured Answers

I understand. I don't have any family here either, but they do try & come to visit. When my mom is here, she will babysit for us in order for us to have a date.

I don't do MDO, & I'm only sending my son to preschool next fall 2 days a week in order for him to get used to kindergarten.

It will get better. :)

1 mom found this helpful

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I feel ya: my son is almost 13 months old and I have no family here. Fortunately, I do have a very supportive husband, but he works 60 hour weeks and takes 2 classes at TCC so I still try to do the bulk of the parenting b/c he needs to study. If he comes home in time, I fix his tea and my son's dinner while my husband takes off his shoes and winds down a little. Then he does the last feeding of the evening (it's an easy way to bond with his son)and spends about 30 minutes feeding, talking, and loving on him. (I've found if I make it as easy/smooth as possible, my husband will be more likely to do it).
Finding/making time for yourself is really important and just as difficult though. After 13 months, this is what I've come up with so far: My son is very easy to put to sleep: we have a routine that we do every time and he just goes to sleep. The little boy I babysit during the week is a lot harder to put down so I put mine down first in his room, then I sit with the other boy and talk/sing and rub his back til he goes to sleep. As soon as you get both kids used to sleeping at the same time (it takes work to set the routine for them but is SO worth it) life can be a lot easier, for at least 45 minutes! However long they sleep, that's free time for you to do something you need for yourself. My guys take 2 naps/day. Sometimes I just lay down and rest during part of their nap too!
Once a week I go to a lifegroup (basically, a Bible study/social outing) at Gateway church. The church provides free childcare for the lifegroups and we have a Bible study at someone's house, then go to lunch together, then pick my son up afterwards. It's amazing how much something as simple as uplifting conversation and a lunch with other adults can really pick you up! That, and every other day I go to my local fitness center and work out there. They provide childcare for $10/month so that's 1 hour every other day that I get to do something physical for myself, which not only makes my body feel good (I've noticed that doing strength training has worked out all the knots in my back! I'm less tense! I have more energy! I'm sleeping better!) but it also helps me emotionally and after doing strength training, I'm on the exercise bike or treadmill with a book. When that hour is over, it's time for everyone to go home and eat breakfast, then take a nap. That first children's nap obviously involves a shower on those days...
It kinda takes a lot of planning and preparing until you finally just get into the groove and have a routine that works for you. It also takes some imagination. Sometimes when I (or the boys) are feeling gripey or stifled, we go out in a double stroller (I bought one on Craigslist for $40!) and we go for a walk. Getting outdoors and the little ones enjoying the scenery and me enjoying their silence or cooing is a big break for me. Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful

Before I share what we do, let me say that 1) I was about a year into being a stay at home mom when I "hit a wall" and became burnt out by the whole thing, and 2) there are always good days and bad days. Just because we do MDO, or because I can get away to Starbucks once in a while doesn't mean I'm living a blissfull existence as a stay at home mom. It's still hard for me and I entertain thoughts of returning to full time work about once every 3 or 4 months :)!!

We didn't do MDO/preschool until this year (my daughter is 4). However, I REALLY wanted to do it last year and my husband also didn't feel like it was a good idea (after all, he said, I'm staying home to be with them, not farm them out, right?). I would still try to make a case for MDO, as long as you can afford it.
It's too late to get a spot for this school year, but maybe your husband will come around if you find a one day a week program next year? Also, I put aside money last year that would cover most of this year's MDO tuition, so that my hubby couldn't use finances as a reason for not doing it. Also, he realized I was losing my mind being a SAHM and agreed that MDO/pre-K would be a good prep for kindergarten.

Another thought might be to work out a swap with a girlfriend. Maybe you just watch each other's kids once a week so you can grocery shop in peace. Also, you should make friends with neighborhood teenagers and get a handful of babysitters you can turn to.

I also take at least one night a week for "girlfriend time" and go to Starbucks or somewhere after the kids are in bed.

Another great thing I've found is a local bible study group. It's called Bible Study Fellowship. It's non-denominational and they have a FABULOUS children's program. I get to spend time with women, my two yr old gets to spend time in a structured environment with kids his age. And it's FREE. And, the bible study is very in depth. I'm learning so much!

And, last but not least, you and your husband might think about reading the book "His Needs, Her Needs" together. You simply can't sustain your marriage if you feel oppressed, put upon, and in general like your needs are not met. There are some great tools in the book to help begin discussions with your husband and work out some compromises. One thing that I learned from the book was that a lot of times we spend a lot of effort trying to meet needs that aren't even real "needs." For example, I was knocking myself out to have dinner on the table when my husband came home from work and to make sure the house was picked up before he walked through the door. In reality, he wouldn't notice if a tornado had hit the house, and he wasn't even hungry right at 5:00, but rather would prefer dinner around 6:00 or so. What was more important to him was that he came home to a peaceful home. So, not only was I meeting a need that didn't exist, but I was creating the OPPOSITE of what he really wanted -- because I was busy picking up and cooking, the kids were left begging for my attention and would be whiny and cranky when he got home.
I think this book will provide a format to help your husband understand that wanting a break from the kids doesn't mean that you're shirking on motherhood. It just means you need a break. And it doesn't matter what your mama or his mama did. You're not them.
From his point of view he can't understand that because his day is kid-free from morning til night. He doesn't have a concept of the life-sucking nature of small children.

So, I'd suggest finding out what each others needs are, rank them from highest to lowest importance, discuss what things will have to "give" a little (like vacuum less often, get a sitter more often...) then focus your energies where it counts.

6 moms found this helpful

Hi, B.B.,

I'm actually a single mother and have worked 20-35 hours/week since my son was 7 weeks old. (He's 20 mos. now.) I have tried to work during his sleep, not wanting to miss any time with him. As he has gotten older, I've begun to use our local YMCA, which gives 2 hours of free drop-in childcare/day to family members (as long as I stay in the building). Until recently, I've used that to work on my laptop. However, I've recently been able to cut back on that job and have just started to use that time for a little working out and some other work.

All of this is to say that I can sympathize with your burn-out and the need you're feeling for some time to yourself. It's a human need - nothing spoiled about it. If you were resenting your children because they interrupted your weekly personal training, massages, getting your nails done and lunch with your agent, I'd say you were spoiled. What you're talking about is reasonable desire for nurturing, rest and the ability to get some work done.

There are a number of issues in your request, and one that pops out at me is that your husband and mother are pretty harsh in their assessment of what you should be doing. I would suggest not internalizing their harshness nor making it the standard by which you judge what you want and need. If possible, get some support from other moms (like here!), a support group, or a therapist who can help you work with that. I didn't think I had the time or money for therapy myself, but it has been an invaluable place for me t get feedback on some of the same issues. Also, moms who pretend that it's an easy job or one I should just "put up with" because they do or their mothers did - well, I don't make them my best friends. Life is difficult enough without other people telling me I should be doing it differently.

I have written a number of essays on my own mothering experience that were published on www.divinecaroline.com, search by L. Freeman. I hope, if you have the opportunity to read them, you find them helpful.

Peace and rest to you,


5 moms found this helpful

I love how men won't do the job more than a couple hours at a time- yet we are "spoiled" when we need a break! My favorite is that "they LET us get a break for a few minutes, they HELP US out"- did it ever occur to them it is not LETTING us or HELPING us, that it is actually just as much their job as ours??!! Would it be possible to leave the kids with your husband for an entire day and don't come home until AFTER bedtime- just to give him a real little taste of your job? Getting a break now and then is NOT being spoiled- it is just keeping your sanity. Your husband gets a change of task and scenery when he goes to work and then comes home. You are doing your job 24/7- same thing, same little people, little to no adult interaction or deviation. It wears you down!

As for your mother- in our mother's days there were more SAHM's so in most neighborhoods you would have other women and children to socialize with and help you out if you needed a little break. Not so much the case anymore! Not only that- but I've noticed our mother's tend to exagerate their parenting a little bit! "My kids were potty trained at 18 months- we never gave our kids candy- my kids never talked back and didn't speak until spoken to at the table- blah,blah, blah!" I think they have "selective memories"!!!

Have you thought of joining a Mom's group and/or a babysitting coop? Playgroups are great for getting some adult conversation/ friendships and the kids have alot of fun playing so you get a bit of a break- change of scenery if nothing else! Babysitting coops are nice once you meet, know and trust the other women in it- you get a break and give breaks to other mom's! I don't have family here either and my mom's groups have saved my life and my sanity (maybe my kid's lives too a few times!!! Just kidding!) I'm not sure where you live, but here are two to check out (they are in elpaso):


You can google "mom's groups and your city name" and see what pops up- you may be surprised!

4 moms found this helpful

It sounds like your husband has no idea how hard you work. Tell him. Be direct. I've learned that most men don't like to play guessing games. Schedule a little time for yourself as often as possible, maybe once a week. Join a moms group. Tell (don't ask) your husband when you'll be going out and that he is in charge when you are gone. He'll figure it out. I am fortunate that my husband and I are a team when it comes to parenting. If he didn't love his boys and want to spend time with them I would be miserable. I would not recommend letting it slide. You didn't get married & have children so that you could be a single parent!

4 moms found this helpful

Wow!! I would sit your husband down and inform him that being a SAHM is a full time job and unlike him, you don't get earned vacation time! I am one who states how I feel, so I hope their is no offense when I say this. Your husband should not dictate what you would like to do on Mother's day! That day is for you and you only! It seems that he is the one that doesn't want to share the responsibilty when it comes time to tend the children so that the mother of his children and wife can take a break! I would put my foot down right away and tell him that it is not even up for discussion. I have always believed that a father and mother should share in parenting time when the both of you are at home! You work and he works! Do you know that if your husband had to hire someone to do all of the work that you do as a stay at home mom that he would be spending well over six digits a year! Stand your ground BB because if you don't, it will never change!!
Good Luck to you and I think you are amazing!!

3 moms found this helpful


I am a SAHM of 3. Ages 5, 3, 1. I do not know how moms like you do it. My husband is so awesome about helping me and giving me a break. He gets how much I do and he know he could NOT do what I do. We still have our conflicts over it. But I really do feel for you. I attached a link about what a stay at home moms salary would be in the corporate world based on what she does. Your husband might find it interesting. I really hope you will be able to get him to understand for your sanity, your kids, and your marriage. I hope you can find friends who SAH like you. I have a group that gets the kids together to play during the day and then every other week we get together in the evening. It has been a life saver for me, even with my husband helping. I will be praying for you.

3 moms found this helpful

Although it's temping I will not "dog" on your husband because I think by reading your request you already know who you are dealing with.
First let me say I'm sorry that you don't have some help/support from your family.
I too have a 3 year old and 1 year old and stay at home with both. I have no family to help me either other than my husband. I also am 43 years old and feel more and more like a women in her forties! :)
My husband helps me when He gets home by watching the boys while I cook. We trade duties after he gets home. After dinner I clean up and he cleans the boys from dinner and does the picking up. Then we take turns washing and doing book/bed time. It still gets hard when you feel like your trying to raise children around the clock and do the MANY duties that need to be done. Your the banker, housekeeper, cook, nanny etc... that needs to be done around the home to keep it up and running.
Sometimes a good cry helps me at the end of the day. And of course prayer time is a necessity! I could not love my children and husband if I did not know the Lord to help me through it all.
My advice? I don't really have much to offer. Sorry. I do think that you are very valid for being upset with your husband that does not offer much help to you and your kids.
It sounds like maybe you should seek good professional counsel regarding you relationship with your husband. Bitterness is a very ugly thing to have in a marriage and it's unforgiving on your children even with you best efforts of hiding it from them.
I'll be praying for you.

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