Why Juggling Being a SAHM And A WAHM Was Destroying My Love For Motherhood And Sabotaging My Business

Joanna Fowler March 31, 2016 Family, Parenting, Self, Lifestyle, Wellness

Office - Nesting StoryThis morning my six-year-old son, Holden, was crawling around our kitchen, pretending to be a spy, in hopes that he could scare his father. This was going on as my five-year-old daughter, Beau, was trying to assert her independence (as she should) by carrying her full glass of orange juice from our kitchen island to the table, as I busied myself bringing our twin toddlers their breakfast.

Suddenly my son heard footsteps, as my husband approached the kitchen. Holden stood up and ran while looking back behind his shoulder, running right into Beau. Orange juice went everywhere and Beau was dripping head to toe.

I screamed “Holddddeeeeen!!!” Then two things followed that shouldn’t have.

First, both Holden and Beau started to panic, saying “sorry, sorry, sorry!” While they each had a look of sheer terror in their eyes. The next was something broke inside of me. I didn’t loose it, like my kids thought I would, and were far too used to. I didn’t cry either.

Remember when the “islands of personality” start to crumble in Pixar’s Inside Out? I felt like a part of me inside crumbled, and I thought to myself, “I can’t do this! I hate motherhood!”

For the last couple of weeks I have been struggling with increasing anxiety. A heaviness on my chest that I have not been able to shake. It may have started with a snarky comment I received from a mom on my You Tube channel…

I’m confused! :-/
You are a blogger, but do you get paid for that?
Your oldest goes to school, then Beau goes to daycare, and you most days have a nanny for the twins?
In this vlog, it’s spring break, so all of the kids go to a full day of daycare, while you go shopping, get ready, and have lunch with friends?
Do you ever just spend a day with your kids, playing, and hanging out!?
I’m a mom to 5 kids beautiful children(18,16,13,12, and 7)
and when they were younger, I was a single mother, who also started a blogging website and worked a full time job.Weekends were spent with my kids and I didn’t blog at all! Since I worked 60 hours a week, I didn’t get a lot of quality time with my kids, so the weekends were all about them!!!
I just don’t get why, if you’re a SAHM, why your children have a nanny and or go to daycare all of the time!? I understand we only see 10-20 minutes of your life, but it seems as though, you get rid of your kids as often as possible!

I rarely feel like I have to explain myself, or respond to mean comments. But this one shook me to the core. This mom had seen tiny snippets of my life in my “day in the life” videos I occasionally make. She didn’t have the whole story. Here was my response…

Hi there. Yes, I do get paid. I worked for a long time unpaid and now I am creating content for three websites. At this point it is a full-time paid job which has added a second income. For a long time I worked while my kids napped, or in the evenings and the other two were in school. In the summer (video 1 you are referring to) we had a part-time nanny for a couple of months, which didn’t work out. I worked for 3 months without childcare and now have our twins in daycare 9 AM – 12 PM each weekday, with occasional full days (depending on deadlines).
I most definitely spend a lot of each day and all day every weekend with my kids.
I rarely use my “work time” to go out with friends or run errands, but when I choose which day to film a day in the life, I will often pick a day with a lot of variety so that the video isn’t just me typing at my desk.
I did the SAHM thing when my first was born, for three years, and it wasn’t for me. It sent me into a depression. It truly is the hardest job, and I knew that I needed to find a balance that not only suited me, but my family too.
So, although I am at home all day, I am not a SAHM shipping my kids off. I am a hard working WAHM.

But this comment, my recent work-load and tomorrow’s launch of my new website and rebranding, has really had me thinking lately. What am I doing? I am now lucky enough to say that I, as a blogger, am bringing in enough paid work each month to work full-time. Yet, why am I paying for childcare and still trying to do so much of the SAHM thing during the day, while working my ass off again at my computer most nights?


I am a people pleaser. Or maybe I can finally start saying, I am a former people pleaser. This is something that I have struggled with since childhood. Initially I was pegged as the peace-keeper, but as I grew, my wise mother started pointing out that I was people pleasing too much, and needed to stand up for myself more.

I have come a long way, but even now as a grown adult, I am finding myself people pleasing once again, especially while trying to carve out my path as a full-time working mom, who happens to have her office based out of her home. I am constantly allowing myself to get distracted with lengthly personal phone calls from family, and occasionally be persuaded to meet friends during work hours.

Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon cleaning out my car. The sun was shining, I saw the opportunity and I grabbed it. Last week I went grocery shopping twice, worked out and showered daily, and went shopping for my kids, all during work hours. I am pretty sure if I had a 9am – 5pm office job with a boss, I’d be fired by now.

But when my kids get home from school and daycare, I am stressed beyond belief and a short-tempered ogre, watching the clock, wondering how early is too early to get my kids to bed so I can get back to work?

What the hell am I doing?

After spending days being too distracted to enjoy or complete anything, because the running conversations and arguments in my head were just too loud, I asked myself, “what do you want?”

The truth is, I am completely jealous of the Sheryl Sandbergs and Marissa Mayers of this world. No one questions them about just spending a day playing with their kids. Okay, maybe we all questioned Marissa Mayers’ statement about “taking limited time away” and “working throughout” her twin pregnancy, for a minute. But we applaud them as hard-working women, who also happen to be mothers.

Why have I been creating this massive grey area when it came to me working?

What I really want is to create clear lines. I will be a mom certain hours of the day, and be 100% focused on work, for the other parts. I will stop muddying the waters.

Don’t get me wrong, I will still be the parent who adjusts their schedule when a child is home sick, or has a pressing appointment. That is, at least until I become Mike’s sugar mama.

This will take time to figure out what I let go of, because I know I can’t have it all, and how to adjust my schedule and create stronger boundaries. But at least I have a goal and know what I want.

So to all of the moms out there, who love their kids, but know they want that career, especially as an entrepreneur… it’s okay to stop people pleasing and put your foot down. It’s okay to completely switch hats instead of wearing two at once all of the time.

Let’s drop the guilt and carve out our own path.

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17 thoughts on “Why Juggling Being a SAHM And A WAHM Was Destroying My Love For Motherhood And Sabotaging My Business”

  1. I enjoyed this post. I made the decision out of financial reasons and personal to be a stay at home mom until both girls (1&3) are in kindergarten. I’m fortunate to still have a job waiting for me when I’m ready to return. Some people don’t understand it. I’m sure some people think I’m lazy. You let people into your home and they think they have the right to judge. Especially since they only see snippets. What you do isn’t conventional so people don’t fully understand. You probably don’t fully understand as you say you blur the lines. A funny phenomenon I’ve noticed is on the days I spend less time with my girls, I also have less patience. It’s hard to go from quiet to having an all out demanding circus. So I understand and relate to you being on the brink of madness. My husband also experiences this. I admire what you’re doing. I love writing but I don’t have the mind frame to sit down and do it so diligently. Or maybe enough content lol. Anyways I’m a big fan and keep doing what you’re doing. You’re fortunate to have this opportunity and to be able to blur lines when necessary. It’s annoying having to justify all the time that you do work but you don’t have to. It’s your life, not theirs.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support Jackie! I think you summed it up perfectly… maybe you should get into writing!

  2. I struggle with this as well. I have part-time help to work on villagemommy (from home) but it often gets intermingled with home life. I think a big problem with WAHM is that such an arrangement suffers from the frailties of all WAH arrangements. It’s just really distracting, the same way they say not to have a TV in your bedroom, and how studies have shown it to be bad for sleep, etc.

    There’s definitely a benefit to a real office in many ways – but it’s not going to happen, at least for a while, in many cases. So I guess I jus tt try to create that separation at home as best I can. We have an office that I try to turn on my WAHM mentality on in, and otherwise it’s family time. But it’s so tough. Great post!

    1. I totally agree! I didn’t even mention the distraction of the couch and TV in my post. I think that it is all about balance. My balance has just been way off lately.

  3. Hi Joanna! Sorry in advanced for my english, i write you from Mexico. I recently found you through YouTube and then i have been reading your blog. I’m a clinical psychologyst, i usted to work full time at my office Before my almost 4 month old baby was born. For now i have left my work almost completely to be a sahm. It is really hard. I know i will return to work in 2 or 3 years because my son needs me now a lot. Ok, so back to you, when i found you having 4 kids and balancing working, i was really amazed. Seriously Joanna, you are an awesome mom, be proud of yourself! You know, i read that comment in the video and your polite response and i thought that you shouldn’t spend your time trying to explain your life to people who doesn’t know you. You have enough with your own head and life going on. Trust me, you are doing a great job! Ve proud! I learn from you! Send you a big mama hug from Mexico to Canada!

    1. First of all, your english is fabulous Diana! Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging words. Hello from Canada to Mexico back!

  4. I can completely relate to this inner struggle. I can also relate to those grey areas where certain things get in the way of work hours. But, that is the privilege of a WAHM life that you’ve earned. If you’re still meeting the needs of your various clients, who cares if you had lunch with a friend? Just because the “interruption” isn’t your child, doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of your time. The beauty and curse of working in our field, is that you can’t really ever turn it off, so, you will work late no matter what if there’s an immediate need – your site crashes, your ready client asks for a lady minute edit (ahem – not naming any names 🙂 And, you pull it out because you are a professional. You are also deserving of balance and down time. Even if it doesn’t come in the traditional 9-5 format.

    I remember when my twins were toddlers, and I, too sent them to half-day preschool. Most days I worked. Every once in a while I got a manicure or, more likely – went to the grocery store for blissful home food shopping alone. There is no one way to work your schedule. Structure is definitely key, sacred productive hours (like morning or whenever you are most alert) are key so you can bang things out, but otherwise, cut yourself slack if you need to go to the dentist mid-day or just need a breather. It’s ok. I promise. Your hard work outweighs the two hour reprieve you give yourself when all the people who need you happen to be occupied. You’re a good mom. And excellent business owner and, I know you’ll find your rhythm again. I have found I reevaluate every so often and tweak my days as needed. This might be one of those times for you. 🙂

    Oh, and tell the haters to shut-it. They have no clue.

    1. Thanks Nicole! You always have wise words of encouragement from one twin mom to another. I totally agree that I am going through a phase of reevaluation and tweaking.

  5. I can totally relate to needing boundaries! I wear several hats as well, I go into my office two days a week and work from home 5 days a week as well as stay home with my two kids when I’m not in the office. It’s a lot to juggle and the boundaries are very blurred because people think because I work from home I should be available 24×7. But when I’m home I want to be with my kids and not working unless I need to. The reason I work from home part time is to be with my kids! I find it hard to work at home most days since my kids need me and work needs me and I don’t feel like I do a good job at working and being a mom simultaneously. I feel fortunate that I have that flexibility to keep my career and be there for my kids, but that’s not to say that it isn’t stressful. And I think it is hard for people who haven’t had to do it to relate. And I definitely feel the mom guilt when I’m stressed about work and I snap at my family or when I have to work extra and don’t get time with my kids. In the long run you really have to figure out what works for you and your family. And I feel like solutions evolve as your kids change, work changes and family dynamics change. And I feel like it’s okay to ask for help and make changes. We don’t have to be super mom and take on everything to our own detremint. I have to remind myself often that sometimes less is more and that I need to let things go.

    Thanks for sharing your journey honestly and openly. I think there are so many of us out here that struggle with the same issues. Sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re not alone and that we all struggle and succeed! I wish you the best of luck as you work through what’s best for you and your family! They are lucky to have a momma that loves them so much and is so passionate about her life.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. It is so nice to hear similar stories!

  6. Oh boy I have so many feelings about this post!
    First off, it always amazes me how someone thinks they know you through snippets of videos or blog posts, and then take their assuming viewpoint and critique how you live your life and parent your kids. Your reply was great. I know firsthand how blogging careers are often brushed aside and not taken seriously in the corporate world, but they are legit careers nowadays with full-time (and often many overtime hours), and are incredibly challenging to maintain in this super competitive industry.
    I think it’s so smart how much you reflect on what you’re doing and why. I rarely take time to do that, but I was forced to when we had our first baby. I think it’s essential to “weed out” as many non-essentials as we can. And yes, saying no is a huge part of it I’ve realized, as shitty as it feels to do so. Sounds like you are well on your way to getting better boundaries! Update us soon please. 🙂

  7. Joanna – I find it so sad that women (like the one that wrote a negative message on your channel) feel the need to spread their negativity.

    I wonder if she comes from a place of being so resentful of what she had to do as a single mother of 4 kids that she is unable or unwilling to say what she really means “I was exhausted and hating my work life balance and I’m showing that through this mean message”. She – more than anyone should know what it’s like to be a mother of 4 kids. Not to mention that if being a SAHM was “all” you did – you would still be a total effing rockstar. Being a mother is the hardest kind of job for ALLL of us. Kudos to you for finding your passion – working hard for your family and trying give everyone enough of you! All women and all mothers have a tough gig. I wish more women like you would be so open and honest about the reality of what working and mothering and surviving look like.

    This post really hit home with perfect timing for us here in our house of self employed adults! Working from home is so much harder than it sounds !!

    I watch all the videos and all I can think is 1) I adore her 2) what a great mom 3) I love her honesty and 4) as if all four of her children are so charming and beautiful.

    Keep doing what you do. In the words of Taylor Swift “shake it off” and I sincerely hope you find the magic cure to release the guilt and the extreme expectations (and that other WOMEN stop dumping those expectations on you! Sheesh)


  8. The most difficult part of all of this is that we are EXPECTED to be everything to everyone. I should work to show my daughters that it’s important to be able to stand on your own but then I should be able to make costumes and bake for school. We are the ones who organize dinners (feel your Easter panic) and make sure birthday presents are sorted. And somehow work out and take care of ourselves without going into mommy meltdown. Many conversations have started about how unrealistic this is but we need to KEEP TALKING about it, because when you give too much there’s nothing left. I currently teach 4/5 days a week and I am not managing well, my balance is very much out of whack and I am ready to leave my job, a job I used to love but I can’t give it my all anymore. We just need to make a financial decision to make it happen. All the love to you Joanna, keep being amazing.

  9. This is a bittersweet and beautiful post. I am in the early stages of considering what my work-life balance will be when I am no longer on maternity leave… and I have been at a loss. This perspective is so valuable and so honest! Thank you.

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