I’m the SAHM Who Sits Around Doing Nothing All Day

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written by Mary Katherine Backstrom

When Nugget was about 6 months old, I had to make a difficult choice. My paycheck barely covered daycare, I missed my infant son, and I was miserable at work and home. As much as I loved my job, I didn’t feel the sacrifice was worth the reward. I put in my two weeks notice and applied for a new job.

Pearls for pajamas. Business travel for breast pump. Beautiful penthouse office for, well, a crumby old couch.

My new title? Mary Katherine Backstrom, SAHM.

I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty excited about watching soap operas and eating CheezIts all day as my baby jumped happily nearby in his Einstein bouncer. I even bought a trilogy of novels to read during all of my downtime. Obviously, I was gonna keep the house clean and the baby fed…but what else was there to do?

Every SAHM I knew sat around and did nothing all day…

….I thought.

I’ve been on the job–or off of it, rather–for about two years. And let me tell you, the people who think that the “at home” parents do nothing all day are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. For instance…

When Nugget was teething, he would nap on and off every two hours. He was drooling, screaming, miserable, and constantly tired from lack of sleep. Sometimes he would require thirty minutes of rocking in order to successfully achieve fifteen minutes of napping. The cycle was exhausting, but the bags under my 4 month old’s eyes broke my heart. So I would wrap my baby in a blanket, pull my hair up in a bun, and go sit in the rocking chair. And for 24 hours, every two hours, I would do nothing

……but rock my baby all day.

Then came the toddling phase. Every edge of our house looked like a knife blade. Nugget constantly launched himself toward coffee table corners and random furniture edges. His face was peppered with black and blue injuries, but he was bound and determined to walk before ten months of age. I was starting to worry about things like brain damage and DCF visits when, sure enough, he found a corner sharp enough to cause a bleeding wound. That was it. The only way to prevent my kid from walking into corners was to get rid of EVERY. CORNER. IN. THE. HOUSE. And so for a week or more, from room to room and edge to edge, I would do nothing…

…but baby proof and hover over my toddler all day.


Oh, the terrible twos. It’s like as soon as his birthday passed, an evil little switch turned on inside of my child’s brain. My little angel who used to entertain himself with blocks and toy cars found a new hobby of climbing to the highest point of every piece of furniture and JUMPING FROM IT. First was the couch. Pretty harmless, especially when there were pillows on the floor. Then came the bar stools and the dining room table. Y’all–it’s not like he was unsupervised. In the ten seconds it took to pee with the door open, the kid could have scaled Everest barefoot. Not lying. So, obviously, as long as my child is in this “finding new ways to kill himself” phase, I have decided it is best for me to do nothing…

…but watch him like a freaking hawk every second of the day.

Obviously, there are times when I snuggle in bed with my son. Stretches of entire hours when Nugget isn’t jumping on tables or climbing the curtains and I can do things like write for Mom Babble or fold laundry. And oh, the glorious, heavenly hour that is nap time. Sometimes I will have coffee all by myself or—gasp!—take a nap, too.

But you know what? That trilogy of novels is collecting dust on the shelf. And if I open that box of CheezIts,  I rarely get a cracker without MAMA MAMA MAMA I WANT I WANT I WANT. The closest thing I’ve seen to a soap opera is that “sing in the shower” episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. And please, try containing a toddler in an Einstein bouncer. Lemme know how that works for ya.

I’m not complaining. This is the life I chose, and for my family, it was the right choice. And sure, to the outsider, what I do during the day may appear to be a whole lot of “nothing”.

But in my world, the one that is ruled by coffee and crumbs and chaos…it’s everything.




About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


    1. Not every working mom… I work 24 hour shifts and I’m a single mother who homeschools and runs the household without even phone calls from her dad… So that’s not entirely necessary … Up until June I never got a dime of child support either

    2. Didn’t need an apology… I’m desperately working on taking no offense to what I see online… Because we all know that just can’t be a 100% with the world as crazy as it is ….. I’ve heard the same things especially when my daughter was in public school… I love my career but I get bashed for the long hours… I’m fortunate in that I work in a career that sees so many, many different situations and I can look outside my own experience and understand others… I hope you have a wonderful day

    3. Geri Dorley Kern After you responded I could see how my comment could be taken 🙂 (and I’m like you, I never get offended!) Have a great day too! It’s hard what you’re doing!

    1. Office jobs can be the hardest “nothing” you ever do. You are exactly right that it’s about balance. And we mamas have to stick together! Thanks for the support!

  1. So relatable MK. It’s actually so exhausting worrying about a toddler walking into something or banging his face on something. I could never figure out why I was so tired when G was learning to work. It was from focusing like a laser beam ALL DAY LONG on his every move!

  2. Exactly….I always say it’s the busiest you’ll ever be doing nothing! This is a good thing to pass along to all of those lovely people that used to ask me, “don’t you get BORED staying at home?” Ummmm….I wish.

    1. To be fair, I got a lot of reading done during middle of the night nursing sessions? Now with a 2 year old? I’ve been on the same book for 4 months. And it’s one I’ve already read because my brain can’t handle anything new.

  3. Before having our daughter I never really thought that SAHM’s “did nothing” but I certainly thought it might be a little more “relaxing” than the daily struggle of daycare and work…then I had a baby. As a working Mom, I give ALOT of credit to SAHM’s because there is legitimately no break when you are at home. I joke that I go to work to relax…lol. I was so exhausted during the 4 months that I was lucky enough to be home and I loved every second but it is a very difficult job! Kudos to ALL mamas and great article!

    1. And as a SAHM mom I give tons of kudos to the working mamas. Obviously, I couldn’t cut it. I was exhausted all the time and would frequently show up to work in a wrinkled skirt or with spit up down my back. How do you do it!??

    2. It is a very delicate balance and one that can only be achieved with the support of both my husband and employer! I commute into Boston and get out the door very early but only so I can be home early. My husband does the morning duties (unfortunately I don’t get to see my sweet girl) and then I pick her up in the evening and get my snuggles in then. We try to prep as much as we can on the weekend (clothes and meals for the week are prepped on the weekend) to make things run as smooth as possible. There are definitely sacrifices but it’s what works for us for now. In a perfect world I’d work part time and be a SAHM part time. Being a Mama and a wife is a tough job and I think what makes us all unique but unites us just the same is that we find a way to do what works best for our family and situation.

  4. Oh, sister! You’re singing my song. Although to be fair we do have 12 months of mat leave in Canada….as a foster/adopt parent I got 9 and raced back to the office. I’m home now with a 3 and 4 year old and I haven’t read a book in almost a year (I’m a WAHM and the boys do go to daycare). Even with daycare, I rarely get a minute to breathe. I love how my friends think WAHM = do nothing all day. In the 9 months since I left my day job to blog full time I’ve learned lots about how insanely judgemental was while working full time. Love, love, love this article!

  5. SAHM is the most rewarding and hardest job I have ever had. The multitasking that goes into every day!!! I always wanted to be home and be the one to raise my babies. We moved to somewhere more affordable to make this a reality. God bless all the mamas! Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. Stay at home parents deserve more respect for all they do. (: I appreciate you! Thanks for your blog!

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