Does work seem easy compared to raising your child? Discover why being a parent is often harder than your day job across many careers.
Mondays couldn’t come fast enough. Whereas my pre-baby self clung onto the weekend, this time, I relished the hours I’d be at work and free from childcare responsibilities.
I had always believed taking care of kids is not for the faint of heart. I read statistics that claimed a stay-at-home parent’s salary—if paid—would be worth at least $100,000. The work put into parenting often far exceeds the work we do at our paid jobs.
Sure, sometimes being home with the kids felt easier, especially when you can lounge in yoga pants and take the occasional nap. But caring for little ones—especially a new baby—makes many jobs pale in comparison.
7 reasons parenting is harder than your job
Now, you’ll likely find exceptions, of course. Plenty of people have stressful or toxic jobs, leaving them yearning to get home once and for all. Others are in demanding careers that many of us would agree are difficult compared to the average job.
But for the average office worker like I was, caring for your little ones is more challenging than even the hardest task you do at work.
For instance, I’d take a few days off to hang out with the kids at home. And of course, I was exhausted by the end of the day, more so than had I come home from work. Weekends were equally tiring, even with my husband home.
Taking care of kids had felt much harder than my job, for so many reasons, including these:
1. Taking care of kids is physically more exhausting
Back when I worked in an office, I’d sit at a desk for most of day. You wouldn’t find me doing much heavy lifting or carrying the way I did when I toted my babies around or pushed their stroller everywhere. And while I appreciate the exercise, caring for my kids clearly became more exhausting than my day job.
I’m sure you can relate. You’re playing games, chasing after your kids, or are on your feet more often than you would be at work. You’re getting smacked in the face from an unintended elbow, or sleeping in two-hour increments at night.
Being home with the kids is often more physically demanding than many day jobs.
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2. Caring for kids is more stressful
For many parents, their day jobs aren’t stressful. You have the right balance of drive without feeling drained or depleted.
But parenting can be a whole other story.
You’re trying not to get upset when your 4 month old baby won’t nap, and feel alone and isolated with no adults around. Your toddler shrieks at the top of his lungs and doesn’t listen to anything you say. Never mind the other household tasks you still have to do, and you can imagine why parenting gets hard.
A study found that women feel more stressed at home than at work, a finding not too shocking to many working moms.
Dealing with irritating coworkers is nothing compared to staying calm in the middle of a tantrum.
3. You can’t find “flow” with kids
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In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, he describes flow as when people are so absorbed in a project that time flies by. He credits this focus as one of the tenets of happiness: Do concentrated work, and you will leave feeling fulfilled and challenged.
The catch? It takes time to enter this flow. Uninterrupted time. Yeah… not gonna happen with kids in tow.
Many of us can attest to this, now that we’re working from home with the kids in distance learning.
Even though I’ve been working from home for nearly five years, I’d take advantage of the time my kids were in school to concentrate and enter that flow. These days, not so much. I’m barely finding a moment’s break amid logging kids onto Google Classroom or coaching them through a fight.
4. You can’t call in sick
Feeling under the weather? Call in sick from work and you get to stay home to nurse yourself back to health.
But that’s not exactly easy when your home also includes little ones you have to take care of. Not only do you have to handle your regular parenting duties, you have to do it while you’re sick.
As much as your kids understand that you don’t feel well, they still need you to tend to their needs. You can’t tell them to cook their own meals or put themselves to sleep for the night. Just when your body is yearning to rest in bed, someone needs a diaper changed or a snack on the table.
5. You work around the clock
For many working moms, your job ends once you leave the premises. Sure, you might check email at night or even bring some work home, but there’s a definite time when work ends.
Not so with kids.
We work round the clock, 24/7. If your child needs you in the middle of the night, you get up. If another has spilled the box of cereal all over the kitchen floor, you can’t leave it there until the next morning.
Very few jobs need you to do the same.
For many, you know exactly when you’re done and can shut your mind off of work responsibilities. But parenting means you’re always on call, no matter the time of day (or night).
6. You get no training
Nothing can prepare you completely for parenting, even if you’ve worked with kids, or have been a nanny or au pair, or even cared for a newborn at nights. Not until you become the parent do you then experience what it’s like to be one.
In other jobs, you can dabble and dip your toe in the industry or intern for a company or start working while in college. And while the first day at your “real” job felt overwhelming, you caught on, perhaps within two weeks’ time.
Ask any newborn mom how she’s doing and she’ll tell you it takes more than a few weeks to adjust. And even then, you still don’t feel like you have the hang of it.
7. You can’t quit
I’ll admit: I was one of those moms who Googled “I don’t like being a mom” in the middle of the night as I held my fussy baby, trying to soothe him to sleep.
I was desperate, as if all the preparation I made didn’t even come close to how overwhelming everything felt. How much harder it really was compared to what I imagined (and I imagined the worst). And perhaps the most daunting realization of all: that I couldn’t quit.
Parenting isn’t a job you can turn your resignation in after a few months of realizing it’s hard. You stick with it—you have no choice but to. Even in the hardest of days, you plug on through.
We may not get paid, hear feedback or receive training. Our days are more physically and mentally exhausting, interrupted with little time to concentrate. We work round the clock, even when we’re sick.
And there’s the startling reminder—especially on those hard days—that we can’t just quit. That our kids need us, no matter how hard, how exhausting, or how incompetent we may feel raising them.
For many of us, no day job we’ve ever had has drawn so much emotion and effort the way being a parent has.
That said, I’m happy to say that it does get easier, albeit on a slower pace than a day job gets easier. So much so that these days, I don’t look forward to Mondays with the same zeal as I used to.
Get more tips:
- Parenting Tip: Be More Carefree
- These Are the Things Your Kids Will Remember About You
- 8 Remarkable Parenting Goals Every Mom Should Have
- How to Spend Time with the Baby When You Work Long Hours
- How to Work from Home with a Baby (And Actually Get Things Done)
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