Q&A: Is Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom BORING?

What if I'm BORED as a Stay-at-Home MOM? // jessconnell.com

Q:  How do I keep busy at home? I find myself so terribly bored and restless at times. Being a stay at home mom is so boring! What am I supposed to do with my down time? Once chores and homeschooling are done for the day, I literally have no idea how to fill the couple of hours before I need to start supper. Lately I’ve been finding myself so tempted to get a part-time job, simply because I am so incredibly bored with my life. My husband is so sick of hearing about it that he thinks I should get a job too. And yet, I don’t feel like it’s what God would want of me right now, with my kids still so young (10, 9 and 6).

So what is the secret to being content at home and keeping busy at home, like the Bible instructs us to do? I am not a typical stay-at-home mom in that I despise sewing, canning, gardening, hobby farming… I am truly not cut out for any of that stuff and yet they seem like the only ‘noble’ things to be doing when you read what other at-home moms are doing with their lives. I feel like I could just scream with the frustration of it all.

HELP!

A: Well, I had to laugh a little… you said “once chores and homeschooling are done for the day” and I thought… is that stuff ever done around here? LOL. Homeschooling, yes, but chores seems like a never-ending merry-go-round here. :)

I don’t think I would ever say I’m bored.

But there are a few things I see that make our lives very different–

  1. I still have little people running around and making messes and needing to be disciplined and needing naps and diaper changes, etc.
  2. My husband is in ministry, so we constantly have items on our calendar to prepare for and attend.
  3. I do have other outlets where I spend time when it comes my way– writing, occasional projects (like crocheting– I do about one project/year), and backyard chickens.

Where I’d like to probe a bit– for you– is in regard to #3. I can totally see how if those things you list aren’t your cup of tea, then you might feel stifled, if that’s all there is to do.

But that’s not all there is to do.

WHAT GIFTS AND INTERESTS HAS GOD PUT INTO YOU?

What do you LIKE to do? What ARE your passions? Have you ever thought about starting a small business? Here are some thoughts- although obviously these would be according to your interest/passion, not simply “to do them”–

  • start a catering business where you could work weekend events and use your extra hours through the week to plan and prepare for those big events?
  • do freelance work in an area of your expertise?
  • could you do part-time social media management for companies/websites?
  • are you good at doing taxes/accounting work? Could you start a business that runs every January-April and helps people file taxes?
  • are you adept at home and office organization and could start a part-time business doing that?
  • or elder care? or animal sitting for pay? or house cleaning?
  • could you learn graphic design and start taking clients for logos, book covers, and web design work in your free hours?
  • do you have some kind of skill that would lend itself to an etsy-type business? (i.e., some friends of mine find props for baby photography and sell them at large profits)
  • is there something you enjoy making (cakes? building dog houses? etc?) where you can take items/ingredients you get on the cheap and turn them into larger profits?

Aside from all that, I don’t know what your passions are, but there are a tremendous amount of online opportunities if you’re at all entrepreneurial. People like Michael Hyatt, John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, and others, offer a wealth of information online (and in their podcasts) about how to build an authoritative online site…

So I would do some brainstorming, if I were you… on what you’re “great” at.

Some things to consider:

  • What do your friends ask your advice about?
  • What is it that you have developed systems for or approaches to that make your life easier that would solve real problems for other people?
  • Is there knowledge in your head that other people would find valuable and pay for?
  • (Sometimes this can be in unexpected places too…. sometimes in our sorrows and difficulties there are things we’ve experienced that, if we write about them and help other people, become opportunities for encouraging others as well as earning extra income.)

POUR INTO YOUR LOCAL CHURCH BODY!

Beyond that, I do think biblically that we are to be heavily invested in our local church Body.

So what needs exist in your local church? I’m willing to bet that if you went and asked the Sunday School director, the Pastor, or the ladies’ ministry leader, that there are practical ways you can start serving almost immediately. Substituting for sick teachers, or setting up tables for the next ladies’ conference, or making a run to Costco to purchase all the food for the next church breakfast.

Another way to serve your local church from home is to take meals to those who are sick, recovering from surgery, or newly postpartum.

Beyond practical need-meeting in your local church, what are your spiritual gifts? Are you a teacher? Counselor? Administrator? I’d encourage you to find the place where your extra hours can go to blessing the people in your local Body. That is the picture given to us in Scripture… a woman who blesses her family, loving and serving them (Titus 2), a woman who is industrious and makes the most of her skills to financially bless her home (Proverbs 31), and a woman who serves diligently in her local community of believers, investing her “extra” into the Body of Christ around her.

  • Does your ladies’ ministry need extra teachers?
  • Or someone willing to help with scheduling and planning?
  • Does your church need someone to volunteer in the front office from time to time or those sorts of things?
  • Do they need someone to head up VBS this year, or restock their books & resources between each Sunday?
  • Is there a need for someone to manage social media engagement for the church?

Look for ways to bless and increase the fruitfulness of your local church.

POUR INTO YOUNGER CHRISTIAN WOMEN & DISCIPLE THEM!

Another definite way to spend your time is to invest in younger women. You may not see yourself as “old” (and I don’t think you are!) but you have gained biblical wisdom and insight into parenting and marriage issues that younger women around you NEED.

So perhaps once a week, you could meet with a younger woman from 2-4pm? If she’s a mom of a little one, maybe your oldest child could watch her toddler while the two of you visit? Or if she’s a new believer, you could read through the book of John together and spend time praying for the things she’s concerned about.

REMINDER FOR OTHER WOMEN: IT IS NOT ALWAYS AS HARD AS IT IS IN THE BEGINNING!

The final thing I want to say may be touchy… and it is not a personal critique to the woman who asked this question, but I feel compelled to say it for the benefit of other women:

Many women, when they are in the thick of having little children, are convinced that it will always feel *THIS* hard… that it will always be *THIS* tiring… that there is *NO WAY* you can have energy for anything more than these 2, or these 3 children. 

I just want to take this opportunity to point out that the season of little children is not eternal… and that you should not make decisions like how many children to have, or whether or not you’ll homeschool, solely based on the tiredness of the moments when you’re in the thick of having young children close together.

The moments of your most extreme exhaustion don’t fully and accurately reflect what your upcoming years will look like. It is ENTIRELY possible that you could get a stretch down the road and find that you have energy to spare and no one else to spend it on.

 

IN THE COMMENTS: HOW WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE THIS WOMAN?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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13 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    Interesting. Like you I always have housework or school to do around here. I’m definitely not bored. I would highly encourage finding a ministry to serve in, offer to babysit for a mom with doctor’s appointments, make meals to bless someone with, who cleans the church?, who makes and fold bulletins, etc. I would also encourage finding some more ways to spend time with the children, do some fun things in the afternoons, go to the park or for a hike, play a board game, bake together, find out an interest of theirs and learn together.

  2. Barbara H. says:

    Your last two points about seeking ways to invest in ministry and in other women were what came to my mind before I got to those points in your post. Depending on whether someone is an introvert who prefers to work at home or with one or two other ladies, or an extrovert who likes getting together with groups, there is usually something for either to do. I preferred the smaller group thing myself, both due to being an introvert plus it being hard to get out with small children. But I found lots of “behind the scenes” things that needed to be done and was able to get out enough to do others.

    Investing in other women is valuable, too, whether younger or older and whether in an “official” church ministry or simply having younger women over for lunch, meeting another mom at the park with the kids, or visiting an older woman who can’t get out as much.

    Pray about it and talk with your pastor or ladies’ ministry leader – I am sure they’ll have lots of ideas.

    Another idea is to do projects with your kids. There are zillions of ideas on Pinterest and other places, and they often like doing anything together, but she might particularly focus on their areas of interest – arts, sports, music, reading, whatever. One of mine loved to write and I came across a little book about making your own books. I am not artsy myself, but didn’t necessarily need to be to make clay sculptures or paint with my kids. If they show real aptitude in an area beyond a mom’s expertise, then perhaps lessons from someone else can be sought out.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good thoughts, thanks! I love your ideas about kids’ projects. Even if we ourselves aren’t artsy/crafty, by the time our kids are roughly 8 & up, I’ve found that if I just provide the materials, they are (for the most part) capable of doing the craft, and cleaning up after themselves.

  3. Emily says:

    This is a great question. I’ll add my (rambling) thoughts, although Jess & the other comments already gave some good ideas. I can relate to this somewhat, although my kids are much younger (4 and 1). There is always SOMETHING to do; usually I just don’t know WHAT to do, and I don’t feel very creative. Part of it is laziness. Many days I feel simply like a babysitter, breaking up fights, and it does get to be “boring” in the sense of repetitive. Sometimes, my entire morning is spent trying to figure out what to do with my day. I just kind of let the day happen, which isn’t good. I don’t know if this is an issue for this mom because she sounds pretty driven. I would suggest having a plan or basic framework for the day or week to keep the day flowing from one thing to the next. . I don’t want to say “schedule” but maybe more of a layout for her week. Tuesdays are for ________ (library, park, bowling?). Wednesday, go out to lunch or meet dad for lunch. Thursdays have a young woman or struggling new mom over for mentoring or fellowship. Many new moms are very lonely and isolated and even just bringing the baby over to play on the floor can help lift her mood.

    She could also choose a few books she’d like to read, or a topic to study, and do that during a scheduled rest time.. where the kids each go find something quiet to do for an hour or so. Are there skills she’d like to develop that would help serve her family? (healthy cooking, repairs, baking), or like Jess mentioned using books/internet to further develop a skill that could be a freelance job? Maybe work on an aspect of her health (strength training, weight loss, exercise).

    Some ideas from my own experience,.. I used to be a graphic artist for a job and I still love taking and editing photos. As a sort-of “ministry” at my church, families would ask me around the holidays to take their Christmas card family photo with my professional equipment. I don’t ask for money because (a) it takes away a lot of the pressure and (b) I provide something for them they may not be able to afford otherwise. I also do some graphic design for our church’s website or if they need flyers or brochures. Previously, I assisted my husband’s company with designing e-mail blasts if I had time. Could you help your husband with some aspect of his job?

    I also am NOT the “sewing / gardening / craft” type at all… so I wouldn’t suggest this mom take up some hobby that she hates just because she thinks it’s what the stereotypical homemaker is supposed to do. We all have different skills and things we enjoy, and different strengths that benefit our families and it’s not going to look the same. Just because we don’t do x, y, z doesn’t mean that homemaking can’t be fulfilling.

    All of Jess’ suggestions are good, especially about babysitting for a mom going to a doctor’s appointment or bringing meals to new moms or families going through a crisis. After reading them, personally I would have listed “Pour into your church body” (ministry) and “Pour into other women” before finding a side-job or hobby. I felt like listing those solutions first validates the mom’s attitude (being “so incredibly bored with my life” & “tempted to get a part time job”) instead of questioning if it’s the circumstances causing the problem, or her heart. (I know this wasn’t really the scope of the article though). I also think that the priority would be the church’s needs or community/neighbors for a mother who has extra time, and doing part-time work would be last on the list.

    It wouldn’t be a bad thing to develop a marketable skill, but I would first encourage the mom to dig a little deeper and try to analyze why she feels bored & discontent, and then maybe look outside of her own home to find out the needs of others. Does she feel like being “just” a homemaker isn’t enough or isn’t valuable? (or, expect that it be more exciting and less mundane?) Does she assume since her kids are older that they don’t need much “life instruction” or training anymore aside from schoolwork? Is she unable to see the immense value of having a parent at home, ready to help at the drop of a hat if needed? (Having an able-bodied adult free to serve her husband & family, pitch in during emergencies, minister to other families is sooo valuable, even if there isn’t always something on the schedule). Is she viewing NORMAL margin (down-time) as abnormal or undesirable? We should all have a bit of margin in our lives, instead of trying to fill it with “doing things” or “being productive”. (this probably varies according to personality or temperament). Is she tempted to complain / be discontent about where God has her currently? Does her husband need help with anything regarding his job, or in general? Could she be idealizing or glamorizing what it’s really like to have a job outside of the home? Honestly, when I worked full-time before having kids, there were still seasons of boredom. (Thankfully I still got paid even if it was a slow week) 😉

    In our home, there is ~always~ more housework or projects to do, so I find it pretty astonishing that this mom can have her housework finished each day :) But I suppose it’s possible if you have more than the average share of energy and your kids are older and chipping in. It sounds like this mom is a go-getter. Maybe she feels antsy or nervous at the thought of having down time. I feel that same way sometimes (due to not having a plan). But she said that she is “restless”.. which I think maybe indicates more of a heart problem than a homemaking problem.

    I had just read a couple articles by John MacArthur which discussed women working in addition to being married & having children. Although this mother said that she doesn’t think that’s what God wants for her family, maybe this would help…

    “Married young women are to be workers at home [Titus 2:4-5]. One of the hardest things for many contemporary wives to do is be satisfied with being a homemaker. Part of the reason is that modern appliances and other conveniences greatly simplify and reduce housework, and time that is not used for something constructive inevitably produces boredom, dissatisfaction, and often increased temptations. …. The home is a wife’s special domain and always should be her highest priority. That is where she is able to offer the most encouragement and support to her husband and is the best place for extending hospitality to Christian friends, to unbelieving neighbors, and to visiting missionaries or other Christian workers.” “A wife who fulfills those three priorities [managing her home, loving her husband & teaching children, ministering to others] probably be a very busy individual. If she still has time left over, she then would be free to pursue enterprising and creative activities outside the home. Of course, the women who are most free to do that are single women and married women with no children. But even those women should be sure they are fulfilling their responsibilities at home before they leave it for the work place.”
    __________________
    PS Thanks for the mention at the end, Jess, about how “the moments of your most extreme exhaustion don’t fully and accurately reflect what your upcoming years will look like.” There have been times where I didn’t want more children because it’s just so stinkin’ hard in the beginning, I’m so so tired, I can’t do this again, I miss my sleep, they keep destroying the house and I Just cleaned(!!!) SO MUCH heavy lifting from the get-go.. but thinking long-term how wonderful it would be to have a bunch of grown-up faces around my table during the holidays! (for example, sniff sniff) :)

    • Jess Connell says:

      I love the questions/evaluation you talk about.

      I listed them in the way I did, because of how she asked the question, but also because I don’t necessarily view fruitful work that is *for* your family as less spiritual/worthy than working in the church.

      That said, I agree with your thoughts that we can definitely do acceptable things for the wrong reasons/motives.

      Glad, too, for what you included in your PS. I didn’t write that in my initial response to this woman, but then when I decided to make it an article, I thought it was needful to give a full picture to current moms in the trenches, that… look, this woman, 4-5 years ago, when her kids were 6, 5, & 2, or 5, 4, & 1, could not REMOTELY have thought that in a matter of a few years, she’d be saying “I feel bored.”

      I didn’t feel it was helpful/beneficial to include that commentary to the woman herself, but I do think it’s helpful for the rest of us to remember that the way we feel NOW won’t be the way we feel FOREVER.

      Thanks for adding your experiences & ideas & thoughts.

      • Emily says:

        What’s funny is at first I didn’t think I could relate (“how can she be bored? There is more than enough to do managing a home and being a mother.”), but now I feel like I could have written some of my response to myself! Writing it out gave me some things to think about. I have had those thoughts, too, and I’m certain I squander some of my time during the day and say “man, there just isn’t anything to do.” I also tend to space out a lot, (on my phone, ahem) especially if I’m feeling tired. I struggle not as much with “finding something to do” , but “finding motivation/energy to do it.”

        The thing is, I assumed (and have been told) as kids get older, there is MORE to do and a busier life in general due to older-kid interests. Also, more things the family can enjoy together since the kids are out of the baby/toddler stage. I guess it depends on the family.

        As an aside, now I feel like I could have edited down my previous post (too long! too meandering!) Have you ever considered switching to Disqus?
        (I have had comment-remorse more than once and am thankful for Disqus!!) :)

        • Jess Connell says:

          Ha, no I’ve never liked Disqus. Tell me why you like it– you can go back and edit comments after? What else? it always struck me as cumbersome to sign in to, like another username/password thing to keep up with.

          • Emily says:

            Yes I guess the main thing is being able to go back and edit a post (or correct a typo, etc). There have been a few times that I thought about it and decided to delete a comment altogether. Also within your Disqus account it keeps track of every comment you’ve posted across the internet in one place so you can see follow up responses (if you wanted to). It may be possible to get notifications on follow-up comments but I haven’t looked into it. Other times I’d be trying to find an article I forgot to bookmark but remembered that I commented on it, so I know it’s saved in Disqus. But yes you’re right.. it is another sign-in to remember (or save in your browser), and one extra step that may be confusing to some. I haven’t found it to be too intrusive, though.. I think because it usually keeps me signed in most of the time anyway.

  4. Allison says:

    I feel like this mom and I are cut from a similar cloth, though right now, my kids are 7, 5, and 2, and I’m not yet at the stage where I could even begin to be bored! It’s hard to imagine it, but I suppose if I didn’t have my toddler and only had my 7 and 5 year olds, I might be starting to feel what she is feeling. Some of us grow up wanting to be nothing but stay-at-home-moms. That was me. My mom stayed home and home-schooled, and I always assumed I’d do the exact same thing. However, college came, and I chose to attend nursing school. My husband and I got married in the middle of my nursing program, and partly through the influence of Jess here 😉 (and through other influences God brought into our lives), we decided not to delay childbearing any longer than we had to. So….we had our first baby a year and a half into our marriage, and 6 weeks after I graduated. At the time, I didn’t know if I’d ever end up using my nursing degree, but I vividly recall kneeling beside the bed in our little duplex apartment, praying as the tears welled up in my eyes, and telling the Lord that I didn’t understand why he’d had me go through nursing school only to walk away from it, but I knew he knew what he was doing, and my career was his to do with as he pleased. At first, it looked like that was the end, but then, a year later, circumstances changed, and we entered a season where he worked less, and I worked part-time as a nurse to get us through. Then again, after our 3rd was born, I left my career for a year to stay home (thinking that was the end!), but a year later, the Lord gave that back to me, and I now work once/week doing something that I love.

    My heart has always been primarily in my home. No, if I’m honest, it’s not that my heart is naturally always in my home. I’d love, some days, to plunge myself head-long into my career, as like this mom, I am the driven type and I thrive on having something to do and having lots of people around to do it with. In some ways, I rarely feel more alive than I do when I’m professionally and skillfully caring for the suffering and teaching new nurses to do the same. Yet this is an area that I’m having to learn is a great balancing-act of obedience for me. I do feel the freedom to work, but I also desire to submit to the Lord and my husband, and in this season of life, it means I don’t work very much. Right now, it’s one 12-hour shift a week. I’d really, really, like to work more, but even more I want to submit to my husband, care for my children, and invest in the other relationships that God has put in my circle of influence. I’m reminded of something Elizabeth Elliot once said, which was something to the effect that when something is precious to us, it is all the better as a material for sacrifice. After-all, what would a worthless offering mean? And my career is not worthless. It’s actually pretty valuable, not only to me, but generally in society. And the fact that it means something makes it all the more beautiful when I give it to the Lord. She also once said something to the effect that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the alter and we have to keep putting it back on. This, for me, is what my love of working has been like in my heart. It’s not a once-and-done type deal. Instead, it’s a sacrifice that I am still learning to put back on the alter to the Lord. Over and over again. Actually, I’m not proficient at that yet, and writing this has been pretty convicting, but the Lord is teaching me through the struggle.

    I appreciate, Jess, the way you didn’t take the “NO, you should not work!” approach. I am absolutely on the same page that it’s very possible for a mom to throw herself into a career and neglect the training and instruction of her children. I am on the same page that that lifestyle would be sin. I am fighting not to live like that (and by God’s grace, I believe I can say that I don’t live like that). Yet, I appreciate how you took the approach that there could be ways for this mom to find paid work to do on the side that would be God honoring and serve her family well. Like her, I also am not into the more typical crafty type things (canning, sewing, decorating, etc.). Nursing is really the only marketable skill that I have, and for this stage of life, I’m overwhelmingly thankful that the Lord has given me a chance to work for his glory at the one thing that by his grace, I can do well. Seriously, I was singing my thanks to the Lord in a supply room the other day. He is good and I want my career, and my life in general, to speak volumes to the world of his goodness.

  5. Amanda Sundby-Banry says:

    My first thought was, “I cannot imagine feeling bored at home”. It was such a shocking concept to me that I had to read it to my hubby. I told him, “I wish I was as organized and structured as her, can you imagine how perfect our home would be if I had every chore done, the young kid’s schoolwork done and had time to be bored?” My youngest is 16 YEARS old, and the rest are all between 20 and 27, I do not homeschool, and I have never had a moment at home where I felt like all the chores were done. I was so blown away I started asking myself, “Have I ever been bored in my entire life other than maybe as a young child?” Then it dawned on me, I can relate to feeling very bored at work before I retired. I often times hated being at work because I was so bored and wanted to be at home instead. I would think of everything I would rather be doing at home and time I would rather spend with my kids. You are going to laugh when you hear what my job was; I was a firefighter/EMT/driver operator (of fire trucks and engines)! You probably wonder “How could she be bored at a job like that?” Just like I wondered, “How could a Mom of three young kids who is homeschooling ever be bored?” I think the reason I felt bored at work was because I felt trapped in the fire station between calls. There are some days where I would only get 2 or 3 emergency calls that were not even real emergencies, and in between I was stuck in the fire station for 24 hour shifts. I guess on those days I felt like I was not making a difference, not being useful, like if I wasn’t there that day I wouldn’t have missed anything important and wouldn’t have been missed. Yes, there were extra chores I could have done to keep from being bored IF I really wanted to, or I COULD have read books like “Incident Command” or “Pumper Operator/Engineering” IF I wanted to, and I was always allowed to work out in between calls and we even played volley ball or other team sports outside on nice days, but I had a bored “heart” about it. My heart wanted to be somewhere else doing something else…not stuck at the fire station with 10 other “boring” firefighter’s. At home I feel different because it’s mine, and I’m free to do what I want, how I want and when I want. There’s always something I want to improve at home, where at work I just did the chores we were told to do day in and day out always the same for all of us. At home there are things to read, walls to paint or furniture to rearrange, messes to clean up or to ignore, depending on my wishes that day. Some days I work out in the yard all day and sometimes I work inside and when I feel like going shopping I hop in the car and go. I know jag I’m a bit too spontaneous and often times I wish I was more structured, but too much structure imposed onto me feels “boring”.. Maybe you feel a little bit “trapped” in your home like I did at work, maybe you need a bit more spontaneity at home, shake things up a bit and see how you like it. Do you have a car at your disposal where you are able to load up the kids and get out and go do something you enjoy? One reason I got so bored at work was because I could only leave when we got an emergency and we all left together. I had no freedom…maybe you need a tiny bit of that, or something at home that feels like it’s just yours, like a project, job or hobby you can do from home when you want, how you want, if you want. Also, make sure you realize how important your job is. If you were not there you would be missed, and you would miss out. Remind yourself that raising your children and making your home a sanctuary for yourself, your husband and your children is literally more important than me showing up to a fire and putting it out or responding to a dying patient and performing CPR. No one else can do what you are doing. You are irreplaceable. When I retired early due to an on the job injury it took them about a year and half to replace me. You cannot be replaced.

  6. Jamie Butts says:

    Not sure if anyone said this already (and I loved the ideas you shared – especially pointing her to discipleship), but I think in any home you can probably get to know at least one neighbor. If that neighbor is not a believer, you could very well be the only one ministering to her/praying for them/serving them… it can be a messy ministry. But, the investment may mean open doors to share (showing and telling) the gospel. What a privilege.

    I e-mailed you a question I have about my boys, Jess. Let me know if you don’t get it/if I am using an old address. Though no rush! :)

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