The Lonely Life of a Working Mom

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You know me. I’m the one unloading her kids from the car at the park just as you are pulling away to go home for dinner. I’m the one whose daughter swings alone on an empty playground while I help my baby down the slide in my work slacks and flats, sweating in a button down shirt. The one who has no other mom to talk to while my children play in the mulch because it is 6:15 and everyone has already gone home.

Being a working mom feels so lonely sometimes. When I stayed home, I used to feel like I had so much more of a mommy network, because, say, at 10 a.m. my daughter and I would see friends while we were on a walk, or at the park, or on a trip to Publix. And they’d say, hey come over this afternoon, or meet us at the pool, or whatever… Now I do nothing social without it being calendared, sometimes weeks in advance, because if I don’t schedule it, if I don’t make the effort to get playdates for my daughter on my calendar, they won’t happen. There is just no time between work and the evening routines unless I make time.

I don’t often get texts at 5 p.m. that say “come over for a play/wine date” and there are no what-are-you-doing-its-raining-again-want-to-go-to-story-time? Facebook messages, because the world assumes I am already busy or at work.  I am always sad when one of my friends posts “We’re going to the Zoo, who wants to join us?” because I’m stuck at work. And yeah the zoo would be fun for my kids, but really it would also be fun for me to hang out with you.

Sometimes other moms say to me, how do you have the energy to do anything after work? And honestly, I don’t. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is have a playdate for my daughter or go to the park or the pool. Some nights all I want to do after work is park my kids in front of the TV and fix cereal for dinner. But if I don’t make the effort to schedule a playdate, or drag eight bags of junk to the pool, or sweat in work clothes at the park, we would never do anything. And my entire social life for weeks on end would just be Instagram. I am so glad I have my son’s little monthly playgroup, and it’s not because my son needs the interaction with more one-year- olds. He spends all his time with one-year-olds at daycare. His playgroup is for me.

 

Sure I work in an office and see adults often. We have adult conversations. We often talk about things other than work. I can get lunch with other mom friends who work or women whom I know from volunteering. I even exercise with people after work some days. But as nice as everyone is, I can’t really be a mom, with kids in tow, or as the main topic of conversation, around people at work. I feel like I always have to be conscious of how my motherhood impacts other’s perception of my professionalism.

So, when you see my daughter is being picked up from ballet by the babysitter, ask her for a playdate. Maybe you and I can chat about mama things when I get her at your house. When you see she’s always the first to camp drop off, and the last one picked up because I’m rushing to and from work to get her, offer to help. I will always return the favor, especially if your child can come over to play for an hour or two. When your kids are driving you insane at 5 p.m., and there’s four more hours of daylight left and a picnic dinner at the pool sounds like a great idea, text me. I’ll probably already be there. And I’d really love it if you came too! 

Are you a stay at home mom and lonely? Be sure to read Kathy’s post

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Meg Sacks
Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortunate 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.

27 COMMENTS

  1. This is how I feel on a regular basis. Especially when the stay at home moms in my Sunday School class talk about going to the zoo in Thursday and who wants to be the other adult on their annual pass. I can’t because I work and then I feel like an outsider when I go to church on Sunday.

  2. I’m a work-from-home mom with two boys who don’t go to daycare. I see this from BOTH sides of the coin. None of my friends have young children, but don’t often invite me to things because I do. I can’t seem to connect with stay-at-home moms for playdates or group things because I’m working. I identify with the isolation, and feel pretty powerless to change it. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s lonely for sure!

  3. Meg, this is spot-on. I work a full time flexible schedule, but I’m at work every Saturday & Sunday and sometimes feel like I miss so much. My babysitter has taken my kids to kids eat free nights and picked them up from school. And it is lonely! Hang in there, and I’d love to get together for an “off hours’ playdate! 🙂

  4. Great post, Meg! We are always the only ones at the park in the evenings too! I make an effort to plan play dates with other working moms in the evenings…Cummer on Tuesday nights, neighborhood walks, or even just our house with a bottle of wine. I’ve also found that SAHM’s love a good evening play date in the summer when bedtimes aren’t so strictly enforced.

  5. This is a great description of how a working mama feels. Great article. I started a group on meetup.com over a year ago to combat this. It’s called Jacksonville Working Moms and Mom To Be. If anyone needs a working mama play date, you are welcome to join!

  6. What’s sad is I work full time and still don’t get to do some of those things in the afternoon because I work until 6:30 or 7:00. I do have weekends off but it seemed I’m stuck trying to recooperate from the week or getting caught up with house chores.

  7. I felt this way a lot when I worked. Now that I haven’t been working for two years and have a second child… I have found it very difficult to reestablish my career. I don’t think there is a happy medium. You’re kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t work. At least if you keep your career you’ll have something to go back to when your children get older. You can always make friends at another time. You can’t always get your career back. I feel like you have the best of both worlds. Even though you’re lonely be grateful. As it is a very big challenge to reestablish a career that has been lost. 🙁

  8. I am a SAHM mom of two and definitely feel lonely at times at home and have a fair amount of working mom friends. They used to invite me to meet them for lunch but with toddlers in tow and trying to find parking downtown I declined enough they stopped asking. I always envied their time at lunch together. So this was a really enlightening article for me to see how lonely it is for working moms at times too. Motherhood is just dang hard!

  9. I feel exactly like this! I wish I could financially afford to stay home full time while my babies are small. I know I will never get those moments back. It feels as though I am so alone sometimes. I feel like both sides of the fence can be lonely. We need more support groups to keep us going! Thanks for sharing this honesty with us!

    • Lindsay, there are other options. I left my successful corporate job to finally work on my schedule and be home while my children are small. Email me if you would like to chat, [email protected] com. I am thankful for a forum like this that can empower women to have choices. Hugs. Christi

  10. I have 3 children, and have always worked out of necessity. However, the periods where I have been home for 3 or more days with the kids I start to feel stir crazy and even depressed, and I am always so happy to go back to work. We are all different and while I strongly admire those self motivated stay at home moms, in my case I’ve found that when I start to feel lonely at work I just need a few days off and I am more than ready to go back!

  11. Inevitably, every time a “playdate” is announced on Facebook by any of the mom groups I’m in, it’s always during the weekdays, and it breaks my heart a little. I feel left out, but it also makes me sad that my daughter never has anyone to play with outside of daycare. I just hope the more I take her out on the weekends to the park and splash country, maybe we’ll eventually find some other moms/kids in the same boat.

  12. I was this mom for 3 years and it was so hard to know where you fit in. I finally started my own business so I can be flexible and work around the kids schedules and that took some getting used to as well because I am now a working mom that hangs out with stay at home moms. It has been a blessing to say the least. I used to have the pit in my stomach while at my corporate job. I know not everyone feels that way, but so thankful I could replace my corporate level income and plan my work around my life rather than the other way around. The best advice I have is to reach out and let people know. I dont think a lot of people realize the situation people are in and just want to be included and loved.

  13. Thanks for posting that. Definitely gives me a better perspective of how my working wife and mother of two little ones probably feels everyday.

  14. It’s very hard to be a working mother. I have 2 kids that cry for me everyday. I work 6 days a week in a casino running a large department. My schedule changes constantly. I feel so alone sometimes, my husband try’s but I am so tired. I love what I do but it’s very hard

  15. I’m all the way up here in Iowa, but I know exactly what you mean. Great blog. It’s got to get easier sometime, right?

  16. I actually don’t have this experience. I work full time and have stayed home before too and feel MUCH lonelier staying home. Maybe it’s because I feel like I have a good social network at the office.

  17. I work part time and have found it just as hard making friends when i was on maternity leave as i do being at work. I made myself go to lots of groups but although people were nice they didn’t want to be your friend. I’m hoping this will change as small boy grows up although we both like our own company too. Just as well really

  18. I’m a work at home mom as well and it can be just as lonely as working outside the home. My boys run on a different schedule than the other kids their age. I’ve always had a hard time connecting to other moms…period. It’s an awkward season in our lives and I’m more sad that my boys don’t have a little group of buddies to hang out with on a regular basis than I am about myself.

  19. I feel the same way!! I get Fridays off but every activity or class I could take my daughter to is during nap time. I desperately want some mommy friends but feel like being a working mom doesn’t allow me to meet any!! At least I know I’m not alone!

  20. I work full time (often more) with a 4 and 6 year old. I feel like I miss everything. I’m always behind, turning in field trip money and homework late. By the time the weekend comes I just crash. It would be nice to meet up with someone who can relate and we could have some fun. I often feel like my kids are missing out on something. It’s hard!

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