True Story: I’m a Homemaker + I Don’t Have Kids

Have you ever wanted to be a stay at home mom ... without the mom part? Want to be a good ol' fashioned homemaker? One woman shares her story on yesandyes.org
Have you ever fantasized about being a stay at home mom … without the mom part? After working as a teacher, Heidi had the chance to do just that! Here’s her story.


Tell us a bit about yourself! 

My name is Heidi; my body is 28 years old but I inherited my soul from an 80-year old woman. I herald from the Twin Cities but have adventured all over Minnesota. I love to bake up new recipes, read on rainy days, lose my thoughts in cardio, drive without the radio on, tailgate for the Gophers, and share wine bottles, dinner plates, and conversation with friends and family.

Did you have a career before you became a homemaker? 

I went to college at The College of Saint Benedict where I graduated with a major in Communication Arts and Literature with a minor in Secondary Education. I accepted my first teaching position in the northern town of Hibbing, Minnesota. I jumped right into coaching three sports and teaching a dream schedule of American Literature and College Preparatory Writing.

The work load and distance from family and friends proved too much, and I returned to the Twin Cities to see if teaching was something I wanted to continue. I worked in an architecture and engineering firm in the North Loop and loved the office culture and predictable corporate grind, but missed working with youth.

So I left for another teaching job, this time at a charter school in the Lake Nokomis area working at closing the education gap with disadvantaged youth. As many teachers know, charter schools are a hit or miss and this one had its ups and downs. The downs ended up outweighing the ups and I found myself heart-broken and disenchanted with what the education profession has turned into.

How did you and your husband decide that you could/should quit teaching?

Quitting teaching was heartbreaking. I’d equate the experience to a bad relationship – I couldn’t help but think about what the job could be, so I ended up ignoring all of the red flags. Luckily, my husband (then fiance) could tell that it was a toxic relationship and I needed out.

At the same time, we were preparing for our upcoming wedding and he had recently been given a new position at his work that would mean a busier schedule. The timing was very do or die. I’ve always dreamed of being a homemaker (and eventual stay-at-home mom), but it isn’t something that is really accepted in today’s culture; women are supposed to be shunning traditional gender roles and climbing the corporate ladder.

And here I am, feeling like I just accepted my dream job but too afraid of other’s opinions to celebrate.

When you submitted your resignation, did your co-workers ask what you were going to do next? 

When I submitted my letter of resignation, my boss was very understanding – which was a complete God send. I’m a hyper-sensitive personality type, so I really absorb the emotions around me. We were nearing the end of third quarter, so I offered to stay until the end of the quarter to help the school transition. (Thank the high heavens our contract was at-will.)

Everyone did keep asking what my next move was, and I hid behind the excuse of planning our upcoming wedding. Some wished that they could do what I was doing, and other’s had the normal response of “I can’t imagine not working, I’d be so bored.”

Walk us through your first week of homemaking.

Because of the emotional state in which I entered homemaking, it felt like I was breathing. I was breathing for the first time in months. I could enjoy life without the fear and stress of what would happen at work the next day. I could be there, really be there for my friends and family.

I could take care of not only my husband, but myself. Since I was a teacher, I had experienced the joy of summer vacation after the grueling marathon of the school year – so being at home felt like a never-ending summer vacation.

What does an ‘average’ day look like for you? 

12:00 Bed: I’ve forfeited my 10:30 pm bedtime and taken on the schedule of my husband, so midnight is when my head hits the pillow.

8:30 Wake-Up: While working, I always told myself that I only needed 6-7 hours of sleep. Now I know I actually need 8-9 hours of sleep, so I wake up between 8-9, depending on when my husband is getting ready to transition from his morning work at home and leaving for work at the office.

9:00 Breakfast: Upon waking, I’ll go downstairs and make myself a cappuccino, finish the dishes from last night’s dinner, and get breakfast going. I swear Starbucks stocks went down when we both stopped getting our morning fix! P.s. Nespresso machines really are as good as they say.

10:00 E-Mail & Social Media: When the house is mine, I’ll catch up on email and social media. This takes an embarrassing amount of time, not because of Facebook or Insta, but because I’m a serial tab-opener. All of a sudden I’m reading an article about white space in social media posts when I was started out with searching for a recipe for German chocolate muffins.

I also love essential oils, so I’ll also take this time to answer a questions from my oil-squad and do a little self-development.

12:00 Work-Out: I usually try to work-out before a meal, so sometimes this will switch to the late afternoon if I’m busy with appointments. I used to do a 6:00 TEAM class at Lifetime, but gave that up to coach.

1:30 Lunch: Ideally with friends, but often consists of whatever leftovers I’ve given myself or a salad I made at the grocery store amidst running some quick errands.)

2:00 Clean: I’l usually pick one “mess” that is bugging me and take care of it. I’ll throw on a TV show while I tidy up the house, otherwise I don’t let myself watch TV during the day.

4:00 Study: I’m trying my best to prep for the GRE, so I’ll study for an hour or so before getting ready to coach. (Usually involves watching too many Insta stories.) Why the GRE? I’m looking into getting my Masters in English. I’d love to teach at the college level someday.

6:00 Coach swimming: This is what fills my teacher heart – it has all the fun things about my former profession without any of the bureaucracy.

8:00 Dinner: We eat late, but it works for our schedules. Monday through Friday it’s pretty basic, but weekends are when I can unleash my inner Martha Stewart. Hand-made pasta is on my weekend dinner wish list! We honeymooned in Rome, Italy and I’m never looking at food and wine the same way again.

Do you think you’ll ever go back to work?

Yes! Even though I am so in love with what I do right now, I’m studying to take my GRE in November, apply to grad schools, and hopefully go back to get my Master’s in English. I plan to use my degree to freelance while raising my kids and then teach at the community college level once they’re in school.

Do you have a ‘back up plan’ in the event that your husband lost is job or if you split up?

I’m a child of divorce, so marriage is very sacred to me. When my parents split my mom had been a home-maker her entire life and was left with three kids, a mortgage, and no job. It’s still a miracle how she managed to get her two-year degree and hop into the work-world while being a single mom, but she did it.

The whole process left a strong impression on me and it was always non-negotiable with my mom: we were to get a college education and have a profession of our own. So I know that I could go back to teaching if the worst happened and my husband wasn’t in my life anymore.

My dad was unemployed for a bit after his department was outsourced, so I also know the sacrifices that are made when a job is lost; if we had to rely on my professional experience, we could scrape by with our savings and my teaching while he found new work and we got back on our feet.

What has this break from working allowed you to do? 

In the words of my therapist, this experience as allowed me “radical self-care” and I know I still deny myself many of the joys that my position offers. I do think this is very indicative of our toxic society in measuring your worth by your resume, structuring your joys, and practicing self-denial – which is so funny because we latch on to those brave women living the lives they want.

I want to make candles, paint, write poetry, take pointless walks… and I’m working on being okay with doing those. But I can pause, reflect, and appreciate where I am and the better spouse/friend/sister/daughter/aunt I get to be because of my focusing my work and attention in the “home” – home being so much more than the walls my husband and I live in.

When you’re meeting new people and they inevitably ask “So, what do you do?” how do you respond?

I usually laugh a little, smile, and reply that I’m a home-maker with dreams of beating Martha Stewart at her game someday.

Do people ever respond negatively when you tell them you don’t work?

If we weren’t all so Minnesota nice and my default facial expression wasn’t to smile, I’m sure I would field more distasteful comments. But I have the appreciation of my husband and the understanding of my family and in-laws, which is all the validation I’ve learned I need.

What’s something you’ve learned from this that any of us could apply to our daily lives? 

We’re not made up of pieces of paper. Nobody at the grocery store or out and about knew that I was unhappy because of my work life; they just saw me as an unhappy person. My friends didn’t know that I was disconnected when we were hanging out because my mind was busy trying to figure out a survival plan; I was just a friend who wasn’t fully present.

Life is about balance and figuring out what you need to be happy. If you’re single, it’s a balancing act you can practice yourself – you just need to make sure you’re not lying to yourself. We so easily manipulate ourselves into believing something that isn’t true.

If you’re in a relationship, it’s a balancing act that requires a lot of communication and compromise – but the earlier you have these conversations, the more of your life you can spend truly living.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Heidi! Do you guys have any questions for her? 

P.S. True Story: I have my dream job + True Story: I’m a stay-at-home dad

25 Comments

Deb

These stories are always so interesting!

Won’t it be nice when we all get to live the lives we want to without fear of judgement? I think it’s great that Heidi has made conscious choices that she finds fulfilling. Surely that’s all that matters?

I think judgement on this issue must either come from envy (people wishing they didn’t have to work or did have more time to spend pursuing their passion), or from wondering what people do with their time. People want to know what value someone adds. So, I imagine it’s not socially acceptable to say that you spend all day watching TV, but it is OK if you’re doing stuff like seeing friends or volunteering or studying or practising a skill of some kind. There shouldn’t be any judgement even if somebody watches TV all day but I think it’s hard to understand others’ choices sometimes.

Columns like this one really help with that, I think. Learning about people whose choices are different from your own is fascinating.

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Sarah Von Bargen

Thanks so much, Deb! Honestly, I think the ‘True Story’ series is the most important work I do! <3

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Denise

Thank you for sharing this story! More of us need to take better care of ourselves and allowing a break from working, if it is feasible.

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Marie

I’m a teacher and near the end of summer I start to wonder how home makers do it! I have a hard time motivating myself to get up and be productive when I know I have all day to do things. Any tips for a part timer?

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Maureen

Hi Heidi,

I’m an English teacher at a community college in CA. If you’re interested, I have some career advice for you that I had to learn the hard way! Email me at: mlwiley@pipeline.sbcc.edu if you are interested. 🙂

~Maureen

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Libby

I relate to this 100%. This time last year I put in a 30 day notice at a job that was sucking the complete life out of me. I had daily migraines and I was short tempered. I kept hearing from everyone, “no body likes their job!” And I stuck it out. But I didn’t know anyone who hated their job *this* much. I was in a deep depression.
My husband told me every few weeks for the better part of a year before hand, “we’ll be okay if you quit.” And then one day, after my boss added a significant portion of new work to a work load that I was already swimming in–and literally laughed when I mentioned the idea of a raise, I made a plan. January 1, I started my new job–at home.
I haven’t had a migraine in 8 months. I’ve never felt so free. This was an act of radical self care that was absolutely necessary for our survival.

I do feel self-conscious when people ask me what I do for a living. A lot of people laugh and say “must be nice.” It really wasn’t nice… it was crucial. I picked up a very small part time job at a book store just to get me out of the house from time to time. We’re budgeting hard these days but we’re making it work.
Thank you for running this interview. I’ve never felt more known in this regard.

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V

On one hand, I’m all for homemaking as a calling, and I think that’s a reasonable way to spend one’s life. On the other hand, well…if your partner is supporting your ‘stay-at-home, lunch with friends, check instagram’ lifestyle, I think it’s important to add more value to your full-time-working partner’s life than ‘make a Nespresso and a basic dinner’. I work part-time and homemake part time, and i’m very conscious of how easy it is to allow ~radical self care~ to take up lots of my home-making time, to the detriment of my home.

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Sarah Von Bargen

It sounds like Heidi is also in charge of all the meals and cleaning the house, V.

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V

A two person household (meals, laundry, cleaning) isn’t necessarily a full-time job, in my opinion, unless you’re doing things from scratch (rather than instant coffee, for example). They indicated that they do a ‘basic’ meal on a weeknight – why is that? I guess I just don’t feel that it’s fair for one person to stay at home and have fun – and that schedule has a lot of fun in it – while the other works all day, unless they’re really contributing. Whatever works for them, I guess.

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Deb

I think that’s the point, isn’t it? Whatever works for them. Presumably they’ve discussed it at length. Over the course of a long-term relationship these things are supposed to balance out. So he supports the lifestyle choice they’ve made right now and she will support him when he needs it in future.

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Anonymous

I think it’s good that this interview brings up a lot of uncomfortable feelings for people; it helps us examine what we accept as true. Equating a person’s value with their job title seems to be an especially North American problem. What someone else deems “worthy” of another person’s time is not all that relevant. If her husband and she feel content with how/what she contributes to their lives, then folks need to try saying to themselves “Good for them! It’s just not for me” instead of labeling their choices as ‘wrong.’

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Jacqueline Fisch

Yes! I think this makes a lot of people uncomfortable. If it works for them – awesome! I hope they keep rocking on judgment-free.

No matter what we choose we’re judged. I went back to work “too soon” (by some standards) after each my kids and was judged for not staying home. People will always have something to say – we just need to keep reminding ourselves that their comments have everything to do with themselves and nothing to do with us.

Keep rocking it Heidi and teaching us all a lesson about radical self care! xo

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sarah

The “uncomfortable” feelings I have around this are not around being defined by a job title or anything like that. The feelings I have are around the fact that the privilege aspect of this feels like it was ignored/downplayed. Her and her husband are clearly in a well enough off position that she can take the time to not work and practice self-care. I would bet a majority of people aren’t in that boat, so to read something like this doesn’t strike a ‘you go, girl!’ feeling, and it does bring up that ‘well, that must be nice’ thoughts. I don’t think her choices are wrong, I just think her choices are ones that not everyone is in a position to be able to even make that choice.

Either way, I do always like reading this series as it brings stories of all types of people and situations. Some more applicable than others 😉

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HMM

I have family in this situation, and tbh I do judge her. Part of it is grass-is-greener envy, but I’ve done the quit my job, be funemployed for months (on my own savings, not relying on mom and dad), and personally there’s only so much self care I can do before it becomes just… Lazy and indulgent. What galls me is when she complains about not having time to clean or cook when she has all the time she needs, but still no desire to do it. Obviously it works for her and her husband, but I can’t help but wonder how she’ll manage to hold down the house when they have kids.

Heidi, thanks for sharing your story though. Even though I don’t quite “get it”, it’s fascinating to hear and I think you’re extremely brave for sharing – clearly its opened up the opportunity for judgement which is never fun to take. If you’re happy – and it sounds like you are – I applaud you for doing what’s right for you!

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Abbie

I worked at a charter school in Detroit for a year, and it was hands down the most difficult, ulcer-inducing, emotionally trying thing I’ve ever done. And despite that, quitting the job was incredibly difficult too. (The toxic relationship analogy is pretty spot on.)

Luckily, at the time I still lived with my parents and had a sizable savings account, so I was able to quit without a new job lined up. Also luckily, I was able to get a new job in a new field within a few months of quitting.

I totally understand the need to leave a job for the sake of your sanity. And I’m a little jealous (not judgmental, just jealous) that you’re in a position to continue staying home.

Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

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K.

Definitely a super interesting story. However, I think that it is a position of incredible privilege to be able to have the option to not work. I wish this would have been acknowledged a bit more. Many people struggle with burnout, mental illness, etc and do not have the option to leave work because they live alone and must pay the bills. I hate to be a downer, because I think the personal journey in this story is fascinating and challenges a lot of our expectations in society, but just wanted to put that out there for all of those who may be suffering/struggling and lacking the same support system she has.

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Mary Osborne

I found this a very interesting story. I confess, I’m a new reader to “Yes and Yes” and find many of these ‘real-life’ stories fascinating. I must also confess I’m probably a good deal older than many of the readers of this blog. I’m 63, just passed my 44th wedding anniversary and have no children by choice; mostly my choice as I told my future husband when he asked me to marry him in 1973. I’ve never been interested in being a mom.

I was pretty much a homemaker in the early days of my marriage (i.e. the early 70s), then got a fire in my belly and started working. I enjoy working and am still at it. I finished my BA when I was 50 and my MLIS (Masters of Library Science) @ 53.

The young lady in this story sounds as if she is grounded and knows what she wants. Good for her! I hope she passed her GRE (no small thing) and is well on her way!

Great blog!

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Anonymous

“Did you have a career before being a SAH” …. if only people knew/appreciated all the real work it is they’d know that being a SAH/SAHW/SAHM IS a career in itself!!

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Sarah Von Bargen

Anon,

I suspect the vast majority of the people reading this blog manage a household while holding down full-time jobs. I think we’re all pretty aware of how much work goes into it and most of us do it while working 40+ hours a week.

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Sophie

I’m a 25 yo sahm with a 3yo boy, I worked for a few months when my son was around 20 months old and he started daycare, but it just didn’t work for us as a family so I quit and put my son down to just a couple hours in the morning at day care. I hated the stress of the job and couldn’t see my kid at all… now it works great, I get chores done in the morning and have the rest of the day with my kid and the house and meals are sorted… we want another child so I do not think about work but it’s hard to deal with judgement all the time for being a sahm. They say you are judged if you are a working mum but personally I find you get so much judgement for wanting to stay at home. People implying you don’t do enough, you are lazy etc… I wish people began to accept the choices women make are right for them and their family and that if they are happy then go them! What other people do with their life does not affect you so let them be… <3 being happy is what matters and we should be congratulating people not trying to take it away from them.

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Tabitha

I am a full time homemaker without kids. I had worked the first 8 years of our marriage, and all my single years before that. We wanted kids, but married when we were older, and the olde we got, the less it became a priority. When we both worked, our home life was just stressful. We were always wondering who was going to cook, walk the dogs, take care of bills, etc. We decided to try having me stay home and I love it! It has been a full time job for me. I have a schedule each day on the things that need to get done on a regular basis. I have actually kept track of my time doing homemaking tasks, and it is easily 40-50 hrs a week.

Home making is not for everyone. Most people have been so supportive of that decision. For every difficult question they ask about it, I have a gracious answer prepared (i.e. “what do you do all day?” “don’t you get bored?” “what if he leaves you?”). For me, it has worked. My husband loves it that he can spend time with me on evening and weekends and I can be flexible with my time. In our overly busy society, it doesn’t hurt to have a few home makers around. If it’s not for you, then that’s fine.

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Anonymous

Living your life happily naturally sprinkles happiness around. I achieved my financial independence after 7 years of a full time well paying career. I had no complaints with my job. But i did want to quit sometime to be able to just be more available to myself, my home and my family. So now when i am soon to turn 30, i am living on my savings, am married, do not have kids, stay at home and am happy. Isn’t that the dream for most? Then why should people be jealous! But fact is, they are…Do I care? Sometimes yes, but mostly i feel grateful for being in a position that people can envy. If u are blessed to be able to do this on ur own momey, try once…it is totally worth it.

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