Before I had my first, and then when she was a baby I attended a lot of local AP groups. I heard mothers sometimes mention that "when you're the SAHM, all the kids end up in your yard" and I couldn't quite understand why, or whether they were just exaggerating, but now my oldest is 6.5 and I have a toddler and I can see what they mean. The kids always end up in our yard. it is enough that we are moving away to a house secluded by trees! I am the only local FT mom in my group of friends and I worry about the attitude that 'well she's home all the time, ask her". I really have no interest in looking after other children, I feel totally filled up caring for and educating my two - I could not handle even one more child except maybe for an occasional "playdate" but that's it. I can totally understand why your friend wanted you, because it sounds like the care you could provide is exemplary! What I think is hard for WOH Ps to understand is that it isn't anything like just going through our regular day, with an extra kid or two happening to be there too. I have had astonished looks when I have told friends I could not be their day care even for the money they are paying for daycare now - the few bucks an hour is not worth it, not by a long shot. It wouldn't be at all like simply having extra money for doing what I do anyway. I would have to get up hours earlier than we already do, I would never be able to go out during "work" hours for lack of car seats, I would be homebound during that time and what kind of life is that for my kids? Not to mention, I feel maxed out by my two so I would be exhausted and desperate for a break by the time my husband came home and it is stressful enough dividing chores and parenting tasks as it is.
I believe ironically that another mom can provide the best care. I suppose there are not many of us who could really handle it though (certainly not me!). I hope that after we move I can meet more fellow SAHMs so I won't always have to worry about being the pinch hitter since I am "always home anyway". I'd like to just have friends I don't always have to turn down. I feel really guilty about it too.
Sometimes I also wonder if maybe it would be different if caring for children paid a market, living wage. For instance, if a friend needs to go to work, she would need to pay me *much less* than she herself is making in order for it to be worth her while to go to work and that bothers me too.
Michelle: obsessed crafter, Buddhist Yogini, college student, and unschooling mom of two awesome daughters 12 and 6