In my scouring of the vast internet this week, I found a post by a woman in response to a question a friend asked. The question had something to do with stay at home moms vs work away from home moms.
Her response was something like this – I did not take it word for word – but this is the jist:
“I dislike when women put stay at home mom as their occupation. No. That’s not a job. That’s a luxury. Is it hard? Yeah, sometimes it’s really hard. But you are lucky that you are in a position to do that.”
Initially when I read this, I hit the roof. Staying at home with kids IS a job! And just because we don’t get a standard paycheck does not mean that it is a luxury.
I wrote a post on the stay at home mom vs. the work away from the home mom a while ago. I felt we needed to form a united front and support each other in the raising of our kids, not tear each other down. And I still feel that way. To me, the readers comment was exactly the opposite.
And then I took a deep breath and read it again. Granted, there are a lot of stay at home mom’s who are lucky enough to stay home. And there are a lot of working moms who want to stay home. But is staying home a luxury?
I decided to ask some of my own readers if they thought staying at home was a luxury and what – if any – sacrifices – they have to make in order to stay home. I, myself, have done it all. I have worked and been a mom, stayed home and been and mom and now I work from home as a single mom. I can honestly say that ALL of it has it’s drawbacks and all has it’s benefits.
Here are some of the comments I received:
Ah, the sacrifices for the “luxury” of staying home. It means driving my car until it can’t be driven anymore. Getting my hair cut every 4 months instead of every 6 weeks. It means cutting my kids’ and husband’s hair. It means telling my kids no *gasp* at overpriced museum gift shops and in the toy aisle at Target. It means not vacationing every year. It means having a “dumb” phone until it dies and shopping for the best price on everything we need. It means no sick days. No “vacation” days away from work. It means having a financial planner look at your income vs expenses and ask how you are able to eat.
But it’s a luxury, no doubt. It means I saw my boys’ first steps, heard their first words. Watched them learn to swim, ride a bike, practice piano, bounce on the trampoline. I was able to go to every school function- hear every school song, watch every school play, participate in every science fair. I kiss my kids goodbye when they get on the bus and am there to greet them when the come home. I get to hear every detail of their day and watch them play as they wind down from a long school day. So, sacrifices. Yup. Worth every one. Yup. – Kerrie
Spending more time with me!!!! ;))) lol – Kristen
I am using coupons and we have switched to more store brands then name brands. We shop at Aldi’s a lot. Kroger’s still doubles on coupons up to .50 here. – Jennifer
We sacrifice everything from vacations to buying new clothes. But the cost of daycare does not allow me to work and actually make $. Hopefully when kids r all in school it will be better. – Christa
I work from home caring for my mother but we are also strict on the budget. Preplanned meals, veggies only from our garden we can, couponing and earning amazon credits for extra stuff. Also..homemade cleaning supplies – Samantha
I hate it when people have that kind of attitude. I have worked part time and been a SAHM and honestly I found working to be easier! Just because I would get a break three days a week and some adult interaction, it was the best of both worlds for me. But I’ve never worked full time while I had kids so I can’t speak for that. I do feel fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids and I guess in that way you could call it a luxury, but it’s certainly not easy and it’s definitely not without sacrifice as others have said. I also don’t look down upon women who work though, I know they have it hard too! Having kids is a lot of work, period. That being said, I also have to go work in the 1st grade this morning for free. – Cara
For more comments from real moms, see this thread on my Facebook Page.
Most of the comments I received revolved around money and the lack of health insurance, which I don’t have now. Families living on single paychecks that don’t always stretch to fit the basics in, much less the extras. But not one said that they wished they were not stay at home moms.
So, yes… if you mean emotional luxury, then I suppose being a stay at home mom is one. But the sacrifices are there as well.
But just because a family unit finds a way to allow a parent – because there are a lot more stay at home dad’s now – to stay home and witness every thing their kids do all day, does that mean that that stay at home parent can not call that a ‘job’?
Years ago there was an article about how much stay at home moms would earn if they were paid for all of the chores they did all day. Notwithstanding “babysitting’ – because none of us babysit our kids – but cooking, cleaning, managing the household budget, driving everywhere, shopping, handling household maintenance, and so on, would earn a stay at home mom something like $130,000 a year.
I’d say that is a pretty good salary that is not being paid, no matter how much a stay at home mom does.
Now, I know the argument can be made that a stay at home mom should not expect payment because she is home and gets to be there. And because many see it as a choice. But, the reality is that what the stay at home parent does IS work. All day, every day, no matter what. They are on duty overnight, on vacation and every moment in between. And though it may be a ‘luxury’ to do it, it is, in fact, a JOB!
So when we are thinking of the families that have two working, one working, none working. One kid, two kids, seven kids. Financial freedom, financial strain, financial devastation. Special needs children, adopted children, birth children. Stress, pain and uncertainty…. let us also think of the sacrifices and benefits of each situation.
Because being a stay at home mom is both a luxury AND a job. And though we all feel very, VERY lucky to do it, we also have a right to be appreciated for all we do while in that working environment.
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Great post! I choose to work, though I would love to stay home! I think I often forget about the sacrifices that come from staying at home, and it’s those sacrifices that my husband and I have chosen to not do without. I know I may miss out on some things as well, so for that, I’ve found a position that allows me some flexibility to be with my kids on more special events at their preschool/daycare, and i’m home with them in the summer. I honestly feel that I have the best of both worlds. I think we all have a common theme- we dont’ regret the decisions that we’ve made!
I, too, have been on both sides of this “debate” and I am in a situation now that I would rather be working outside of the house but due to finances, living situation, and the inability to put the kids in day care due to cost and age (10 and 13 but both have learning disabilities and daycare cut off age is 12 here unless it is specialized care and neither qualify for that). Our family is in a catch 22 because we would benefit from us having two incomes but we can’t afford the extra cost involved for both of us to work. That in and of itself is stressful to deal with because, while I know that I am contributing to the family by everything I do in the home, I still wish I were able to contribute financially as well.
I am fortunate that I am in a position to stay home with my kids, and yes, it is a LOT of work. Cooking, cleaning, driving, teaching… all jobs for which people actually get paid to do if they are doing it outside of their own home. It all goes back to having respect for the stay-at-home-mom and what we do each and every day. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if the SAHM was looked upon as an integral part of society. Sadly, we aren’t.
I never thought I would grow up to write “homemaker” on every single occupation question. I love it though, I really do. But sometimes i really wish I had a job, simply because at a job you get sick days, vacation days, health insurance. Sure I could go and get a job, I’m a very hard worker, but it wouldn’t even come close to covering daycare costs for my 4 kids. So even though it sucks financially, it’s actually money ahead for me to be here. Do I think women who work outside the home aren’t as good of mothers? Absolutely not! We are all mothers and all doing the best we can with what we have. Shame on any of us for judging those who work or don’t work. Being a great mom, or dad, is still being a great parent. Working or not. I do feel lucky that I am able to stay home with my kids. But I do sometimes long for the day when I can go and get a job and contribute financially to our household. Or really, just get some adult interaction! Years and years ago, this is just the way it was. Mom’s stayed home and raised the kids and took care of the home. It’s not a bad thing.
I don’t know that “luxury” is the right word. I think some people get the impression that if you’re staying home it’s b/c your husband makes oodles of cash so you don’t HAVE to work and have just chosen to opt out of the work force to hang with your children. That may in fact be a luxury because at that point, you can probably also afford to have them in lessons or activities in the day and get a break. That’s just, not the norm.
I work full-time outside of the home, and then I come home and work full time. I also have to be a doctor, a cook, a cleaner. I am on duty overnight. Despite working full time, we cannot afford to vacation every year and my car has been around since I was in college.
I think it’s hard on everyone. If you’re home, you’re generally sacrificing a lot to afford that privilege. If you’re not home, you’re working the job of both employee and mother, and that’s a hard balance sometimes. And doing so does nothing to ensure you can afford things or skip coupon clipping. There seems to be this attitude that if you are working out of the home, all those other stresses are eliminated because you have money, and that isn’t the case.
Each type of parent experiences different types of stress related to their occupational status. I think that moms who stay home can and should consider that their job, because it’s a full-time activity that you’re responsible for and actively engaged in. Parenting is a hard job, full stop.
Though I have to be honest and say, when I read things like how the jobs SAHMs do equal roughly a 130k salary and people get bent out of shape about that, I don’t get it. Who do you think should be paying you this? I do all of those things EXCEPT the “babysitting” part during the daytime hours, and I am not paid to cook, clean, care for, doctor. etc my child. I am paid for the job at do at my office, and I make a salary for that. If you look at it that way, then every single person, not even parent,isn’t being paid for the job of taking care of their responsibilities, right?
While it’s a job, it simply isn’t one that comes with a salary….it’s like the world’s longest, most complicated volunteer job!
I would give almost anything to be able to stay home. My lo is 3 and I feel like I have missed SO much. I woudl gladly trade the 8-5 and take the monatary sacrifice to be the one spending the extra 9-10 hours a day with my child
I will say If is wonderful. I hope every mom gets to do it if they really want to!
Whether a mom works at home, stays home with her children or works outside the home, it’s challenging – period. One is not better or worse than the other. Either way, you are making some kind of sacrifice! Women need to be easy on each other and more understanding.
I totally AGREE!!! it is tough no matter how you slice it!
The thing is though that work out of the home moms also have those responsibilities – cooking, cleaning, managing the budget, driving, shopping, and overnight duties. I readily admit I like the adult interaction and positive reinforcement from working, but I’m still chaperoning field trips, attending practices and games, volunteering in the class… I think the luxury part would be having the option of NOT having to go to work if I didn’t want to. The BS, work I”m doing after the kids are in bed and with their dad, the times I’d like to tell by boss to “stick it” but have to bite my tongue because my kids deserve a stable home and food on the table – those are sacrifices too. There’s also many that are making the same sacrifices – time between haircuts, driving old cars, saying “no” to their kids and yet working full time just to make ends meet. It’s not an option to cut things back any further in order to allow them the ability to stay home because even when they are working there’s no extra for dinner out or highlighted hair.
Regardless I think we all need to respect each other’s struggles and choices and recognize there is no one size fits all. And that for any of us, the luxury of having clean water, sanitation, access to medical care and food on the table are items that many moms around the world don’t have.
Well said Daria and you are right!! I remember working and balancing and it was TOUGH!!
yes, staying home is a luxury! Working for money is really stressful and you still have to be a parent on top of it! I remember my two one-year (unpaid) maternity leaves as the most mellow times of my entire life. Watching TV while breastfeeding, reading books, napping, meeting up with mom friends to eat cake and drink tea. It was so relaxing! ya my toddler had meltdowns and I was sleep deprived, but all of that was way less stressful than having to work. And it’s even better when the kids are gone all day from 8-3 in school (or longer when they have afterschool activities). Entire days to yourself to do chores! Heavenly, I would kill to have that time. Corporate America ain’t no picnic :-)
I work from home and take care of the kids as a single mom so I get it :)