This may come as a surprise to you, but being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) has become a hot-button issue lately. I know. Shocking, right?
I’ve (unfortunately) both participated in and witnessed one of the biggest mom-war topics: working mom vs. SAHM. I have faced criticism by family and friends for my husband’s and my decision for what we decided is best for our family. I’ve also witnessed other moms being shamed for doing what they want to/need to do in regards to working or not working.
I have been a SAHM for over five years and I can attest to the difficulty it is to be at home, with your kids, day-in and day-out, with little to no adult socialization most days. Add in the element of homeschooling and some days I really do wonder if I’ve fallen off my rocker. I’ve also been a working mom and I know that is no walk in the park, either.
This is one of those issues that is pretty black and white. Both sides will vehemently state their case as to why or how they have it “harder”/”better” in the grand scheme of the parenting world. Mud has been slung from both parties. The rift between the two sects driven deeper with the verbal banter.
And it is a sad thing to watch. Mom tearing down mom.
This post will not be about that. Instead, this post is going to focus on countering all of the reasons people have given me as to why they would “never in a million years” be a SAHM. I kid you not, these are real things real people have told me over the years. It is my hope to help encourage any moms who may want to become a SAHM, but may have their own questions and doubts in their minds as to whether or not they should.
“I can’t be a SAHM because the house would be too messy all the time.”
~Ok, this one is kind of true. Yes, being in the house 24/7 with two-legged tornadoes going through, destroying everything in their path just after you cleaned it up, is extremely frustrating. But, being home 24/7 also gives me the opportunity to teach my kids how to better take care of their things and to clean up the messes as they happen. We are still working on that one, but as my kids get older I can already see this habit forming! Also, being home all day every day gives you the opportunity to stream-line processes and help your home run more efficiently. When something needs my attention I can attend to it quickly rather than put it off until later.
“What if your husband leaves you? You have no current job skills and no economic security.”
~When people tell me this one, I usually have no idea what to respond. Ummmm… Nope. My husband and I are a team. We are in this together. When we said our marriage vows, we really meant the whole “’til death” part. We communicate openly and rely on each other in all aspects of parenting. Now, in a more likely scenario than the one painted above, if something were to happen to my husband or I (not to get all morbid on you), we have adequate life insurance in place and a strong network of family and friends that would come alongside our family and walk through the loss with our kids and the surviving spouse. Being a SAHM has also given me skills that I wouldn’t be able to attain in most occupations. I jokingly refer to myself as a domestic engineer and, while that isn’t really a job title, it does a good job giving a snapshot as to what a SAHM does. SAHMs generally have highly developed organizational, leadership and interpersonal skills that many employers are looking for. I am not going to let an employment gap stop me from doing what is my current calling in life.
“My kids drive me crazy! There is no way I could be home with them all day every day.”
~ When you’re at home all day with your kids, and you feel like you just can’t handle one more episode of Caillou, remember this: chocolate and a closet that locks from the inside can do wonders. I kid, I kid. I’m so sad that parents feel like they can’t tolerate being at home all day with their kids! Yes, kids can be a handful and even annoying at times. (Can’t we all?) But they are in no way an inconvenience that I purposely try to avoid for the majority of the day. I’ve had to find ways to cope with irritating behaviors. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing my kids grow and mature out of certain phases, blossoming into the beautiful little people they are today! 🙂 No matter what setting you find yourself in (even at a job outside the home), you will more than likely find yourself in the company of others who “drive you crazy” in one way or another. For me, I think it’s nice being able to pick who I spend my days with.
“There is no way we could make it living on one income.”
~This one is tricky to counter because it honestly can be tough figuring out if you can survive on one income. My first suggestion is to make a list of your monthly expenditures. Next, split that list into “wants” and “needs”. You’ll quickly see that a lot of your items can be categorized as wants (Starbucks coffee, weekly pedicures, etc.), many of which can be eliminated. If you truly want to stay at home with your kids, any of the materialistic sacrifices will be well worth it in the end. Look at the things you have listed as necessities. Do you see anything you can trim down? Maybe instead of the fancy, expensive contract cell phone plan you’re currently on, you can switch to one of the prepaid services like StraightTalk. We did that and ended up saving over $60 each month. You can also save money on things like clothing and vehicles by buying used. Paying cash for things you need instead of charging it on a credit card can save your budget, too. I wrote this post earlier this year. Check it out for more ideas! If we can do it, you can do it, too!
“Don’t you get bored? I need adult interaction!”
~Yes. I do get bored. I’m not going to lie, our days can become mundane and repetitive. Wake up, eat, play, school, eat, nap, school, play, eat, play, sleep, repeat. Day in and day out. This is an area that I still struggle with. There are many days that the only adult conversation I have is with my husband late at night when the kids are finally asleep. Unless, of course, the UPS guy makes a delivery and I can lasso him in to a conversation about the weather. (Poor guy!) And the only time I typically get out of the house is when I go grocery shopping or have a mom’s night out with the ladies in my MOPS group. And even then, the time away from home feels too short in comparison to the monogamous ritual known as our daily lives. But, I keep reminding myself that this is only for a season. My kids are only little and needy for a short time, even when the days feel unending. But every day they are one day older and one day closer to not relying on me for their every need. And I can bet that there will come a day that I miss this stage of life. (Or so I’m told!)
“By working outside the home, I’m setting a good example for my daughters/kids on what real work looks like.”
~Ouch. Not gonna lie, this one hurts a little. I understand that having a job that requires a daily commute outside the four walls of your home is not easy (and I can imagine having a work-from-home job would be equally difficult). I’ve been there as a working mom. It is hard leaving your kids every day to go make an income to provide for your family. But, being a SAHM requires a level of self-sacrifice and work as well. Every day I wake up I make the choice to serve my family first, inside these four walls. I work hard making sure my kids are fed, clothed, mentally stimulated, emotionally filled, and physically challenged. I work hard at keeping our home running efficiently (although some days not as efficiently as I want). Sure, I don’t have the pressures of wearing a uniform, being somewhere at a certain time, or being held responsible by upper management (well, I do suppose my hubby is technically the CEO of our family ;)) but I set goals and I work towards them. My kids are my “co-workers” and we work together to make our house a home. I am a teacher to my kids as we tread through the somewhat-new waters of homeschooling. I don’t get a paycheck for all that I do, but that’s ok. I am glad I have the option and ability to be able to be at home with my kids all day every day. They are learning from me and their dad what teamwork is. What self-sacrifice is. What it means to do the best we can with what we have. I don’t think I’m a better mom than the other SAHMs or the working moms of the world.
I think, when it comes down to it, we are all making the best decisions we can with the resources and knowledge we have available because we love our kids. My kids know I love them. Your kids know you love them. They are our driving forces in life. The reason we work so stinkin’ hard day-in and day-out.
Parenting is hard. Period. Let’s be kind to each other and realize that none of us have it all figured out in life. Our unique situations and life circumstances are just that: unique. What works for one person may not work or even be possible for another. Instead of exchanging hurtful words, let’s extend each other some grace!
I hope I’ve been able to encourage some of you who may be riding the fence on whether or not to give being a SAHM a shot! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if that is what your heart truly wants! 🙂