The truth about Stay-at-home-moms

Last week (or maybe it was still this week) I stumbled upon a shared link about the whole, rather tiresome, working mom vs stay at home mom debate. I don’t subscribe to the site it was posted on because I don’t enjoy most of their content and the comments even less so.

The article was posted by a friend of mine who strongly objected to the article. At the same time as a little Facebook discussion was going on a twitter one was too where the editor got involved, he suggested my friend write her own opinion piece in response to which she declined. I considered offering to write one but for all the reasons above I decided not to. Also the whole debate is tired. It is monotonous and similar to the breastfeeding vs bottle/caesar vs natural debates – they tend to go around and around in circles.

That said, though, I have had this post in my head since the debate so I am going to do a little myth buster here and share what the stay-at-home moms I know do.

One of the things mentioned in the article was how sahm’s make working moms angry because they are around for their kids 24/7 while the working moms can’t do that. I am not even sure if the author of the article is a parent or even has any clue what parents actually do outside of the collection of quotes she received for the article. I am a stay at home and I missed every single one of Cameron’s cricket matches last term – EVERY SINGLE ONE! Last year I missed most of his galas. Kiara arrived at her dance concert last year without the required make-up or clothes for after the show – I never had time to read the letter properly.

Jack has gone to school in his pajamas before and both bigger kids have, on the odd occasion had to wear the same school shirt twice. Cameron has actually gone to school with his slippers on before. When they step out the car in the morning I say a small prayer that no one will notice the missing button, mis-matched socks and I promise myself to get to the mending,washing , school shop that day to sort it all out.

I am not going to launch into an account of all the times I have messed up, forgotten things or sent my kids to school looking considerably less than perfectly turned out.

The point is that just because I stay at home does not mean I have my shit together. In all honesty, the reality of staying at home full time is very different to the idea I had in my head. It is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.

I know you are probably thinking “how hard can it be to have to take and fetch kids from school and clean the house” – I thought the same thing as I was about to jump into it. When I was a working mom I had a host of people around me helping me out, sharing the responsibility. I had a phenomenal after care who ensure that the kids were fetched and taken to their extra-muruals, they did home work with the kids, they fed them. I had domestic twice a week and because we got home late each afternoon the house remained fairly tidy. So yes maybe I missed a few matches, stopped at Spar many a morning to grab cake for Cake and Candy en route to work but the kids were sorted out by someone else. There was a time I actually didn’t even really know the times the kids finished – the after care took care of all of that for me.

Now all of this falls on me. With one child it wouldn’t be that hard, possibly then I could be a smug mom, but with two older kids with different extra-muruals on different days at different times and 3 school going kids each with different start and different end times the planning and organising really does my head in some days. I can’t be in more than one place at a time which is why one child generally has to understand why I can’t make the match or the gala. I very literally turn in to moms taxi from 13h00 every single afternoon until, on the worst day 18h00. Trust me, working moms when I say this, by 16h00 the sahm is wishing she was you! My evenings then turn into the same as those of a working mom – dinner must be cooked, homework checked and done, projects researched and the house tidied.

The article kept on highlighting this great divide between the two moms and I honestly have never felt this. In fact in my circle it is the opposite to how it was described. Working moms and stay at home moms work together to make life easier for us both. My friend Debby, who works full time, helps me out so much with Cameron and when she needs it I fetch her kids if she has a late meeting but she definitely picks up the slack a lot more for me at the moment. One of the working cricket moms and I work out fetching and carrying the boys to club cricket, I drop, they fetch or vice versa depending on who is available and when. If I have missed events there are other moms or teachers who full me in on how the kids have done or even send me pictures. No one looks down on anyone, we don’t judge or compete – we really are too busy trying to keep things together and running smoothly to have time for that.

The biggest misconception I think, is that moms who stay at home parent their children better. This is total and utter rubbish. Staying at home with my child all day does not, by default, make me a better parent than anyone. It is a naive statement to make. Parenting is not about whether or not you work nor is it about whether or not you attend every single sports event your child is in. If you are going to pass commentary on parenting then this is probably the very first thing you need to understand and know!

We need more content that builds bridges across these great divides and stops making women feel like they constantly need to justify the choices they make.

11 thoughts on “The truth about Stay-at-home-moms

  1. My personal opinion is that it is all based in jealousy. One group thinks the other group have this wonderful life, while in truth each has there own challenges. It’s very rare that it becomes an issue. Only when you get someone on the extreme end of the ‘perfect mommy’ scale.

    PS I’m in the full time working, no domestic help group and I’m jealous of everyone else.

  2. Yes!! Exactly this!

    I posted a lengthy comment about this exact thing on that particular post, but you sum it up perfectly!

  3. Yes!

    Why the need to compete? We are all moms doing our best everyday. The only person I compete with is myself – to be a better mom than I was yesterday. To be less shouty and more loving.

    Being a SAHM is the best job in the world FOR ME. But somedays a solo trip to the store is like a holiday!

  4. Well said! I think the debate is mostly about people trying to validate or justify their own choices. Moms in both groups sometimes seem to feel looked down on by the other group, but in my circle of moms I have never felt that. Both groups have their challenges, why can’t we all just get on with it instead of wasting time arguing over an issue that really has no right answer. Just like the other great debates you mentioned that are ongoing.

  5. Hi Laura I am new to your blog and have read a few of your posts lately. I am enjoying them and this one too. I totally agree with you and feel that the article?opinion piece was written by someone who is obviously feeling a little bitter about her situation. I did not agree with her thoughts and actually felt sad for her as she obviously does not have any supportive SAHP friends. I think its a case of if you have curly hair you want straight and so on, but that doesn’t mean I should feel bitter about people with straight hair. I can envy without the hatred. Having said that though, I do know that parent24′s motto is meet parents like you. So if a parent (this person in particular) felt strongly about a subject, they gave a place to voice it. They don’t have to agree with it, but I am of the opinion that everyone (freedom of speech and all that) has the right to their opinion. And they did invite people who have opposing opinions to voice theirs, it is a platform for all parents to have a voice, not just the ones we agree with.

  6. I have a lot of respect for SAHM but sometimes I just wish I could be there for my kids more, spend more time with them, do their homework and take them to places. Not that I think it better or worse, just so that I can also sometimes invite friends over to play on a Friday afternoon or so on.

    Although I do think there are a few smug SAHM at our school (read the ones with full time domestic help etc) most are not. And although one or two SAHM have helped me out occasionally it is mostly other working moms that I work with and take turns with to get the “village to raise a child” thing together.

  7. I just ignore all the crap, really. I don’t have the time or energy to care what other people think of my parenting style and, unless they’re actively abusing their kids, I don’t care about theirs.
    I’ve done both the career mom gig and the SAHM. Both have their ups and downs.

  8. I really couldn’t care less what people think of my choices :) We’re all doing the best we can, right?

    When people attack, I think they’re just being insecure about that very part of their parenting.

    ps you’re going to like tonight’s post

  9. This debate has really become tired, I wish everyone could learn to just respect others choices. We all have different needs and different circumstances and no one has any right to judge anothers choices.

  10. Having only been a working mom there have been times when i have wished to be a sahm knowing how rushed that can also be as my sister was a sahm also with 3 kids a 3 diffrent schools and she was also forever running around and her worst comment she got as “seeing as u do nothing all day while kids are @ school y dont you volunteer t duty at school functions and stuff”

  11. I read that article sometime in February (I think) and at the time I remember thinking that it was dumb. I didn’t pay any attention to it but I did recognise that it was an opinion piece and should be treated as such. You are right, this debate is tired. We should make our choices (if the choice is ours to make because it’s not always the case), live our lives in a way that works for our families, respect the choices of others (it’s really not our business anyway) and just move on already. I won’t lie – I DO wish I could be a SAHM just to be a little bit more available to my kids. And yes, I know that there are pros and cons to any option.
    I loved this post. xx

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