• Wed, Aug 24 2011

STFU Parents: Can Stay-At-Home Moms Say That They Have Jobs?

One of the most popular topics of discussion on STFU, Parents is stay-at-home moms, or SAHMs. The common question is, “How hard is being a parent, and should being a full-time mom be considered a legitimate job?”

On the one hand, most jobs require hard work, doing things you don’t feel like doing, and putting in long hours – all of which apply to being a full-time parent (stay-at-home or otherwise). But on the other hand, staying home full-time to be a parent (for the sake of this article we’ll say ‘mom’) doesn’t come with a real salary, a real employer OR require any PowerPoint presentations, which can make the argument for it being a legitimately tough job to swallow. Especially since there are so many different types of parents out there. Single moms, single dads, households that require each parent to bring home the bacon, etc.

And therein lies the Catch-22. Some SAHMs are inclined to say that being at home is a luxury while others are irate that their ‘job’ is not formally recognized or taken more seriously by their other-jobs-having friends. Some child-free people say, “It’s the parents’ choice to have a baby, so raising a child is NOT a job!” while some moms, like my own – who stayed home for 10 years and then went back to work until retirement – just say, “Who cares who’s working harder? Work is work.”

For today’s column, I wanted to highlight a few of the SAHM submissions that I’ve received in order to break the ice on this controversial subject. Do SAHMs work as hard – or harder – than people who have “real” jobs, or are they taking this job thing a little too far? Let’s take a look at some examples.

1. Job Comparisons

I think this stance might bother the STFU audience (including parents) the most. What’s the point in comparing and contrasting two completely different things? How does Erin know that “A job would be a MAJOR vacation”? Every job is different. Some parents have easier kids than others. Some people have easier jobs than others. We should all support each other rather than complain. Instead of whining along with Amy, perhaps her Facebook friends could make a few suggestions regarding how she can make herself happier.

2. Mommy Cards

Do moms need business cards? Some argue that Mommy Cards (which is a growing industry) are a fun and easy way to connect with other like-minded parents to do things such as organize play dates, while others think they’re a consumer gimmick targeting moms. Are women carrying these cards to help them feel more like professionals, or are the cards just an enjoyable way to “network” on the playground? One thing’s for sure: Most of the people I’ve heard from who aren’t SAHMs cannot stand Mommy Cards!

3. Only Mothers Understand

While I can understand why Pink is excited (especially if she’s a new mom), it’s Orange’s comment that would tick some people off. If going outside is considered a major accomplishment, what are doing taxes and getting an oil change considered to be? Rare and amazing feats? Most people just call that “living life.”

4. The SAHM vs Working Mom Argument

There’s nothing wrong with being a SAHM, but there’s also nothing wrong with being a working mom, whether you have to work or simply want to. Women throughout history have fought hard to have their careers, and they should be commended and supported for wanting to maintain those careers after they become parents. The balancing act is hard to achieve, but it’s certainly not impossible. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave an excellent talk on this subject that speaks to where women in the workplace are today. More often than not, I receive submissions featuring SAHMs saying negative things about moms who work by choice, and I consider that a setback.

5. Braggarts

I believe that everyone who works hard should be treated with respect for the work that they do. Whether you’re a SAHM or an attorney clocking 80+ hours in the office, it’s nice to be rewarded for a job well done. That being said, there’s a difference between saying, “I’m so happy that my husband shows me how much he appreciates me,” and saying, “My husband buys me high-end jewelry to show me he cares. Quarter-carat diamond necklace and earring set…BOO-YA!” Let’s all show respect for each other by recognizing that some of the folks lucky enough to have jobs (who need jobs) have worked very hard and received paycuts, not diamonds.

6. Work Is Work, a Job Is a Job

 

 

Sometimes it’s hard for people with jobs outside the home to see being a SAHM as a difficult job because of quips like this. When you’re busy kissing your boss’s ass, preparing documents for presentations and sitting on hours-long conference calls in a tiny cubicle, it’s hard to feel sympathy for your friend who wishes someone would notice her clean cabinet door handles.

Do I believe that being a parent is tough work? Absolutely. Do I think it’s as grueling as having a “regular” job? Yes and no (but mostly no). This is an on-going discussion and no one is right or wrong, but ultimately I think it’s safe to say that we should all try putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes before assuming anything about the other person’s job.

What do you guys think?

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  • TCB

    Amen to that, Stephanonymous. That’s exactly what I think and the reason that SAHM shoot themselves in the foot by acting like they have the hardest job in the world – but in the end just make themselves out to the spoiled annoying brats. Being a SAHM is a luxury and a choice, as is having kids. We have a 2 year old and both work – my wife works 3rd shift in healthcare (not to dissimilar to your situation) and I work a normal day shift job. We work our butts off, balance taking care of our child and have happy fulfilled lives. Lack of sleep can be an issue, and getting a relative to babysit once a week is getting more commonplace for us.
    I’m not trying to bash SAHMs, but there are legitmate reasons why this group is looked down on. The insecurity, martrydom, I’m the best thing since sliced bread mentality if a big part of it. Don’t kid yourself into thinking being a stay at home mom and raising kids isn’t a selfish endeavor – It’s about you, your kids, and about how “you” managed to get the luxury of staying home – that’s the definition selfish. You may do a lot of selfless acts in the midst of your utterly selfish endeavor, but don’t think I”m going to act like you deserve awards.
    To me, it’s about balance – Is it fair that in the traditional role that the husband gets to miss all the big moments of their child’s lives because they live at work and you are at home – you know those moments when you feel looked down upon and depressed that your emotional health can be vastly improved by having a balanced life, working , getting out of the house, multitasking, seeing your kids, fitting sleep in when you an, rinse repeat.

    We both work and balance it out – we work very hard and the reward is in knowing we both kick butt and allow each other the benefit of a complete and fulfilled role. This is exactly why SAHMs are looked down upon – because those like us are kicking butt and taking names, and raising our kid without daycare, and you get the privelege of staying at home.

  • Stonez

    I have to laugh when I hear women claiming that being a stay at home mum is hard work. C’mon ladies, get real!!! I’m a male who raised 3 children alone from a very young age while working. There is nothing hard about looking after your own children or cleaning house.
    It seems to me that a lot of women spend too much time watching soupies or reading books or drinking coffee with thier friends, so they become lazy. Lazy people always whine about how hard things are. There is nothing at all hard about keeping house and looking after children. It is the easiest and most satisfying job in life, unless you are lazy or selfish…Any woman who claims there job is as hard as working out in the sun for 10hrs doing hard labour fits this discription above.

  • George Tenderport

    Nope. Sorry. Being a stay-at-home parent is not a JOB in the traditional sense. It is a DUTY that you can either take on (be a good parent) or ignore (be a deadbeat parent). If you choose the former, good for you. But then don’t go around telling everyone about how hard you have to WORK. You don’t have to WORK. You get to stay at home and take care of your children. If you consider taking care of your children work, then maybe your view of parenthood is a little out of whack. I read the Facebook posts above, and I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head. Clearly, the people who posted those messages have been out of the REAL WORK FORCE for quite some time. They talk about how being a stay-at-home parent means they don’t get paid, they don’t get holidays, sick time, bonuses, adult conversation, or shopping trips. Ok. First of all. Shopping trips? What REAL JOB are you talking about that you get to take off during your fifteen minute work break and go on a shopping spree? They talk about not getting paid. Uh. I got news for you. Most REAL JOBS that you’re gonna get nowadays have crappy pay, and you’re gonna end up working a lot more than what you’re getting compensated for. Also, last time I checked stay at home parents get compensation. They get to stay at home and eat and hang out, while someone else goes out and WORKS at a REAL JOB. The Facebook person goes on to talk about sick days (which you don’t get to take often at real jobs either because you have to stay on the job all the time to keep up with the workload), no vacations (ditto with the vacations, you don’t get to take them because you’re working), and adult conversation… hahahahahahahahaha! I wouldn’t talk to most of the people I work with if I didn’t have to work with them. I’m sorry most stay at home parents don’t find their so-called “job” fulfilling. Maybe they should enter the REAL WORKFORCE and then they can see what a soul-sucking pointless venture work can be. Yeah. It’s real fun to go to REAL WORK and have your boss tell you what to do – oh, and your boss doesn’t care if you’re happy or not either, they just want you to be productive or you’ll get fired – and have your coworkers do all they can to get ahead and not worry about you because it’s a rat race out there, and some people want to complain about staying home with their families. Some people just want something to complain about…

  • Angelika

    I am so tired of all the high and mighty martyrdom from sahm. You chose to have kids, and you get to stay home, which I’m sure a lot of other working mothers would like to do. Being a sahm is not hard, it doesn’t take any special skill.

  • Brae

    I am a SAHM. I made the choice I made knowing that it would require sacrifices- that means that I don’t get a lot of new things, I don’t get massages, I don’t get a lot of alone time, or even a lot of adult interaction. I’m happy with my choice, and I LOVE my life. It doesn’t mean it’s frivolous or easy. I TOTALLY respect my friends who work and have children, and they respect me. Honestly, the only time this has ever been a heated, controversial discussion is on the internet. It doesn’t cross our conversations in real life. In reality, I don’t think it’s really a debate over who works harder than the other. Both types of moms work REALLY hard. There are just different things that are hard. Different challenges.

    I don’t know if I’d call my being a SAHM a “job”, but it absolutely is “work”.

    There have been a LOT of comments above talking about how SAHM’s are snarky because we’re insecure. I would very vehemently beg to differ. The facebook posts and comments from the article are kind of baited. The women that posted those things posted them because of several possible reasons. 1. Someone somewhere (be this in real life from friends or family, or online on some birth board) said something to them that insulted their choice or position.

    2. They’re having a bad day, and feel unappreciated. I don’t see why this is so impossible to understand by working moms. I’m 200% sure that they have bad days at work and feel unappreciated too. I know, because I see just as many people complain about their stupid bosses and co workers on Facebook as I see SAHM’s talk about their rough moments.

    3. They need some validation. The difference here is that SAHM’s, even if they have wonderful, supportive husbands and families, don’t get a lot of validation. Working moms, when they’re at work , can get such things as promotions, big accounts, finished products, company lunches, and they’re told “good job” or a variation of it, when they accomplish something. SAHMs don’t get any of those things. Everything we do at home is a cycle. Laundry can be finished one day, but when the kids go to bed, you have all new loads. Dishes can be done after each meal, but they’re all back in the sink again a few hours later after the next meal. And the list goes on. Yes, I know working moms have a taste of this too, because they say they have to work AND do all of that. But when our home is what we DO, and we take pride in that instead of amazing deals and promotions and company accomplishments, it really DOES make a difference, and it’s not fair for Working Moms to make it sound frivolous or insignificant.

    For everyone who is bashing on the woman who “has time on her hands” to clean the cabinet handles, you really kind of need a lesson in sarcasm. For one thing, most SAHM’s you ask don’t have time to clean handles either. Mostly, our work revolves around homework and driving kids to lessons and activities and school, and volunteering in classrooms and making sure that every kid is secure and emotionally well. Doctors appointments and all that. If a mom finds time to clean handles, it doesn’t mean she’s bored or insecure. It means she found a moment to amplify something she takes pride in- her home. Why is that so much less important a thing to take pride in than a really wonderfully written report for a job. (And FTR, I’m not saying that the report is less significant than pride in a well kept home, either.)

    What I do know is that I sure as heck don’t sit around on my behind all day. Parenting IS hard. And it’s hard for everyone, not just SAHMs. It’s hard for working moms. Dads who come home from work to their SAHW and kids, and every type of parent out there. It’s not babysitting. It’s not a matter of “looking after” your kids as one previous poster said. There’s a lot more to it than just getting them dressed, feeding them and sending them to school. There are a lot of talks to be had. Emotional insecurities to handle (school, bullies, friends, boys/girls, periods, voices changing, dating, religion, driving, heck, the list doesn’t end!) and it’s important for EVERY kind of parent to handle those things, WITHOUT making your kid feel like they’re a “piece of cake.” A piece of cake is flippant. Real parenting takes more gumption than that, and kids notice.

    The truth is, a SAHM takes care of all those things I mentioned above. A working mom, however she wants to believe that she does it ALL – everything she does at work, as well as everything a SAHM does- it’s just not true. Yes, she does some of it. But when you’re working a full (or more) time job, you’re missing something. If that’s family dinners, or volunteering in the classroom, or picking up from school or helping create that volcano for the science fair for homework. Somewhere, you’re missing tears over insecurities, someone ELSE is handling the immediate discipline, and explaining the right from wrong, and somewhere, SOMEONE is handling things you’re not there for, where a SAHM is available for ALL of that. And you know what? There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with missing some of that. What it means for your child is that he/she has more than one person who loves them and who cares enough to help and listen. That can be very comforting and beneficial to a kid. (And kids from SAHM families have that too, usually with extended family, like aunts and uncles and grandparents rather than nannies and caretakers) But the SAHM is generally the main person in a child’s life. Neither choice is a bad one.

    When it comes down to it, it shouldn’t really be a debate. Both “jobs” are hard. Both “jobs” have their pros and cons. And everyone does what they feel is best for their kids. And if kids feel loved and cared for, doesn’t that matter more than what their mother ‘does’?

  • Jo

    I think you said this in a previous article, but it depends on the kid, the age of the kid and the job. Having infants/toddlers is the hardest job I’ve done and I’ve done lots of different types on jobs. Now that mine are 11 and 8, it’s a breeze. Once puberty hits, I’ll probably be begging for that office job again.

    • Jo

      Plus, my best friend is a working mom and it seems that we have equal, but different complaints. I want a moments peace, she wants a non arsenic hour moment. Some of our complaints are the same, like not being appreciated.

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  • Pissed Off

    Don’t have kids, simple as. I live in a neighbourhood where it’s commonplace for parents to park their kids outside screaming for hours on end, kids wandering aimlessly about the estate, etc, etc. I have a 10 hour shift in a short while – less than 2 hours sleep since the last one because of these obnoxious adults. I didn’t ask to be a parent, but I feel I’m taking on these kids for hours a day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skyebellematilda.brand Skye Belle Matilda Brand

    I consider myself incredibly lucky to be a SAHM & be able to raise my children my way. I love my “job” & I don’t think anyone actually believes the old stereotype of the Mum sitting on the couch watching Oprah & eating chocolates while the children play quietly & neatly like perfect little angels!

    I have a great deal off respect for the women I know & love who have a job that pays. It must be so hard to be away from their babies all day & even though they do have the wonderful opportunity to have conversations that DON’T centre around poop & the Wiggles I’m sure their day isn’t exactly a picnic!

    I have worked in real jobs prior to starting a family & I do remember that I really hated my boss so staying at home for me is still less stressful than working was…I would like to be able to go to the toilet without an audience though!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sam.webber.1441 Sam Webber

    The logic on these posts seem a little……off. Do these women think that parents who work come home and relax and let their kids run wild? That’s not how it worked in my house. Both parents worked. When my mom was single she worked multiple jobs. When she got married she went down to one job (back up to two when I was in highschool), and my stepdad worked two jobs until he got a promotion, but then he just put in more time at his one job. I agree being a parent is “work” but it’s not a job. By that logic, working parents have two full time jobs, but they don’t seem to get kudos for that. The underlying implication in the “mommy-wars” debate is that parents (especially moms) who work are neglecting their children and the posts by these stay at home moms seem to support that viewpoint.

  • Bustin My Ass

    SAHM crack me up…. I am a working Mom & who do you think does all the laundry, cooking & cleaning in my house? I DO, only with 50 less hours then a SAHM. No, your right 5 days a week, lunch isn’t made in my home. But we still wear clothes every day, eat breakfast & dinner, my toilets still need to be cleaned…. Also, taking care of your 1 or 2 toddlers ISN’T a job!!! The law states how many kids you can take care of in a babysitting setting, THAT IS A JOB!!! So quit making yourself feel better by robbing the real heroes (working Mom’s) with all the hardest job in the world BS cause you don’t have a clue!!! And yes, I stayed at home with my daughter for 2 years while she was a baby, it was the easiest thing I have ever done!!!

  • Shelly G

    Having both stayed at home and been the primary bread winner, I can say that both require hard work, but I feel that only one is a job. That would be the one affording me the right to call myself “bread winner”. While I appreciate the massive work my husband does in maintaining the cleanliness of our home, providing me with warm meals, and generally keeping our little tax deduction happy, healthy, and growing into the amazing human being she will hopefully be, he does not have a job. And, while he’s telling you the same thing, he’ll admit that he couldn’t be happier to spend all day with our daughter, despite the fact that she can be trying at times. That being said, evenings are all me. Even if I’m dead tired after a thirteen hour day, I will still do the bedtime rituals with our daughter and give my husband some “him” time. That’s important and I think it’s something SAHMs are often missing.

  • Crissy

    What aggravates me is that SAHMs talk about all the “work” they have to do during the day. Hello…just because I work outside the home doesn’t mean that my home cleans itself and unfortunately I can’t afford a maid. So when I get off from my “day” job, I still have to come home and take care of all the other things that they do during the day as well. I’m not saying they sit at home and eat bon-bons watching soaps all day but do they think the working moms somehow get out of the other mother/wife/head of household duties? Bless his heart, my husband gives me no support with housework. Spending the day with my child, even if I have to do chores/run errands sounds WAY better than sitting in an office on conference calls all day but unfortunately isn’t economically feasible since I make the majority of the household income. Yes, I have vacation time/holidays/sick time…but what do you think that time is spent doing? All of the things that SAHMs consider a job. My daughter ends up sick and I’m up all night with her…sure, I may still have to get up early the next day but I’d rather be getting up early to clean house than have to be focused enough to write a computer program or figure out financials.

  • davinci314

    staying at home to raise a child is not a job. it’s a responsibility. if you built a house, would you expect to get paid for taking care of your house? why would women think the same way regarding the child they gave birth to? it was a choice that comes with a lot of responsibilities. if you think it’s a job, then shame on you. no wonder kids are growing up the way they are.

  • mommas girl

    Being a SAHM is NOT a job. My mom worked 2 jibs and raised 2 kids with no father and never complained. sahms are spoiled little rich girls.

  • J-Bell

    Welp, gonna be honest here. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I had a stint as a stay at home mom and I have been/am on the working mom side.

    I hope this doesn’t piss anyone off but being a stay at home mom is easy. It’s easy. Oh god, if I didn’t have this innate entrepreneurial desire in me and if we were super rich I would SOOO just be a stay at home mom.

    I don’t know if I am just super pro at doing housework, cooking and parenting but being a stay at home mom is easy. This is what my day was like:
    -Wake up when Bill gets up
    -Hang out in our PJs and make breakfast together (he “helps” lol)
    -eat breakfast, he takes longer than me so I clean up the kitchen while he finishes.
    -Get washed and dressed, go to the park or do another fun activity.
    -Come home after a while, I do some housework while he plays or reads in his room. (sometimes he “helps” with this housework which is hilarious :P)
    -We do something. Maybe paint or go to the store.
    -Loveyman comes home and he settles down after work
    -I usually prep frozen healthy dinner throughout the week when I have a spare moment so dinner usually doesnt take that long to get ready. or he volunteers to fire up the BBQ.
    -we eat.
    -he plays with Bill while I relax for a bit.
    -Bill has a 7pm bedtime
    -we get to spend couple time together.
    -WASH RINSE REPEAT.
    (I obviously do not expect him to do any of the house work if I am at home all day. He is physically OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE during his day. His job is physically demanding and his hands hurt by the time he gets home. Bloody knuckles from scraping against equipment, sore back from shuffling through trailers – he’s a large equipment mechanic… He is however expected to do all the handywork and traditional male roles because well, screw you if I knew how to fix a car I’d just be a mechanic. )

    And obviously I love raising my son, teaching him and seeing all of his little moments. My background is in early education so I’m pro at making cool activities for us to do. BUT I also understand that

    a) It is important to set an example for him. (A hard-working example)

    b) University/college/apprenticeship tuition does not grow on trees. We will have to pay for him to go to school, if he got sick we would need to pay for his medication, if something happened money is always involved (yay the world we live in!) So it makes sense to have MORE money to cover those definite and surprise expenses.
    c) I am a business women. I like working. I enjoy it.

    I chose to only have one child because I knew that is all we can afford, all we have time for and really, I don’t feel like anything is missing. Bill makes me happy. He is enough for me. Between him and his step-dad they give me SO MUCH love that it’s all I require! If I had multiple children I would probably be pulling my hair out, crying while cleaning an eternally messy house. But I chose not to be stressed.

    If you find yourself lacking “me” time, pulling out your hair, feeling stressed, spending your ENTIRE day cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, managing, organizing. You’re probably doing something wrong. Being a stay at home mom is enjoyable. You get to relax and play with your kids! I am one of those people who is SUCH a kid at heart, I freakin’ LOVE hide and seek, playing operation and pretending to be lion hunters on safari. Being a stay at home mom is SO cool, and maybe if I was rich and didn’t need the income to stay afloat and provide the best opportunities for my family I would SOOOO stay at home.

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  • val97

    I just found this blog and joining in 2 years late :)

    I have mixed feelings about this. I am a working mom and never took any time off other than maternity leave. I didn’t have a choice at first, and when my husband started to make more money, I found that I did not want to stay home, and now in hindsight, I’m glad I kept working because I’m happy with my career and success. My kids are elementary and middle school aged now. I don’t know what I would do all day if I didn’t go to work. I guess I would work out and walk the dog and read… hm, sounds pretty good actually.

    No, seriously, I think there is a LOT of work involved when you are talking about babies and toddlers. I even understand why these moms go on and on about it on facebook. They crave recognition. It’s thankless and boring and tedious work. But here’s secret: I hated it. I love my kids, and I loved them as babies too, but the constant care can wear you down. Maybe it makes me a terrible mom, but when my paycheck was enough to hire a cleaning company to come twice a month, I rejoiced. And with 2 working parents, my kids have had to learn responsibility at an early age, which I think is good, but man do they like to complain about it.

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  • unknown

    1 day as a kidnapped child laborer and they will beg to be working in a coal mine!