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Is society negative about stay at home moms?

post #1 of 213
Thread Starter 
What do you think? I stay at home and have for a long time, and when my kids were babies people seemed pretty positive, but as they get older and my role is less baby-minding and more homemaking I'm encountering a bit of negativity. Like that I'm spoiled, I'm letting my brain turn to mush, etc.

Even as far as staying at home with babies and littles. I'm not sure if there's a general positive vibe about that. It sometimes feels like it's viewed generally as an unfortunate lost period of time.

How do you think the role of SAHMs, ie staying home and homemaking and caretaking, is viewed by most people?
post #2 of 213

My youngest is now a kindergartner, and I've been homeschooling all three for awhile now. Due to financial reasons, it looks like I'll need to get back to work for the next school year. People (mostly In-law family) almost seem relieved that I'm planning to go back to work for a variety of reasons. I think there was acceptance of it as within normal bounds while the kids were small, but I preceive that they feel like now I'm just being indulgent. There's irony there, because my MIL stayed home with her kids until all were highschool aged.  

post #3 of 213

I think a lot of people are very negative about SAHM's, at least in my area. It's almost like you don't count as a person, in some cases. In a social setting, it feels like when I try and add to a conversation, people pause and listen politely in the same way as they might if a child was speaking, and then resume as though I hadn't said anything. Other people almost seem to regard me, or my kids or my husband with pity... I can't quite nail it down but occasionally there has been an odd question that makes me think that they are trying to figure out if I've got a disability or something. I guess it would be okay in their eyes for me to be home then? Whenever we are doing something like when we bought our truck, or now we are looking for a new place to live, it's like I'm not even there until my husband brings me into the conversation. People assume he is making the decisions himself, they are surprised when I have an opinion. Often the person we 're meeting with doesn't know that I am a SAHM until some time has passed and I can feel their shift in attitude about me... it's like a wall comes up and I am shut out.

post #4 of 213

I dont think i have come up against too much negativity  - but i have to say ...i STILL grieve the fact that i wasnt around for my two older kids when they were young.  They are 18 and 15 now - when each were 3 months old i went back to work - not a career - just a j-o-b where i punched a time clock and had to hide out to pump!  They were in day care 10 hours / day, 5 days a week / 50 weeks / year - only now do i really see the enormity of it - i recall it was incredibly difficult - running a household, no help from my (Now) XH - drinking 10 cups of coffee a day just to stay awake through the day.....i wish i had tried harder to make a change then.

I got pregnant this time entirely by surprise and my new DH was panicked about money - i was too but for different reasons!  I really felt like giving my 2nd LO bottles all day at day care (and i could never pump enough - so it was often formula) led to early weaning.   we also started food early - cuz hey! it was at least as good as formula!  he hated nursing from about 6 months on - he used to fight me so hard!  and weaned himself at 9 months - i did NOT want that to happen again!  

I told my DH i needed to be home for 6 months FT - back to PT work by 9 months.....he found himself a second job and here we are 3 yrs later im still at home!  

Im concerned about going back to work - my 18 yr old just started college - so yeah, i have to get back to it ...but i never had a career - i have a BA in Sociology from a state school - experience as an admin asst ....i have no idea how to get my resume back together or how to explain such a huge gap in my work experience.  

im also 44 ....maybe people dont see staying at home with my younger one as such a liability seeing as im so much older than the other pre-school moms....wish i could slide right into 'retirement' from here...lol

post #5 of 213

Don't let family pressure you.  I stayed home with my three kids the whole time, did a few years of homeschool.  Homeschool is a very worthy role for a mother.  Even if they attend school, stay home moms are the salt of life.  It gives you time for other worthy volunteer services also.  We lived more simply than others, but my kids  are all adults who tell me how much they appreciate the time I had for them.  My son married a girl with a child, and he insisted she stay home with her child, and now they have another child.  He is very young, and in the navy.  My daughter is also a stay home mother.

post #6 of 213

Stay home.  After taxes, gas, other expenses, it is not worth the extra money.  Let your college kids get loans.

post #7 of 213

Most people I run into who find out I'm a SAHM talk about how lucky I am and often act envious. It makes me uncomfortable, because they seem to believe that I'm a SAHM because DH makes a ton of money. No, it's just a choice we make, because it's important to us. We live extremely frugally in order to make it work, and money is very, very tight, but I wouldn't change a thing.

post #8 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by happymama28 View Post
 

Most people I run into who find out I'm a SAHM talk about how lucky I am and often act envious. It makes me uncomfortable, because they seem to believe that I'm a SAHM because DH makes a ton of money. No, it's just a choice we make, because it's important to us. We live extremely frugally in order to make it work, and money is very, very tight, but I wouldn't change a thing.

 

I have the same feeling......we aren't rich, but they do have that attitude of "oh, he must do well for you to lay around all day with the child" that I pick up on....and as you all know, that is not true!  we work so hard to keep the house and children thriving and to be seen as brainless, lazy, lucky women offends and baffles me........SAHMs rock!

post #9 of 213
I often run into the sentiment that it would be better for my son if I went back to work and put him in preschool (he's 3.5.) Even some of my friends and family seem to think that I'm doing us both a disservice by staying home- apparently my son is missing out on the socialization and experience of preschool and I'm wasting my degree by not having a career (ironically, my degree is in Education and I can't think of a better use for it than teaching my own child.)

I think that as a response to the lack of options earlier generations of women had when it came to careers, the pendulum swung to the other end if the spectrum. Where as it used to be expected of women to stay home, now it's almost seen as a luxury. Mothers who had careers used to be scapegoated, now SAHM get raised eyebrows.,Both of my grandmothers worked outside the home and were considered pretty radical for doing so. I know that their generation fought really hard for the right to have careers and the option to be working mothers and I suspect a lot of the negativity towards SAHMs is residual from that struggle. Mothers who stay home are viewed by some as not taking advantage of their full potential, which is obviously a skewed perspective.

Hopefully the pendulum will swing back and society will begin to embrace equally all of the different paths mothers take.
post #10 of 213

 I think that there is a negative attitude about SAHMs as kids age but I think that society has negative attitudes about a lot of things! If you want to be a SAHM, how wonderful to have the choice!

As an occupational therapist, I have gone into work less with the addition of each child. After my first child was born I worked 3 days per week, then two, etc. Now, as a mother of 5 in a blended family, I do occasional per diem work.

Personally, I believe that as kids age, they need as more. I'd rather be the one around my children then a babysitter--and frankly, I think I'm better qualified. 

Nicole Olivier

follow my blog at http://imperfectlov.blogspot.com

post #11 of 213

I'm not sure I actually know any stay at home moms!  The negativity runs both ways, however.  There are so many people who can't understand how/why someone would go back to work when they have a child under 1yo.  There is also an astonishing number of people who seem to think that the 2nd income in the house only goes to pay for childcare, so if you just pull your kid out of daycare, you won't need the 2nd income any more.  Not quite...I work outside the home, and when my youngest was a baby, I couldn't see myself ever wanting to stay at home.  It just didn't seem to fit with my personality.  I'm a bit unhappy in my career, however, and staying at home has more appeal than it once did.  With our oldest in kindergarten this year, there are a lot of balls in the air, and I wish I could be home to manage them.

post #12 of 213

Maybe it does depend where we live....my area seems pretty cool about SAHMs (except for my street...and that is another story).  My kids are elementary and middle school....and I know lots of Moms that have stayed home until their youngest left for college.  Many have also taken up some part time work because they wanted to.  On the other hand what seems to be a growing trend is that Moms are going back to work not because they want to or need to but because they want to keep up with the Joneses.  It's a lifestyle thing...I guess. 

 

I admit that I carry a lot of guilt by not working....because I did get a Masters and I had such a great time working before kids.  It was the best time of my life....but in a different way.  Sometimes I worry about my husband working and traveling....but he seems to like being challenged.  He has already admitted that he wouldn't be able to stay at home anyway because he just needs that office environment type of contact every day.  Doing all the home stuff would drive him bonkers.  So, I do it.  I don't mind.  I know my husband doesn't like to clean.  He prefers that I whip up dinner (which is fine with me because he makes a huge mess when he cooks).  I love working in my yard even though we have peeps that cut the grass for us.  My husband doesn't like running errands either unless they involve Home Depot, Costco, Harbor Freight or some technology-type place.....but he does get excited when food is on sale....heh-heh...

 

I wish people would just give each other a break about who does what and why.  The main reason I am a SAHM is because I became motherless at a very young age.  I need to be what I didn't have -- my husband 100% respects that and my best friends understand, too.  When I am challenged by other Moms as to why I don't work....usually telling them that I was and still am motherless is enough to get them to back off.  Society just needs to chill -- because it is hard enough and pointless to judge without having walked in another persons shoes.

post #13 of 213

I find there's a spectrum here.  I've been taken aside by strangers and praised up and down for my worthy occupation as a SAHM, and there are people who probably assume I lack the intelligence and/or motivation for an occupation.  I think I am the one who feels most conflicted about it, and that overshadows what other people might think.  While I want to be home with my kids and wouldn't change that for the world, I do feel like a piece of me is on hold.  I failed to finish my Master's thesis because I had a high needs baby at home, and I've felt in limbo ever since.  I had always imagined myself with a defined career to return to, but instead I still don't know what I want to do.  I am frustrated with myself because I do feel like my brain is "mushier" than it used to be, and I miss the sharp mind I had.  Someday I will have the chance to build up this side of myself again, but for now I look at my kids and remember that there is no way I will ever regret a single moment spent with them. 

post #14 of 213

I have two daughters and I went back to work six weeks after giving birth both times.

 

I also got some flack for going back to work, as if I was just greedy for more money and if we just tightened our belt a little more I could stay home with our daughter.  Ummm, sorry, but there was no way we could survive on one pay check no matter how much we tightened our belts.   Yeah I had to pay for day care, but it was only 25% of my take home pay.  We weren't using my paycheck to buy more stuff or going out to eat, I made more money than my husband did and we used my paycheck to pay rent and buy groceries.  So I didn't like the implication that I was working just to keep up with the Joneses because that was not the case.

 

 

 

I will admit sometimes I was jealous of those moms that got to stay home with their kids.  But I stopped being jealous when I needed to get a divorce.  While other SAHM were stuck living with their STBX's because they couldn't afford a place of their own, I was able to get my own place. While other SAHMs were trying to find employment after being out of the work force for so long and had to take entry level positions and entry level pay, I was already established in my career and with my years of experience was making decent pay by the time I needed to get a divorce.

 

 

One thing I've always wondered and probably why others may tend to view SAHMs negatively is the question:  If your kids are in school, what do you do all day?  And then the answer is: I do the laundry, clean the house, run errands, etc .etc.  But then I say, funny, I do all that AND work 40 hours a week, so why do you need to be home all day when I'm able to do the same amount of work you do and work eight hours a day?  

 

I'm not trying to mean or rude, I honesty don't understand if your kids are in school why you need to be home, all day, by yourself.  Seems very lonely if nothing else. 

 

Not to mention the struggle to get back in the work force once you've been out for several years.  Don't think I'm trying to dog SAHMs, I think it's great if you're able to stay home with your kids, but I just honestly don't understand what you do all day while your kids are in school.


Edited by amber3902 - 10/23/13 at 7:54am
post #15 of 213

I was raised by a stay at home mom and boy did our family sacrifice so she could be with us! My husband also comes from a home where his mother stayed home with all of them. I was 22 and newly graduated with my undergrad when I had my oldest daughter and my parents helped my now ex husband and I make it so we could stay at home. I was fortunate to have the help. I am now married again and expecting my second child. I will stay home with this baby like I did with my daughter. For us, for our family it just is the absolute first priority that the kids have someone 24/7. Again we are blessed with an extremely supportive family who truly supports our choices. However my grandmother commented one day when we were talking about how some people were so dismissive of me when I said I stayed home. My grandmother said that my generation had it much harder than hers in the sense that I was expected to work and be the worlds best mother where in her generation it was expected that you stayed home and it was totally accepted and expected. She said she didn't envy me the new social expectations expected of moms these days. I think she is right people would immediately look down on me when in their words "i just stayed home". Usually through conversation they learned I had a degree and had made the choice to be at home with my family and that seemed to "validate" me more to them. Its sad because while I know its not possible for some women to stay at home and I certainly don't cast dispersions on them but I truly feel staying at home even if we have to sacrifice to make it happen is so incredibly worth it!

post #16 of 213
Amber -to answer your question: I have recently become a sahm mom who has two in school and one due in a few weeks. I am taking maternity leave this year and then retiring from a teaching career.
Up until this year I did "everything" and worked 10 hour days too, doing my best to be the most mindful, educated mother, wife and teacher I could. But now I can tell you that while I was running my home - I am now running it efficiently . I got the housework done before of course, but I'm doing it better, more thoroughly, thoughtfully and enjoying it as well. My home is clean and well organized, yard tended, pets happy. The meals I'm creating are carefully thought out for value and nutrition; cloth napkins and real salad dressings made from scratch- as is mostly everything we've been eating. My husband has more time on the weekends to work on projects, and just relax as a family because were not all trying to play catch up with the housework. When my kids arrive home I'm not flying in right after them trying to change my clothes, their snack is made, dinner is started and we can talk, visit, discuss our day as a family. No stress. I am on top of their homework, laundry, deadlines, whether it's gym day or not, etc. I volunteered several times at their school already this year which has left them beaming. I have also been able to can and freeze a lot of our garden. I have been able to take my mother to her many doctors appointments- to take the pressure off my other siblings. I'm still a daughter, too.
And yes, I get to have down time - like right now I can respond to this interesting post, take my dog for a long walk, sit and have tea, do yoga, research a new vaccine. This all makes me feel more peaceful and that flows throughout my family. Before my life was harried, stressful, rushed. There was : kids/ house/ job/ husband and very little me. It will get busier when the new baby comes, but my days are very full now. I hope that answers your question .
Now to reply to the original post - no- aside from the "what do you do all day " question, I seem to get a lot of envy. Being a working mother felt like a necessity for 10 years but now it doesn't . It was hard, it wasn't for me, wasn't for my family. I don't nor did I ever look down upon women who chose being home over careers. I live in an area where there are so many who just don't work due to 3rd generation welfare that I don't feel bad about my choices. I got my degree, had several great jobs, a career. I have nothing to prove . I want to be happy and my kids to be happy .
post #17 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunnieP View Post

Amber -to answer your question: I have recently become a sahm mom who has two in school and one due in a few weeks. I am taking maternity leave this year and then retiring from a teaching career.
Up until this year I did "everything" and worked 10 hour days too, doing my best to be the most mindful, educated mother, wife and teacher I could. But now I can tell you that while I was running my home - I am now running it efficiently . I got the housework done before of course, but I'm doing it better, more thoroughly, thoughtfully and enjoying it as well. My home is clean and well organized, yard tended, pets happy. The meals I'm creating are carefully thought out for value and nutrition; cloth napkins and real salad dressings made from scratch- as is mostly everything we've been eating. My husband has more time on the weekends to work on projects, and just relax as a family because were not all trying to play catch up with the housework. When my kids arrive home I'm not flying in right after them trying to change my clothes, their snack is made, dinner is started and we can talk, visit, discuss our day as a family. No stress. I am on top of their homework, laundry, deadlines, whether it's gym day or not, etc. I volunteered several times at their school already this year which has left them beaming. I have also been able to can and freeze a lot of our garden. I have been able to take my mother to her many doctors appointments- to take the pressure off my other siblings. I'm still a daughter, too.
And yes, I get to have down time - like right now I can respond to this interesting post, take my dog for a long walk, sit and have tea, do yoga, research a new vaccine. This all makes me feel more peaceful and that flows throughout my family. Before my life was harried, stressful, rushed. There was : kids/ house/ job/ husband and very little me. It will get busier when the new baby comes, but my days are very full now. I hope that answers your question .
Now to reply to the original post - no- aside from the "what do you do all day " question, I seem to get a lot of envy. Being a working mother felt like a necessity for 10 years but now it doesn't . It was hard, it wasn't for me, wasn't for my family. I don't nor did I ever look down upon women who chose being home over careers. I live in an area where there are so many who just don't work due to 3rd generation welfare that I don't feel bad about my choices. I got my degree, had several great jobs, a career. I have nothing to prove . I want to be happy and my kids to be happy .

I'm still working, but what you say completely describes why I wish I wasn't.  I can't handle the stress.  I feel like the time I spend with my children only involves rushing.  Any time I have to say no to my 5yo when she wants me to read her a book, but I have a chore that I need to do, or I need a 5 min breather, I feel so bad.  

post #18 of 213

Thanks for answering my question Sunnie.  I notice there are many things you do that I am not able to because I work.  You make your meals from scratch, you volunteer at your child’s school, and you can and freeze vegetables.  You also take your mother to her doctor’s appointments.

While I do try to avoid processed foods as much as possible when making my meals, I do not have the time to make salad dressing from scratch, or anything else for that matter.  Although I will bake cookies with my girls on the weekends. :)

As far as housework – I cook dinner, my 15 year old does the dishes.  Everyone picks up after themselves, so there’s little to clean up during the week.

On Saturday my girls and I spend about two hours cleaning the house and then we’re done for the week.  We average about three loads of laundry a week so it’s doesn’t take that long to do it.  I’ll throw a load of laundry in while watching a TV show or reading a book with my daughter. 

After my divorce I lived in apartment so there was no yard work to do, fortunately.  Now that I live with my SO he does all the yard work so I don't have to worry about that at all.   And we don’t have any pets, so I imagine that frees up time for me as well.

I will say when I first had my baby, I put unrealistic demands on myself.  I expected the house to look like the cover of a magazine every day, and dinner had be cooked from scratch every night.  I was so stressed out, being a new mother, working full time and trying to keep up with all the housework I was making myself physically sick. 

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  It forced me to stop pushing myself so hard, and take time for myself.  My house is still clean, but not perfect.  I still cook dinner, but if I have to buy Chinese one night it’s okay.

Fortunately, my job is flexible enough where I can take off from work when I need to for doctor appointment, my boss doesn’t breathe down my back so if I want to research something online or post on an online forum I can do that and still get my work done.  I think if I worked ten hours a day I would feel rushed and stressed too.  I also think having a supportive husband to help pick up the slack makes a big difference for working moms, something I did not have. 

post #19 of 213

OP, I think part of the reason you're getting more flack now that your kids are older is because it seems the only reason a mother would stay home is to save money on child care.  Once your kids are in school people don't see what other reason there would be for you to stay home.

 

There are so many modern day conveniences, dishwasher, microwave, washer and dryer, that the previous generation didn't have, that other than child care they don't see what takes up so much time every day that you can't do when you get home from work.   Not trying to give you a hard time here, but really, I'm able to clean my whole house in a couple hours, and I do that once a week, and it takes me on average 30 minutes to cook dinner every night.  Granted, I don't have to time to cook everything from scratch, and I don't can and freeze vegetables, but I think we still manage to eat pretty healthy. 

 

Spending time with your kids of course is very important, but you can't spend any time with them if they're in school.  And housework doesn't take all day, especially if the biggest mess makers are at school all day, so what's the point of being at home while your kids are in school?  Again, not trying to attack SAHMs, just trying to help you see their perspective.

 

Gooseberry, maybe you'd like to start a thread in the working parent's forum to discuss how to handle housework/child rearing while working full time.  I think I could offer a few tips I've picked up over the years.

post #20 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by amber3902

 

 

One thing I've always wondered and probably why others may tend to view SAHMs negatively is the question:  If your kids are in school, what do you do all day?  And then the answer is: I do the laundry, clean the house, run errands, etc .etc.  But then I say, funny, I do all that AND work 40 hours a week, so why do you need to be home all day when I'm able to do the same amount of work you do and work eight hours a day?  

 

I'm not trying to mean or rude, I honesty don't understand if your kids are in school why you need to be home, all day, by yourself.  Seems very lonely if nothing else. 

 

Not to mention the struggle to get back in the work force once you've been out for several years.  Don't think I'm trying to dog SAHMs, I think it's great if you're able to stay home with your kids, but I just honestly don't understand what you do all day while your kids are in school.

Thank you SunnieP for your input.  I admit that I was worried about what amber3902 originally wrote in the quote above because it seems to implicate that SAHMs are horrible at time management.  But, you summed it up really well, SunnieP

 

 

Our weekends are highly geared toward family time.  DH often needs to visit with his Mom and we go together as a family.  My kids have some activities as well that we cannot fit into the week -- and because they requested to have some free afternoons after school.

 

Everything we cook is from scratch...yes, salad dressing, too.  It doesn't make me a superhero, though.

 

I crave my alone time like you wouldn't believe.  I earned it.  Sometimes my husband takes naps on the weekend and yes, he earned it and we leave him alone.

 

amber3902 I want you to know that what you wrote actually brought me to the verge of tears.  We all struggle to validate ourselves as human beings every single day.  No person is better than another...and as Moms it can be so tough to survive.  I wish more Moms would support each other because it does take a village.  A good friend of mine has crazy work hours and I have been able to take her kids before school to stay with us and then drive them to school with mine....they could easily go to morning care but they hate it and it costs money.  I have another friend that has a dog...and because I have one , too, I have been happy to take hers for a walk with mine.  I feel good when I can help others and help bring peace of mind to their day. 

 

I may not be a SAHM forever even though it has been a long time....but this is what fits for right now.  Nobody feels stressed. 

 

We all have different things going on in our lives and what helps one family get through the day is no better than any other family.  Peace.

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