I have been a stay-at-home mom for 8 years. I am currently going to college from my livingroom. As part of a research assignment I'm required to have some online discussions about the gender differences in stay-at-home parenting.
What are the challenges you face as a stay-at-home mom? Do you notice any differences between your own challenges and the challenges of any stay-at-home dads you know?
The biggest challenge I face as a stay at home mom is that my job is 24/7. I don't have off hours or days. Even now as my kids are sleeping, I am folding the laundry and researching behavioral norms for their age, etc, and meal planning for tomorrow. I don't think this challenge is any different for the SAHD's I know.
The biggest gender difference I can think of is that my being with my children 24/7 means that DD has the opportunity to nurse 24/7. She gets hurt, she wants milk. She gets tired, she wants milk. SAHD's don't have to worry about having a baby or toddler hanging from their breast throughout the day! (But then again, this also creates more problem solving scenarios for SAHD's, since they can't appease their child by nursing).
Sleepy, running, wife to DH 08/09 - Mama to DS 8/08 & DD 1/11
"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. " - Japanese Proverb
the sahd i know seem to feel awkward in groups such as homeschool groups or those tots groups as it is mostly moms. that was the biggest issue i saw. also the jokes about their wives working probably maybe hurt a little? there is a double standard where we as women demand respect for sah but if a man does it, he gets teased.
my biggest issue as a sahm is no time off!! no sick time, no sleep time. 24/7.
drowning in hormones with 4 daughters and an understanding, loving hubby. also some dogs. my life is crazy and we are always learning.
I can only speak for my own experience as a SAHmom, I did it for 10 years. I am currently re entering the workplace since my kids are now FT in school and I really want to be back at work again after 10 years away. My experience though is as a white, educated, in my30s, living in suburbia mom who left a good paying job to do what I always wanted to do. My dh always made enough money to support me being home all these years. We live pretty simply and drive older cars but again, if I wanted something, I could buy it within reason. There were some leaner months, but there was always a paycheck enough to always cover our expenses mortgages etc. There are others where this is not only impossible but out of the question. There could be student loans, a career that is not as forgiving to leave it for a long stretch, medical benefits that need to be paid for and their job does. The list goes on and on. Plus sometimes Moms will be happier working outside the home than at home.
-Being with your child all the time. You can never get that back
-seeing my children are raised the way we wanted it to be.
-setting you own schedule to work around you and your family
-allowing you spouse that space to go further in their career because you're in charge of the kids
-bonding time with your kids and getting to know their friends, parents etc
-learning about how to do time management, doo things more simple or even frugal which is what I always did before I had the kids
-if your child is sick, you do not have to go to a work place and worry about them or take off time. This is your job.
being with your child 24/7 in most cases, you do not get a lunch break, time off, sick time, or pay raises! LOL
realizing the days with kids are long but the years are short!
If your spouse is the one income earner, he/she has to give to that job a lot of times first and could be absent a lot such as weekends working or late nights.
there are many more, but it depends on the family. One thing I noticed, if I was also working all these years, I would have been contributing more to our retirement accts, but then again in 08 we lost a ton of money from that crash. Its all back as it would be over time but until then I was hating I wasnt contributing to that. Also, DH moved up in his job and made a lot more money. If I was working he would have had to split the daycare duty etc which requires stopping at a certain time and going to get the child. He sometimes needed to stay at work. Many times.
Also, expenses come up- you need a new roof on your house, a new transmission on your car, the water heater died, whatever. On one income you have to expect to have something such as this happen at least once a year or all at once! Makes for some leaner months.
Having a stay at home parent cuts down on some expenses. Such as clothing for work, daycare costs, meals out, anything. Also income taxes are smaller with only one person working.
Some people talk about sacrifices. To us, the sacrifice would have been to miss seeing my kids all these years and miss out. Money can be earned and stuff can always be bought and sold and destroyed but I would never get my time back with my kids.
I'm not a SAHM, but I will be next month when I quit my job. DH has been a SAHD and finishing his degree at night/on weekends since I went back to work when DS was 2 months old. He's almost 10 mo now.
DH says that he's jealous that he doesn't have the same resources that moms have like MDC or the mom groups in the neighborhood. He knows that he can still join even though he's a guy, but he doesn't want to be the only guy there. Also, as much as he LOVES DS and appreciates all the bonding they have, he's just not content with being a SAHP. It's just what worked for us in the short term, but he could never be happy doing it long term. He needs to have outside professional goals & activities in addition to his family responsibilities to feel happy. I don't know how I'll feel about it, but I hope to find more contentment without having a career.
I think one part of what defines a SAHP's experience is their partner's expectations of them. To me, DH's job is to be a parent. If he gets anything done in the house at that time, that's great but not necessary. Maybe it's because DS is such a high needs baby, but DH works 10 times harder during the day than I do while I'm sitting at my office (sometimes checking MDC ) I see the household duties as our shared duty. It's always been that way, even before we had DS and we both worked full time. I don't understand why he would have to do more now just because he's home with DS during the day. Maybe it's naive, but I hope/expect this to be the same expectation put on me when I start being a SAHM next month.
Mama Bear , Papa Bear and Baby Bear (8/11)
For us it's patience. When our daughter was born my DH took 3 weeks off work, by the end of the second week he begged to go back! He loves our children but he does not have the patience that is required to watch them full time. He needs the structure and control that comes from working outside the home, that he cannot get at home. Kids are chaotic sometimes and can push you to your limit, I find I can handle that more than he can and in fact my patience has grown substantially since having kids.
Being a SAHM has it's challenges but it pays back with so much more!