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It's Official: SAHMS Have it Better

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Momlogic's Jenny: It's official. If you're a stay-at-home mom right now, then you're lucky. You're one of the few in this country that can afford to survive on one income, when most families can barely stay afloat with two. Stop complaining about how tired YOU are, because on many levels, your "job" is a cakewalk compared to ours.  I know first hand...

mom holding a photograph of a baby

When I was at home for the first 12 months of my son's life, I complained that I had it rough. That running after a baby (that really isn't even mobile yet) is the hardest, most unappreciated job there is. Blah blah blah... I often thought about my working mommy friends and felt pity for them. Unlike me, they were not getting to spend every terribly exhausting second bonding with their child ... contemplating the nuances of babyhood ... Which sippy cup is the best? Which park has the most shade, the most ducks, the cleanest sand box? What vegetable should I roast, puree, and serve to my royal highness -- The Baby? Over playdates, lunch-dates and mommy & me classes where we would discuss nap times, bath times and poop times ad nauseam, my other lucky-enough-to-stay-at-home-mommies and I would say that we (college educated, kick-ass career women) now had NO desire to re-enter the work force -- that being with our babies is more important than any promotion or title in the world.

And it was true ... until now. For the past three months, I have been back at work full time and my little man is at day care and in the hands of someone else (gasp). I am fortunate to have a job that I love and actually look forward to going to every morning, but those days of trying to relieve my guilt by telling myself that I will come home promptly at 5, spend hours in the morning and at night playing with him and holding him are over. Times are tough and we all have to suck it up and do what we gotta do.

That romantic idea of being a mom that can have it all and balance it all is BS! With layoffs happening left and right across the nation -- from factories to major television networks -- no one is safe. Especially not a mom. Why would a company want to keep someone on that has to constantly leave for doctor's appointments and recitals and soccer lessons when they could get a younger, single, "working girl" for cheaper? We must be indispensable in a time that even the most important jobs are irrelevant. We now have to put our careers first and our families second. We have to work hard, stay late, and spend sometimes less than two hours total with our children a day. Does it suck? Sure, but something's gotta give...

I love my son more than life itself. But I also love my job -- and knowing that I can feed him and put a roof over his head in this economy far outweighs the guilt of "not being around."

Which job do you think is harder? Tell us in our momlogic community.

next: Hey Kid, Santa Doesn't Exist. Spread the Word!
14 comments so far | Post a comment now
Melissa December 10, 2008, 6:32 PM

Are you kidding?!?! Do you know how many SAHM friends I have that are freaking out that if their husband gets laid off they will lose everything!? At least you guys have experience, once these moms give up their career it’s a lot harder to get back in and work to help support your family if your husband got laid off. The economy probably affects them more because until recently rising gas costs alone probably hurt those families…everyone’s struggling to be at peace in life, not just you…
Thankfully I’m lucky enough to be a WAHM (best of both worlds)

Just sayin' December 10, 2008, 7:34 PM

Some SAHM moms would like to work, but with the job they could get it would only pay for daycare. Therefore they stay at home because there is no point in working just to pay for daycare.

Jenny December 10, 2008, 7:34 PM

Well said Melissa!

I am a stay at home mom and no I do not grumble to everyone who will listen about how hard and thankless my job is, I chose it. But because I chose it I also made sacrifices financially so we can afford it.

Why is anyone comparing? Seriously, why does it matter who has it worse? Why is being a martyr a badge of honor? Seriously people, we all make our own choices, why focus on someone elses, focus on your own.

Anonymous December 10, 2008, 10:24 PM

Some SAHMs just don’t want to work and use the childcare expense as an excuse.
Work opposite shifts and make your hubby help out.

Wendi December 10, 2008, 11:13 PM

I am a SAHM and I got to say that I do worry about my hubby loosing his job. If that goes, then we are really stuck. However, I was aware of this when we decided on me being a SAHM. I feel that being there for my children when ever and where ever they need me to be far outwieghs getting more money to buy more things.
From what I can see about people who HAVE to have 2 incomes is that you are living beyond your means. You have the desire to have more stuff than quality time with your kids. When we as a society see that putting our family first is far better than getting the new house or car or what ever it is, then things will change. If we all learned to live better lives with less things then there could be more SAHM.

And just to add, I really love being here for my kids and would not trade it for the world.

Katy December 10, 2008, 11:31 PM

I am a SAHM and I and my husband have made sacrifices for me to do that. We got rid of a car, moved closer to his work, were more careful with our money and we are making it work beautifully. We are in a failing economy but we feel it is important for “our” family for me to be home raising him with our values.

To Anonymous, some of us don’t want to work opposite shifts with our husband. There was a reason we were married and had children and it wasn’t to spend time away.

I don’t think you should knock either side from doing what they feel is right for their family and no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing there will be grumblings, it’s just life so stop complaining about other women and what they’re doing and try and find the beauty in this situation.

Kristin December 11, 2008, 7:46 AM

Unless you have a degree and can make more than $10.00 an hour, working just isn’t worth it. I do my part, financially, by clipping coupons like crazy and making sure that I can find the best deals for our money. There are sacrifices that have been made. I have no car because we decided to get rid of my car and only have one car. I am not one of those moms that leisurely goes to the gym every morning, has play dates all week long, and hangs out at “The Little Gym”. Once my husband leaves for the day, I am home with my two kiddos. My oldest is 3 1/2 and I am doing homeschool preschool with her so we can save money for another year. (and as a side note, she is doing SO good!) I am trying to get a part time job right now, but since I have no degree and have been a SAHM since my first daughter was born, I’m not having much luck with getting hired anywhere. I hate this debate, like others, of who has it harder. We all work hard no matter if you work or stay home. There are pros and cons to both. Why do we continue to have this debate? We have all chosen what is best for our individual families. And just because I stay home doesn’t mean that I have enough money to be able to stay home. It means that I buy off brand cereal and clip coupons. But, we are all doing the best we can. Instead of tearing each other up, why can’t we encourage each other in this hard time right now. Kudos for those working and keeping up with their children too. And kudos to those moms who never get a break from those little munchkins or any adult conversation. Bottom line: we are all just trying to be good moms.

Adriana December 11, 2008, 9:01 AM

Well said, Kristin.

We did the opposite shifts during my son’s first year—I worded in the city M-T while my husband stayed home with our baby, then he would work (as an artist) at night after dinner, sometimes as late as 4 a.m. I was with my son Fridays and Saturdays while husband worked, and we saw each other on Sundays.

We are fortunate that we even had this kind of flexibility and we were incredibly productive while avoiding daycare, but it was insane and I don’t recommend it. After 12 months I quit to stay home with my son—at great financial sacrifice. On my career track it would have been well worth the cost of childcare for me to work, but the emotional cost was too high for us.

A wise woman once told me, “you can have it all; just not at the same time.” Her statement came from a position of privilege—still, those of us with options are extremely grateful, regardless of what we choose.

ame i. December 11, 2008, 9:30 AM

I’m a SAHM with 2 school-age children and I agree. Due to the nature of my husband’s job, he would be among the last to go if his company goes downhill.
I’ve always considered myself lucky and blessed.

Natalie December 11, 2008, 10:41 AM

There are too many differences between being a working mom and a SAHM to even compare. I’m one of the lucky SAHM’s who has my own car, can go the the gym every day (if I so choose), and my husband owns his own company, so he’s never getting laid off (nor is his company going downhill…he keeps getting more and more work!). However, if something horrible were to happy to my husband, I’d have NOTHING to fall back on. I haven’t worked in over 3 years, nor do I have a degree (my daughter was a nice little surprise in the middle of my college years), so getting back into the work force would be incredibly difficult for me. I just wish that everyone would stop comparing working moms and SAHMs.

geen December 11, 2008, 12:07 PM

Natalie, I had my kid in college to, and would like to start that up again. If my husband lost his job then I would have nothing to fall back on as well. To the person who said that you should work opposite shifts, have you tried it? We have and it was awful. No amount of money was worth me and my husband being apart. Stop comparing what mothers do, at the and of the day all that matters is that you do what is best for your child.

Melissa December 11, 2008, 7:40 PM

I agree to the person who says work opposite shifts…it’s tough, then you have marriage issues because you never see each other. Each family is unique and different and things work for some but not others. As moms do we critique the kind of car people choose, toys, food, weekend activities?! We can’t all be the same, the world would be boring…men (not all) can put us down but now we have to put each other down too?!!?

JMM December 11, 2008, 10:47 PM

First of all, stay at home moms are freaking out about the chance their hubbies could lose their jobs. They’re already living bare bones for the most part and my hat is off to them.

As for working opposite shifts, my husband and I do that. And you know what, it’s not for the weak. We recognize that it’s our marriage that gets the least attention. Fortunately, I’ve got a guy who’s willing to work and sneak time together whenever we can. Even if it means putting a video on over the weekend so we have a few minutes uninterrupted.

I’ve done the working thing and the stay at home thing. The working thing is a tougher juggle, I will say. But staying home is grueling and thankless and emotionally draining. And, in my opinion, much much harder.

Cassandra March 4, 2009, 9:12 PM

I am one of those very fortunate women who gets to be a SAHM. Most of my friends are also SAHM’S. The difference between me and them is that they want to go back to work, but don’t want to pay for daycare. I, on the other hand, would be devastated if I had to go back to work! My two year old son has never been away from me for more than a couple hours and the thought of him spending more time with some stranger that works at the daycare than he does with me makes me want to cry. My oldest son is in Kindergarten, but he still benefits greatly from me being a SAHM because I am able to attend all his school activities and take him to all his ball practices and games. I have never missed a single class party, ball practice, or ball game, and while it might not break his heart if I missed one ball game it would devastate me! Therefore, when I get tired and worn out and sometimes think my husband has it easier because he goes to work, works ten hours, and then has the rest of the day off, I count my blessings that I am able to be so proactive in my children’s lives.

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