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Switch! Stay-at-Home Mom Vs. Working Mom

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Who has it better? Two moms state their case.

working mom and stay at home mom

"In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms," Dr. Laura Schlessinger's most recent parenting book, has quickly climbed to the top of best-seller nonfiction lists since it hit bookstores in early April.

Could it be that SAHMs are finally getting the recognition and understanding they deserve, or could it be the mass amount of recession-caused layoffs has forced working moms to reluctantly take on this role?

Always a heated topic, momlogic reveals personal stories from two moms who have experienced both sides of the debate, two best friends (whose daughters were born just two weeks apart) who unintentionally switched roles when one left her job of ten years at the same time the other was lured back to the office after a six-year hiatus.

Liesl says:

When my daughter Mia was born seven years ago, my husband and I both agreed that I would stay home, as we felt it was essential for at least the first five years. It was tough at first. I felt isolated since the majority of my friends worked, so I joined the local moms' club, which was a lifesaver.

I was an actress with a day job, so my pay wasn't substantial enough to miss. We had to make big sacrifices, such as put off buying a bigger house, after my son came along a year later.

I continued to freelance and do an occasional commercial. But the gigs were few and far between. By the time my daughter entered kindergarten, I was feeling a bit restless, so when a great opportunity came my way to return to work at the newspaper, the timing was perfect.

The first couple of months were very challenging. I was worried the kids would think I had abandoned them. We all cried a lot at drop-off, and I couldn't wait to pick them up at the end of the day, but I knew it was important for their sense of independence as well.

I hated missing field trips and class parties and wasn't expecting to be so upset when my husband took my daughter to her six-year checkup. That was my job! I had to learn how to share those important milestones with him.

After a year, I was lucky enough to be able to adjust my schedule to pick them up from school and eventually work from home a couple days a week, allowing me to help out more at school.

I actually like going into the office and enjoy the interaction with my co-workers. Days are tough, being pulled in both directions. Am I doing my best at my job? Do I have enough energy to give my kids after all the running around?

I do feel like I've struck a positive balance, and feel very fortunate to be able to have both a job I love and still be active and present in my kids' lives.

Amy says:

After nearly ten years with the same company at a job I loved, I resigned and started the best and most challenging journey of my life: raising our daughters. Emily was five and starting kindergarten, and Maddie was two and a half and starting pre-school. Though I enjoyed my job, I grew miserable not being with the girls. I was spending two hours a workday commuting, half my salary went to the caregiver, and I felt like I was missing their lives. I was completely exhausted by the end of the day and not giving them 100% for the two hours we were together before bedtime. I felt disconnected and wanted to be home with them.

As expected, so many concerns came to mind before this decision: would leaving a successful career path affect any future job possibilities, could we afford it, what sacrifices were we willing to make, would I feel inadequate without contributing financially to the household, would I lose my identity? Then, even harder questions: would I be a good mother, would I be able to give them the constant attention they need (since I was only used to two hours a night and weekends), would they love me as much as I love them?
It has been more than a year since I left my job and it was the best decision our family ever made. With my husband's support and understanding, the transition was incredibly easy.

Financially we made it work with sacrificing and budgeting. I satisfied any career concerns by growing a stationery business. My relationship with my girls has become one I only dreamed of once having. Our love and friendship with one another is much closer than when I was working. I love being a part of their everyday experiences and guiding them on the right path.

The biggest challenge has been learning to balance all the different responsibilities of a stay-at-home mother, wife, and home business! Even when there are hard days, I could not imagine going back to an office job.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or working mom? Would you switch roles if you could?

next: Don't Make Me Stop This Car!!!
64 comments so far | Post a comment now
hillary April 22, 2009, 3:10 PM

I’m a SAHM to my 18 month old son and expecting our daughter in 2 weeks :) It is VERY tough some days, I wish i was sitting at a desk with other adults! But i would not trade it; i cannot imagine having someone else raise my children. I don’t think every woman has to stay at home, but for me, it was what I wanted to do . Do we go on vacations and lots of fancy dinners? No! But you just cannot get back the times when your babies are small.

Theresa April 22, 2009, 3:13 PM

Great piece. I have done both and I wish people would stop with the mommy wars. Both roles require a great deal of hard work and sacrifice.

JDCS April 22, 2009, 5:53 PM

I have to agree with ceasing the wars. Either role has it’s ups and downs… it is whatever works best for the family. I came from a household of two working parents and I think I turned out pretty well. While my husband came from a home where his mother stayed home and he turned out decently (haha).

Pearl Mattenson April 22, 2009, 5:53 PM

Totally agree with Theresa. We are all women and all moms. Rather than “who has it better?” let’s ask, “How can we support each other to create the world we want for ourselves and our children?”

Tara April 22, 2009, 5:54 PM

I am a SAHM because that’s what I wanted to be. I think moms(and people in general) should do what makes them happy. Let’s stop looking for ways to divide, and start looking for reasons to unite.

Beth April 22, 2009, 5:57 PM

I’m actually a work from home mom. I have two children under the age of four and I have worked from home since I had my son almost four years ago.

I get either the best or the worst of both worlds, depending on how you look at it. There are days when I would give anything to have an office to go to just so I can hit my deadlines without staying up half the night to do it. And there are days when I can’t imagine why I would ever want to stand in a classroom again.

Angela April 22, 2009, 6:08 PM

I am a divorced mom of three. And a working mom. And a sad mom. If I had my choice, I WOULD be a SAHM. My kids only get to see me for about 2 hours a day during the week. I have dubbed myself the “One Hour Mom” because by the time I get home, cook dinner, get the kids bathed and help them finish homework, we get MAYBE an hour of time together. I have tried many times to find a part time job which would still financially support all of us, but have had no luck thus far. The most I’ve been home with my children since my husband left us in 2003 (PRIOR to the birth of baby #3) was the three months I took off for medical leave while battling breast cancer. I worry that my children are robbed of their mother every day.

Beth in SF April 22, 2009, 6:09 PM

I am a work-at-home mom, which presents its own set of challenges, but is a pretty good set up. I get to reap all the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom and I still get to cultivate a career. If I had to choose to work or stay home though, I would stay home if it were feasible. I love being with my son every day during his early, formative years. I hate the thought of leaving him with someone else all day long. I know it works for some women, but would never work for me.

Lisa April 22, 2009, 7:16 PM

I’m so tired of this debate and divide among women. Especially in these economic times, some of us do not have a choice but to work in order to provide shelter to our family. This conversation completely discounts all of the single, low wage earning parents. Women are traditionally perfectionists and we all want to do a great job at whatever we’re doing. can we accept that we all have different circumstances and support each other?

Cindy Smith April 22, 2009, 7:27 PM

I wouldn’t change anything for what I have as a SAHM. I worked 3 months after I had my first for about a year, I felt like I was missing a lot so with some planning I stay home. With my 2nd I was working again and left work during my pregnancy. I haven’t looked back. I feel that it’s been great for not just me but for my kids to have me at home. It’s easier on everyone in the end, no running around to the day care to drop off and pick up the kids. At least not until she starts school this year but I’m still going to stay home until my son starts school in a few years.

Heiddi April 22, 2009, 7:35 PM

I agree about how silly this debate is and the fact that people respond to it by taking sides. Every mother should do what is best for her and her family. I have always been a working mom, not by choice but necessity. I had to support my son and continue to do so happily. Now that I’ve finished my master’s degree (2008) and can choose the career that makes me happy as well as the fact that my son is in school all day, I continue to be a working mom. But, I’m not going to begrudge someone else for choosing to stay home. Just do what’s best for you and all moms will be happy. :)

Pamala April 22, 2009, 8:14 PM

It comes down to what’s best for you and your family. In the end a happy mom is a happy baby and a happy family.

For me working would be hard, I couldn’t stand it. Even thinking about getting a job stresses me out. I’ve always wanted to be a mom though.

paradisejenn April 22, 2009, 9:53 PM

I am a SAHM who works from home, and this is almost the best of both worlds. I just wish I was making a little more money right now, as I have some major recovery from almost a year of unemployment. I love being here when they get home from school, I love being able to go on field trips and to take them to their extra curricular activities. Financially I need to work, and am taking a second job (but only during the school day) to play catch up on my bills. I have done both - working and SAHM, and think that whatever works for you is the best choice.

Pamala April 22, 2009, 11:40 PM

I just wanted to comment though on why I think the book was written and I think it’s because often SAHM’s are looked at as having it easy, and I’m not saying other Mom’s think this although I’m sure there are, but I think often men think this. And we work just as hard as our husbands and I think Dr. Laura wanted that to be recognized.

Rachelle April 23, 2009, 12:45 AM

To Angela

How do you carry such a heavy burden?
I’d like to help you if I can. I have four children, one is autistic. e-mail me if you’d like:


theyearofasking April 24, 2009, 4:31 PM

I don’t believe the choice to stay home or the choice not to makes anyone a bad mom. I like to think that every mom does what’s best for themselves and their families. However, I do want to point out that neither of these moms ever gave up their work entirely. They freelanced or had small businesses, which they both say helped (or helps) to keep them sane. I’d be interested to hear from women who didn’t have side work.

Home Based Business April 27, 2009, 12:02 PM

Well, as for me I’d rather work still while doing all my household chores. It is so important that both you and your partner work to help each other for all household expenses. Anyway, there are lots of opportunity to work at home via internet. Just be very careful to choose. You could be scammed.

Kiley April 29, 2009, 11:26 PM

I work full-time out of my home, and part-time from home. I honestly prefer to be home with my child nd see him grow up. Im thankful that I have a part-time stay at home job that will soon become full-time so I can spend more time with my son and see the things I was missing before.

Donna May 5, 2009, 1:50 PM

Who has it easier when it comes to parenting? Men! The get no jugdement. They go to work no one ever asks them how they feel about having some else raise their kids. I don’t think anyone has ever told my husband that our kids have no dad because he works all day and gasp, golfs on the weekend. Dr. Laura is just plain offensive to all women who work (regardless of circumstance). P.S. She worked the entire time her kid was growing up. Hyopcrite.

Jason June 5, 2009, 5:49 PM

My wife and I both work and we work very hard. My wife is very successful and has a great job she loves. One thing, I have to say is, it does is makes me a better dad. I have to be there for dr. appts, school drops offs, etc. when she can’t. We work together to run the household, fix dinner and do chores
I find it interesting the way women,stay at home moms in particular, in casual conversations begrudge our choice to both work and in a very rude way.

They flat our ask to my wife, do you work?
Ohhh, I’m so sorry your wife has to work. Or, they start out with, “I guess I’m lucky, I don’t have to work. It’s a dig on me that I don’t make enough to support my family. I make very good money and my wife does too.

Men just don’t do that—
Support each other for pete’s sake!

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