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Aethelwine's avatar

What are some common misconceptions concerning homemakers?

Asked by Aethelwine (42961points) July 8th, 2011
80 responses
“Great Question” (14points)

Being a stay-at-home mom, I hear them all the time. Many of them irritate the heck out of me.

Homemakers are home all the time and must get bored.

Um, no, I’m not home all the time. I do leave the house to do things. Besides shopping, running errands and paying bills, I do take my children places and I love to go to the park. I’m not chained to the kitchen sink!

I’m hoping other homemakers/parents will chime in. We don’t get a lot of support these days.

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cletrans2col's avatar

That you are submissive and obviously controlled by your husband if you want to stay at home

Hibernate's avatar

I have friends that stay home most of the time .
I have to add that when it comes to giving a helping hand I can always count on them to be there for me [ if they are not away ] .
They have more time for themselves to learn new things… Most got a lot of diplomas by studying home .. well… one can better himself/herself a lot faster .
They have more time to spend with the kids which in the end will be a blessing since those who spend 15 minutes per day with the kids can’t provide a good education and manners .

Wish I could do the same.

@jonsblond remember that some of us envy you ^^

tinyfaery's avatar

I assume stay at homes mom don’t want to work. I think that’s a pretty safe assumption.

Plucky's avatar

The assumption that homemakers are lazy and have the easiest job in the world.

Aethelwine's avatar

@tinyfaery You mean work outside of the home, right?

cletrans2col's avatar

@jonsblond – If you could translate what you do at home to a salary, how much do you think you would get paid?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Plucky nailed it, for me.

tinyfaery's avatar

I was a housewife, but am not a mom, unless you count the cats. Working inside is nothing like having a job you gave to go to. I’d love if I could be a housewife full-time; I hate to work. But the wife can’t make enough $ on her own, so off to work I go. Housework is so much less stressful than 90% of the jobs I have had. Bring it on.

Aethelwine's avatar


I found this article interesting. I like how it figures in the overtime, since stay-at-home parents are basically on call 24/7. I’d be happy with ⅓ of that pay, even much less.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@tinyfaery I agree with you, but I think throwing kids into the mix changes everything. I don’t know any SAHM’s that aren’t constantly busting their butts.

Aethelwine's avatar

@tinyfaery yeah, what @ANef_is_Enuf said. And I’m not complaining about what I do at all. I love what I do. I’ll go back to work outside of the home once my youngest is older, but for now I’m staying here. I would rather do what I do than have to deal with the public, but it’s still work.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Things that are said about stay at home moms. This is a short list of what I have heard over the years:

• They have no ambition.
• They sit around and play all day.
• They spend all day cooking, cleaning, and such slaving away for some man.
• They have no life, hobby, pursuits.
• They are at home because they can’t get a job.
• They are at home because they don’t have any self-esteem.
• They don’t have jobs because they are not educated enough.
• They are at home to live off a man than earn their own money.
• Being at home is not as important as building bridges and sky scrapers

Those have the standard things I have heard over the past two decades.

cookieman's avatar

I think it depends on how you define “work hard”.

I mean, aside from our paid jobs, my wife and I cook, food shop, drop off and pick up my daughter from school, pay bills, run errands, clean house, attend school activities, manage my elderly inlaws’ affairs…all the stuff a stay-at-home parent would be doing – on top of our 50+ hour a week jobs.

If I could just do those things and eliminate my paid-job, my workload would be cut in half.

I have to agree with @tinyfaery. I’d gladly stay home if I could afford it.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Typical day in the life of a stay-at-home mom (culled from past history) know all those mothers who don’t work?

1. Wake up at the crack of dawn.
2. Grab one nice cup of tea before everyone wakes up.
3. Wake everyone else up.
4. Start prodding the children to quickly shower and dress.
5. Cook breakfast.
6. Pack lunches.
7. Deal with pre-school emergencies: can’t find matching socks, can’t decide what to wear, can’t eat what you pack for lunch (tough), can’t find homework, can’t get hair to look right
8. Drive kids to school
9. Forgot to bring little Lulu’s science project.
10. Drive back home to get project.
11. Deliver project.
12. Go home to work on the four dozen cookies that have to be baked for tomorrow’s school fair.
13. While cookies are in the oven, start the laundry.
14. While cookies are baking, and the laundry is going, go up to make the beds and run the vacuum.
15. Take the cookies out of the oven to cool.
16. Pick up all the toys and crayons and papers the kids left all over the downstairs.
17. Run the vacuum downstairs.
18. Do the breakfast dishes.
19. Take laundry out and put it in the dryer.
20. Run the dishwasher.
21. It’s almost noon and you promised to go visit your mom at the hospital.
22. Shower quickly.
23. Glop on makeup.
24. Go visit mom.
25. Stop at the florist to get her flowers.
26. Mom not doing well, must wait to talk to the doctor. Doctor says a new treatment must be undertaken, will you sit with him while he explains it all to mom? Mom needs convincing. You are half-sick with worry but try not to show it.
27. Running late, almost time to pick up the kids from school.
28. Pick up kids and get rounded into dressing like a clown for the fair tomorrow as Mr Beadley is sick with the flu.
29. Stop at the grocery store to get groceries. Kids are cranky and tired. Takes longer than usual.
30. Realize that you have nothing “clowny” to wear to the fair. Stop at Joanne’s Fabrics for ideas. Get some fabric and some yarn.
31. Realize that you have no clown make-up. Drag kids to Walgreen’s while you shop for white Erace undereye cover to use as facepaint and a cheap red lipstick and some black eyeliner. That’ll have to do since little Joe is crawling on the floor, rolling over and pretending to be dying of hunger. “I’m soooo hungry, I haven’t eaten in daaayssss….I must have foooood…nooooow.” Your little Lawrence Olivier is getting big stares from passers-by and you are about to be reported to CPS. Time to leave the store.
32. Drive home. Traffic is heavy, takes thirty minutes longer to get home.
33. Make a snack for the kids. Your Academy Award winning son looks happy now.
34. Get them to start their homework.
35. Take out the laundry and fold it and put it away.
36. Start dinner.
37. Start to figure out how you are going to make a clown costume by tomorrow morning.
38. Go through closets looking for anything clowny that you can add patches of fabric to.
39. Go down and get the kids to set the table for dinner.
40. Serve dinner with thoughts of Bozo running through your head.
41. Get the kids to clear the table and stack the dishwasher for you while you attempt to make a wig out of yarn.
42. Get the kids to finish their homework (while they groan).
43. Tell them to get their pj’s on.
44. Read them a bedtime story.
45. Say goodnight.
46. It’s ten o’clock and you have a wig that looks like half a used mop, a pair of giant trousers with nothing on them yet.
47. Take out the old sewing machine that you haven’t used since Home Economics class and you made a dress that looked like a tent. Or was it a tent that looked like a dress?
48. Spend an hour trying to figure out how to use the machine.
49. Little Joe thinks he has seen a monster in the window and comes bolting down the stairs crying. You have to go upstairs, turn on all the lights, reassure him that no monsters live in the neighborhood and then wait for him to fall asleep again.
50. It’s one in the morning, you haven’t finished the costume. The fair starts at nine am.
You are determined to finish.
51. By two in the morning you ditch the sewing machine, glue patches to the giant trousers, unearth an old plaid coat in the attic to use as a jacket and a pair of giant Wellies to use as clown shoes. You forget about the yarn from Joanne’s and literally take the mop head off your mop, launder it and decide to use that.
52. It’s three in the morning and you finally drift off to sleep.

Yes, this is a typical day in the life of a mother who doesn’t work.

augustlan's avatar

That you can’t be an intellectual and a stay at home mom. Even though I swear some of my brain cells did die with each additional pregnancy. :p

That we all want to do it. I mean, I did, but for my children’s sake, not mine. I’m pretty sure I’d have been much better off with an outside job, but I wanted to do what I thought was best for the kids.

That your house should be spotless. After all, what else do you do all day? Ugh.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@cprevite it isn’t that your work load is cut in half… you just spend more time doing the other half.

Aethelwine's avatar

@cprevite I do all that stuff while my husband works a very physical job and brings home a paycheck. I take care of him, he takes care of me and the kids.

cookieman's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf: I don’t see that. Food shopping takes my wife an hour whether she’s working or not. Takes me three hours to clean my house whether I’m working or not. I wash six loads of laundry a week regardless. The commute to my daughter’s school is the same distance. Her homework requires two hours a night one way or the other.

The only thing I would do more of, is vounteer for more activities at her school. as it stands, I still went to two field trips and three festivals this past year. I even did lunch duty one day.

So yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d be on-the-clock (as it were) less.

Aethelwine's avatar

sigh :/

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I did both. I stayed at home and then went back into the workforce. I have respect for both and that’s what women have to do…....we have to respect the choices that women make.

Some views of moms who stay home:

1. They are weak and uneducated.
2. They are pushovers.
3. They are not as intelligent as women who work because they don’t work. If they were intelligent why on earth would they want to stay home?
4. They all look like Anita Bryant and secretly wish to be married to Mitt Romney.
5. They don’t have informed opinions on anything.
6. The only books they read are “The Little Engine that Could” and “Bedtime for Frances”.
7. They have time to run errands for every other woman on the block that does work.
8. They are so lucky they don’t have to work. (Oh, but they do and sometimes harder than women who sit at their desks delegating and will receive monetary compensation, pensions, and kudos from colleagues on a job well done. Moms may not ever get that from anyone….they have to simply do the work and hope for the best as results are not exactly quick and measurable always.)
9. That stay-at-home moms have no other interests except their children.
10. That stay-at-home moms have it really, really, really, easy .

Aethelwine's avatar

Working parents get all the respect in the world. A parent who stays home doesn’t get shit from anyone but their family. I guess that’s all that matters though. Right?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Well, @jonsblond kind of hit the nail on the head. It is the same in our household. My husband works a physically demanding job, he makes the money. I do all of the work in and around the home. When you and your wife are at work, I assume that a babysitter or daycare (or relative) takes over what you would be doing if you were at home. It’s the same amount of time, it’s just a matter of which way you split it. If it were only you doing the work within the home, it would take you as much time as it does… plus however much time it would normally take your wife, if you are the only one doing it.

cookieman's avatar

OK, look at it this way.

I’m up at 6AM, in bed by 10PM. I’m awake and active for 16 hours a day, 112 hours a week. 224 hours for me and my wife.

That time is spent at one of two jobs, doing household items, and being with my daughter.

My mother-in-law or my aunt has my daughter 15 hours a week after school.

That fifteen hours a week is the only additional time that would need to be added to either my wife’s or my schedule to “stay at home”.

Meaning, if I worked only 35 hours a week, I wouldn’t need a relative to watch her after school.

Same amount of stuff gets done either way, but I get an extra fifteen hours a week with my daughter.

Now, if I could eliminate the paid job all together, I just gained another 35 hours a week.

See what I mean?

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

To balance my previous postings….......

I want to say that there are probably stay-at-home moms who watch too much TV while their kids simply run around the sofa and then five o’clock rolls around, they pop a TV dinner in the oven and that’s about it for them.

There are also working women who sit at their desk and also find ways to whittle away the hours without really putting in a lot of effort…but just looking busy when the boss walks by. (We all have known someone like that, right?)

With both choices, you will have the typical goof-offs. But I still feel that as women we need to support each other’s choices…...and not tear each other down. Some women really are made to be homemakers. They enjoy that. My mom hated housework and wasn’t at all a domestic creature. She wanted to work outside the home and she did. She would not have been happy cooped up at home taking care of kids. I, on the other hand, having experienced being left with crazy housekeepers, decided that I wanted to raise my child and stay at home to do it, so I managed to find a way to work at home, support my daughter and I was a single parent, too. My mother thought I was nuts. (And no, she did not live near me to babysit or help out, either.) Once my child was old enough to go into the first grade, I took a job that allowed me to finish when she was ready to be picked up from school.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice in this. However, I do wish there was a way for every woman who wanted to stay home….to stay home. And for every woman who wanted to work outside the home to also do that. (Or dad, for that matter.)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@cprevite yes, I knew what you were saying in the first place. I’m saying that the time is the same, it is just split differently.
My husband doesn’t cook three meals a day or vacuum or do dishes or pull weeds.
I don’t go to work outside of the home.

Your family splits the in home work, while both of you work outside of the home.

It’s the same amount of work, it’s just split differently.

Aethelwine's avatar

@cprevite You are proving my point that stay at home parents don’t get respect. I respect you a whole bunch, and I hope you know that. You are lucky to have relatives who can help. Not everyone does, but still, the stay at home gets no respect these days, and that was what my question was about. No one is begrudging you or saying you have it easy, but to say a stay at home parent has it easy is a slap in the face.

funkdaddy's avatar

does anyone universally get the respect they deserve?

cookieman's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf: Exactly. You are correct.

And @Darling makes a good point. How hard you work, or how lazy you might be has nothing to do with whether you stay-at-home or work out of the house.

@Jonsblond: I don’t think you have it easy at all. I’m just saying (at least in my life) it would be easier if one of us could focus on “house stuff” while the other focusses on “work” stuff. Still the same amount of “stuff”, but we have to split it in a much more fractured way. That lack of focus on one set of tasks makes it mire difficult in my experience.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@funkdaddy even if that’s true, there’s nothing wrong with trying to discuss and change that. :)

@cprevite I think that is going to depend on an individual basis, too. I’m sure there are plenty of “homemakers” that don’t cook or clean. Their lives are surely easier than mine, even though we would fall into the same category. I’m also sure that some out of the home jobs are harder than others by a long shot. This just falls into one of those categories where blanket judgments are frequently made, and it’s just as absurd as most other blanket judgments.

Bellatrix's avatar

Regardless of the choices women make, someone will not respect them for it.

If a woman stays home and looks after the kids, she isn’t doing any work and isn’t making a valuable contribution to society (not what I think, but the sort of silly ideas that get put about).

If women go to work, they aren’t doing the right thing by their children and are terrible mothers.

The truth is we make the choices that work best for our families and neither staying at home looking after kids, or going to work full time is an easy option.

I should say I have been a stay at home mum. I have worked full time out of the home when I had young children. I have studied from home while I had young children. I now work outside the home and still have a teenager at home. None of them were easy options. I have been bagged by people for all of those options at one time or another. I think we just have to accept that different people and families make different choices and none of those choices is more valuable than the other.

Aethelwine's avatar

@cprevite I understand. I know it is harder for working parents, but my entire point is you get respect for everything you do. A person who stays home is considered lazy and dull. This I hate, and I was hoping for a little “I know how you feel”, not “You have it so much easier than I”. because I don’t get it anywhere else. Maybe I need to look for a stay at home mommy site somewhere. :/

Bellatrix's avatar

Actually you don’t @jonsblond. When my daughter was three months old I had to go back to work. I didn’t have a choice. We could not afford for me to stay home. I had to put up with men telling me ‘how dare I work’, “you should be home looking after your child”, “someone else is writing on the chalkboard that is your child’s mind while you are here making money”. Personally, I think my child was better off with me at work helping to make enough money so she had a roof over her head. We weren’t living the high life. We were paying bills, eating beans on toast and just, JUST keeping our heads above water.

No matter what choices women make SOMEONE will have something to say about it.

Bellatrix's avatar

And I have to say I would not choose to be a stay-at-home mum because it wasn’t something that worked for me over a longer period. I needed to be out in the world, working in a job I loved and meeting people. I could not stand to be home all day cleaning, looking after children and doing the school run. Doesn’t mean those who do are any less intelligent than me or are somehow lacking, it purely means it wasn’t for me. I don’t judge those who do stay home as in any way less capable or intelligent or interesting. Just different strokes for different folks.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Bellatrix I went back to college when my sons were still in diapers. I managed a 3.86, graduated high honors, and went on to work in the field I studied. I worked for two years and was miserable. I loved my work but missed my boys. The company I worked for closed down, so I decided to stay home. The extra money I was making wasn’t that much, especially during the summer when all day daycare was needed. I went on to be the head room mother in their classroom and could attend all their field trips. The extra money isn’t worth those moments to me.

I have the rest of my life to be out meeting people. I only have one chance with my children.

Bellatrix's avatar

So you made a choice. Not everyone who works can make that choice or wants to make that choice and especially these days. I get that you feel people look down on you and I don’t doubt that it happens at all. My point is, whatever choices women make, someone will put you down for it.

As to the extra money not being worth the moments you lose with your family, I hear you but I don’t think it is always about having a choice. Here, house prices have gone through the roof. I doubt many women will be staying home and looking after their children regardless of whether they want to or not. If they want to pay their rent or their mortgage, they will have to work. Doesn’t mean they don’t want to be at home with their babies. I know when I went back when my youngest was born, I cried every morning. I hated being at work. I wanted to be with my child. I couldn’t though. It wasn’t about working for luxuries, it was about paying our mortgage.

People, but especially women need to be kinder to women whatever choices they make. I certainly don’t feel you are any less valuable than anyone else because you look after your family. I don’t think you can buy into what other people think though. The only people whose opinions matter in terms of this choice are your husbands and your kids.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Bellatrix My question wasn’t about necessity, it was about choice. A choice to stay at home with the children if you can, and being looked down upon if you do.

People, but especially women need to be kinder to women whatever choices they make.

I agree. Never going to happen though.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Strangely, I hear the complete opposite. All the stay at home mums I know seem to get respect while the working mums seem to get bitched about. I have heard people say “she shouldn’t have had kids if she doesn’t want to spend time with them”. It seems that, no matter what choice a person makes, it’s never the right one by other people.

Aethelwine's avatar

see what I mean. I don’t give a shit about lurve, but it’s hard to not notice all the working parents are getting the lurve and this question was about homemakers and misconceptions. Thanks for proving my point~

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’m not a working parent or a stay at home parent. I have no bias I’m just saying what I have seen/heard. With all due respect (and I know I may get some flack for this) it may be that this question is a bit “woes me”. You obviously do a great job in raising your kids and your family love and respect you so who gives a shit what others think.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Leanne1986 Like I’m the only person who looks for support around here. Some people get it more than others, obviously.~

Aethelwine's avatar

@Leanne1986 and my previous comment was not directed towards you, at all, but how the direction of this conversation has turned. It was supposed to be about parents or spouses who stay home, not how working spouses and parents have it much harder. Who doesn’t look for support here at Fluther? Like I said, I’m not the first. It wasn’t a woes me, but of course the woes me’s have got to state how much worse it is for them and derail my thread.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@jonsblond No, you’re not the only one looking for support but a subject like this always raises discussion from both view points. For all round support on this subject maybe finding a forum for stay at home mums isn’t a bad idea.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Leanne1986 Then please direct me towards one. I really need some like minded individuals to discuss a topic I feel strongly about. I don’t need any flack right now. I’ve had a really shitty week. Obviously Fluther isn’t the place for me for support.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@jonsblond I’m no expert as I never frequent these sites myself but how about This and This (the second link looks better to me). Hope you find what you need.

roundsquare's avatar

@cprevite I see your logic with the 35 hours, but I think you’re missing something. When you have more money coming in, there are things you can do to save time. For example, you could go out for meals and/or have your kids buy meals more often. You can buy clown costumes instead of making them. Even cooking is faster if you can get better tools (according to my mom). I’m sure there are more I can’t think of. Thus, following your reasoning (and adding in this consideration) you probably won’t get back 35 hours a week. Maybe you’ll only get back 15 or 20. (Maybe more? Maybe less? I have no idea really. Someone tell me if I“m wrong here)

That being said, I don’t think we can just ignore your reasoning either. If a homemaker wants to, I’m sure he/she can, in the end, get some extra potential free time. Otherwise, how would they have time to get the extra diplomas @Hibernate talked about? If we look at @DarlingRhadamanthus‘s description of a day, that’s an example of a very ambitious (in terms of getting things done, not necessarily in terms of typical “career path”) homemaker. My guess though is that a lot (most? no idea…) homemakers though do make an effort to do extra stuff that working people can’t do.

Thus, I don’t think its wrong to say that (many) homemakers do have it nice in some ways. But the point is “have it nice” is not the same as “being lazy.” @cprevite I know you didn’t say they are lazy. I’m just adding this in to be clear.

That being said, @DarlingRhadamanthus, is that really a description of a typical day? I find it a little tough to swallow, but I have no real experience in this so if you say so, I’ll believe you.

nebule's avatar

Yesterday in fact my cousin’s daughter, who is seven years old asked me if I ‘worked’, to which I replied no but I study and look after my son. She replied, “well, that’s lazy!” One wonders where they get these opinions from…

aprilsimnel's avatar

@nebule – Oh, good gawd!

I don’t know where this idea that home making is easy came from. I wasn’t a mom, but I had a relationship where he was the breadwinner for us both and I was home. It is hard work managing a home. And that’s what it is, management.

When we thought we’d stay together, we had talked (briefly) about children and who would work, and decided it would be him, because for better or worse, having grown up the way I did (thanks to my guardian treating me from 8–17 pretty much like her wife), I was much, much better at household management than he was.

cookieman's avatar

@jonsblond: I think I’m not being clear here. Let me try again.

Whether you believe it or not, you’re damn lucky to have the choice to be a stay-at-home parent. The reason @tinyfaery, myself and others are making comparisons is not to illustrate how easy you have, but how lucky you are – because you have something we might never have in this situation. Choice.

This elusive “respect” you’re looking for is, frankly, fleeting at best if not, nonexistent. At my daughter’s school, I see what @Leanne1986 sees. The stay-at-home parents who get to linger in the playground a few extra minutes after the bell rings are met not with disrespect, but a sigh of envy by those of us racing back to our cars so we can jet off to work.

I think (as @roundsquare so deftly pointed out) stay-at-home parent also have the ability to do “extra stuff” working people can’t. This also is a product of your “choice”.

Now, if we could survive on one income, I wouldn’t be making these points. But we can’t (believe me, I tried for three years, and I’m still digging out of the hole). Both of us working is a result of our lack of choice. This is nothing to be respected. This is the corner we find ourselves painted into.

So I don’t see either side getting “respect” at all. What stay-at-home parents get, in my experience is admiration on a good day and envy on a bad day.

Now I suspect the folks that are negative about your choice to stay home are simply jealous and petty because they don’t have that choice or feeling guilty and defensive because they (deeeep down) feel they should have chosen to stay home. Either way, not healthy reactions and you should pay them no never mind.

Similarly, any stay-at-home parent who thinks all working parents are doing it for big house and luxuries is equally short-sighted (and probably a little envious themselves).

So, in between these two extremes we have us. Two jellies doing the best they can with the choices they have available to them.

There is no “respect”, only what’s next in the to-do list.

Ajulutsikael's avatar

The one I hated the most that I hear(I’m not a homemaker by the way) is that women worked so hard to get equal rights for these women to stay at home and live off of their husbands. In a way it’s cheaper to have one parent at home with the kids. I know it’s a lot to have only one income support the family, but in some cases it takes just one income to pay for childcare. I’ve seen couples where both parents work and the second parent is pretty much paying for the daycare with all their check.

I know it isn’t possible but it is nice for kids to have one parent at home with them all the time. Sometimes you have that one parent that is better with getting the kids to learn than even teachers can.

It’s funny because some people look down on cultures where women are working up until they get married and then they settle down and become stay at home moms. Sometimes it’s a decision and other times it’s cultural. I think even when it’s cultural it’s done out of the benefit of the child and having someone the child is close to raising them.

Besides, only recently did Obama sign the equal pay for women bill. Not a lot of people realized women still weren’t getting equal pay for equal work.

ucme's avatar

Ooh I dunno, that they worship at the temple of the spatula?

keobooks's avatar

I just have something to pop in here. I think here is a myth I see popping up in all of these posts here right now. “You were LUCKY that you had the choice to be a stay at home mom.” This implies that before I was a stay at home mom, my husband made all the real money and mine was just a little extra. This is not true. When I worked outside the home, we really needed that money.

If we kept the same spending habits and lifestyle after my daughter was born, I would have had to stay working. But we both thought it was important for someone to stay home with my daughter in her first few years. He has the awesome insurance package from work,so that person was me.

We made a major lifestyle change to accommodate my staying at home. Not eating out and “making my own clown costumes” were just some minor things. It’s a life without cable TV or credit cards. It’s going to the library instead of buying books. It’s not having the air conditioning on for more than a few hours a day. It’s about eating lots and lots of navy beans. And many other things. The “lucky” thing we have now is that we paid for our cars in cash, so we can afford two cars. But that was because of a lifestyle choice we made long before we got married (always pay cash for cars)

Unless you and your spouse are barely scraping by on a poverty level already, it’s likely you can adjust your life to accommodate someone staying at home. I think some people who think they aren’t “lucky” enough to be able to stay at home aren’t taking a good hard look at what money outflow they have going on is actually optional. (not pointing out specific people, because I just don’t know)

You can say “Yes, but I don’t want to give up what I’d have to to be a stay at home mom” That is STILL a choice. And many other people, my husband and I included, MADE that very choice and we have a lifestyle that is far far less grand than it was before we had a baby.

And I’m not trying to say we’re amazing humans who deserve loads of praise. I’m just saying that I find it insulting that most of you seem to think that it’s just some lucky deal we just happened into.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I don’t feel like reading through 51 comments to see if someone else put this.

The idea that homemakers are all women.

ucme's avatar

Here in Britain they call those house husbands….which is, err…..interesting?

ShanEnri's avatar

I’ve been A SAHM for about 15 years now. I hate the assumption that I never do anything worthwhile when in fact just being a SAHM is worthwhile in and of itself! I’ve been called lazy and even selfish by my own extended family members. I quit a job to be a SAHM and for the most part I absolutely love it. I do get bored but it doesn’t rule my life and I have a clean house and good kids. The downfall is, when I do have to get a job it will be harder because of my long absence in the outside workplace! When I do put in applications I use ‘domestic engineer’ as my current job!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@keobooks very well said. I just had an almost identical conversation with someone, actually. It doesn’t feel like “luck.” It was a lot of sacrifice for me to be at home. We do without a lot of luxuries in order for someone to stay at home with the kids. We live a pretty no-frills lifestyle, with our most exciting frivolity being the internet. No cable TV, we both drive used cars, we only buy the groceries we need, there isn’t a brand name product in this house, we don’t have central air. Costumes, as well as curtains, dishrags, linens and often clothes are made at home. I cut all of our hair.
Clearly that isn’t the scenario for everyone, and as you said if you are barely scraping by to begin with, it may be a different story. However, I wouldn’t call my situation “lucky.” There are just a lot of things that we are more than willing to live without in order to have this arrangement work for us.

Also, in my personal situation, I don’t have a family member that can take the kids if my husband and I have to work. I don’t make a lot of money in my field, and after doing the math we came to realize that the majority of my paycheck would end up going to child care. I know that we can’t possibly be the only family that falls into a similar set of circumstances. So assuming that it is luck is not really fair, and it probably doesn’t apply to the majority of families, regardless of whether or not both parents work.

I can see how it could be viewed as fortunate if a family is able to have one person stay at home, while one works, and still be able to live more than comfortably with all of the modern amenities that many people prefer to keep around. Off the top of my head I can’t think of a single family that has only one working spouse that is able to do that, though.

The point is that it is just as nonsensical to assume that a homemaker is lazy, pampered, uneducated or lacks ambition as it is to assume that a working parent doesn’t put their child first.

Cruiser's avatar

Stay at home moms certainly work their asses off but I pity single moms or married moms that have to work, do home chores and play chauffeur on top of it all. Running a household is only easy for those who are single or don’t have kids! ;)

filmfann's avatar

A common misconception is that every day is filled with looking at People Magazine, and eating bon-bons. Sometimes my wife has to watch a movie, and there are only truffles…

Nimis's avatar

Having kids will inevitably require sacrific, regardless of the choice we make to stay at home or work. But it’s worth it.

Everyone’s situation is different. We weigh the options and priorities and make (what we think is) the best decision for our family.

Everyone has cruddy days and wonders if the other half has it better. More money, more respect, more time with the kids, etc. Let’s try not to project our frustrations onto others.

As for the question itself:
– that they had a choice
– that they don’t have the means to work
– that they don’t want to work
– that they are uninteresting people
– that they are uninteresting versions of their former self
– that they are lazy
– that they have it easy
– that they demure to their husbands
– that they demure to old-school social pressure
– that they are all women

Nimis's avatar

@jonsblond [hugs] Sorry to hear you’re having a really shitty week.

tinyfaery's avatar

Having 6 animals to care for is not easy. It’s actually easier to raise one kid, which I did from ages 16–19, while I was in school, because my sister was such a fuck up. It still wasn’t that hard. One kid is easier than 6 animals. Kids grow up and become more and more
self-sufficient, animals do not.

I’d rather be a stay at home
mom than work any day.

Supacase's avatar

@cprevite Yes, it is only 15 hours now, but what about before your children were in school?

I stay home because my husband and I want to be the major influences in our daughter’s life during her developmental years. We want to guide her early education, morals, view of the world, etc. We sacrified a lot to make it possible.

@tinyfaery Sorry, but I disagree. I’ve also been in both situations, and animals do require a good bit of care, but the kid is way harder. Yes, they grow and become more independent, but each new stage of development brings an entirely new set of challenges. For example, how often do you hear parents complain about the teenage years?

tinyfaery's avatar

You can disagree all you want. I have experience with both. I take care of my animals better than many people care for their kids.

Neizvestnaya's avatar


When I stayed at home for two years then it was a lot of work! We had no kids in the house so I can only imagine but from the time I woke up I was in motion making all the meals, cleaning up after, doing all grocery shopping, bill paying, laundering instead of dry cleaner runs, cleaning, yardwork, making sure cars had gas and regular oil changes, being the on call taxi to the airport, the chauffeur and guide for visitors.

All my partner had to do each day was open his eyes and go to the shower. When he got out of the shower then his drawers and closet would be filled with clean pressed clothes, his shoes always shined with good laces and kept up soles. He would go downstairs and breakfast was being served after which he could get up and leave for work in one of two cars that always had gas, kept up oil changes, car washes, clean interiors. He could drive home for lunch because it was already timed to be waiting for him. When he came home in the evening then dinner was waiting, the yard beckoning him to relax in because it was always picked up of twigs and leaves, the grass watered, pest control keeping us pest free on a regular basis, patio furniture always clean and in good condition, cushions miraculously never wearing out, ashtrays always emptied.

Our dog always had food, was always clean and brushed with a fresh bed that didn’t stink up the living room. We could invite guests at any time for tea or to watch sports on TV and the house would be clean, food and drinks enough for all. I can’t imagine being able to all that now that I work over 60hrs a week! It takes 3 adults now to do what I used to do alone.

MilkyWay's avatar

That they’re dumb and can’t do anything intellectual. And that they must have been drop outs at school and that that’s the reason why they stay home.
My mum’s a housewife, but she went to college and trained as a school teacher. She chose to give up her dream job for her kids, us. She was offered a job at a local school and still refused, saying she wanted to give her children the attention they needed.

cookieman's avatar

@Supacase: Well, my daughter’s eight. The first year, before we adopted her, she was in an orphanage. When she was two, my wife stayed home with her. Ages 3 to 4, she spent days with my mother-in-law while we worked. From ages 4 through 6, my wife was home with her again. She started school at age 5. My wife went back to work again when she was 7 where she started spending the 15 hours a week with family after school.

Also, I completely realize that we are extremely lucky to have family available to help out. I’m thrilled my daughter has never spent a day in daycare. Not everyone has that option.

roundsquare's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I feel like you’re post (sort of) proves what I and @cprevite are saying. A number of the things you mentioned are what I was calling “extra.”
1) Keeping the house squeaky clean.
2) Keeping the garden in awesome shape.
3) Having it so that your partner doesn’t have to prepare his own meals at all.
4) Cars and shoes kept in extra good condition.

Maybe “extra” isn’t the right word but I’m not sure what a better word is. What I mean is things that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

This is really important so I’ll say it again. I’m not using “extra” to mean something like “trivial” or “luxurious” or “not requiring skill.”

Maybe its better to put it this way:

Imagine two families, A and B who are in otherwise similar/identical situations. In A, both partners work and make X (in total). In B, one partner works and makes X (alone) and the other partner is a homemaker. If you compare these two families, chances are family B is luckier because they can do/have things that family A can’t.

Of course, as @ANef_is_Enuf and @Supacase pointed out, this often not be the relevant comparison. When one partner decides to stay at home, there is less money (i.e. less than X) being made by the family which means that the homemaking partner has to make up for it in addition to the family having to give up various luxuries. But, as people have pointed out, this does (in many/some cases anyway) seem to allow for some “extra” stuff to be done. I.e. the house will be in better shape, the kids can get more attention, etc…

Again, this is not to say homemakers are lazy or <insert silly stereotype here>. Its only to say that, depending on how you look at it, a family with a homemaker could be considered in some senses “lucky.” I think having one person stay at home is a very sensible way to do things for many families.

My mom quit working and stayed at home with me for my first few years. I consider myself very lucky for that. Lucky for her, she didn’t need to do that for my sister since I could take care of her a lot and would generally do so after I gt home from school.

Random thought: anyone who might consider homemakers to be boring/unintelligent/non-intellectual need only note that a number of the people on this thread who have told us that they are homemakers are some of the most interesting/intelligent people on fluther. Just saying…

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@roundsquare…..In answer to your question…you wanted to know if that was a “typical day” and found it “hard to swallow”.

Actually, no, that wasn’t a “typical day”....that was a “lighter day” usually there was more to do.

I’ll throw it up to the moms who stay at home…and do have experience with juggling everything. Do you find that what I wrote is way off the beam of a “typical day” for a stay-at-home mom?

A lot of the working spouses have no clue what women do when they stay home. The reason that I made that list, is that on a few occasions, when I was “unevenly yoked” in a previous marriage (in a previous life it seems, thank goodness) I made lists just like these to illustrate the sequence of my day to prove what I did. “Man of the house” would go to work and I suppose he thought I was like Samantha Stevens, I would wiggle my nose and the broom would start sweeping and the mop would start mopping and the lovely jam tart would be magically baking when he got home. Where did the spotless kitchen come from? How did the socks get laundered and in the sock drawer? Who took out the trash? Pruned the rosebushes? Found all the invoices for the taxman? Painted the patio furniture? And all before suppertime? It took a lot more than twitching one’s nose! But that’s what a lot of spouses think——and the question was always: “What did you do all day, dear?” Uh, what did the house look like this morning? What does it look like now? Notice anything? “I did nothing, honey, I just twitched my nose.”
With all the work that feminists did, marching and burning bras…guess what? Working or not, not much has changed. The bulk of the work at home still is relegated to the woman. And working women also feel guilty that they can’t stay at home, and that their homes can’t look like Martha Stewart insists they should. My mom worked full-time (so did dad) , but they had a full-time crazy housekeeper to do everything. That’s the only way they could cope.

Just like you, no one believes the amount of work that goes into running a household…and when you add children, it’s double the work. And for the working woman, with children who still is expected to run a smooth household….well, that’s just impossible, really, without some help. (And for the working women who think they can juggle all this, and do it well without help…I tip my hat to you.)

In the end, no position (working mom, non-working mom) is easy. None.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@roundsquare: What I described is how I’d like my home to be no matter who was home to take care of and also how I wish it was taken care of for us even though we both work like mad. I don’t think of what I described as “extras”, trivial or luxurious either. It’s how I like to live in my home and to be able to really enjoy it. Optimally, I’d pay someone else to clean it for us, do the yardwork, grocery shop and let the dry cleaner do all the ironing-needing clothes.

Aethelwine's avatar

@tinyfaery So you raised one child for 3 years. I’ve raised (and am still raising, quite well, thank you) 3 children for the past 19 years. (18 years, 11 months today if we are going to be nit picky) along with 2 very active, hyper dogs (blue heelers/black lab mix) and 3 cats (along with 3 kittens). My dogs are as bad as toddlers, I’ll give you that. From what I know about you though, you are a cat person, right? That’s nothing compared to what I have to deal with. So please, I think I have much more experience with this discussion than you do.

@Nimis Thanks for the hug. It’s so good to see you around these days. =)

I have much more love to give to many who contributed to this discussion, but it will have to wait. I want to thank you though for answering.

@keobooks Much lurve to you. Thanks for bringing up your position concerning “luck”. I’m so lucky to have one vehicle in the family that has over 190,000 miles on it. I’m so lucky to not have air conditioning in the humid mid-west and not have a working lawn mower with a 2 acre yard that needs mowed. I’m very lucky to rarely go out to eat or see a movie, or a concert (I forgot what those were). No cable here, no vacations. Oh, so lucky, my new shirt I just bought was from Walmart. Honestly though, I am lucky. I’m lucky I get to spend this time with my children. So lucky!

keobooks's avatar

@roundsquare , I don’t see how the family with the homemaker is “luckier”. It’s not like the family just randomly turned out to have a homemaker in it by sheer luck and happenstance. That homemaker made a CHOICE to stay home, instead of getting a paying job. If the homemaker did that, then you’d compare them to some other family B where the sole earner earned more.

You CHOOSE to earn less money in the family to make the homemaking shindig work. It’s not just some happy coincidence. Luck is stuff that happens to you randomly. Perhaps being the child of a home maker is lucky—since kids have no choice in the matter. But your mom didn’t just randomly become a home maker, she made that choice.

Hang in there @jonsblond. I hope the best for you. Sounds like your going through a rough time.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@cletrans2col I think recently on the evening news here they calculated all the jobs a mother does, babysitte, chef, tailor, driver, office manager of the bills etc., personal shopper, etc she would get paid about $320,000 yearly if all those jobs were done by individuals.

keobooks's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – I think i run cheaper than that as a mom. Nobody would pay me to clean the way I do. I am a homemaker.I’ve seen that list of things that shows that moms put over 300k worth of work, and I’m a bit skeptical that the majority of moms actually do all that stuff all the time.

I think most of us pick priorities and focus on what we’re best at or what our family values most. Either that or I am one fat ass lazy bastard compared to most stay at home moms. I work a lot, but I don’t do a lot of that stuff on the list. I don’t think I’d want to hang out with someone that actually did all that stuff all the time.

roundsquare's avatar

Alright, after thinking about this for a few more days, I agree I was wrong on the luck point. Apologies if I insulted anyone.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@nebule I got the same type of comment from a boy at my son’s dance class. The boy is about 12yrs old…He said “So you homeschool your son? What else do you do?” When I told him I’m a SAHM he just looked at me and said “So you don’t work???”

A a stay at home parent, I also try as diligently as I can to save our family money. I do as many of the chores that I can physically and intellectually do. That includes plumbing, DIY, and more.

Quite frankly we spent more when I was working to have people do the things we didn’t have time to do.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Most people with kids I know talk about $1500. + per child for childcare and that’s when they start to add up which partner makes the bigger paycheck, which one will stay home with the kids instead of giving them to strangers and to also take care of some household stuff while there. The women I know who pay childcare and turn their noses up at SAHM’s can afford to do so only because they and their partners each make over $5000. a month. Some people actually save money and have better family time by not working outside the home but it’s still a fulltime job inside.

Pandora's avatar

Pretty much all the things said above were probably said but I think when I was a stay at home mom, I thought people thought those things of me. But I think the internal voice in my head was the loudest.
But it simply didn’t make sense for me to work and have to pay most of my paycheck to strangers to raise my children.
Once the kids where in school, I did work and then felt like a bad mom if I couldn’t get off of work right away to pick them up from school because they were feeling ill.
There is no winning. You feel guilty if your not home and guilty if you are home.
There is no reason to worry about what others think. You’ll always be your worse critic.
It took me a long while to figure out people will always have something negative to say when they are jealous. So why listen and why not feel happy doing what you think is right for yourself and your kids.

MissAusten's avatar

Wow, I’m kind of glad I missed this one. :(

@jonsblond I think the misconception can even vary by geographic location. Where we live, it’s more common for Mom to stay home at least until all the kids are at school during the day. Then, some of them go back to work. Some don’t. The perception here is that being a SAHM is the norm, and moms who work are to be pitied for not having a husband who makes enough money to support the family in style all on his own. Not all families are like that—I know one or two others that struggle to get by on one income. Most of the families around here have one income, nice cars, big houses, and easily go on vacation twice a year.

I think anyone who earns respect should have it, no matter what they do for a living or whether or not they have kids. What’s difficult about being a SAHM for years on end is that you don’t get much in the way of tangible appreciation. There’s no paycheck, and the people you bust your ass for are the first to take you for granted or even spend most of their time being angry with you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I know it is terrible to spend all day doing everything for everyone else, then at the end of the day have someone be mad at you for one thing you didn’t do. Or, to have the kids you just schlepped all over Creation cry and whine because you won’t also take them for ice cream. Or to have people just assume you are free to do whatever they want because you “don’t work.”

@jonsblond I hope your week got better.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Or to have people just assume you are free to do whatever they want because you “don’t work. @MissAusten, that is ridiculously true for me. I had to learn to say “No” and mean it. Which has meant in some cases that people especially family members think I’m a bitch. Oh well. Some days you can’t win for losing.

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