5 Things You Should Never Say to a Stay-at-Home Mom (and My Responses)

by Kim on December 5, 2012

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 8 months now. (Well, technically, I also do some freelance writing, but I don’t think I qualify as a full-fledged “work from home” mom.)

Let me start off by saying that my experience in this is uniquely my own. It’s ridiculous to think that all stay-at-home moms are experiencing the same exact thing, just as it would be ridiculous to assume that everyone with jobs outside the home are living identical lives. Maybe there are some similarities, but any direct comparisons are just a bad idea.

In the last 8 months, I’ve had several “this is my life now” moments. Sometimes they’ve been accompanied by frustrated sighs-like when Mase was only napping for 20 minutes at a time (and then only if I was rushing in and out of the room to reinsert his pacifier) or when he was spitting up and blowing out diapers literally all day long. Other times, they’ve been accompanied by happy, grateful sighs-like when I go get him after naps and he starts kicking frantically in total joy at the sight of me.

IMG_2033 This was not at all prompted by the sight of me. That’s the TV he’s looking at.

I’m one of the lucky people who not only gets the opportunity to stay home with my son (because I know there are many, many women out there who would if they could), but I’m also discovering a whole new level of fulfillment in the role. Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t for everyone, but it’s been a blessing to me.

usRecently, I stumbled upon this article from Women’s Day that listed 9 things you shouldn’t say to a stay-at-home mom. Instead of taking offense at them (I used to legitimately wonder all these things too!) or stirring the pot in the great working mom vs. stay-at-home mom brouhaha, I decided to pick out a few of them and answer them honestly.

The ones I left out were either too dumb to address (such as “does your husband give you an allowance?”-what?? That’s a misunderstanding about marriage, not staying at home) or not very applicable to our situation (like “If you’re tired, why don’t you nap when the baby does?”-I’m usually fine, now, but I definitely have napped when he does, and I also understand why it’s not always easy to do so).

Disclaimer! Not only are these answers specific to my experience, but they’re specific to my experience right now. I don’t expect my life to still look like this in a year, just like it didn’t look anything like this a few months ago.

“What do you do with all that free time?”

Obviously this is a dangerous question that I would not recommend asking, well, anyone. Mostly because of how it’s phrased. But I can understand where it comes from, because I used to wonder the exact same thing.

My answer to this would have been much different when Mase was younger, and it will probably be different again when he (God willing!) has a sibling or two. But right now, yeah, I do have a couple free hours everyday, and they’re typically 99% devoted to writing. That’s how I’m writing this blog post right now, and how I get my freelancing assignments done. I’m constantly planning out my time by dividing things I want to get done between the Nap 1 and Nap 2 time slots (which, of course, do NOT always happen on schedule).

If I didn’t have writing, I’d probably have some other hobby to fill my time. But if I didn’t have any hobbies, or the internet (everyone’s favorite time suck!), then yeah, at this point in my parenting journey, I would be bored at some points during the day.

As for cooking and cleaning, I try to save those kinds of tasks for when Mase is awake, since they don’t take my full concentration and I can still interact with him simultaneously.

“It must be nice not to have to work.”

I know I’m supposed to answer this with a fiery argument about how staying home IS a full-time job. But the reality is that, yeah, it is nice.

But it’s the being at home part that I like more than the not working part. I like being able to wear my pajamas all morning if I want to, work out mid-morning rather than before or after work, and skip the hassle of commuting everyday.

To be honest, I alternatively pity and envy working moms. Pity them because they have to be away from their kids all day, but then envy them for the same reason-because the time they do get to spend with their kids is extra special after the separation. I pity them for having to miss out on some great moments with their kids during the day, but envy them for also missing a lot of crappy ones.

IMG_2156 I can be cute, but I can also make you SUFFER.

“Your husband must do really well. I couldn’t afford to stay home!”

This one is tough, especially when it’s coming from the moms who would love to stay home with their kids if they could. Yes, we’re very lucky to be able to do this, but it definitely hasn’t come without sacrifices and struggle. People don’t see that, and I haven’t talked about it at all on here, but we talk about and worry about money A LOT more than we used to, and we’ve definitely had some tight months since I quit my job. Still now, we’re not where we’d like to be, but we’re making it work.

I’ve just been telling myself that the initial transition is the hardest part. My husband’s salary will (hopefully, God willing, etc.) only go up, not down, and the same is true for my tiny little side business here at home. Plus, something nice about me staying home is that subsequent kids shouldn’t have a huge impact on our budget-meaning, our daycare fees won’t suddenly double or anything. So hell, let’s pile on the kids, right honey?? (haha)

“When do you plan to return to your career?”

According to the article, I’m supposed to take offense at this, because what mom has her whole future mapped out??

Apparently the writer of the article forgot that, duh, all women have their lives mapped out. At least a rough draft. We just can’t help it. (Sometimes we might not realize a plan is there until it falls through, a la “I thought I’d be married by 30″…but chances are, it’s still there, somewhere deep down.)

I always thought I’d go back to work once I’m done having kids and they’re in school. And that’s still my plan, except that I’m not sure what “back to work” will mean for me just because of what I do. I’m a writer, and the kind of writing I want to do can be done from home.

Right now, I don’t see myself ever having an 8-5 desk job again. I see myself dropping the kids off at school and swinging by Starbucks on my way home, where I’ll sit and happily bang out bestselling novels all day. (I can dream!)

But things can change, and I certainly wouldn’t rule anything out.

IMG_2066 8-month photo shoot outtake-check out that leg extension!

“I could never stay home all day. I’d die without adult conversation.”

Yeah. This is probably the hardest part.

There are definitely days when I leave the TV on for hours just to hear adult voices in the background. When Dad getting home is the highlight of the whole day, just because I’m dying for someone to talk back to me. (For awhile, I even looked around a bit for a family in need of after-school childcare, so I could at least have a school-aged kid to talk to! And I haven’t completely given up on that idea…)

Thank God for the internet, right?? Maybe I’m not actually talking out loud, but I’m getting my adult conversations all day via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

And sometimes, I just need a trip to Target. To get out of the house, to be around other people, and to talk to a cashier for 5 seconds.

Bottom Line…

I am blessed to be able to do this. Staying home is a treat for me, and I recognize that.

Sometimes it’s hard, and I’m sure there’ll be times in the future when it’s really really hard, but it’s a different kind of hard than the one working moms experience. I think that’s where the disconnect is. Instead of the “I’m so stressed because I worked all day and now I have kids, dinner, and laundry to deal with at home, not to mention working out (as if!)” kind of hard, it’s an “I’m going to go bonkers because I’ve done nothing but sing cheesy songs and repeat the same 5 or 6 tasks over and over all day long, and it’s making me feel unimportant and undervalued” kind of hard.

Stress or insanity-pick your poison! Just kidding…kind of…


Fellow SAHMs, how is your experience similar to or different from mine?

Others, what else have you thought/wondered about stay-at-home mom life?


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna December 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I absolutely love this post!!! Ironically enough, im a full-time nanny to an 8month old. I’m with her 12 hrs a day, so I definitely know where you’re coming from!! The “having someone to talk to is my favorite bc she’s just recently started really becoming vocal and interacting that way with me! Shell say “buh bye” and “dag dah” so I carry on my own “full” conversations w her and she yaps right back! It’s great! I absolutely love basically being a stay at home mom (even tho I get the luxury of walking away at night, so it’s totally different!) but I get some ridiculous questions too! Haha. Great post and I can’t wait to hear more about your mommy experiences! Spa <3


Kim December 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

You’re right, I guess there IS conversation–it’s not just always ineligible, haha. :) Getting the nights off is quite a nice perk, too!!


Amanda December 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Good post! I can very much relate. Hate the one “so when do you plan to return to your career?” How about If I answered “never!” I like what I do and really doing want to be confined to the everyday office job. Alarm clocks…Scheduled hours…lunch breaks…sitting in front of a computer all day. No thanks. As much as I complain about how my kids drive me crazy, this is what I love and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can watch them grow up!


Kim December 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Exactly! Everyone complains about their job from time to time, including SAHMs–doesn’t mean we don’t love it!


Natalie December 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

All of those comments make my laugh. I have encountered all of them, too. I have never worked harder while being a SAHM. Because I am home, I decided to take on all of the household responsibilities. As a SAHM, you work 24/7, there is no break, no sick time, etc. It is the most exhausting but also the most rewarding job ever!


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