What Not To Say To SAHM (Stay At Home Moms)

PARENTING | | July 30, 2008 at 7:05 am

I am at the junction of tip-toeing back into the workforce after an absence of 2.5 years and though I look forward to actually finishing a cup of tea (and one that has not been reheated for the 20th time), I do feel pretty passionate about my role as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). Before I get totally immersed in the working world I want to find a way to give voice to some of the frustrations we experience. A place we finally can have our say. Maybe having this written down will ensure I never become guilty of saying this to anyone.

“You are so lucky you get to take rest, sleep, eat or watch tv all day” or “You’re so lucky!” or ” You can do whatever you want all day.”

Rest? Man, I can’t remember when I could use a bathroom with the door closed. Keeping a pair of eyes everywhere while you clean, cook, entertain and get no bonus, raise, time-off or rewards is a bit of a tricky and consuming task. Apparently some spouses are guilty of this too. I still remember being asked a few years ago, just after I resigned to take care of Miss J, “How was my vacation?” Grrrr…. Yes, that person is still alive and I hope reading this.

“I could never JUST be a stay-at-home-mom, how do you do it?”

Mmm,.. I don’t know, I guess you would have to be crazy or maybe JUST a supermom/superdad. It takes a lot of strength to swap financial autonomy and adult conversations for being a prime caretaker 24/7 and still make dopey faces as needed.”

“I work AND take care of my children.”

Yes, of course you do, with a lil help from your childcare option.

“Oh!”

This is the response to being asked what I do and responding SAHM
. It is always a total conversation ender with eyes already scanning around for someone more interesting to talk to. In the words of my coolest mommy friend “My baby was just born, not me. I have oodles to share and talk about too”.

“You are so lucky you can afford to stay at home.” aka “You must be rich if you can stay home.”

Lucky, are you kidding? We constantly keep re-juggling figures to try and make it work and debate about having two incomes. Very often sacrificing little pleasures and on the constant lookout for bargains. Honest truth is now that I am trying to re-enter the job field and arranging care and all other sundries, I cannot believe how expensive the work I do is. According to Salary.com, if paid, Stay at Home Moms would earn $134,121 annually.

“What do you do all day?” or “What do you do with him/her all day?” or “What do you do with all that time?” or “Don’t you get bored?”

Oh, nothing. We place them in front of the tv and let them eat cheetos and wash it down with soda while we catch up on the latest gossip with the other SAHMs or watch soaps on tv with the kids. Don’t worry, we make sure to clean up in time at end of day so as not to leave evidence behind.

“I’ll bet your house is really clean.”

What are you smoking? Your socks? Ever tried to clean a home with toddlers underfoot?

“You stay at home because you are lazy.”

That’s right because I guess the children get dressed, fed, cleaned, entertained, carried, disciplined, etc all by themselves, right?

“You are sponging off your husband!”

Totally, and Man what a wonderful sponge my husband makes.

“You are teaching your kids that a woman’s place is at home.”

No, I am teaching my child that a woman has a right to do what she wants, irrespective of the pressure she gets from society.

“Women should have lives of their own”

You didn’t really think I was living your life, right? Whose life is it anyway?

“You’re a SAHM? Good for you!” (Said in a condescending tone.)

Why is it that comment “Good for you.” always gives me the creepies? Maybe if people just said “Good” or “Great” it would be fine, but somehow the “for you” part kind of sounds like it is just good for you but not me.

“I couldn’t be a stay-home mom; I need intellectual stimulation.”

Yeah, that’s tough. Not everyone can find or create intellectual stimulation at home. It is a difficult job since kids are a tough audience.

“Can you research/buy/install since you’re home all day anyway?”

Sure, and while I am down there why don’t I shine your boots too?

“Oh, so you don’t work!”

Ok, the next time I hear that someone is going to get hurt. Enough said!
This is not a reflection of attitudes of Working Moms (WOHMs) but of the few ignorant or careless individuals who give a bad reputation to all hard working moms, whether inside the home or out.

I invite comments, whether you agree or not. Feel free to suggest topics you think should bear discussion.

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61 Comments

  1. 1
    Rayven says:

    Those are great! LOL. Try homeschooling 3rd graders and running a business out of your home too.

    The next time I hear “So, you don’t work”…….

    right with ya!

  2. 2
    Anissa Mayhew says:

    That’s great! And true! And sickening because that’s how people view our choice to stay home. I don’t judge those that choose to work, so off my BACK! :)

    –Anissa@Hope4peyton

  3. 3
    Meghan says:

    What a natural writer you are! I’m not a laugh-out-loud reader in general and I LOL-d 3 times reading this article. I can’t believe ANYONE said, “you’re lazy” or “you’re sponging off your husband” and didn’t get a beat down. I’m patient…but not THAT patient. Great job, Niri!

  4. 4
    Iva says:

    Oh my word! I’m assuming these were actually said to you? I can’t believe anyone would be so bold (not to mention rude).

    The Toddler Times are Tough (say that five times fast! LOL) It’s no picnic. I don’t miss it…much.

    LOL

  5. 5
    Happy face says:

    I don’t believe people were actually rude enough to say some of those things. It was actually easier for me though once we left the area where I had worked previously so no one knew what I used to do. It took about 3 years to get through all that junk. Some of it is still too familiar though, and my boys are 12. Familiar enough that I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry!

  6. 6
    Mommy Niri says:

    It is said that “truth is scarier than fiction”. Every single statement was something said directly to me or to a SAHM who related it to me.

    This passionate topic evoked relief from SAHM and some defensiveness from WOHM and some guys too. I think the point here of chastising a behavior and not a class of women was missed by some. Thanks for reading.

  7. 7
    ~Bobbi~ says:

    Thank you very much for this! I need to make a link to it on my page! I have heard so many of these things. A stay at home mom nowadays is viewed as uninteresting and basically lower than other people. I love everything you wrote!

  8. 8
    Mommy Niri says:

    Thanks. Feel free to link away. Maybe, just maybe, one person may think twice before shooting off these comments again. We can at least hope.

    Good to know that we are all in this boat together!

  9. 9
    Anonymous says:

    Well said,

  10. 10
    jesnicole says:

    Wonderful!!

  11. 11
    Anonymous says:

    I totally support what you say–to an extent! I have raised my children & am now working with an early intervention program for babies with developmental delays. In the past, I've always been a strong advocate for SAHM, but would like to note that I have honestly been in some homes where I really feel the child(ren) would be better off in a daycare or at least some type social atmosphere. I have seen numerous mothers that have no interaction with the children, scream at them for "disturbing" their television time or phone conversations, and give the impression that their child(ren) "cramp" their style. In my professional opinion, these mothers need to rethink their priorities. 90% of SAHM do a fantastic job, but there is that small percentage that I'd like to slap and say "wake up" and see what you're doing to your children. One more quick note–those that are committed and work with their child(ren), please offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family where possible to increase verbal and social interaction. nanato3boys

  12. 12
    trish K says:

    Oh, I just love you! My favorite is that last one “Oh, so you don’t work.” Thanks for posting this. You have a great sense of humor and everything on this is TRUE

    -Trish

  13. 13
    Emily says:

    Oh man! I know exactly how you feel! I’ve been out of work for almost a year now. And everyday I have to hear from someone (especially my mother) about how I need to get a REAL job. Being a SAHM is the toughest job out there. No other job will test your patience or sanity the way being a SAHM will.

  14. 14
    juno says:

    Coming from a work out of home mother – I can’t beleive people say these things to you. I will admit I sometimes think that mothers who are staying home have the financial option to do it, so thanks for pointing out that this may not be true.
    On the flip side…how about the things stay at home Moms say to those of us who work outside the home…? I honestly sometimes feel like SAHM’s look at me as if I am a selfish wretch. “Oh, you leave them at daycare…”

  15. 15
    debbiedragon says:

    People say this sort of stuff to me all the time, too! I had my first son right out of college and became a work-at-home mom at the same time (been doing it for the last 6 years and loving every minute… almost!) How about this one: “Don’t you feel like you’re wasting your college education being home and doing nothing?”

    Two other moms and I (one is another work-at-home mom and the other is a go-to-work mom) are writing a blog to encourage moms who want to start a business- and also to blab about our personal lives! LOL

  16. 16
    Ladybug's Picnic says:

    LOL! The “good for you” kills me too! Oh, and to the anon who pleads with us to “offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family to increase verbal and social interaction…” Riiiiiight. Because we definitely lock our kids in the house with us all day so there’s absolutely no social interaction.

    Please.

  17. 17
    Ladybug's Picnic says:

    LOL! The “good for you” kills me too! Oh, and to the anon who pleads with us to “offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family to increase verbal and social interaction…” Riiiiiight. Because we definitely lock our kids in the house with us all day so there’s absolutely no social interaction.

    Please.

  18. 18
    Ladybug's Picnic says:

    LOL! The “good for you” kills me too! Oh, and to the anon who pleads with us to “offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family to increase verbal and social interaction…” Riiiiiight. Because we definitely lock our kids in the house with us all day so there’s absolutely no social interaction.

    Please.

  19. 19
    Ladybug's Picnic says:

    LOL! The “good for you” kills me too! Oh, and to the anon who pleads with us to “offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family to increase verbal and social interaction…” Riiiiiight. Because we definitely lock our kids in the house with us all day so there’s absolutely no social interaction.

    Please.

  20. 20
    Ladybug's Picnic says:

    LOL! The “good for you” kills me too! Oh, and to the anon who pleads with us to “offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family to increase verbal and social interaction…” Riiiiiight. Because we definitely lock our kids in the house with us all day so there’s absolutely no social interaction.

    Please.

  21. 21
    Ladybug's Picnic says:

    LOL! The “good for you” kills me too! Oh, and to the anon who pleads with us to “offer opportunities for social interaction with others out of your family to increase verbal and social interaction…” Riiiiiight. Because we definitely lock our kids in the house with us all day so there’s absolutely no social interaction.

    Please.

  22. 22
    Summer says:

    I love this list! I’ve heard too many of these things myself. The “sponge” comment really irks me. I had another mom once snark at me “It must be nice to have someone else pay for everything so you don’t have to.” Right, cause I’m such a gold digger changing toddler diapers all day.

  23. 23
    mommyhastoys says:

    rofl This is soooo Funny ans SOOOO true! Good for you for showing the world what were really thinking!!!

  24. 24
    Ramesh says:

    The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World.

  25. 25
    bloggingmom67 says:

    Love your list. I work outside the home now, but I was a SAHM mom when my kids were younger, so I feel your pain.

    But watch out, once you become a working outside the home mom you’ll encounter a similar list of annoying things people will say, such as:

    1. Oh, you’d rather day care raise your kids? (Yeah, I hate them.)

    2. Oh, you’re a part-time mom? (Yep, part time, that’s what I feel at 3 a.m. when I’m holding my daughter’s hair away from her mouth as she pukes.)

    3. So your job is more important than your kids? (Yep, I was thinking of selling them.)

  26. 26
    Kelly @ Wisdom Begun says:

    Okay, and I LOVE the last one. Seriously, I have thought of throttling someone when they say that to me. UGH

  27. 27
    Anonymous says:

    I’ve been a SAHD for about a third of my son’s life of 10 years, due to being a contract worker. Just an honest observation (nothing against SAHMs): taking care of my son full time by myself–all the doctor appts, bill paying, clothes shopping, everything–is quite a bit easier than working my other job. I think I have a talent for parenting and organization, though what primarily makes it easier and relatively fun is not having to take orders or work on the very complicated stuff that I must do for my other job. I have just the one child so that does makes it easier too, of course.

  28. 28
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Anon. I’ve been both stay at home and work outside of home, and I’m sorry, but staying at home is much, much simpler. You don’t have the politics, the absolute deadlines, the boss, the external judgment, etc. It’s just completely different.
    I have to say I don’t find this writer particularly great. She sounds cheeky and bitter. I mean, I’ve had all kinds of things said to me in my life but I don’t note them in my head and stew over them and put them down in a list. I just think the world is too complex to try to divide it up into moms at home and moms at work. It gets old.

  29. 29
    Mommy Niri says:

    Oh for sure, politics is just one of the things that a SAHM (luckily) does not have to deal with. I am sure WOHM have many different issues they deal with. The point here was not to divide or take sides (as you would have already read in the last lines of the post) but to state very REAL comments said to people who ALL found offensive. I am glad that you let this post “stew” and took the time to write a comment. I do appreciate you stopping by.

  30. 30
    Anonymous says:

    I love it! I’ve heard most of those among others. I’ve been a SAHD for the past few years with my daughter, and at first the comments would upset me somewhat. Friends teasing me about being ‘retired’ at an early age and alot of the comments listed above. But now I get comments that more than make up for it. Upon meeting my daughter, now almost 5, people are impressed with her ability to communicate, her manners and generally how well behaved she is and fun to be around. I did that, along with her help of course, but that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 3 years and so far I’ve think I’ve done pretty well. If I can raise another human being to be a productive, happy, well-adjusted adult that has to be one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs ever.

  31. 31
    Anonymous says:

    A fathers point of view- SAHM is probably the most important thing a woman can do, not to mention the most gratifying. When you have kids, you are commiting to taking care of another human being, through thick and thin, kind of like being married. If its all about You, you shouldn’t of had kids. Since when did another persons opinion of what your doing ever matter to your kids, unless your shallow Hal. I respect my wife for doing something that will have a everlasting effect on our three kids. They will remeber the things she has done for them way beyond her life time. I feel very blessed that i am fortunate to have a job that can support my family, as well as a wife who can scrimp enough to make sure it stays that way.,

  32. 32
    Rachel Hagen says:

    These are great! I’m not a mother yet. In fact, one thing that’s holding me back are all these things i’m afraid people will say to me. I want to fully commit to my children but am prideful. I know it’s going to be ten times harder than what I do now (interior design). thanks for these. they were great!

  33. 33
    Anonymous says:

    Fantastic. When i have kids i want to be a SAHM for a while. How else can u bond with your kids. Can’t believe that people can say that. WELL DONE for speaking out

  34. 34
    Shannon says:

    Thanks for the post. I could not help but laugh and cry a little too as these comments are so true. I must add the latest comment I got. I was getting my haircut about a week ago when I asked my beautician what day it was. I was tired from sick kids etc. and I was trying to recall what day of the week it was so could write her a check. She spouted off, “Well, I guess it is hard to remember the day when you DON’T WORK.” My friend tells me I should find a new hairdresser. I think I may just do that…

  35. 35
    Carol says:

    My favorite is… “You’re a stay at home mom? Oh, I would get bored.”
    A comment that makes you feel like you must have a tiny little brain – one that doesn’t need much stimulation. In my years (okay, almost two decades) as a SAHM, I was never bored. Frustrated? Sure. Suicidal,homocidal? Maybe…but never bored.

  36. 36

    I’m still laughing about the ‘husband as sponge’ comment. The trouble with titles is they are so limiting. In her foreword to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s POWER MOMS (released tomorrow), Lisa Belkin rightly says it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. Since when did the word ‘mom’ not suffice? ;)

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’ll be following you on Twitter for sure! @hohlbaum

  37. 37
    shzam says:

    so you are too busy to clean and have no time for yourself but somehow..somehow you manage to BLOG?
    but seriously, some of the things these people are saying arent meant to be taken the way they are. like good for you? CMON. what would you like us to say. would you like us to go on and on about how you are superwoman and how we understand that you have so much responsibilities? really.
    and its true, many people just simply cant afford to stay at home. in some cases its virtually impossible. and “oh, so you dont work?” you dont. sure you might work at home, but they mean you dont have a job. its true.
    all i can say is stop being so SENSITIVE.

  38. 38
    renee says:

    Here’s my favorite: “Will you watch my kids, too?”
    No, I will not watch or RAISE your kids too. I’m watching and raising my kid, the one I gave birth to. I’m a stay at home MOM not a stay at home caregiver to whoever wanders through my door!
    Whew–having said that, I feel better now :)

  39. 39
    Charlene Kuser says:

    I feel that the people that say these things have no life and
    therefore should not say anything

  40. 40
    Amy says:

    What a fun post! I LOL-d a couple times, too! The question that irks me the most is, “Well, what do you do all day??”

    You are doing a fantastic job juggling all of your many tasks.

    Good luck with your ventures!

  41. 41

    AH!!! All words that were FLYING through my head last night as my fists balled up. We work hard, darn hard!

  42. 42

    Thanks for sharing. I want to be a SAHM when I grow up and I admit I probably idealize it but this makes me take pause when I am about to tell a SAHM that her grass looks so much greener than mine. I’ll be more careful when I express my admiration and be considerate of the fact that she doesn’t get off-days from her position.

  43. 43
    Ms. Latina says:

    Love this post Niri! I esp. liked this part:
    ******
    “Can you research/buy/install since you’re home all day anyway?”
    Sure, and while I am down there why don’t I shine your boots too?
    ******
    When I was a SAHM, I had a never-ending list of things everyone wanted me to do. Worse they would comment on how untidy the home was when they came over! Yet they failed to realize how much time those “favors” took with two kids in tow. It used to drive me crazy!

    Thx for a great post!

  44. 44
    Lonestarr says:

    Waitaminute, is there anything that can even be said that isn’t going to sound offensive then? I don’t want to sound douchey should the situation ever arise. :(

  45. 45
    thisiswherethefishlive says:

    stop whining for gods sake. you could solve this ussue right now by going out and getting a job. oh, forgot, cant do that. fill in excuse(s) here__________________________________________________
    ________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________

  46. 46
    NYCityMama says:

    Another great one, more direct to “It’s so great you can afford to stay home all day” is…and I get this A LOT: “what does your husband do?” That is usually with the intro part of a convo…”Oh, so, what does your husband do?” My husband gets to go to work everyday. He gets to feel good in his skin that his creativity and profession supports his family of 5. He also gets to not know where things go or are, when bills are due, take kids to the doctor, deal all they with tantrums and fevers, and whining, he also gets to come home to kids already exhausted from a full day with me, while still full with energy…and he gets a nice home cooked meal, and the occassional nooky-nooky because it’s not his fault the kids had me running crazy. So, yeah, he brings home the bacon, but I cook it and serve it.

  47. 47
    melinda says:

    I could’ve written this: from the reheating of tea umpteen times to heaing “I wish i didn’t have to work”.
    Good Luck going back to “work” I’m looking to do the say over over the next couple months.

  48. 48
    Kelly says:

    Thank you for sharing, clearly a timeless post.

    I’ve been a mostly SAHM for 12 years and it is very difficult for some people to understand that “choice.”

    You had me laughing out loud, “What are you smoking?” LOVE it. May use it in the future. :)

  49. 49
    Purple says:

    If you don’t want to raise your own kids then don’t have any. That is all I have to say about this issue.

  50. 50

    I have been a SAHM for almost 15 years and it is extremely hard—still. While I don’t have the needs of a baby/toddler to deal with during the early part of the day anymore, let me tell you, 2:00 p.m. (after school) comes very early in the day. I write during the time that they are in school and do various other household things (pay bills, etc) and from 2:00 p.m. until bedtime–which is now 11:00 p.m. for my teen–I am doing something constantly for them. It makes for a very, very long day. I think the hardest part–still, after all these years–is the lack of respect that I get for my decision. I still hear everything that you mention above.

  51. 51
    Malina says:

    I wandered over here from somebody else’s link to you. I enjoyed this post. I am currently pregnant with my first! I do NOT plan to stay home with her. I am very good with this decision, especially since I make more money than my husband. My husband is very good with this decision. He considered staying home with her, and may or may not. We are still deciding.

    But people ask us about it. All the time. And I get a LOT of flack about my decision to go back to work. I get a lot of hateful ‘if you want somebody else to raise your child, then don’t have one’ nonsense. Why doesn’t my husband get the same question? I don’t know. I’m an engineer and he’s a writer – he could still manage a career at home but I really couldn’t.

    I guess my point is that people are opinionated jerks, and feel they have the right to voice stuff about how others choose to raise their children. Staying home or going to work is a choice that every couple needs to make when they have children. And why do women only get that choice? Why not men?

    Personally, I don’t think I’d be a very good stay at home mom. I think my children will be better off being educated and stimulated by professionals. I think it sounds like a LOT of work, and honestly I don’t think that everybody is cut out for it.

    I am cracking up at all of the comments, by the way. People are so opinionated :-P .

  52. 52

    ARGH! I was just sitting on the porch with hubs talking about this. It is so ridiculous that people think we sit here and paint our toenails and drink chardonnay in the afternoons! (That is only sometimes – when some saint of a mother understands that a glass of wine might mask the total wreck our toddlers have made of our homes!) This was a fabulous post. I too am considering going back to work and it is a tough decision! Great post!

  53. 53

    I love this Niri!! Tell me someone didn’t say you were lazy!! I’m planning a post about what not to say to a WAHM! I’ve had some doozies!

  54. 54

    Having been both a SAHM and a WOHM, I’ve heard nearly all of these responses (like you, the “vacation” one gets me fighting mad, too!) and then a whole other range of equally not-so-kind remarks from those who don’t understand/appreciate/support the WOHM side of the equation.

    It’s sad that there has to be such tension between the two camps in our country. Why can’t we all just get along? Live and let live, I say. For those of us lucky enough to choose one direction or the other (or some sort of hybrid), we ought to respect differing choices on the matter.

    I hate the terminology “working mother”, too. As the misguided “Oh, so you don’t work?” comment makes us all too painfully aware, that title is the mother of all redundancies!

    http://bit.ly/9uKdp6

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  55. 55
    Janna M says:

    I’m a working Mom and I’m happy with my situation. My kids are happy and healthy… that’s what matters right? People are too quick to judge others. Being a parent is hard and that’s all there is to it.

  56. 56
    Cliff says:

    Great article, as a partial stay at home dad (SAHD) (my wife and I share) I look forward to going back to work its less stress, Safer, and I do less….btw I’m a police officer ;-)

  57. 57
    wow says:

    People actually say this stuff??? Good grief! I’m so sorry that you have to deal with condescending attitudes and ridiculous comments just for making the choice to raise you kids. Geez…

  58. 58
    Noelle says:

    This is all great and all, but what about the horrible guilt that some SAHMs make working moms feel.
    “I could never leave my child at daycare and have someone else watch them, how do you do it?”
    “Don’t you think you’re missing out on all the ‘firsts’”
    and others.
    One is not greater than the other, but I am a working mom who cries most mornings dropping my son off. I didn’t see his first step, etc…. I work a full-time job, drop my LO off and pick him up, come home and cook a fresh meal (we don’t eat out), do all the laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, coupon clipping, bath times, and hopefully squeeze in 30 minutes of play time and a book with a sippy cup of milk.

    I’m tired of hearing those of you that are BLESSED with the ability to experience the joys of your children more than on the weeknights and weekends. Its a hard job, ABSOLUTELY! The hardest job ever, but working moms work really hard too and we don’t get the pleasure of seeing our children grow daily. Treasure the gift you have and if someone makes a comment maybe its because secretly they are jealous because they can’t have that time with their child.

  59. 59
    Valmama532 says:

    I have been a SAHM for 10 years. I am now trying to go back to work, since all of my kids are back in school and I am about to graduate college. The thing I keep hearing from businesses I am applying for a job with is, “so you haven’t worked in 10 years?” and “I need a current work history, have I had a job within the last 10 years?” (ME) I’m sorry full-time mother and student isn’t enough?

  60. 60

    Greetings! I’ve been following your web site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

  61. 61
    Elwood says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find educated people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

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