Hello, a Stay-at-Home Mom IS a Working Mom

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amy and daughterIn our LV Moms’ Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money and parenthood. These views are theirs, not ours, but we look forward to opening up the floor for discussion. 

In the past, we’ve featured writers with controversial views on everything from what it was like to be a welfare mom to the reason one mother home-schools her kids. Today, mother of two Amy Keyishian vents about the lack of respect for stay-at-home moms. 

I was recently bemoaning the fact that my $80K college education was not paying off in the form of my being able to support my family (something a woman is not supposed to say in the first place, but that’s another story).

“Holy moly, do you think your only value to your family is as a dollar sign?” my friend asked. “The things you learned in college impact your kids every day in ways you can’t monetize.”

I stopped. I thought. I realized I totally undervalue the work I do as a mom. And many of my friends do the same thing. One is so filled with guilt about not bringing in income that she practically martyrs herself. Her underlying (false) belief: Being a stay-at-home mom is not a real job, and therefore does not require a car.

  • Indy_Nat

    I wish I had read this years ago.

    • Cj

      Me too!

  • Anon

    I’m sorry, but this article adds nothing of value to the conversation of finances and stay at home parents. It’d be nice if LV would focus more on the financial aspects of certain lifestyles.

    • ranavain

      Well, to be fair, the spousal IRA thing is one that many parents don’t think of, and it’s of particular benefit to couples where one partner makes significantly more money than the other.

  • Robin

    I totally agree that staying at home with your children (2 or more) before they go to elementary school is an extremely busy job. Paying for 2 kids daycare is exhorbitant.
    However once they are in school, then the “Mom” excuse wears thin. If your kids are healthy and in school 6 hours per day, then its time to go back to work at least part time. I really get tired of “Moms” that claim they have a “holy mission” to stay at home when nobody is there with them.

    • Kay Thinkaboutit

      Seriously Robin?, there is always something to be done if running a household properly, you are doing women a disservice. If nothing else having a “break” to get things prepped for the families return ensures a more responsive, calm; thoughtful wife and mother upon their return. As to taxes and other “just living” taxes, sure, but someone still has to do it, an accountant? an already exhausted person returning from work? If everyone is done at the end of the day, who budgets and plans?

      • mo Jet

        Robin is not a mom. She is a bitter single person who looks at those “moms” around her and says “gee these women get everything handed to them….I worked for all I have”!

        Or scenario two Robin is a divorcee whose white picket fence got kicked down.

        Either way….just by her words….she is bitter at something or someone…..it’s pretty obvious.

        • Anon

          Or she is a mom. Not every mother has to operate by someone on the Internets insane standard.

        • Jenny

          Or she just has a different opinion than you an has reasons behind those and has the right to express that opinion.
          If I were to go along the same assumptions as you, I could easily state you are bitter about feeling bored and guilty about not going to work when you know you could have. I am not stating you are though, just a thought for you to think of before jumping on others opinions and lifestyle choices. Your defensive attitude and negative ‘bully’ words don’t seem to be the kind of things I would expect from the “ideal” mom though, is it?

      • Jenny

        It isn’t the 1950′s anymore. Women can work and come home to be loving parents and spouse. My mom worked full time as well as my dad..and my three siblings and I grew up in a good loving home that was thoughtful on all our needs.We all graduated in the top of our classes in high school and again with honors in college..and in graduate school. So I think they did something right. Your argument about running a household makes you seem closed minded, controlled, and stuck in a time that oppressed women. I may not be a mom yet, but I have known kids who have had the working mom, the part time working mom, the mom who went back to work after kids were old enough to go back to school, and the mom who stayed home. I am not attacking any choice, for that choice is between the family and what is best for them. But do not attack the working mom (for that is what I plan to be if I am able to have children) and for her lack of energy or dedication to her family. She has got plenty of it. Open your mind and heart..and close your mouth before thinking of all people and their situations. Live a day in their life. God forbid they need the money to provide the best life for their family.

    • Alison

      I agree fully Robin. Having been “all of the above” (a full time working mom, a full time stay at home mom, and a part time working mom) I definately found people find all sorts of ways to justify the “staying home” thing once the kids are in school. Lets be honest, working parents manage to work all day, and still cook and plan meals, do budgets, help with homework, file the taxes and complete all the other life tasks. It is a LUXURY to be able to grocery shop by yourself, but guess what? If you have to do it on a saturday morning with your school aged kids in tow it can be a lesson on where food comes from, budgeting and making good nutritional choices. There are a thousand ways to run a household “properly”.

    • JenInBoston

      Pretty much agree. I’m a mom who recently became stay-home due to a layoff. I’ve been a stay-home mom with a baby in the past, and I’ve been a F/T employed mom, as well. Anyway, right now I’m a stay-home mom with nobody in the house but me for 6-8 hours per day. Guess what? It’s SO much easier than 2 months ago, when I had ALL the same responsibilities at home, PLUS 40 hours of work to get done elsewhere. If anything, it makes me lazier because I know if I put something off this afternoon, hey, I’ll have plenty of time to do it tomorrow morning! But seriously, I’m loving it, and APPRECIATING it since it’s bound to be temporary. It seems very middle-class American that we moms all fight about who has the HARDER row to hoe and who’s the bigger underdog, really. I bet you wouldn’t catch independently wealthy women showing off about how MUCH they have to work! I’m going to take a page from their book (and yes, I’d LOVE to be wealthy!) and just bask in my temporary luxury of not having to go to work every day, thanks very much.

    • CandaceRoss

      I totally agree Robin! But I do not see why anyone would have to go find work.. if they want to stay home and be an at home mom.. even when the kids are off at school… there are tons of ways to make money from home now a days : ) Its way more simple than most think …

  • Jacqueline York

    I think it is time to unsubscribe to LearnVest.

  • Nathalie

    I’m not a mom, but this article just felt like a lot of complaining, and not much substance. My mom stayed at home with us when we were young, which I’ll be he first to say benifited us greatly, but it was a choice she made. Those moms who do stay at home make the choice to do so. Some don’t have the luxury to make that choice. I’m tired of moms complaining about their day to day choices, as well as complaining about what some of their kids do. Really LearnVest, please pick better articles that actually teach us something about finances.

  • Getreal

    Worst Learn Vest article I’ve ever read. i have a college degree, earned a six figure salary for years, meant to go back to work after my first child was a year old but couldn’t do it. I LOVE “staying” home with my children. They love it too. I had to go back to work last year — lucky for me I managed to find a part time role that pays well and is flexible so I work while the kids are in school for the most part — and my 12 year son asked when Dad will make enough money again so I don’t have to work and said he’d rather not go on vacation so I can be at home when he gets back from school. It’s the time I spend with my children, making homemade meals, just chatting with them, walking the dog, playing basketball. Really, you are going to run your family like a corporation? My kids have chores, they do their homework on their own for the most part, and most importantly, they are happy. I was super busy without working but even busier now. I don’t need to justify not earning an income. I’d much rather spend my time with my kids than at work with a bunch of people who play more office politics than get anything done.

    Most important, it’s different strokes for different folks. I have friends who work full time and love it and their kids know no different so they are fine too. Having said that, I totally disagee with the moron who commented that the “mom” excuse wears thin when kids are in elementary school. What planet do you live on? You think the school is going to raise your kids, teach them values and how to be productive happy members of our society? Do you know that the first time most teens have sex is after school AT HOME when their parents aren’t there? I have several friends who arranged their work schedules to be home for their teens after school — teens need you around more than toddlers.

    Your kids will be grown and gone before you know it. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t cherish every minute and not worry that you aren’t earning a salary/justifying the cost of the your college education/care what other people think of you as a stay at home mom. My job as a stay at home mom is by far my most difficult but also my most rewarding.

    • mo Jet

      Hats off to you for this comment. :)

    • JenInBoston

      Lucky men! As long as they don’t completely abandon their families, they can make whatever choices they like about parenthood without risking the destruction of their ego and persona. Seriously, if I had a buck for every mom who claims that HER choice as a mom, whatever choice it may be, “is by far my most difficult but also my most rewarding”… It’s all about which mom suffers, and loves, and loves to suffer…the most. I’m so sick of women having to stuff themselves into the family martyr identity in order to feel that they’re worthwhile human beings. This whole perspective just holds people back (all people–adults, children, men, women). Bidding good riddance to it could be one of the most empowering things women could do for society in the 21st century, IMhO.

      Do you feel I’ve mis-characterized your words? Well, you paid lip service to “different strokes for different folks,” but then you dropped all these little passive-aggressive bombs that made it perfectly clear you have a very low opinion of mothers who work (but not fathers who work, apparently), and that you don’t actually view working mothers as fully-fledged, equally loving mothers and that, at best, their kids don’t suffer because they “know no different.” Wow! You also played the typical, defensive card of mentioning how well educated you are and how much money you used to make, and how you “meant to go back to work” after your kids were born, but “couldn’t”. You might have stopped there, but that may have left the impression that you chose an “easier” path by not going back to work (which you’d just described as too difficult to do). So you also had to assert that not only do you love your children more than other mothers, but that your choice is also harder than the choice of those other, less-loving mothers and, on top of it, you rejoice in the hardship. It’s not even enough to love infinitely if you aren’t also suffering AND loving the suffering. See?

      • getreal

        Yes, you’ve read into them what you want to. I agree with you that men have more choices but that’s about all I agree with. Most of my friends have chosen to go back to work because they want to, not because they have to. I totally respect their choice. It’s a fact, their kids know no different. You are making the judgement. I mentioned how much I made because the author does. I funded myself through college and I do not regret it one bit. I did not mention how educated I am, in fact I have an undergraduate degree and wish I could have afforded grad school. Me not working full time is a sacrifice financially for our family, but even my son said he’d rather not go on vacation if I means I’m not around after school because I’m working.

        You missed my point. Just because I am not earning an income does not mean I am not working and I am not using what I learned in college. I am working — raising my kids — and I love what I do. My husband is very much a hands on dad but admits he could not be a stay at home dad, as do many of my mom friends. I could have summed up my first comment with the old adage, “No one can make you inferior without your consent.” The title of the article, the whole premise, is pathetic.

        I get what you mean by being “so sick of women being martyrs”, etc., but I don’t feel like one and never said I did. Staying at home is the hardest thing I’ve done but I love it and I wouldn’t ever trade places with my husband. I feel sorry for him that he has to work in the corporate world full time.

        The whole tone of your response is pretty nasty, bitter and unhappy. Hope your day/life gets better.

        • JenInBoston

          Oh geez, you really went there, huh? You didn’t like being called out on the passive-aggressive, mean things you’d said of women who made choices different from yours, so you resorted to devaluing and debasing, calling me a bitter and unhappy woman, and implying that I have a miserable life. That kind of behavior holds women back so badly. It does not advance anyone. I think you know you made all kinds of underhanded zings in your original post, but if you truly believe you didn’t, then know that your words are easily construed as demeaning to working moms. Ask your working mom friends if they agree that their kids are “fine” because their kids don’t know any different or because your friends are doing a great job parenting. You’ll get your answer.

          • Kate

            I agree with “JenInBoston” – “getreal” I suggest you go back and re-read your first comment and ask yourself: “Are you really just saying “Being a SAHM is what works best for me and my family” or are you saying that your way, staying at home, is the right way to raise kids and that being a working mom leaves kids at risk of teenage sex and misery because a parent is not there every minute.

  • Kate

    Wow, some of the comments are just bitter and silly; towards both LV and the writer. The intro of this article says “In our LV Moms’ Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money and parenthood.” Money and PARENTHOOD people. And I think this article is hugely relevant on both fronts. I am not a mother. But one day I hope to be and I hope that I take a little bit of this advice with me, whether I am a SAHM or not. So many women rush to have kids without thinking about the impact to their relationship and finances and these types of articles from LV help me really think about how I want to start my family off on the right foot. She talks about feeling that people/society judge her for her her choices to be a SAHM and some of the comments just prove her right. People on these forums love to take things out of context and run with it as if that is the person’s only point. I thought that this article did exactly what it was supposed to do. It expressed an opinion and experience of one woman that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. God forbid an article doesn’t resonate with 100% of the reading population. Her point about saving for retirement despite not having an “official” income is the #1 take away of this article, as is valuing yourself to ask for help where traditionally women in this role do not.

    • Melissa

      Thank you. I am a mom. My husband and I choose to have me stay home because we chose virtual schooling for our children, but I suffer from a lot of what this article talks about, feeling like I am seen as less because I stay home with two school ages children. If my children attended brick and mortar public schools instead of virtual public schools, I would probably be working… but we chose this to give them the best advantages we can. They are thriving, and I need to be reminded by articles like this that my choice is just as valid as bringing in a traditional paycheck.

  • Brigette

    I think the author brings up some fabulous points that are very relevant for all women – even those of us without children. She’s also a fantastic writer. I really enjoyed this piece.

  • Alice

    GREAT article. I very much agree with the writer. The topic of finances should be considered in the context of other valued life commodities such as time, health, education, and well-adjusted children, and that’s what this writer did. Thanks so much.

  • Oldladytish

    I think I read this in one of Peg Bracken’s books. When asked what she did for a living she replied “I am raising future citizens of America. What do YOU do?” I was able to be a full time mom when my children were small and loved every minute of it. Nothing to apologize for.

    • getreal

      Love your comment, thank you!

    • T.S.

      My response to that would be, “during the day I’m TEACHING future citizens of America, and at night I’m doing exactly what you do when your kids get home. What were you saying again?”

      No one should feel obligated to apologize for their choices in how they live their lives or raise their children…but getting down off the high horses would be a great start for everyone. :/

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.malone.50 Katie Malone

    I found a great company that focuses on green living and being able earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://lv.momsprovide.com.

  • jezbird

    Why is there still a battle between moms? Each family must make choices about what is best for their respective family. I don’t believe that I could handle a 40 hour a week job & do all that I do for my family. I know women who would no sooner stay at home like have done for 18 years. It is time to stop criticizing each other since there is no one “right” solution. That being said, it would be nice to hear about some of the factors that drive us to choose home v. work. For me, after deducting day care costs, I would have been working for about $3 per hour…not including what we would pay for taxes. It was easier to rebalance the family budget given that perspective.

    • JenInBoston

      The battle persists because women’s fundamental cultural value is tightly bound to maternal suffering If you

  • tracyk

    THANK YOU!!! A wonderful reminder that I have value even if it doesn’t come with a paycheck :)

  • Melissa

    If I understand it, the mission here is to speak about all economic aspects of women’s lives. What I am not a fan of is anything with a woman-vs-woman perspective. I have been both a stay-at-home and a working mom. We need to partner, support each other and elevate ALL women.

    I hire stay-at-home moms to help me out PT, because 1) they are awesome and 2) it helps them feel their worth in a different way. Nothing is more important than caring for kids, partners or friends. I ask my stay-at-home friends to help me with my kids sometimes because 1) they are awesome and 2) it values their current use of their skills and helps me with life balance.

    Enough sniping. We are all of value.

  • guest

    Thank you for this article. Not because the article was awesome (it wasn’t), but because you introduced me to STFU, Parents which is HILARIOUS!!!

  • sfsprincess

    Kudos to all the stay-at-home moms! Growing up, I watched my mom, a stay-at-home mom of 5 kids, work morning, noon and night in the house. When I had my kids, I tried this stay-at-home thing for one month. I worked more at home (manual labor) than I did at the job I had left and hated it! It is a lot of non-stop work – and most of the time, it looks like you never did anything because once the kids get home, it looks like it did before they left for school. So take pride in yourselves each and everyday stay-at-home moms, cuz your job is not easy!

  • Jenny

    The title of this article frustrates me. I understand the argument, but in all honesty, give the ‘working’ mom some credit. When you see this title, it means a mom who works outside the home, that receives a paycheck for that work, who is a mother. While I know ‘stay at home’ moms have work to do too, in the simplest of terms, the working mom leaves the home and her family to earn a paycheck. I am not discrediting any choice..for that choice is made for whatever is best for the family, and I feel as if there isn’t one way is better than the other, but this argument needs a new title.
    We get it..the stay at home mom is a hard job. But so is being a career woman with a family. Not one is better than the other.

  • BBC4MWF

    I graduated from college 20+ years ago. Every man or woman that I know that elected to be a “stay-at-home parent” shortly after getting their degree has a few things in common. First off, they have the messiest homes. Second, they have the brattiest kids. Finally they have the worst marriages. Staying at home doesn’t do your housekeeping, kids, or spouse any good. QUIT KIDDING YOURSELF!!!!

  • mom2

    not the same. while important, a working mom and a stay at home mom have one big difference: the stay at home mom STAYS AT HOME, doesn’t get paid and can plan her time the way she needs it (instead of juggling home/family and work). Can all the stay at home moms please grow a spine and stop whining? Thanks.

  • equality

    I am a working mother and most of the time i get this advise from the stay at home moms that “brining money is not all it..raising a family is more important than that” . There is no arguing here..but i think the parent knows what is best for her and the family..according to me it is not correct for a working mother to judge that the STHM are not worth as much and it not correct for STHM to judge that working moms are not motherly enough….
    At the end of the day it is up to the mother and the father. I am always surprised how in all these discussions the father figure is never brought up…Compromises and options should be avaiable to both parents…

  • Shrinkwrap

    College is an expensive investment that doesn’t always pan out. Sorry to break it to you, but you don’t always reap ‘incredible’ benefits from a higher education. I think people need to be more realistic about it. Thousands are saddled with expensive debts they can’t pay off and then want to live certain lifestyles they can’t afford. I think most young people would benefit from working a few years after HS to get a sense of what money really is about. Also, save some money to help offset the loans. Go to community colleges that are less expensive. Major in things that actually pay money (and yes I know all career paths are subject to change…but really, anthropology? it’s a dead end these days).If you plan on having kids someday, reconsider that 80K education you have your sights set on. Maybe it’s better to become an LPN? I think people today just feel ENTITLED to a college education and then try to justify the expense with feel-good thoughts such as “Well I can tell my kid all about Chaucer when he’s older..”"

  • Career girl

    It’s a lifestyle choice not a career or even a job..it’s valuable for all parents to tend to the home and their children.

  • pjwhite

    I can agree that every mom is a working mom if you can also agree that every mom is a FULL TIME mom!!! As a mother, I have both stayed home and worked out side the home. And trust me – STAYING HOME IS EASIER!!!! Stop whining about your privilege.

  • Katie

    I found a great company that focuses on living a natural and healthy lifestyle. While being able to earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://lv.momsprovide.com

  • Gars

    Frsrt, a college education enriches you life and make you able to make better informed/researched decisions about you family’s life, so that’s a huge plus.

    Secondly, consider what it would cost to hire a nanny to replace a stay at home mother to rear the children. That’s the true $ worth of a mother, but certainly not the value of rearing tomorrows leaders and citizens.

    If it cost $30,000 a year to hire a nanny, then 18 years would be worth $540,000 not looking at inflation and employee taxes, and the income tax paid to acquire the $30,000 each year.

    So a stay at home mom is a working mom that makes a lot of income for the family.

    The mistake I see so many of my fiends make is that the wife does nothing to maintain her educational or marketable skills for those 18 years and when the children are grown, has minimal job skills to return to the job force.

    Even more problematic, is the loss of desire to return to the workforce and help the spouse finish funding retirement.

    Whatever works for you and your spouse is wonderful.