What do stay at home mums DO all day?

I’m a stay at home mum. By choice. I consider myself very fortunate (not lucky as we’ve both worked hard to get where we are) to be able to afford to not go to work, as my husband has a good job. I do some work, in the form of blogging and vlogging (which in the majority is unpaid but every now and then I do earn from). This income fluctuates; sometimes I earn a lot and often nothing – every month is different. But even if I didn’t do my blogging stuff, I would still have plenty to do all day. I am also trying to write a novel which keeps me busy – even if it is mainly procrastinating about actually writing anything.

Let’s wheel back.

I watched this video on YouTube which was a clip from a recent This Morning. It featured a ‘debate’ between a working mum and a stay at home mum. The working mum literally asked her this question: What do you do all day? And also accused SAHMs as being lazy. Oh my. Where to even start…

First off I should disclose that when I was younger, and didn’t have two kids of my own, I think I wondered (inwardly) the same thing. The problem I have isn’t with people who genuinely don’t understand what it’s like to be a mum, i.e. naive young professionals or older people who chose not to have kids. Yeah, it’s not nice being judged by them but I am old enough now to realise that unless you have experienced something you just don’t get it and therefre a certain level of ignorance can be excused. What really gets my goat is when other mums judge SAHMs.

Thankfully I know that judgey mums are in a minority and I think that’s thanks, in some part, to bloggers and social media providing a platform to all mums where we can share experiences and realise that we all have struggles, full time working, part time working and at home, or full time stay at home. I understand that most mums are pro choice. But not all are – like this lady they seem to think everyone should be the same and want to be a career woman. And that stay at home mums aren’t valuable.

See, for people who choose to stay at home – in the majority they like to be domestic. So, cleaning, cooking from scratch (as fellow blogger Kerry points out in the clip), maybe gardening or doing crafts or DIY perhaps – being a homemaker, I guess is what I am describing. And that stuff alone can easily take from 9.30 – 3pm – after drop off that’s realistically all the time you have. As a stay at home mum I want to be in control of my house, be organised and have treats ready for the kids when they come home. I want to be able to drop everything and fetch them if they are sick. I want to be able to let Adam focus on his career and not worry that the kids are being looked after. I’m really happy that I can do all these things. And I feel heartbroken for the mums (and dads) who want to do this but can’t.

For the ones that choose to work full time – good for you! It’s not my choice, but I’m sure your kids will thrive and I admire your ability to juggle. For me, I would find it too stressful. It’s a personal choice, and I do not, for one second see what your or my choice has to do with anyone else.

As mums we should be happy when a fellow sister has found her balance. Good for you if you have time to go for coffee with friends (in the video the working mum laughs when the stay at home mum says she sometimes does this which smacks of jealousy.) As for setting a good example to your kids about working, I tell my kids all the time about my career in marketing before I had them. Who knows, I may well go back to it once they are old enough to let themselves in and look after themselves. (Not likely though, I’m more likely to still be doing this blogging / writing malarkey.)

One other point that I want to raise is this: not everyone can find work that fits in around families. I looked briefly for a part time marketing job in this area for a while. They don’t exist. Unless you hang on to your job and go back after a baby, then you are sadly unlikely to find a part time job in this type of work; other sectors are different, perhaps. It’s a real dilemma for so many mums and it really pisses me off. At a time when your baby needs you most, you are held to ransom to go back to work, in fear of never finding a job where they will allow you to work part time so sticking with the one you had pre baby as they will let you go back 4 days a week. Employers need to be way more flexible with mums returning to work – job share, part time roles, working from home. Society needs to value stay at home mums (or dads) as we are doing a really important job: raising the future society. In an age where mental health problems in childhood are becoming ever more prevalent, the role of the loving, constant parent and a solid home where one person is available if needed (to talk, to listen, to cuddle) is a crucial but hugely undervalued part of the picture. I can’t help wonder if more families had better work life balance then mental health cases in kids might reduce.

Why has life become a competition? Why is something to aspire to to be busy? In the race to have 2 cars, 2 holidays per year, a posh house, and the latest clothes people sacrifice time. Time not just with their kids but time to breathe. Modern parents are pushed to the absolute brink and it’s having an impact on them, and on their children. Far better in my opinion to have less but be under less pressure.

Of course, women’s liberation needed to happen. Of course, I am a feminist. But I wonder if women have actually got it any easier. Now we are expected to have a career and a happy family. And if you struggle to achieve both then you are forced to make a choice. Career or family? It shouldn’t be like this. It doesn’t have to be a choice. More flexible working would enable women to do both more easily. And if they want to stay at home for a few years their career shouldn’t suffer as a consequence. But by valuing career over family which is the underlying message we are constantly fed, we are missing the point. We are on planet earth to love and be loved. Not to have as much stuff as we possibly can and get promotion after promotion.

So, what do I do all day? Well, after drop off I normally walk the dog. Then I will write a blog post, or work on my novel. After lunch I will do some cleaning perhaps, or receive an online grocery order, maybe record a video and edit and upload that. I try to cook tea early most days so I can give the kids attention when they come home – when we might work on their handwriting (current concern) or do some homework in return for screentime whilst I get their dinner on. Is that enough? Or not? Maybe it would be valued more if I’d been in sales meetings all day then given the kids a frozen ready meal? (If you choose to do this and your family is happy, great – my point is that it’s not how I want to live. I respect your decision and ask you to respect mine.)

Why is my creating a happy and safe and loving home for my family not seen as valuable – and more importantly, why is it any of your business?

Share:

7 Comments

  1. Mrs H
    February 1, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    Hello Rachel,
    I couldn’t agree more! Now my grown-up children have flown the nest I am at last a SAHM (even though not technically) and am busier than ever! I worked part time and full time when my 3 were young – it was a struggle and a constant juggle ! I really missed out on such a lot of milestones – things I can never get back. I salute all SAHMs – a brilliant job being done.

    • Rachel Brady
      Author
      February 2, 2018 / 10:43 am

      Hi! Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you agree. I really do respect working mums too and how hard they work, but it isn’t for me. That’s my point – we all have different needs and values and we should all be able to choose without some fool calling us lazy (or equally calling working mums selfish). I really value time and being ‘domestic’ and that’s my choice. All mothers are judged now so it’s lose lose isn’t it! Anyway thanks again for the comment! It’s great to hear you can now be a SAHM! X

  2. Jane Scott
    February 2, 2018 / 11:09 pm

    Well said Rachel x

    • Rachel Brady
      Author
      February 4, 2018 / 9:24 am

      Thanks Jane – I probably sounds a bit defensive but that’s because the video wound me up so much! I love working mums and think they do a fab job too – it’s personal choice as long your family is happy it doesn’t matter – I just wish everyone would mind their own business!! X

  3. Mrs P
    April 10, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    This is an interesting post Rachel. I agree that each family should do what works best for them and of course many working mums have no choice anyway and have to work to make ends meet. What I find a little annoying in the media is the message that if there were cheaper and better childcare options, such as in Scandinavian countries, then all parents would jump at the chance to work and leave their children in childcare. There is never a sense that mums or dads might want to choose to spend time with their kids and be domestic as you say. For my family it has worked to find a balance with both of our jobs. We both work part time, with my husband One day a week at home and as I work in a secondary school I have all the holidays with the kids. I work locally too, just a walk away which also helps to cut down on lost family tine. My husband had the choice of a highly paid London corporate job or a lower paid one with less pressure – we decided together in the latter which helped me to continue with my job as a deputy head as he is able to pick things up when I’m busy. He earns less than he would have done but we are both richer in time as a result. We do get funny looks from some people though who don’t understand why we wouldn’t have put money before time though and people still comment on my choice to continue to work part time now my kids at both are school. We both work but we’re both at home lots too and we definitely never stick in a frozen ready meal at the end of the day!

    • Rachel Brady
      Author
      April 11, 2018 / 9:56 am

      Hi Mrs P! Sounds like you have achieved a lovely balance. I think some of teh things I said in this post sounded anti-working mum which I can assure you was not my intention. I simply was defending the right and benefits of SAHMs. I do work myself, as a blogger, and I really do believe in choice for all. I don’t judge people who do eat frozen meals, not one bit – I simply meant that there is value in someone who takes time to cook a meal from scratch. That’s not to say they are better than the frozen meal parent – as they will be smashing it in others ways, probably their careers, or some other amazing way to set an example to their kids. I just loathe the judginess of people – like the lady in the video, assuming SAHMs are lazy and just sip lattes all day. Most SAHMs simply prioritise family and home time over income and career and that’s fine. It’s horses for courses at the end of the day. XX

      • Mrs P
        April 13, 2018 / 12:16 pm

        I totally ageee with you Rachel! You didn’t come across as anti working mum at all – I was just adding our experience of both working as an example of how we have tried to continue to value home life alongside working – something I also feel can be undervalued at times. I was also going to say don’t forget you are working too and it sounds like you have a great balance too. I also agree that too many people can be judgemental about other people’s lives. Being at home is not an easy option by any stretch – I can testify to that as I spend all the holidays at home with my kids! By the way your recipes look lovely and I intend to try that shoulder of lamb one definitely!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *