Which is Better: Staying-at-Home With Your Kids or Working?
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, or you work outside of the home there are pros and cons to both sides of parenting.
Many mothers struggle with the decision of whether they should get a job or stay at home with their children. Others don’t get a choice.
They might be forced to work outside of the home, and they might be forced to stay-at-home. Every family has a different situation and varying needs.
There is no one right answer for all parenting scenarios.
If you are worried about whether or not you are “doing right by your family” in your current situation, I have written this post for you. I want to expose both sides of the street, so to speak, so as to aid you in feeling better OR to make the choice that will work best for your family.
Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side of Parenting?
As with many things in life, we often tend to think that someone else has it better off than us. If we are working all day, we long to be home. If we are stuck at home all day, we wish we could go out- even if it is just to the grocery store alone.
Stay-at-home moms feel lonely and isolated. Sometimes they see their partners or friends going to work and wish they could trade places. They can grow resentful. Working moms see their friends staying home to raise their kids and can feel jealous or guilty.
We often tend to assume things about the “other side” that may or may not be the truth.
The real truth is that both sides have great things and hard things.
No matter what our situation, we often find ourselves thinking that “the grass is greener on the other side.” I have occasionally felt like it would be easier to have a day job and get to leave the house. At the same time, many working moms wish they could stay home.
Is there a perfect scenario?
I learned during my high school English class (How to Kill a Mockingbird) that in order to truly understand another person you should walk a mile in their shoes. With that being the case, let’s dissect both sides of parenting and see what we can learn.
The Perks of Having a “Real Job” vs. Cons of Staying-at-Home
Many stay-at-home mothers wish they could go “back to work or get a job.” (For the rest of this article, I will be referring to mothers who work outside the home as WMs and stay-at-home-moms as SAHMs) Here are some of the pros of working outside of the home:
• Once the kids are dropped off or taken care of, WMs can enjoy alone time in the car (for SAHMs this is a luxury.)
• WMs can take a break. Often, they get a scheduled lunch break and intermittent breaks throughout the day. (Naptime could be considered a scheduled break, but SAHM’s usually have so much to do during that time it can be overwhelming and not very refreshing).
• WMs can go to the bathroom when they want or need too, ALONE! (As a SAHM I didn’t even bother to close the door after so many years- the kids would just break in or knock so loud and frequently I had no peace and quiet).
• WMs get to interact with their co-workers and don’t feel lonely or disconnected from society like many SAHM’s.
• WMs get to go home at the end of the day. SAHMs are home all day, their only escape is the occasional girls’ night out or trip to the grocery store without kids.
• WMs get paid in actual MONEY for their services. SAHMs get paid in kisses, love notes, and sweetness, accompanied by drama and crying, lol.
• WMs can receive promotions, bonuses, paid vacations, insurance coverage, etc. There are no promotions for SAHMs, no one gives them certificates of achievement, and vacations are hardly relaxing when you still have to “be the mom.” (I assume that goes for all parents when they have to bring their kids on vaca with them).
• WMs get regular interaction with other adults that can speak in full sentences and understand what they are saying. For SAHMs to speak in full sentences is such a treat!
• WMs can enjoy the feeling of satisfaction when they get the job DONE. Done? What does that even mean for a SAHM?
o The responsibilities of a mother are Never DONE- no matter where we work. Parents that work outside the home still have to do laundry, eat meals, and have clean toilets. So what if you washed, folded, and put away the laundry today (which is quite the accomplishment in and of itself) there will be more tonight! Even if you make several meals in advance, you will ALWAYS have to make more. Even when the kids grow up and leave the nest, mothers are not done- they still worry and think about their kids all the time. For more, see this article What is it really like being a SAHM?
Now for the Pro’s of Staying-at Home & the Cons of Working Away
• SAHMs can stay in our pajamas if we want too. Although sometimes I think that doing this can lead some SAHMS to depression, some of us might consider it a perk. For more on SAHM depression, read this
• SAHMs enjoy the luxury of snuggling our babies whenever we want. WMs have to go back to work after a short amount of time after having babies. Dropping them off at the sitters can be heart-wrenching!
• SAHMS get to witness the milestones of childhood all the time (not just on our days off): their first smiles, laughs, words and steps; when they learn to go to the bathroom on their own or lose their first tooth. Again, missing these events can break a WMs heart.
• SAHMS get to be the one our kids run to when they really need a pick me up after being bullied at school or having a fight with their best friend. Sometimes WMs might never even hear about such things as the kids have “worked it out” with caretakers or friends before they see their mom.
• SAHMs can teach our kids how to read, ride a bike, throw a ball, do a cartwheel, etc. WM’s don’t always have the time or energy to do this or might not like doing so when they get home from work.
• SAHMs get to know their kids’ friends and make sure we approve (sometimes- but not so much at school). WMs don’t get to spend as much time in the school or have playdates as much.
• SAHMs can attend their kids ball games and practices; be there when they hit the home runs of life, or when they strike out. Many WMs can’t make it to the games or events.
• SAHMS can go to school parties and concerts without having to take time off or get penalized at work.
• SAHMs can better monitor what their kids are watching, listening/ being exposed to at home.
• SAHMs*get to teach their children how to clean and be responsible for picking up after themselves (*while this can be a pain in the rear, it is also an important thing that parents must do and caretakers often don’t do).
• SAHMs can avoid the feeling of guilt many working moms endure when dropping their kids off at day care or summer school. (although there are still plenty of things for SAHMs to feel guilty about- see my post about that here)
• SAHMs get to be more present in their kids’ lives. We get more time with our little ones, so they can see more of our good moments and the times when we are full of energy and joy.
• SAHMs can avoid the financial and emotional costs of paying someone else to raise our kids. It can be super expensive to pay for daycare!
• SAHMs can be there when our kids get sick and take care of them ourselves.
• For WMs there is no such thing as balance. While you are working you can’t be there for your kids like you want, and while you are home you often worry about work. It can be hard if not impossible to find a way to drown out work when you are home, or the needs of our kids when you are working. Many SAHMs still don’t find balance as they have to choose between playing with the kids or cleaning the home and attending to duties.
What Is the Lesson to be Learned?
I think it is safe to say that there are many pros and cons for both working and stay at home moms.
There is no one perfect scenario. (*Although I am exploring the balance of being a work-at-home mom and will write a post about that after I’ve done it long enough).
Looking at the list above shows me that no matter which path you choose, there are going to be good things and hard things. It makes no difference which way you look at it, there is always a give and take in life.
How do we decide what path to choose? The answer is, whichever path is best for your family! Each family has a different journey to take and lessons to learn. Some families get to choose if a parent stays home with their kids, some “have” to work, while some are “forced” to stay home.
Either way, motherhood is not easy. It doesn’t matter if you stay at home, work from home, or work outside of the home, being a mother/parent is constant 24-7 work! There are very few things about the “job” that make it easy. Both sides experience a roller coaster or emotions and the highs and lows of motherhood.
Both sides occasionally feel guilty.
Both can feel like failures.
Both still have jobs that are never finished
Both sides enjoy beautiful children that make them proud and bring them joy.
Make the Most of Whatever Situation You Are Given
Yes, being a mom is hard no matter which way you do it. But most things that are hard yield the biggest blessings and joys in life. Being a mother may not be easy, but it sure is worth it!
It is not where we work but how we choose to react to it that matters the most. Choosing to make the best of whatever situation we choose/are given will make all the difference in the world to our children and to ourselves.
If you are not currently happy as a mother, you are not alone, and there is hope for you. There are uplifting resources such the Facebook Group More than Moms that you can join to feel connected and get tips and tricks. More than Moms
There are many things that you can do as a busy mom (whether you work away or at home) that can bring joy and sanity to motherhood. To find out what those are, go here.
What advice would you give to a mother struggling to decide whether to stay-at-home or work? Tell me in the comments below!