Is Being a 'Stay at Home Mom' a Job or a Luxury?

In my scouring of the vast internet this week, I found a post by a woman in response to a question a friend asked.  The question had something to do with stay at home moms vs work away from home moms.

Her response was something like this - I did not take it word for word - but this is the jist:

"I dislike when women put stay at home mom as their occupation. No. That's not a job. That's a luxury. Is it hard? Yeah, sometimes it's really hard. But you are lucky that you are in a position to do that."

Initially when I read this, I hit the roof.  Staying at home with kids IS a job!  And just because we don't get a standard paycheck does not mean that it is a luxury.

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I wrote a post on the stay at home mom vs. the work away from the home mom a while ago.  I felt we needed to form a united front and support each other in the raising of our kids, not tear each other down.  And I still feel that way.  To me, the readers comment was exactly the opposite.

And then I took a deep breath and read it again.  Granted, there are a lot of stay at home mom's who are lucky enough to stay home.  And there are a lot of working moms who want to stay home.  But is staying home a luxury?

I decided to ask some of my own readers if they thought staying at home was a luxury and what - if any - sacrifices - they have to make in order to stay home.  I, myself, have done it all. I have worked and been a mom, stayed home and been and mom and now I work from home as a single mom.  I can honestly say that ALL of it has it's drawbacks and all has it's benefits.

Here are some of the comments I received:

Ah, the sacrifices for the "luxury" of staying home. It means driving my car until it can't be driven anymore. Getting my hair cut every 4 months instead of every 6 weeks. It means cutting my kids' and husband's hair. It means telling my kids no *gasp* at overpriced museum gift shops and in the toy aisle at Target. It means not vacationing every year. It means having a "dumb" phone until it dies and shopping for the best price on everything we need. It means no sick days. No "vacation" days away from work. It means having a financial planner look at your income vs expenses and ask how you are able to eat.

But it's a luxury, no doubt. It means I saw my boys' first steps, heard their first words. Watched them learn to swim, ride a bike, practice piano, bounce on the trampoline. I was able to go to every school function- hear every school song, watch every school play, participate in every science fair. I kiss my kids goodbye when they get on the bus and am there to greet them when the come home. I get to hear every detail of their day and watch them play as they wind down from a long school day. So, sacrifices. Yup. Worth every one. Yup. - Kerrie

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Spending more time with me!!!! ;))) lol - Kristen

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I am using coupons and we have switched to more store brands then name brands. We shop at Aldi's a lot. Kroger's still doubles on coupons up to .50 here. - Jennifer

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We sacrifice everything from vacations to buying new clothes. But the cost of daycare does not allow me to work and actually make $. Hopefully when kids r all in school it will be better. - Christa

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 I work from home caring for my mother but we are also strict on the budget. Preplanned meals, veggies only from our garden we can, couponing and earning amazon credits for extra stuff. Also..homemade cleaning supplies - Samantha

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I hate it when people have that kind of attitude. I have worked part time and been a SAHM and honestly I found working to be easier! Just because I would get a break three days a week and some adult interaction, it was the best of both worlds for me. But I've never worked full time while I had kids so I can't speak for that. I do feel fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids and I guess in that way you could call it a luxury, but it's certainly not easy and it's definitely not without sacrifice as others have said. I also don't look down upon women who work though, I know they have it hard too! Having kids is a lot of work, period. That being said, I also have to go work in the 1st grade this morning for free. - Cara

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For more comments from real moms, see this thread on my Facebook Page

Most of the comments I received revolved around money and the lack of health insurance, which I don't have now.  Families living on single paychecks that don't always stretch to fit the basics in, much less the extras.  But not one said that they wished they were not stay at home moms.

So, yes... if you mean emotional luxury, then I suppose being a stay at home mom is one.  But the sacrifices are there as well.

But just because a family unit finds a way to allow a parent - because there are a lot more stay at home dad's now - to stay home and witness every thing their kids do all day, does that mean that that stay at home parent can not call that a 'job'?

Years ago there was an article about how much stay at home moms would earn if they were paid for all of the chores they did all day.  Notwithstanding "babysitting' - because none of us babysit our kids - but cooking, cleaning, managing the household budget, driving everywhere, shopping, handling household maintenance, and so on, would earn a stay at home mom something like $130,000 a year.

I'd say that is a pretty good salary that is not being paid, no matter how much a stay at home mom does.

Now, I know the argument can be made that a stay at home mom should not expect payment because she is home and gets to be there.  And because many see it as a choice.  But, the reality is that what the stay at home parent does IS work. All day, every day, no matter what.  They are on duty overnight, on vacation and every moment in between.  And though it may be a 'luxury' to do it, it is, in fact, a JOB!

So when we are thinking of the families that have two working, one working, none working. One kid, two kids, seven kids. Financial freedom, financial strain, financial devastation.  Special needs children, adopted children, birth children. Stress, pain and uncertainty....  let us also think of the sacrifices and benefits of each situation.

Because being a stay at home mom is both a luxury AND a job.  And though we all feel very, VERY lucky to do it, we also have a right to be appreciated for all we do while in that working environment.

Find more Motherhood Posts at My Recent Writings

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