The Costs of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

The decision to stay home with your children should not be taken lightly. Not many people tell you the nitty-gritty details of being a parent, and most people can't give you both sides of the staying home or working debate.

When my youngest sister was thinking about staying home, I wrote her a super long email detailing the pros and cons. Here's a snippet of some of the costs of being a stay-at-home mom. I have also posted the benefits of staying at home.

These are taken from my personal experience and may differ greatly depending on your circumstances. I have never worked since having children, so my assumptions about being a working mom are just that, assumptions. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

Costs to the Mom
>>Many people will come to assume you have endless free time and will constantly request your time and help. Be careful because you can easily become "Everyone's personal assistant."

>>People may assume you are lazy or no longer relevant. They may make comments to you or about you and may exclude you from "important" conversations. Or they may just assume you have nothing to add.

>>In some respects, you will lose your status in the world. Many people will treat you differently (see above) and you may not be as well connected as you once were, especially in a business sense.

>>You will pretty much never be alone and will need to accomplish all your tasks with a baby in your arms, a toddler around your legs, preschoolers wrestling each other, or teens yelling at you. Not the most conducive environment for getting things done. This can be extremely frustrating and never ending.

>>It's extremely hard to concentrate with the noise, crying, fighting, playing, chaos that children bring. I'm sure this is also true for WAHM's but it's hard to deal when it goes on all day long.

>>There will be no such thing as a sick day. When you are sick, you're days will still be the same. {One caveat: If you're one of the lucky ones with a sympathetic and helpful husband, you may get to rest when you're sick, but the rest of us are out of luck}

>>There is an absolute and total lack of adult conversation! When my babies were little and my husband traveled 6 days a week, I feel like I went 4 whole years without a real conversation. Babies don't talk back. And once they start talking it's all "mine, mine, mine." You will need to make your own adult conversation with play dates, phone calls, adult dates, and friends {blogging anyone?}

>>Lack of adult conversation can make adjusting to real-life adult situations difficult. When your day is filled with nothing but diapers and toys, it's hard to strike up a meaningful conversation about....well, anything but diapers and toys. This can be annoying to friends without kids and to other worn out moms

>>Your music and T.V. choices will be severely limited. So you want to watch CSI? Not with little eyes in the same room. Want to rock it out to Beastie Boys? too, but little ears can hear as well. So for a while, you won't be able to indulge in many "adult" media unless your babes are tucked firmly in bed. But by then you may be too tired. And in the mean time.... you get to listen to Raffi and watch Blues Clues! Wahoo! No, not really. Which brings me to my next point

>>There's not a lot of intellectual stimulation! I always say that a SAHM has to make her own entertainment {gardening, teaching, blogging, decorating, creating, etc} because your babies probably won't do it for you. Sure, you love them, but any sane adult needs some mental stimulation. Adult conversation, adult music and t.v., adult reading, adult hobbies! You will to invest time in continuing to grow yourself intellectually or you'll be sadly lacking later.

>>You will not have a lot of privacy and/or alone time. Some moms do get breaks when dad gets home, but a lot of us are on this job 24/7 without much in the way for breaks. And not a whole lot of privacy. Though I suspect that WAHMS are hurting for privacy when they get home as well. Again, this is where you will need to put forth some effort to carve out "me time" on your own. Nobody will volunteer it for you.

>>It feels like you are cleaning all day long! Sometimes, it seems like cleaning is the only thing I do. And once you clean something, the kids come and destroy it. Or have just destroyed something else. As I'm knee deep in puke, I often find myself wondering..."Is this why I studied so hard in college? Was this really all I wanted to be?" There's no getting out of the cleaning. It just is.

>>After a while, you may lack a lot of work skills. Business changes fast. Networks change and you may find yourself a lot less marketable than when you first left the workforce. Maybe not, but for a lot of us, this will be the case.

>>You miss out on having coworker friends and office chit chat. Though often annoying or stressful, it was mostly fun. And it's hard to let that go.

>>You may not have as many options for getting dressed-up. I gave all my business attire to charity. As a SAHM, it's just not needed. Or it will get destroyed by vomit, dirt, blood, other. Especially in the baby and toddler years. And if you aren't leaving the house on most seems kind of crazy to really dress up. You may find yourself losing your glamorous side.

>>If you frump out, it usually has negative consequences. You may be less attractive to your mate, you may be less apt to make friends, get a job, and feel good about yourself. Go ahead and disagree with me, but I'm speaking from pre and post frump experience.

>>Most of what you do will only be noticed in a negative way. People (husband, friends, kids) will notice when the dishes are not done but will not notice how you did them twice a day every day for the last month. People will comment when your child is messy or gets out of line (and that will be YOUR fault) but will not remember how they said please or waited patiently for their turn. There will not be a lot of praise for your work. When you transition from a job where you are given reviews and even raises for a job well done, this can be disheartening.

>>You may feel like you haven't accomplished anything. At the end of each day, there probably won't be a lot "to show" for all your toils. Setting goals are important so you can feel like you are working toward something. But things like cleaning are a losing battle. No matter how hard you work, there will always be something left to clean. Try not to stress over it!

>>You may be 100% dependent financially. This one is a hard one for me. I am totally dependent on my husband. And it's tough. Money is power. Money is status. Money is freedom. I used to have a lot of pride in my ability to take care of myself. Maybe that's the problem....pride, but either way it is tough to go from independence to utter dependence.

>>Most of your activities will be child related. Kid's sporting events, play dates, parades, birthday parties, school events. This forces your social circle to be set around your children, their friends, and their friend's parents. This isn't always a bad thing. But it can be and can also monopolize a lot of your time, leaving little for your own endeavors. And it's related to a lack of adult activity. You will most likely be surrounded by kids (yours and their friends) at pretty much all times.

Costs to the Family
>>Having one parent stay home may create financial hardship for the family.

>>The Family may suffer is mom has a hard time dealing with her stay at home position. Maybe mom is overstressed and unavailable? Maybe she watches t.v. all day and doesn't interact with the children? Sometimes, it's not better for mom to be home.

Costs to the World
>>As a SAHM trys to entertain herself, she may take up new hobbies. Those new hobbies may make more trash.

Costs to the Community
>>There will be a loss of tax dollars from mom's wages

>>Local teens may be annoyed at the extra mom eyes in the neighborhood seeing their mischief and putting an end to the mayhem.

>>SAHM's do generally have a more flexible schedule and may be able to track people down and make them do their job right. I've had many a call to the city government and have followed up with companies when I feel like their employees haven't performed according to standards. This may annoy some workers looking to eke their way through their jobs.

Costs to the Husband
>>He will most likely bear full financial responsibility for the family and all the stress and worry that entails.

>>His wife may have new hobbies and want to share them with him.

>>His wife may be starved for adult conversation and may engage him in deep meaningful conversation as soon as he walks through the door.

>>He may feel like his wife is out of it and not really "with the times." Think days filled with crying and diapers....

>>He may have missed networking opportunities because his wife is out of the working world where she may have come across important contacts or information.

>>His wife may resent his freedom and retaliate in disrespectful ways.

Costs to the Children
>>They may miss out on interaction with other adults

>>They may miss out on interaction with other children

>>They may suffer from a lack of an organized schedule

>>There may be possible financial ramifications. Maybe they will have to forgo team sports or take out loans for college? Maybe they will have to go without certain things if the family is struggling in a one income situation?

>>They may not get as much of an educational head start. Perhaps mom isn't very involved. Or maybe she is but teaching just isn't her thing. They may miss out on the formal education kids get in daycare settings.

Financial Costs
>>Loss of mom's income

>>Loss of mom's future income. Had she kept working, mom's income would have most likely went up, from raises and promotions, job changes, etc. Also, her future income when she reenters the workforce, will most likely be lower after having been gone for so long

>>Mom may have acquired some expensive hobbies

>>Mom may have more time for shopping. :)

>>There may be a slight increase in electricity and heating/cooling usage while mom is at home.

>>It may cost to entertain the children. Many playdates are held at local community centers, museums, and other places that cost money. Children's activities like swimming lessons, dance classes, soccer camp, and other activities cost money too.

>>You may know more kids and may in turn get invited to more birthday parties. You will also have more kids to invite to your parties, upping the cost of your parties.

>>You may throw more neighborhood parties since you have more opportunities to meet your neighbors, costing a little more money.

So, there you have it. These are the costs of becoming a stay-at-home mom. If you are weighing this decision, please be sure to also check out the Benefits of becoming a stay-at-home mom and read any comments posted below. I'm sure I have missed a bunch.

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Krista Clark said...

Very well done! I appreciate your efforts, both as a mom and as someone who has made the time to present what it is like to go through all of this.
Many Thanks~

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!


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