Let’s take a walk down memory lane and peek at the role of stay-at-home moms through the ages. When I think of my grandmother, her title in the ’80s was “homemaker,” a role that didn’t come with any benefits or a paycheck but was revered in its own right.
Now, fast forward to my circle of friends from different backgrounds, and it’s a mix of respect and side-eye when someone mentions being a SAHM.
Globally, the perception of SAHMs has been a colorful tapestry – in some cultures, it’s a cherished tradition; in others, a role that seems to shrink as professional aspirations grow.
Ever wonder why we don’t just stop and appreciate that the job description of a SAHM is probably the most dynamic out of any role out there? Let’s start giving the SAHMs their due credit, shall we?
Why are stay-at-home moms looked down on
The stigma surrounding stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) is a web of cultural, societal, and historical threads.
The Maternal Wellness Center notes that despite the demanding nature of the SAHM role, it is often undervalued in a society that doesn’t compensate it with tangible benefits like a paycheck or sick days.
In an era where women are often expected to balance careers with family, SAHMs can find their choices scrutinized or diminished1.
Twiniversity provides a personal angle, discussing the societal pressure for women to have full careers.
The author shares her own struggle with this expectation and the derogatory assumptions made about SAHMs, like the notion that they lack ambition or merely idle at home.
The unique challenges faced by parents of multiples, such as high-risk pregnancies and the increased need for medical interventions, can make the option to stay at home a necessity rather than a choice2.
Psychology Today points out how SAHMs are prone to pejorative labeling in a society quick to blame and shame.
The article suggests reimagining the SAHM role as a valued tradition and a loving commitment to family, while acknowledging the hidden labor and dedication involved3.
Adding to this, the COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the precarious nature of the child care sector, leading to the loss of millions of child care slots.
This crisis likely compounded the pressure on mothers to exit the workforce to care for their children, reinforcing the SAHM role for many out of sheer necessity4.
A Pew Research Center report reveals that the percentage of SAHMs rose significantly from 1999 to 2012.
This rise was influenced by various factors, including economic conditions like the Great Recession, which made staying at home a more viable or necessary option for some mothers5.
The report also highlights that the decision for a mother to stay at home is not solely a choice but can be a result of being unable to find work, which reflects broader economic trends5.
Interestingly, the Pew report also shows that married SAHMs are more likely to cite family care as their primary reason for staying home, compared to their single or cohabiting counterparts, suggesting that marital status and family structure play a role in these dynamics5.
However, the trend toward stay-at-home motherhood does not necessarily indicate a long-term decline in female labor force participation, as many mothers express the desire to work if conditions allow6.
These perspectives collectively argue for a nuanced understanding of the SAHM stigma, highlighting the need for a societal shift towards valuing all forms of work, including the often invisible but crucial work done within the home.
Why some moms opt to stay at home?
Have you ever caught yourself wondering why some moms opt to stay at home?
Their reasons are as varied as their backgrounds.
A vibrant 60-year-old mom from the Caribbean told me, “When you want something done your way, you have to do it yourself.” She believes raising her children isn’t a task to be delegated if she wants them to turn out just right.
Beatrice, a 38-year-old from Haiti and licensed in Early Childhood Education, finds trust in her way of nurturing her kids. It’s her expression of motherly love and a direct investment in their education.
Then there’s Izzy, a 38-year-old from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for whom staying home is a family legacy, essential for her child’s well-being and her peace of mind.
And Roodlyn, 40 years young from the Dominican Republic, made her choice out of necessity since childcare costs simply didn’t fit into the family budget.
Each of these women, in their own way, shows that the decision to stay at home is as intentional as it is personal.
What is the mental load of a stay-at-home mom?
Ever paused to ponder the sheer scope of running a household and raising the kiddos?
It’s a mental marathon!
But it’s not just about the chores and schedules; it’s the heart-to-heart talks, the nurturing vibes we create at home, and adapting to each child’s unique spirit.
All these elements stir up a cocktail of emotions.
And guess what?
Research, like from the Institute for Family Studies, echoes my sentiment, showing that stay-at-home moms like me find deep joy in this life choice.
Sure, we have our ups and downs, but don’t we all?
Our happiness levels?
They’re right on par with our 9-to-5 counterparts, which makes me think, our kids are catching onto this joy too1.
Are children of stay-at-home moms happier?
Sure, having mom around might sprinkle extra doses of stability and comfort, but isn’t a child’s happiness a kaleidoscope, colored by so much more?
The way we bond, the warmth of our homes, each little personality blooming in its own time, and yes, even the bigger picture of our community and resources – they all paint the picture of joy in our children’s lives.
And get this: studies, like those from the Institute for Family Studies, whisper a little secret – that moms at home are savoring the journey just as much as those who work outside, making me wonder, if we’re feeling the love and contentment, aren’t our little ones soaking it up too?
It’s not about where we are, but how we love and live that fills their happiness cup1.
Who decides who gets to stay home?
Choosing who gets to be the anchor at home isn’t a game of rock-paper-scissors. It’s a heart-to-heart, a weighing of wallets, dreams, and who’s turn it is to steer the ship.
In my own story, my husband took the helm first, embracing the stay-at-home life with our oldest. When it came time to swap roles, it was a sit-down conversation about numbers, headspace, and what felt right for our family.
It was my turn to nest and nourish while also hitting the books and leading our family business from the home front.
Every family’s story has its own rhythm and rhyme, doesn’t it?
Moreover, societal norms and cultural expectations can heavily influence these decisions. In some societies, there is a stronger expectation for mothers to stay home, while in others, there is a push towards maintaining a dual-income household.
Individual family dynamics, the presence of extended family support, and the personal desires of the parents also play significant roles.
Ultimately, the choice is deeply personal and varies widely from one family to another, often necessitating a balance between financial practicality and the values and needs of the family members involved56.
Stay-at-home moms are often looked down upon due to a complex interplay of historical biases, undervaluation of domestic work, and societal pressures that glorify paid work over caregiving.
Yet, many moms choose to stay home for reasons deeply personal and varied—be it for the direct nurturing of their children, economic practicality, or the fulfillment of running a family unit.
Ultimately, it’s a decision rooted in love, necessity, and a commitment to family that deserves respect and recognition.