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Is SAHM/W no longer a valid life choice?


Moxie
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Just a comment from the "other side": people who work outside the home take care of these little details, too, and very rarely pay somebody to do them.

 

Maybe your life is a lot more complicated than mine... but I could not think of that many "little things" that need to be done and fill a substantial portion of my time.

While I tend to agree with the thrust of your posts on this thread I would point out that here you really seem to be discounting, dismissing and, yes, judging people who find that the "little stuff" adds up to major energy outlay.

 

IME working FT and in my observation of the double income families I know (where each works FT, which is usually at bare minimum of 45 hours out of the house but is quite often 60+ hours), most are in fact spending quite a bit on hiring work out. Because there are no mom and dad clones nor time turners allowing people to be in two places at once.

 

I think it's worth noting that you have older kids and that you work PT. If you had younger kids, kids with ongoing medical concerns or you worked a FT, more than 40 hour a week job, you might have a wholly different perspective.

Edited by LucyStoner
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From what I have seen, if both parents have a heavy FTw/OT career, the home ends up not being a refuge for someone.  That might be the parent or parent(s) who are turning themselves inside out to make it in the career world AND make the home a refuge for the children, OR the children themselves.  Looking back over the years I can only think of one counterexample to this that I have known personally, and it was two professionals who built a house in a low cost area but right on a lake, and then the mom's mother moved in or came over, I can't recall which, to take care of the kids fulltime.  

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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My mom have never liked cooking.  She likes baking cakes but no one wants cakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  That is why we go to my maternal aunt's home for meals even when my mom was a SAHM.  My aunt enjoys cooking and feeding people and would have been happy as a chef if she needed to work. My other maternal aunt also doesn't like to cook which is why her husband cook.  I don't mind cooking but for elaborate meals, we go to restaurants. My full time working girlfriend enjoys cooking and her hubby can cook very well too. She does pay for twice a week cleaners and yard work and none of her kids are special needs so it is not like she is trying to be superhuman. 

 

Hubby and I also had wonderful memories of being latch key children.  My hubby also does all the housework other than cooking and he works full time.

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And this:

 

When I'd recovered my senses enough to speak, I sputtered something like, "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't have 30 hours of leisure a week."

 

"Yes you do," he insisted. "Come do a time study with me, and I'll show you where your leisure is."

 

Fast forward a year and a half. (I kept putting it off, angrily wanting to prove him wrong, but secretly terrified that he may be right – and that I was frittering away my one and only precious life.) The time expert looked through the messy time diaries I'd been keeping (one mysteriously went through the dryer) and found 27 hours of what he called leisure, and I called bits and scraps of garbagey time. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. Listening to the radio, exhausted, trying to get out of bed. Getting some exercise. Waiting by the side of the road for a tow truck. (Yes, he said that counted as leisure.)

 

The image that came to mind was this: time confetti.

http://m.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-wellbeing/brigid-schulte-why-time-is-a-feminist-issue-20150309-13zimc.html

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Please... tell me you are not saying that having both parents work outside the home has to mean a panicked rush in the morning or a lack of interaction between children and parents. Plenty of families with working parents show the contrary. In fact, quite a few even homeschool.

As to the creation of a home as a refuge: yes, it can be done, even if mom works. There can be bedtime stories and home cooked meals and leisurely family time and home baked bread and making music together.. whatever you need to feel home as a refuge.

 

I can say this for myself.  This is how it would be for me.  I need a lot of time and when things don't run smoothly I do not do well.  Of course this is not true for everyone, but it is for me.

 

I worked 12 hour days when I worked.  This was the nature of what I did.  There was no time and energy for home cooked meals.  And heck, this was when I had one child who was an infant. On top of that he had colic. 

 

There were certainly a variety of factors as to why I ended up doing what I do, but not wanting to have that crazed, tired, agitated, exhausted feeling constantly was a huge factor for me. 

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I have two undergrad degrees and a masters in International Business. I used my degrees at one point -- I didn't get married until I was 32, and I didn't have my first until I was 36. I'm happy to have those degrees and I don't think they were a waste at all.

 

I don't intend to go back to work. My younger son will graduate when I am 58, and I think I will go into retirement at that point. Well, after I spend a year or two finally organizing my house. Maybe I'll even buy some furniture.

:)

 

Right there with you. No regrets about my degrees, worked in my field, married "late" according to the norm (I think) on this board, had kids at 32 and 39. Plus a bonus kid, who's older. I'm a SAHM now and wouldn't change a thing about what led me here, and plan to be home, barring an unfortunate change in circumstances. Life is good. I think all the moms I referenced above feel the same. We need a club. You know, when we have time again!

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I've certainly been viewed as a less than valid life form for being a stay at home mum.

Since I went back to school 11 months ago, I've noticed a major improvement in the reaction to the "what do you do?" icebreaker. It is socially acceptable to be a student in a way that being a SAHM simply is not. I did not magically become more intelligent or independent simply by enrolling in a 2nd. bachelor's but that's how people act (sigh).

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Please... tell me you are not saying that having both parents work outside the home has to mean a panicked rush in the morning or a lack of interaction between children and parents. Plenty of families with working parents show the contrary. In fact, quite a few even homeschool.

As to the creation of a home as a refuge: yes, it can be done, even if mom works. There can be bedtime stories and home cooked meals and leisurely family time and home baked bread and making music together.. whatever you need to feel home as a refuge.

I'm the last one to play apologist for SAHM-hood, but I never managed this. I'm happy to hear there's others that can. The cooking, and the educating, was never up to my standards. I do wish I could outsource it all, but I've yet to meet someone whom I can just hand it all over to. The cleaning can totally be outsourced, I agree there. Edited by madteaparty
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But seriously, Changing the terminology doesn't make one a better mother than someone who prefers a different nomenclature. I find it insulting that I must either scrub toilets OR be a good mother to my child, but I can't be both because of what I want to be called?

The women of my grandmothers' generation were housewives rather than SAHM's (even if they did have kids) because the priority was on housecleaning and other domestic tasks rather than mothering. These women ironed their sheets and underwear, canned from scratch, sewed their own clothes, etc. and other tasks that few people today bother to do except as a hobby. But the flip side is that they were not involved moms. They sent their kids outside unsupervised with the order to not come back before supper. Maybe those kids did 1 or 2 activities like Scouts, sports/dance, or music lessons. But nothing remotely as time-intensive for the parent as today's extracurriculars.

 

Neither one of grandmothers had to help their kids build an impressive college application even though their kids did ultimately attend elite schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and U.C. Berkeley simply because there wasn't remotely as much competition for slots at those schools. Good grades and SAT/ACT scores plus normal high school extracurriculars were enough back then.

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In my circle of friends there are many SAHMs. A lot of that is because my children are still young and many of my friends have children at home and are still having children. It will be interesting in the next 3-10 years as more of their kids go to school to see if they return to work part-time or even full time. Also, many of my friends are from my church where staying at home with children and having large families is encouraged. I don't homeschool and only know of one person in my area who does, and so that doesn't play a large role in whether women stay home or not. I have noticed that it's common for women in my church who are 10-15 years older than me and whose children are all in school often return to work part-time or even full time. There are also some women who work full time but have flexible jobs like being a professor, nurse, etc.

 

I live in the midwest but in a fairly affluent suburb. Many of my friends' husbands have well-paying jobs, while others make significant financial sacrifices to live off of one income. Also, many of my friends have more than three children which makes it hard to work and pay for childcare. I'm not as well acquainted with moms from my children's school, but from what I can tell many of them work full time as do their husbands. They often have 1-3 children and it's not uncommon for grandparents to help with childcare. 

 

I work part-time and I feel like that's perfect for my family. I'm here when my kids get home from school and yet I am out of the house 2-3 days a week. I graduated and had children young, and so I feel like I never had a career and am now experiencing some of that. I know I will never have a full-time, affluent career and that's okay because it means more stability for my family. If I had married and had children later, I may have felt that I already had a career and would be satisfied being a SAHM full time. Having me work part-time also gives my husband greater flexibility so he can grow his career (which makes a lot more money than I would). Two weeks ago I was home all week taking care of sick kids and then last week I was sick. My husband picked up some of the extra slack when he was off work, but he didn't need to take additional time off of work. Having me handle the kids, budgeting, housework, and more helps us have the time to spend time together without running around nights and weekends.

 

Part of the reason I returned to work was to keep my skills fresh and be prepared in case I was needed financially. I'm an ISFJ and so while I like helping both at home and outside the home, I need validation and part of that for me is getting a paycheck. So this is what works for me, but I support women in doing whatever is best for them and their family.

 

 

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IME working FT and in my observation of the double income families I know (where each works FT, which is usually at bare minimum of 45 hours out of the house but is quite often 60+ hours), most are in fact spending quite a bit on hiring work out. Because there are no mom and dad clones nor time turners allowing people to be in two places at once.

 

Nobody disagrees that there are scenarios where both parents are stretched very thin by their work and something has to give.

But the thread started with a discussion of SAHM vs working - not vs "working full time with overtime having a real career". There is a large area between those ends, and most mothers I know fall somewhere in the middle.

Statements made about "working parents" in general should be qualified if they pertain to "full time with over time 60- hour work week parents". ( Like Carol's  about the inability to make a home a refuge)

Edited by regentrude
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Nobody disagrees that there are scenarios where both parents are stretched very thin by their work and something has to give.

But the thread started with a discussion of SAHM vs working - not vs "working full time with overtime having a real career". There is a large area between those ends, and most mothers I know fall somewhere in the middle.

Statements made about "working parents" in general should be qualified if they pertain to "full time with over time 60- hour work week parents". ( Like Carol's  about the inability to make a home a refuge)

Maybe I should have said, 'working fulltime in the US' because that's what I was picturing.

I know that it's a lot different in Western Europe.

 

Having said that, you're not really being fair to my position if you don't take it in its entirety.  My original point, which you keep taking out of context, is that the making of the home into a refuge is far harder to delegate than other aspects of having a parent at home, to the point that it's often lost, if not to kids then to the person who is working extremely hard at both providing that to the children and at a job.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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It's possible to organize a household so that it isn't insanely chaotic regardless of how many hours anyone works.

 

No, you can't "do it all" if you're working 60 hours a week, but you can pick your highest priorities and do those right.

 

Kids need peace, love, and a few physical basics.  Everything else is gravy.  I've seen SAHMs who terrorize their kids because they are trying to be Supermom and it stresses them out.  Honestly, I think some people would be doing their kids a favor if they went to work and stopped looking for fulfillment / appreciation at home.

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I enjoy working part time.  Working full time and doing it well was an extra stress on our family at home and with our flexible schedule.

 

I still love working part time and have no plans to quit.

 

Not working at all would be the worst for me (and our family).  Working full time would be the second worst.

 

Not being home at all... aka traveling full time (with the family earlier or empty nesting now) would have been (or would be) awesome.  Drop the work and stay at home part!

 

But I know that's just me and others would prefer other choices.

 

FWIW, my two younger kids have outright told us they loved their growing up experiences, esp as they compare experiences their peers have had.  My working didn't seem to hurt that.  

 

Oldest has mixed feelings.  He's the one who I was home full time the most with.  I wonder if that's a coincidence?  A SAH Creekland tended to be a far more cranky and uptight Creekland as she was far outside of her niche in life.

 

We all do best in our niche - not someone else's niche.

Edited by creekland
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I do agree that SAHM as a title neglects the roles I fill other than motherhood. My dh never has to worry about grocery shopping, getting his meds refilled, seldom has to cook, knows I'll be here to let the pest control man in, knows I have time during the day to get the car title renewed, knows I can run him his phone if he accidentally left it at home, can fax him a document he needs, etc etc. 

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Yeah, I don't buy it when people who live in nicer houses than I do, or go on vacations every summer, or for that matter just want to save enough to pay for their kid's university, tell me I'm lucky and they wish they could stay at home too but they cannot afford it.  They could afford it, they aren't willing to. 

 

It's no different than if I said "gee, I really wish my husband could magically make as much as your families combined salary, so we could have a higher standard of living but I could stay at home." 

 

That would be a pretty tacky thing to say.

:iagree:

 

So true.

 My SIL is at us every opportunity she gets going on and on about how easy we have everything and how she struggles so much. She has an income 4x our combined income, lives in a magazine perfect house, changes her entire house furniture every 3 years and goes on fabulous holidays overseas every single year.

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I have not read any of the replies but here's my take.

 

My mother was a sahm mom and went back to work when her "baby" was in school. She got home a couple hours after we did. She was an amazing, generous woman and a fantastic mother. Her salary allowed all of her children to graduate college without loan debt. I have forever indebted to her for that.

 

HOWEVER, those couple hours that we were under-supervised caused me a lot of heartache and grief. I was old enough to take care of myself, but I made certain choices that I shouldn't have and it had lasting affects on my life.

 

I don't know exactly how to feel. I am so grateful for my college education. It definitely helped shape me into who I am today. But I wish my mom had been around a little more in the afternoons when I was much younger.

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ETA: All of the SAHMs I know have degrees, most have finished grad school. All have worked and have had lucrative careers. When we've talked about it, it seems to be a choice they made for their kids. FWIW: 2 teaching degrees (former high school teachers); 2 nurses (with a masters in nursing, can't recall the letters that go with that); 2 anthropologists - formerly doing field work and teaching; 1 communications degree; and the others we have not discussed their degrees, but I know they finished at least a bachelor's.

 

 

I have two undergrad degrees and a masters in International Business.  I used my degrees at one point -- I didn't get married until I was 32, and I didn't have my first until I was 36.  I'm happy to have those degrees and I don't think they were a waste at all.  

 

I don't intend to go back to work.  My younger son will graduate when I am 58, and I think I will go into retirement at that point.  Well, after I spend a year or two finally organizing my house. Maybe I'll even buy some furniture.

 

The above is true for me too. I have a teaching degree (exceptional education) and some hours towards a Master's. I spent 15+ years working in my career field, married late, had a child late, and have no regrets about staying home. I don't feel as though my degree was a waste, but I don't know if that's because I used it for a good number of years. (Don't even get me started on "Oh you were a teacher so homeschooling is easier for you." No, it isn't/wasn't. In fact, I had to re-learn much of what I thought I knew - was taught - about education.)

 

As I mentioned upthread ds is essentially finished school and retirement is just around the corner for dh. I have no intention or desire to go back to work at this time in my life. 

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Historically a housewife could save a great deal of money by growing and preserving food, by cooking from scratch, by sewing well at home (earlier even by spinning and weaving), by cooking and cleaning (disease prevention and freeing up others for hard physical labor), by keeping the fires going and the place warm, and by decorating 'on the cheap'. Along the way, the home was a place of refuge because of all of this but partly just because she was there, able to converse, to teach along the way, to recite, to be an audience, to sing. Now, a lot of those money saving techniques are reversed. It is cheaper to shop in thrift stores or shop sales than to sew clothes, for instance. But the creation of the home as a refuge, whether it is perfect or not, is not easily delegated.

This is so well-stated, and this is what rings true for me. I do feel very much at the tail-end of homeschooling and I feel a lot of pressure building to be an earner again, but what you said here is what I feel is so much in conflict with the idea of me working FT again. I have been entertaining the idea of going back to working as a legal secretary; I am good at it and I have kept some networks open with my old boss partially with that in the back of my mind. But when I was working in that high stress job and driving or riding the bus through over an hour of traffic, I did not have much home and family management dividing my attention. I think it would kinda kill me now, if I could not be at DS' soccer games, couldn't volunteer, couldn't do my home management tasks that I enjoy, had to slap together some dinner after I have worked all day. I would not like that, Sam I Am.

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I find these discussions very baffling.  I don't feel the need to defend staying home, but I do feel the need to defend that my reasoning for doing so isn't some BS and that I just wasn't "doing it right" so that's why it was the way it was.  I came to a point where I wasn't happy with the direction my life was going, and I made a decision.  There are pros and cons to any decision.  I shared some of my reasoning.  This is not to say I think this reasoning applies to everyone or that I think they made an incorrect choice because they did something different.  I suppose my "luck" is that I feel as if I made a decent decision and that I had a choice.  Not everyone has a choice.  I know circumstances can make some doors pretty much closed. 

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Please... tell me you are not saying that having both parents work outside the home has to mean a panicked rush in the morning or a lack of interaction between children and parents. Plenty of families with working parents show the contrary. In fact, quite a few even homeschool.

As to the creation of a home as a refuge: yes, it can be done, even if mom works. There can be bedtime stories and home cooked meals and leisurely family time and home baked bread and making music together.. whatever you need to feel home as a refuge.

 

:iagree:

 

For the past two and half years (until tomorrow!!!), dh and I both worked full time out of the house.  We both have "careers" I guess, if you consider a position that requires experience, education and consistency a career.   Dh has been a pharma chemist for 30+ years.  I've been a pharma/healthcare executive assistant for 15-ish years. 

 

I guess we're lucky.  We didn't have a morning rush because the kids had a teacher that came to the house (only dh and I needed to get "out"), we spent lots of time with the kids both in the evenings (my kids don't go to bed until 9:30pm) and on weekends.  Dh cooks dinner every night, mostly from scratch.  My base week is 35 hours.  When I need to work more, I can often do it by working through lunch or doing it from home but 99% of the time I was only in the office 9 to 5.  Dh goes in early so he gets home earlier.  He works a longer week but since he in at 7am, he still gets home before me.

 

Now what has suffered is housework.  My house is generally cluttered, mostly messy and I find it very hard to keep up with things.  Work was also making noise about increasing my time in the office (one of the things that contributed to the decision to quit).   I don't know that I"m going to be much better at the housework when I'm back homeschooling, so we'll see.

 

When I was married to ex, we did both have 40 hour a week jobs with long commutes, crazy mornings.  We ate out almost every night, had no spare money and lots of stress.

 

Every family is different.  I've managed to live some very different scenarios myself.

 

Around here it seems to be about a 50/50 mix of working/staying home moms.  I think your impression may depend on the group you are around.  When I was homeschooling before and when I was in MOM's Club, I knew mostly SAHMs.  Working I know mostly WOHMs.  The kids my kids do choir with have mostly WOHMs, my 4-H club (meets at night) has an almost even split from what I can tell.

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I find these discussions very baffling.  I don't feel the need to defend staying home, but I do feel the need to defend that my reasoning for doing so isn't some BS and that I just wasn't "doing it right" so that's why it was the way it was.  I came to a point where I wasn't happy with the direction my life was going, and I made a decision.  There are pros and cons to any decision.  I shared some of my reasoning.  This is not to say I think this reasoning applies to everyone or that I think they made an incorrect choice because they did something different.  I suppose my "luck" is that I feel as if I made a decent decision and that I had a choice.  Not everyone has a choice.  I know circumstances can make some doors pretty much closed. 

 

This. Liking wasn't enough.

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I haven,t worked for pay since my oldest was born when I was 25. At that time, I was making more money as a software engineer than my husband was as a mechanical engineer. We thought we were choosing between having me stay home and being able to ever afford a house. Five years later we bought a leaky one bedroom mostly uninsulated hunting cabin with electric heat and no storm windows. It snowed on my oldest right down through the ceiling. I had no car for years. I can't tell you how many friends with big houses and two new cars whose husbands made more than mine told me they wished they could afford to stay home with their babies. A few years later, I joined a new playgroup with all stay at home mums, big houses, two new cars, kids in Montessori preschools and husbands who were making less and I the situation reversed itself and I was wondering how they were managing. It was the fault of the muffins. Everyone else had money to buy muffins at the bakery and I was choosing between gas for my ancient inherited car or those muffins. Eventually I figured out that their parents either had left them money when they died or were helping by giving cars and school fees and down payments, and that we had more savings for emergencies (and less job security) than they did. They went back to work when their children were in school. At that point, I gave up trying to figure out how other people managed. There are too many unseen factors. I do think that SAHM is a valid choice, probably more often than people think, but it often requires sacrifices people aren't willing to make, and it is not always possible, especially if one has free daycare in the form of relatives or work that can be done with your children with you.

 

After my children were school aged, I got rather tired of either being dismissed when I said I didn,t work, or having people gush unnaturally about how nice that must be, or having to defend my choice. Now when people ask what I do, I say, "Nothing." That turns out to be a conversation stopper. People are usually afraid to inquire further and we go on to have a nice conversation about something else entirely. Those who do inquire are usually people who are intrigued by the idea and able to handle a conversation about not working for money. Or they laugh and say me, neither. It isn,t the most kind way of dealing with the problem but it works well. : )

 

Nan

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I was a latch key kid. Before that, I was the kid in an after care program that was day care for older kids. I was the kid sitting outside sports practice until long after everyone has been picked up. My mom was the one who felt that she couldn't get all her work stuff done without being rushed to pick me up. My dad couldn't pick me up and commute. I was eating hamburger helper and chicken patty sandwiches (I loved both of those things, btw) for dinner. I went to a public school that was, for at least a few years, a place of torment for me, with no options to get away. I wanted to do things differently, despite a very "normal" upbringing.

 

 

I can't see how I could work full time and not have all of this happen to our family. For me, I couldn't do the home cooked meals, the homeschooling, and just being available and present at home like I want to be. I understand others don't want the same things, or have more energy and drive to do it all. And somedays, yeah, that feels limiting. But it isn't some chance or luck that we live this way. It's a very deliberate choice and sacrifice.

 

I think this is really important and why people need to stop comparing and judging.  Not everyone has the same abilities to do all the things.  That has nothing to do with intelligence or laziness or anything like that, but rather it's just people's personalities and the way they are wired.

 

When I have too many things to do, I get stressed out and start forgetting things.  I get crabby. I just can't multi-task the way some people can. 

 

Some people enjoy having a lot of things going on.  They enjoy and are good at multi-tasking.  Somehow, in the current culture, those people are considered superior to those who aren't so accomplished.  But really, there is nothing wrong either way, as long as the kids and spouses feel loved and cared for (how ever that looks to them). 

 

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Please... tell me you are not saying that having both parents work outside the home has to mean a panicked rush in the morning or a lack of interaction between children and parents. Plenty of families with working parents show the contrary. In fact, quite a few even homeschool.

As to the creation of a home as a refuge: yes, it can be done, even if mom works. There can be bedtime stories and home cooked meals and leisurely family time and home baked bread and making music together.. whatever you need to feel home as a refuge.

I think it's totally doable for some families with some personality types and schedules and not for others. Also careers and working hours. It wouldn't be doable for me! Not full time anyway.

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I think this is really important and why people need to stop comparing and judging.  Not everyone has the same abilities to do all the things.  That has nothing to do with intelligence or laziness or anything like that, but rather it's just people's personalities and the way they are wired.

 

When I have too many things to do, I get stressed out and start forgetting things.  I get crabby. I just can't multi-task the way some people can. 

 

Some people enjoy having a lot of things going on.  They enjoy and are good at multi-tasking.  Somehow, in the current culture, those people are considered superior to those who aren't so accomplished.  But really, there is nothing wrong either way, as long as the kids and spouses feel loved and cared for (how ever that looks to them). 

 

Exactly. This has nothing to do with not being efficient enough, or wasting time on the Internet, for heaven's sake.

 

This discussion makes me think of my sister and me. I am a perfectionist; she is a pragmatist. In college, I purposely limited my extracurricular activities so I could focus plenty of time on my schoolwork. She signed up for every possible activity -- social, academic, or otherwise. I designed my schedule with plenty of buffer time in case I needed to put in extra work on my assignments. She left virtually every assignment until the last possible second because she was so tied up elsewhere. I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA. She graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.

 

The point is, my sister NEEDS lots of action. She works best under pressure. She thrives on it. OTOH, I completely shut down when I don't have a buffer to allow me to spend what *I* feel is the necessary amount of time on any given project. For my sister, an A was an A -- if it was good enough for the prof, it was sure good enough for her. For me, an A is only an A if *I* say it's an A. It has to meet my standard, or I can't let it go.

 

I'm not saying this is a good thing, or a bad thing. It certainly has its drawbacks. And I am in no way implying that my sister's output (or anyone else's) didn't meet my standards -- she's brilliant, and obviously she was performing at a high level, just look at her grades. But for me, personally, I need the mental space to know that there is going to be time and I won't be rushed into letting go of a project before I'm ready to let it go. Otherwise I become very stressed, and that never ends well for anybody.

 

A lot of things in my life would be easier if I wasn't this way -- but I am. And no amount of experience sucking it up and juggling all the spinning plates will change that. I am fortunate to have the option to choose not to live that way.

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It really does all come down to what people are comfortable with and how they work/live best. Our dds go to public school so everyone is up at 6am because their school start at 7:30am. When I worked, I wouldn't get home until 6:30pm. Dh, who works from home, was done about the same time. We would eat dinner around 7:30pm which meant we only had 8-10pm for family time each day. For us, that just wasn't enough time. It also didn't leave time to do normal housework, errands, etc. All that was saved for the weekends which left us all feeling like they were too short. We were all feeling too rushed and no one was happy. Things are much better for all of us now that I'm back home full time. 

 

 

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I think it's totally doable for some families with some personality types and schedules and not for others. Also careers and working hours. It wouldn't be doable for me! Not full time anyway.

 

Definitely.  Growing up I had a stay at home mom.  Despite that, we never all sat down together to eat breakfast.  Mornings were still hectic.  My dad worked in a factory and had to leave by 6:30 in the morning.  We had one bathroom.  So coordinating everyone getting ready, etc...it was hectic and there wasn't really time for anything other than getting going.

 

Well, and that's another factor for me.  I had a stay at home mother.  My husband did as well.  I looked back fondly at the fact my mother did that.  I valued it because that was my experience.  Plenty of other people have perfectly great lives doing it in a completely different way.  My only point is choices are complicated.  Circumstances are complicated. 

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OT: scrubbing toilets and bathtubs has always been done by the males on both sides of our family.

The ladies restrooms at malls and department stores are cleaned by guys too.

 

I am a pragmatic perfectionist workaholic, a weird mish mash. I'll probably be weirdly happy working in Wall Street.

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The women of my grandmothers' generation were housewives rather than SAHM's (even if they did have kids) because the priority was on housecleaning and other domestic tasks rather than mothering. These women ironed their sheets and underwear, canned from scratch, sewed their own clothes, etc. and other tasks that few people today bother to do except as a hobby. But the flip side is that they were not involved moms. They sent their kids outside unsupervised with the order to not come back before supper. Maybe those kids did 1 or 2 activities like Scouts, sports/dance, or music lessons. But nothing remotely as time-intensive for the parent as today's extracurriculars.

 

Neither one of grandmothers had to help their kids build an impressive college application even though their kids did ultimately attend elite schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and U.C. Berkeley simply because there wasn't remotely as much competition for slots at those schools. Good grades and SAT/ACT scores plus normal high school extracurriculars were enough back then.

Um. What? My grandmothers were a LOT more than that as homemakers. So we're my dh's grandmothers.

 

In addition to keeping a home, in one case a small farm, they also:

 

Were extremely involved in their communities. Positions that are now paid, they volunteered for. Church secretary, hospital rotary/assistant, school cook, one volunteered as a teacher in a one room school house in rural Arkansas, before there were blue star moms, these ladies were showing up whether they had family serving or not to make and send and organize whatever needed doing. Yes, they tossed the kids outside and "neglected" them by today's standards, but they also brought meals to new moms and families laid up by injury or illness for weeks on end. They campaigned for voting rights and safety for workers and especially for children.

 

Just. What? Idk who your grandparents were, but mine were quite literally dirt poor didn't have shoes in winter types of people and they sure did more than clean house and make jelly as homemakers. But when I hear about my grandfathers it's, "oh they were farmers or they worked in the mines or he was a civil engineer. And then he came home." My dh's grandmothers were far higher up the socioeconomic ladder than my side of the family and they almost never talk about the housecleaning and jam making. In fact, both of them had house help at various points just to make sure the house stuff didn't get in the way of their volunteer work, socializing for dh's work, or helping at their kids schools and such.

 

Honestly I feel like the biggest pansy ever when comparing all our grandmothers did. It's mind boggling. But none of them ever were doing mostly housecleaning and jam making.

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Um. What? My grandmothers were a LOT more than that as homemakers. So we're my dh's grandmothers.

 

In addition to keeping a home, in one case a small farm, they also:

 

Were extremely involved in their communities. Positions that are now paid, they volunteered for. Church secretary, hospital rotary/assistant, school cook, one volunteered as a teacher in a one room school house in rural Arkansas, before there were blue star moms, these ladies were showing up whether they had family serving or not to make and send and organize whatever needed doing. Yes, they tossed the kids outside and "neglected" them by today's standards, but they also brought meals to new moms and families laid up by injury or illness for weeks on end. They campaigned for voting rights and safety for workers and especially for children.

 

Just. What? Idk who your grandparents were, but mine were quite literally dirt poor didn't have shoes in winter types of people and they sure did more than clean house and make jelly as homemakers. But when I hear about my grandfathers it's, "oh they were farmers or they worked in the mines or he was a civil engineer. And then he came home." My dh's grandmothers were far higher up the socioeconomic ladder than my side of the family and they almost never talk about the housecleaning and jam making. In fact, both of them had house help at various points just to make sure the house stuff didn't get in the way of their volunteer work, socializing for dh's work, or helping at their kids schools and such.

 

Honestly I feel like the biggest pansy ever when comparing all our grandmothers did. It's mind boggling. But none of them ever were doing mostly housecleaning and jam making.

 

I don't know.  Her description matches my family.  I remember years ago my grandmother bemoaning the fact children "these days" can't focus long on any one thing and lack imagination because we coddle them with all that attention and "gasp" play with them.  She also never did volunteer work.  She literally did spend all day cleaning.  Even now in her late 80s she freaks out if she can't manage to clean her house (she lives alone how bad could it get?!). 

 

And my MIL..in her late 60s...same story.  She lives alone, but cleans her house as if 10 people live there. 

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As for our grannies being housewives vs. homemakers - I dunno - both of my grandmothers were working moms.  :P  But I'm pretty sure they also parented their kids and cleaned their houses.

 

I don't buy the "they didn't actually parent their kids in the old days."  On average, they tended to have a lot more kids to parent, and everything was done by hand if it was done at all.  Grandmas used to teach their daughters how to sew doll clothes in preparation for later making their family's clothes.  And they used to teach their daughters how to bake little cakes, in preparation for having to make all the family's meals from scratch.  They used to nurse their kids through illnesses we now medicate or vax against.  I'm not buying the whole "just cleaning while neglecting the kids" bit.  Nope.

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I think this is really important and why people need to stop comparing and judging. 

 

 

We humans are social people, which means we do look to others to see what we are supposed to do (or not do).

 

I don't think there is a way to unwire that tendency.

 

I could say nothing, impose no judgmental consequence, listen patiently to all the woes of a mom with a career, be the perfect SAHM friend, but just my existence of doing what I'm doing is a message. People "hear" it and it makes them reflect on their own choices, to defend those choices or regret them.  

 

And it works just the same for me when my dear career-mom friends participate in life with me.  Their choices make me reflect on my choice.  

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I don't know. Her description matches my family. I remember years ago my grandmother bemoaning the fact children "these days" can't focus long on any one thing and lack imagination because we coddle them with all that attention and "gasp" play with them. She also never did volunteer work. She literally did spend all day cleaning. Even now in her late 80s she freaks out if she can't manage to clean her house (she lives alone how bad could it get?!).

 

And my MIL..in her late 60s...same story. She lives alone, but cleans her house as if 10 people live there.

Well maybe that's my mother in law then. She has a maid service twice a week. And yes I'm am completely flummoxed as to how a small home that two people in their 60s who both work full time can get messy enough to need detailed maid service twice a week. This is a woman who will give my kids a chocolate chip cookie and then follow behind them fretting with a washcloth and fabric cleaner in case they smear some on her white carpet. So I think there is something going on there that really has nothing to do with being a housewife.

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My paternal grandma has nine kids and helped out in the blacksmith family business grandpa started. My maternal grandmother has four kids and was a landlord.

 

My maternal grandmother divided the housework. My mom likes ironing and does all ironing. My aunt who loves cooking does all the cooking. Another aunt enjoys sewing and does all the tailoring and mending. My uncle is a chef and did all the repair work.

 

My dad is the youngest and his oldest sibling is twenty years older. Plenty of older siblings to cook and babysit the younger siblings when not helping out at the family shop.

 

My grandmothers are not model housewives :)

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As for our grannies being housewives vs. homemakers - I dunno - both of my grandmothers were working moms.  :p  But I'm pretty sure they also parented their kids and cleaned their houses.

 

I don't buy the "they didn't actually parent their kids in the old days."  On average, they tended to have a lot more kids to parent, and everything was done by hand if it was done at all.  Grandmas used to teach their daughters how to sew doll clothes in preparation for later making their family's clothes.  And they used to teach their daughters how to bake little cakes, in preparation for having to make all the family's meals from scratch.  They used to nurse their kids through illnesses we now medicate or vax against.  I'm not buying the whole "just cleaning while neglecting the kids" bit.  Nope.

 

Well, see I think this speaks to the fact that we often see things the way we do because of our personal experiences and upbringing. 

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Well maybe that's my mother in law then. She has a maid service twice a week. And yes I'm am completely flummoxed as to how a small home that two people in their 60s who both work full time can get messy enough to need detailed maid service twice a week. This is a woman who will give my kids a chocolate chip cookie and then follow behind them fretting with a washcloth and fabric cleaner in case they smear some on her white carpet. So I think there is something going on there that really has nothing to do with being a housewife.

 

My MIL had a part time maid for years as well.  But she still cleaned most of the time.  I'd feel safe having surgery in her house. 

 

No clue what is going on with her.  LOL

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Well, see I think this speaks to the fact that we often see things the way we do because of our personal experiences and upbringing. 

 

Yes, and how those experiences affected us often determines how we do things. I don't want my dds doing as much cleaning, cooking, and being alone as I did. My dad always said he wouldn't look back on his life and wish he worked more or made more money. He wanted to spend more time with his family than his parents spent with him. That has shaped how I view things, what I do, and what I want. 

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Yes, and how those experiences affected us often determines how we do things. I don't want my dds doing as much cleaning, cooking, and being alone as I did. My dad always said he wouldn't look back on his life and wish he worked more or made more money. He wanted to spend more time with his family than his parents spent with him. That has shaped how I view things, what I do, and what I want. 

 

Another thing for me is I see the here and now as all I know for sure I've got.  Suffering now won't bring me some future reward in another life or paradise.  Might seem gloomy, but I don't feel gloomy about it.  I just want to make the most of what I have now.

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Yeah, neither of my grannies had a spotless house.  My older granny had been a maid in her younger days, and the story goes that cleaning other people's houses ruined her for keeping her own clean.  :P  My younger granny just wasn't a house person.  When she was healthy, she was out visiting friends and gardening.  When she wasn't healthy, she was sitting on her butt.  Either way the dust accumulated.

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I definitely feel judged when I say I am a SAHM. I am seriously tired of hearing that staying with your children all day is way too boring for those ladies and they would go nuts if forced to do it. I usually don't say that I find the company of my children preferable to theirs. 

 

As for the clean house... My mom couldn't stand any signs of actual human life in her house. I swore I would never put such stress on my family. I may have gone a little too far the other way...

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In my circle stay at home non working mums are few and far between. But so are full time working mums. There are a lot who either stay home full time but have a side business or work at home, those who work part time, those who help on farms or in family businesses. I do see higher stress levels in those with close to full time jobs although they are still surviving. Oh or there are a couple of stay at home dads with side businesses or in study and some families who work part time shifts between them.

 

Many of the things stay at home mums did once don't help financially now, and as the pool of mums get smaller there is less company and more pressure to do something else. The government also encourages increased workforce participation. Insecurity of relationships is a driving factor too. Interesting to see if that changes if divorce rates are decreasing (which I believe they are?)

 

It's hard for me to imagine how our life would work with two full time workers without some outsourcing. I'd have at least 50 hours a week with transit time while my kids school would only be 30 so there'd be 20 hours of after school care as a minimum. I think once kids are home alone things are different though. I think age of kids and family size are huge factors. It would be possible for us to fully cook and shop on the weekends plus clean, if we all worked together, but dh would have to give up his voluntary work.

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After my children were school aged, I got rather tired of either being dismissed when I said I didn,t work, or having people gush unnaturally about how nice that must be, or having to defend my choice. Now when people ask what I do, I say, "Nothing." That turns out to be a conversation stopper. People are usually afraid to inquire further and we go on to have a nice conversation about something else entirely. Those who do inquire are usually people who are intrigued by the idea and able to handle a conversation about not working for money. Or they laugh and say me, neither. It isn,t the most kind way of dealing with the problem but it works well. : )

 

Nan

 

 

In 1988, I proudly proclaimed that I had decided that the hard work and financial sacrifices of being a SAHM were worth it and that I had decided that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

 

In 2016, I tell people that my dd28 is "in early childhood education" and shake my head about how underpaid she is and how little respect people have for her profession.

 

They usually change the subject and say nice things about my other kids' careers and what about those niners huh and do you think it's going to rain.

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