SAHMs often play many diverse roles, meaning there's not a single task that defines them. Typically, they handle many different jobs to keep the children engaged, fed, clean, active, and meeting developmental milestones, while also acting as the family's housekeeper, organizer, social planner, treasurer, personal shopper, and chauffeur, among myriad other roles.
While they're vital to their family, some may not value this role and may debate a SAHM's contributions to society as a whole. Others question why anyone would want to be an at-home parent. This negative dynamic can fuel what has been dubbed the "mommy wars," where mom-shaming and judgment for how moms "should" act can lead to gossiping or blasting moms publicly on the Internet.
Shortly after I became a mother I realized there was a shortage (or absence) of places for moms that were honest, real and relatable. I truly believe that we are all works in progress and no one is perfect. I believe in being vulnerable, taking care of yourself, trying new things, positive discipline, moving out of your comfort zone, asking for help, making yourself a priority, and doing all the things that make you happy. If you believe in some or all of those things too, then please take a look around, because I think you’re going to like it here.
Unfortunately, our culture often has a harsh and unattainable understanding of what being a "good" SAHM entails—as well as heaping on the stigma that these women have it easy and are not equal contributors to society at large. Social media and even some scientific research push for unrealistic expectations (some of which are contradictory), including the following:
SAHMs are expected to put their kids above all else, even ahead of their own mental or physical health. Taking any time for yourself to exercise, eat a proper meal, hang out with friends, or even get a haircut can be seen as selfish to judgmental outsiders (and sometimes to SAHMs themselves) who believe the kids should be the sole focus.
Perfection is Expected
Moms get unhealthy and competitive messages from our society that only the best is good enough. There are some who believe that "good" SAHMs always feed their children homemade and healthy unprocessed foods, drastically limit screen time, keep a perpetually perfectly clean and tidy house, and spend their days engaged in creative, educational play with the kids.
While these goals certainly have their merits, it's simply unrealistic to expect any parent to uphold them every minute of every day. What is fair is to expect SAHMs to do the best they can—and to assume that they are doing just that.
There's Ample Time for Housework
Since SAHMs are thought to be at home all day long, it's often also assumed that it should be easy to either do yourself or supervise all the laundry, dust, vacuum, and cook all meals, and keep the house in tip-top shape every day. Watching over children is time-consuming and a nonstop job. Many SAHMs are accustomed to starting a task only to be pulled away or picking up a mess only to have it return the minute a child gets up from a nap.
Society's expectations rely on many outdated misconceptions about gender roles and long-held beliefs about motherhood, many of which have not caught up to today's realities. Unfortunately, the role of the stay-at-home dad also suffers from criticism and isn’t safe from judgment either.
Is It Right for You?
While the SAHM life is not for everyone, and there are downsides, there are also many pluses. Many SAHMs say the biggest one is just always being there on a day-to-day basis with their kids. (Incidentally, this is also often seen as a drawback.) Other benefits include entrusting how your kids are raised, in terms of education, values, religion, and other beliefs, to yourself rather than an outside entity.
Ultimately, you will need to make the decision of whether or not to become a SAHM for yourself. However, it is only really feasible for people with the necessary financial resources and/or a partner whose salary can fully support the family.
Have you read Managing Different Parenting Styles