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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

May Poll Results:
Whose job is harder, SAHMs/SAHDs or WAHMs/WAHDs?

This month's poll went up a little late, so I'm not sure how representative the numbers are. There's no point in creating a graphic chart to illustrate your votes. Almost 90% of you voted that SAHMs/SAHDs jobs are harder. I'm also a little late getting the results up. You can blame it on my job - we SAHMs are very busy!

Retrieved June 7, 2011 from http://www.momlogic.com/2009/04/stay_at_home_versus_working_mom.php

First, some definitions. For the purposes of this post:

SAHM = stay-at-home mom
SAHD = stay-at-home dad
WAHM = work-away-from-home mom
WAHD = work-away-from-home dad

Other terms like WOHM, work-outside-of-the-home mom, and WOHD, work-outside-of-the-home dad, have also been used. Just to further confuse things, sometimes WAHM and WAHD are used to describe work-at-home moms and dads. I haven't used these terms because they open massive cans of worms like the issue of defining a work-at-home mom or dad only as someone who has a job outside of parenting while being at home with their kids. Some stay-at-home moms and dads would call themselves work-at-home moms and dads since parenting is their job and its definitely work.

Many parents work harder at the job of parenting then they've ever worked at any other job in their lives. It's a double-time (never mind full-time) job with zero pay. (Check out this tool to calculate what mom's paycheck should be!) It's benefits and bonuses come in the form of kisses and hugs.

Retrieved June 7, 2011 from http://mikahaela.wordpress.com/tag/stat-at-home-mom/

According to this highly scientific poll, SAHMs and SAHDs work harder than WAHMs and WHADs. I have worked outside of the home, I have been a stay-at-home mom and a work-AT-home mom (if they are not the same thing). Being a mom is certainly the hardest job I have ever had. It's also the most rewarding job I've ever had.

I have not yet been a work-AWAY-from-home mom, but I imagine, and I hear, that these moms' challenges are significant, and I don't think this highly scientific poll likely represents that group very well. If any of you work-away-from-home moms and dads are reading this, please share your thoughts with us!

One of the things that we stay/work-at-home parents do not have to deal with is any guilt that might come with being away from our kids, and the associated need to make every moment with them precious. Stay-at-home parents may not feel that pressure. I say, may not, because a lot of the time I still do feel that pressure. Stay-at-home parent is a job I want to do exceptionally well, but let's face it: when there are no coffee breaks (let alone pee breaks), no lunch breaks, and eventually no naps, it can be draining and operating at my peak at all times is extremely exhausting if not impossible.

Note that I have a preschooler, so I speak about this job from that perspective. I don't know what being a stay-at-home parent to school-aged children is like. I imagine by the time Jack is in school full-time, I will fill that time with other work and so will be more like a work-away-from-home parent, except that I will likely be working from home... or, as I am doing today, the nearest non-distracting coffee shop.

I care about this job more than any other. The performance pressure is high. The job is highly rewarding, but it's also highly stressful at times - at least, it is for me. How stressful this job is must be as individual as each child, each parent, and each child-parent relationship. In some cases the combination of factors might make for a relatively stress-free stay-at-home experience. In other cases, the challenges may be many.

Ultimately, if there is an answer to this question, to me it comes down to this. We can only know and accept our own challenges and our own choices. They are guaranteed to be different than someone else's. If we criticize another parent for not making the same choice we did, it is because we assume, in myopic fashion, that they face the same set of circumstances and options that we do. Each parent (each child and each parent-child relationship) is unique, so the challenges and choices they are presented with are also going to be unique. A little tolerance and understanding is in order, I think. A little less jumping to the conclusion that we have it harder than others would be helpful. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and criticizing others, we could instead open ourselves up and listen to the stories of other parents, maybe even pick up a few tips to use in our own lives.

Retrieved June 7, 2011 from http://www.waystobecomerich.com/tag/work-from-home-dad/

We all love our children more than we are able to express. We have that in common. But our journeys are different.

And now, to lighten the mood, here's is a test to determine whose job is harder. Please take this with a heaping teaspoon of salt. It's funny and it's all in fun. Stay-At-Home vs. Working Parents

As the parent of an only child with various challenges of my own, I have my own story (perhaps I'll share it one day). Read more stories of WAHMs/SAHMs here. 

Here is who I'd like to hear from in order to understand their struggles better: stay-at-home dads, single dads, single moms, moms of multiples, moms with more than one child who work-away-from-home. WHAMs, WAHDs, SAHMs, SAHDs, WOHMs, WOHDs.... whatever you call yourself, will you share your story?


  1. I just wanted to let you know that I've awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award!

    Stop by Far From Camelot to get the information!

    Have a great day!

  2. Aren't we Beths great! (see above)
    Re: parental units of more than one offspring, who have chosen for what ever reason, given their personal challenges and options, to do paid work somewhere other than at the place where they reside...
    I currently fall into this category, but have not always been so.
    First I was a single working girl, then a married working girl, a stay at home mom for a couple of years, a working outside the home mom for a couple more during which time my husband was at sea with the Navy, so that pretty much felt like being a single mom, was a stay at home mom of 2 for a while when we moved provinces, a part-time working outside the home mom, then for the past 8 years, a full time working outside the home mom. Needless to say mine are now older, and depending on who you talk to, more complicated than ever (that is a poll for another day).
    All this to say, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of the challenges faced by all of these options and I don't really have any answers! I have found all of them challenging and rewarding in different ways. It can be hard not to have paid employment outside the home as this is the way most of us feel validated about our worth to the wider world. It also provides adult conversation. At this point, when I am on the other end of the spectrum, there are days when I feel adult conversation is over-rated...
    When I am working outside the home I miss being the first one my kids talk to when they come home from school.
    Lucky for me, my Noah (15, grade 9) still calls me when he gets home from school - mostly to ask if he can have an icecream bar or some popcorn, but it still fills that place that is sometimes less than full now that I am not home to greet him.
    It is important to ensure that your kids know you are always home for them, and there is value in showing them that you are there for them even if you are not in the same place. I am struggling with this one as my Sarah is now 18 and off at University...sigh!
    As you say Sue, we can't know what has shaped each other's choices, the places where we find ourselves and the options available. And often we can't know where we will need to be in the future as we travel our personal roads. We need to support each other while we do this wonderful job! It is enough to do our best to help our kids be the best version of themselves that they can be, while being our own best self.
    Okay, I am done now

  3. Far From Camelot Beth, thank you so much! I'll be visiting you shortly and posting my award acceptance soon!

  4. Beth, Navy wife (Practically Single-SAHM)/Full-time WOHM/Part-time WOHM - thanks for sharing your perspective. Kind of nice to have had all of those different experiences. Interesting that you've pretty much done it all and would say that each stage was challenging and rewarding in its own way - no one being any 'better' than the other. I agree we need to support each other - the job, however it's configured, is tough, and we could all use a little understanding and a little help.

  5. I work in an office. I can't speak to everyone's experiences, but in my personal experience? My short stint as a SAHM was the hardest I've ever worked. Granted, it also overlapped with post-birth anxiety and the news my mom might not be living long, but I truly felt I never had a moment to myself that wasn't intricately tied to someone else's needs. I went back to the office and felt the joy of knowing (a) my baby was well tended to by someone whose morals and compassion are very much in alignment with my own and (b) for several hours each day, my time was mine to allot as I needed between tasks. It was much more ordered and structured back at the office in a way that was much more manageable and, ultimately, peaceful to me. I cried every second I was in the car the first few weeks, but felt so free when I actually reached the office. For me, and that's the only person I can speak for here, being a SAHM was definitely harder!

    I look back at my mom's experiences as a single mom of four kids and marvel. I also have to admit to experiencing moments of rage when people would ask her, "Why don't you have a job?" Well, maybe because it's really hard to find childcare for FOUR children you've been left to care for by a useless, abusive husband when you only have a high school degree and your prospects of a not-minimum wage job are hard! I still laugh, though, when I remember my dad telling a judge, "She doesn't work." The judge's incredulous reply? "Are you telling me raising four kids by yourself isn't work?" Shows how much responsibility he had for his kids, eh?!

  6. Deborah, thanks for sharing. I haven't had the experience of working outside the home since becoming a mom, but I know the feeling of leaving my son somewhere, missing him terribly, and wondering if it was the right thing to do.

    My mom was a large-ish family SAHM also (5 kids), and I'm amazed she didn't drink more! Now that I think about what you've said, there weren't a lot of options for her either. I've been fortunate to have the choice to stay home or work.

    Sorry to hear your dad wasn't there for you all. Your mom deserves a medal!

  7. Thanks for sharing! =) Everyone faces unique decisions and challenges so which job is harder would depend on those things =) I have a lot of respect for moms that juggle home and working outside the home. Some days have been so hectic that I can't imagine doing both. Or how I could have juggled doing both!

    I"m visiting from the finding new friends blog hop! =) New follower too! =)

    Arizona Girls blog

  8. I'm with you there. I can't imagine doing both. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I hope you got my first comment. Do you mind if I grab you Stay At Home Mom Badge to put on my blog.
    I shared you on my FB and Twitter.
    Following you via weekend blog hop. I am following you blog every way I can. Stop by my blog and follow however you like.


  10. Hi Patricia! Thanks for stopping by. I'm not sure if I saw your first comment, but thank-you for resubmitting it if it disappeared (that has been known to happen). I visited your blog as well. You do some lovely quilting!!

    If you mean you'd like to copy the code for my Cookie's Chronicles blog button, then yes, please do! If you mean another badge or button that I have on my blog, they each should link to the original source so that you can grab the code and add it to your blog. If you want to use an image that I have posted on my blog, please view it at the original source if listed below the photo. If there is no image retrieval information below the photo, and if it doesn't link to the source directly, then the photo is one that I have taken personally and I would prefer that it not be copied without specific authorization. If I'm still not understanding what you're looking for, just let me know! :)

    Thanks Patricia!

  11. Great post. I am a work out of the home mother and when I am at work I feel guilty for not being with my kids, when I am home with the kids I feel guilty that I am not doing my job well. I think all of the scenarios are equally stressful, tiring, etc. End the end you have to do what you feel is right for your, your kids, your family. It is definetly not easy to balance out things sometimes but we make it work, most of the time. Husband and I work opposite shifts so most of the time it is it he or I that are with our children and then grandma fills in when there is overlap thankfully to help care for the little ones. Thanks for following my blog. I am your newest follower.

  12. Not Superwoman, thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like your family has it all covered. I guess there's no escaping the guilt of motherhood! :) Thanks for the follow.

  13. I have been SAHM, WAHM and Full Time Work mom and none of it is easy! I think it depends on the number of children and their ages more than where you are when you work and whether or not your work generates income. My husband who has been SAHD and WAHD would say that staying home with the kids is the hardest job of all!