What is it like to be a SAHM?

Evangelyna - posted on 06/09/2013 ( 9 moms have responded )

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I've been wondering this for a long time but never knew how to pose the question without making it seem like I don't think SAHM's do anything. I think being a SAHM is amazing and wonderful and I'm completely in awe of the women who have the kind of personality to do that. Sometimes I wish I did. My sister-in-law is a SAHM and I think she's absolutely incredible. I have all of the respect in the world for SAHM's but I don't understand you. I don't understand SAHM's just like I don't understand people who LOVE math and get excited about it. That's only because I've always hated math and cringe at the thought of math and I couldn't imagine ever being a SAHM. So, hopefully no one will take offense to this as I don't mean to offend it's just my own silly curiosity. I pretty much get what SAHMs of babies and young children do, that's a VERY demanding job and takes an incredibly patient person to do it. What about when the kids go to school?

I should have started by saying that I was raised by a SAHM who also occassionally worked from home as a counselor, I say occassionally because it was pretty sporadic off and on throughout the years. But I don't know what she did when my brother and I were in school. Cleaning only takes so long and you can only clean so much. My dad always did the laundry and the dishes, he still does the laundry and dishes for the two of them. I guess this is where I should be apologizing if I come off offensively. How do you fill your days when your kids are in school all day as a SAHM?

Is it possible to apologize too much in a single post? Lol I really want to emphasize that I don't want to offend anyone with this question (mostly why I never asked it before but the curiosity is really getting to me) and I am aware of how hard working stay at home moms are. I really started thinking about this question when I was talking to my best friend about parenting. I'm expecting my first next month and she doesn't have any kids nor is she married yet. She's currently pursuing a degree in psychology and wants to work with military kids who either lost a parent on duty or whose parent was injured. (her dad was severely injured in Iraq). She was telling me that she would want to be a SAHM and home school her kids and I couldn't understand why she would go through all of the schooling it takes to become a psychologist if she plans to give up her dreams after she has kids. She changed her mind A LOT while she was trying to find something she really wanted to do which is also why it surprised me so much. I guess in asking what it is SAHMs do when their kids go to school I'm trying to wrap my mind around why she would want to go through so much to get her dream job if she's planning on basically throwing it away.

Again, please don't be offended!

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Tracy - posted on 06/12/2013

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I'm a SAHM of three kids who are all in school now. I've thought about things like getting a part-time job or going back to school, but the truth is, it's just not a realistic option for me. My husband is in the military, so he's not reliably home evenings/weekends, which would mean the kind of child care that is extra expensive (because we don't live in an area where there are many even part time jobs that would allow me to ONLY work M-F while the kids are in school). My elementary schoolers are home a full hour before my middle-schooler after school, so I can't leave them unattended. Additionally, my youngest (8YO) has ADD, which means his homework is an hours-long struggle (usually 2-4 hours). I don't feel it's fair to ask someone else to deal with that, especially not my 12YO or a friend; daycare providers simply CAN'T give him the one-on-one attention he needs, and when my husband is home, he has his own ADHD issues and doesn't have the temperament to give our youngest the kind of patience and reinforcement he needs.

So logistically, working isn't really an option (I know I'm not enough of a self-starter to do a work-from-home job). I'd love to go back to school, but...money. There are not a lot of options locally; and although there are some in the wider area, we can't afford gas for me to drive 45+ min each way on a regular basis.

The plus side of this is that I don't have to worry about summertime childcare. I'm free to take my kids to the beach tomorrow -- a Thursday (my parents live 9+ hours away, but they're camping about an hour and a half from us, so we're going to go visit them). And during the school year, I can go to the grocery store without three voices begging for this, that, and the other thing that we don't need and can't afford anyway. I can keep the house reasonably clean with a minimum of effort (frankly, I don't do a whole huge lot because I want my kids to learn how to do all the necessary tasks, so we rotate who does what on a fairly regular basis). And I am free, when a friend is visiting from out of town, to spend time with them with or without kids. I've gotten back into baking bread from scratch, I can exercise without having to rush through it, I practice playing my flute, I do cross stitch, I can watch TV without having to stay up till midnight (good because I generally fall asleep around 10p.m.)

As far as your friend goes... who says she'd be throwing away her dream? Maybe, honestly, SAHM-ing *IS* her real "dream job" and the rest was just a placeholder until she meets the guy and has the kids. She may find more opportunities to help others as a volunteer than as a paid professional. She may feel that her current degree trajectory will help her with her desire to home school (personally, I don't have the temperament to do that, but I think there's a ton wrong with the school systems, both public and private, in this country, so props to her!)

Basically, there are as many different reasons why someone might choose this life as there are people who choose it. I know several people (moms and dads) who started writing after their kids started school -- or even before. Many of them don't make enough to live off of as authors, but they are published and they do make some money from it. And the truth is, Stay-at-Home parenting isn't for everyone. That's what the feminist movement is about: giving women (and men) the ability to choose a path, no matter how non-traditional it is, that satisfies them without having to justify it to anyone.

[deleted account]

Thank you. Being homeless as a child, I depended A LOT on the charity of others to survive, so now it's my turn to give back.
I didn't finish college because I was diagnosed with cancer at that time. I never used the knowledge I learned from the classes I did take in my career, but I do use them all the time in my work with our fundraising efforts. (I was majoring in marketing and graphic design). Maybe your friend can use the knowledge she learns in psychology to help veterans and their families on a volunteer basis.

I guess it's somewhat disappointing to know that our degrees will never "pay for themselves" as in provide the income to justify their expense, but it doesn't mean they are worthless. We can still use them to make a difference in our world, we will still have the knowledge they provided. Does that make sense?

[deleted account]

One other note about your friend "throwing her dream away"

Just because she doesn't get paid for her work doesn't mean it's not important. She can still use her degree in very important ways, and help a lot of people while she is a sahm. I think her area of study and the ideas she has for helping the families of fallen/injured soldiers is very admirable.
Also, she could work in her field before she has her children and put back money in order to stay home once she has them. That is what I did--I worked very hard before J was born in order to make sure I had extra funds available for staying home once he was born.

[deleted account]

I am a sahm, and my only child, I call him J, is in 2nd grade now. This is how my weeks are filled. Keep in mind, he is only in school for 35 hours a week.

While he is at school, I get all of the "chores" done so that I can spend time with my husband and son when they get home. The time after school is for helping with homework, taking him to and from his different sports and lessons, and spending time as a family playing games, taking walks, riding bikes, etc. If I worked all day, I would have to do everything in the evenings, and I think if I tried to do even half of what I do during the day while J is at school in the evenings, I would have very little time to bond with my child.

So here's my week.
I do all of the cleaning, of course, and you are correct--It doesn't take long. Cleaning usually takes me less than an hour a day.
I do all of the shopping. I purchase our produce from a local and organic farmer's market, and the rest of our food at a whole food organic grocer. Neither is particularly close to our home, so between planning my menu and shopping, that can take up a good chunk of time, but it is worth it to me because I want to feed my family the healthiest foods. Add to that the cleaning supplies, household incidentals, and clothing, and I can spend at least 4 hours a week shopping.
I also manage our finances and investments, usually takes about an hour a week.

In addition to my "homemaker duties" I volunteer in several areas.
I am at my son's school an average of 6-8 hours a week, more when helping with fundraisers. I run an early independent reading program, volunteer with the publishing center, and coordinate the SEEDS program. I also help with various fundraisers in areas where I have strengths, and recruit mentors for our at risk youth program. These programs help to insure that my child receives the best education possible, and are extremely important, but they require parent volunteers to run them. Schools with low parental involvement consistently score lower on standardized tests, have higher discipline problems, and have lower overall performances.

I volunteer with our local homeless coalition. I run a reading program for homeless children. I spearheaded a program to help homeless mothers (particularly those fleeing abusive situations) secure jobs with pay sufficient to support themselves--we give them an interview wardrobe, access to computers for applying to jobs, resume assistance, and even childcare so that they can attend interviews.
I help organize our annual Walk for the Homeless which serves to raise awareness of the homeless problems in our community and raise money for our shelters.
I organize 3 black tie galas and silent auctions each year to benefit homeless children. That doesn't sound like much, but it takes a lot of time talking to corporate sponsors, collecting auction items, marketing the event so that people will come, organizing catering, decor, etc.
I feel that we should ALL volunteer within our communities in some way at all times. We make our community what it is, and if no one puts forth the effort to make it wonderful, it won't be wonderful. I also feel we have a responsibility to help others whenever we can--we all have different strengths and weaknesses, so we are all able to help, and at some point, we will all most likely need someone elses help.

In addition to my volunteer work, I keep myself healthy both physically and mentally. I work out everyday on my own, but I also attend fitness classes so that I can interact with like minded women, and I have brunch with my friends once a week or so.
I also plan all of my hair, doctors, and other appointments during school hours.

Alicia - posted on 06/11/2013

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I'm a SAHM with three kids. i have one in school and the other two arent there yet but soon. right now i work with E (3yr) who will be going to school next. right now we are working on potty training and I also help L who is only 11 mon. there are lots of things that sahms can do. i do the cleaning and i love to bake so i do a lot of that. i give most of it to A's(4.5yr) jk class who enjoys them and some i freeze for later. when i was enrolled in an online college class i did that. i also look up new recipes for the weekend so i can cook great meals for my husband. I'm also sure that some sahms have other sahms and go out with them and dont forget that school whether all day everyday or half days or every other day its only about 7 hours and i know that seems like a lot but try living it. it seems to fly by you no sooner drop them off or get them off the bus then you have to be getting them from school or off the bus

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Eve - posted on 06/14/2013

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Who says your friend can't pursue BOTH dreams of being a SAHM and also be a psychologist who helps military kids? I know my dreams and goals have changed quite alot throughout my life and I'm still evolving. Fresh out of college, I had my "dream job" in PR and Marketing. I liked the exciting, fast-paced beauty & fashion industry, which was the perfect outlet for my creative skills. I was lucky to have a husband with a flexible job when we had our first child because I was in NY alot working long, crazy stressful hours. I realized I was missing out on our baby growing up so I pursued my next dream of being a teacher. I loved working with children and less hours meant I got to spend more time with my own child, volunteering at her school any chance I got. Baby #2 came along so I had to find a sitter while I was at work till the time I had to pick up my first child from school. To say that my sitter was making more money than I was should give you guys an idea of how grossly underpaid teachers are. It simply didn't make financial sense anymore, and I wanted to give my second child as much time and attention as I did my first, so now I'm living my dream of being a SAHM. I still use my teaching skills to reinforce at home what they're learning in school because I do take my children's education seriously. Who knows if my goals will change later on in life and what "dream job" I'll pursue next? All I know is to take it one step at a time and enjoy being a SAHM for today:)

Angela - posted on 06/14/2013

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what being a full-time stay at home mom means I'm home with the kids and I don't have to find child care in the summer because I'm not working because my kids go full time to school during the week I stay with my in laws currently because we've lost our previous home but cleaning up after 2 adults in addition to my husband my two kids to clean up after themselves better than the other two adults that takes a while I've spent eight hour or more days cleaning up around the house and still not gotten done to see them out the sky be done not to mention I do do yard work I run errands and I pay bills that wouldn't otherwise be able to be done at a later time because my husband works till 530 in addition I don t run I help out at different things between the church and things in the neighborhood volunteer at other things in my spare time like things at school that I can help out with words I was working I wouldn't have the time to do it back when I work I work 40 hours a week and sometimes in days sometimes at night it was flip flop shift and I don't have always have reliable help child care not that between my what I did for working and what my husband is working that we could afford the child care I also work out and buy being at home during the school year I don't have to find a last minute babysitter the moment kids gotta stay home sick which would have been a problem where I have been working. I also go and help over at my mom's house occasionally with think she needs done that she can't do for herself. we have 3 dogs at the house so there's three dogs also that need to be let out mine including my mother in laws to drink the day so she's not up and they're down I let them out I walk mine I may have the option of being able to make more of those home cook dinners a talk about so I can plan my kids meals ahead of time and they allow them to have healthier meals and also then my husband doesn't have to worry about what he's going to eat when he comes home from a long day at work being home all day give me more of a choice of what I'm going to hear from those meals whether I'm just going to use the crock pot or whether I'm going to actually roast something
or do something that requires more prep time then other things because not everything is a 30 minute meal I also garden flowers and vegetables and herbs wish for allowance for more healthier ingredients in our meals which in the summer cut the cost of art cost of our grocery bill cause we're not required to buy as many vegetables
I also spend a bit of time on the phone but with bills are creditors making appointments and doing the phone tag my husband is not home to do to get ahold of things that he needs to get done because he's at work well its gotta be done so usually I have a pretty busy day or a pretty busy week I also work on my rating and I do research on things that might need to be research for either or things that need to be done with the kids are for the kids to improve my parenting skills ect

User - posted on 06/10/2013

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Unfortunately, after reading the entire post I realize that although I am a SAHM, I cannot answer your question. I, too am baffled by the SAHM of children who attend full-time school. I have every intention on working at least part-time once my kids start school.

Evangelyna - posted on 06/09/2013

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Wow! That's really great, I love how involved you are in your sons school and the community. I definitely agree with you that everyone should contribute to help better their community. Thank you so much for your response.

In regards to my friend, the likelihood of her working for very long after her degree or even while being a sahm is pretty slim. She's extremely spoiled and literally hasn't worked a day in her life and doesn't understand what it means to work for anything. I think her career goals are great and very admirable but after knowing her all of these years (we've been best friends since we were kids) it seems like school has always just been a filler for her until she gets married, moves out of her parents house and has a husband to continue the privileged lifestyle she's accustomed to.

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