Misconceptions About Stay-At-Home-Moms

I have been a Marketing professional for over 5 years before I had baby. So, I know what it means to be a working individual as well as a Stay-at-Home-Mom (since I am one now). There are several misconceptions or assumptions about Stay-at-Home-Moms, which may be funny or irritating depending on your mood.

Misconceptions About Stay At Home Moms - Working Vs. Non Working Mom

Let me clear out a few at least.

Time: Just because we are at home 24 X 7 does not mean we have all the time in the world because no matter what you believe we don’t ‘do nothing’. The first thing people say when they call up or drop in during afternoon is ‘were you sleeping?’ Just because I stay at home the whole day does not mean I have the luxury of sleeping whenever I fancy. In fact, I never sleep, except at night. Since I am the primary care-giver of my child and we do not have any other family member around, the only free time I have is when my son naps. So I don’t waste a single minute of that time in napping or whiling away. I straightaway get down to finishing my work.

Money: People generally assume that the reason we are not hiring a nanny to take care of our child is because we don’t have enough money (since I am not working any more). Trust me, it is by choice. I have help for cooking and cleaning but I wanted to take care of my child myself – cooking for him, giving him massage/bath, feeding, putting to sleep, etc. Of course, I regret it sometimes because of how overwhelming it gets, but still when I see the larger picture, I love it.

Watching TV: None of my friends believe that I don’t watch TV. Of course, the question that they don’t say out loud is ‘what do I do the whole day?’ Well, I haven’t decided to stay home to watch TV! On a serious note, I don’t have time. Most of the time I am pursuing my son’s routine, in whatever time is left, I read and write.

Moreover, the impact of TV is same on adults as on kids. It almost hypnotizes you and slows down your reaction. I have a toddler at home. His curiosity leads him to dangerous stunts sometimes. If I am not mindful and alert at all times, he could hurt himself. Moreover, I am careful of not exposing him to unsuitable TV programs.

Misconceptions About Stay-At-Home-Moms

Image courtesy: knowyourmeme.com

Relaxation: Agreed, I don’t have to rush to office at a particular time, but the moment my day starts, the whole day revolves around my child. As soon as I wake up, he starts following me. I brush his teeth, try to potty train him, feed him his breakfast and only then have mine, play with him because he wants Momma to sit with him and play, get the helps finish their work, put the house in order, massage him, bathe him, feed him fruits, put him to sleep, and then I get some breathing space. Relaxation? I haven’t read newspaper properly for so long now.

Personally, more than annoyed, I am amused by the perceptions about Stay-at-Home-Moms.

Do you have anything to add or may be a counter-point? Honestly, I don’t mind!

Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life

  • Agree so completely! The “Were you sleeping?” question gets on my nerves, I tell you. If it’s possible, staying at home is more hectic than going to office and doing your job for few hours.

    http://wordingmythoughts.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/what-do-housewives-do/

    • I agree with Maddie, and of course with you Reema. Stay-at-home is often much more hectic than going to office. I too do everything for my child on my own, with a daily help for cleaning. Yes, like you say, some days are more tiring than the others, but the ‘larger picture’ remians one of loads of satisfaction and contentment. Lovely read. Hope it reaches the person who asked you ‘were you sleeping?’ 🙂 I for one never will! 😀

    • Ha ha such assumptions can really put some people on bad books. Why do people think if we are home, we would be lazing around? I find it more funny than infuriating. By the way, I loved your post 🙂

      • Sakshi, I don’t need to tell you how maddening it can get sometimes. I have a help for cooking the main meals too because I did not want to cook in the free time I got. And yet, I feel I work all the time doing something or the other. It never gets over.

        • It never gets over, I know exactly what you mean. I only keep giving my soul this solace that it will perhaps show in my child when he grows us, or that it is helping me stay fit. 😛

  • Very well written. There are some issues about which people seem to make very ridiculous assumptions about the choices of what they consider “the other side”:

    1) Indians staying on in the west/returning to India [I am always amazed at the amount of stereotypical generalizations made about both]

    2) Stay-at-home-moms/”working” moms

    3) Couples with/without children

    4) Speaking to your children at home in English/any Indian language

    But, assumptions made in (2) are particularly bizarre.
    Even seasoned writers like Chetan Bhagat do this. Check out the following article:
    http://sakshinanda.blogspot.in/2013/05/oh-chetan-bhagat-read-what-you-write.html

    • Hey Kaneenika, thank you for sharing Sakshi’s post. I loved it. Yes, it is common for people to slot other people in stereotypes, but they should not be so condescending when they don’t make an effort to understand. Anyways, you can’t change other people, so you need to laugh it off as their naivete 🙂

    • Oh Kaneenika, thanks for liking and sharing the CB article. 😀 Glad you agree. 🙂

  • Reema you very correct when you say that people think that stay-at-home moms have all the time in the world. After retirement I am at home. I have seen my two grand daughters from birth. Now both of them are sweet and well mannered teenagers. I was more busy at home in their childhood, than before I retired.

    • Yes, as you rightly said, little kids can be quite handful.
      I remember a husband telling his wife (a housewife) ‘what do you really do at home!’. Once she finished preparing food in the morning and served those chapatis in the afternoon, she got the comment “why can’t she make fresh chapatis if she is at home!’ Personally, I don’t like spending entire day in the kitchen. I like to finish the work and move on.

  • Hey I am a stay at home mom too and I do have a nanny because I really need my space to read and write. But I still honestly have tons to do because I read to my baby and play with him and I’m very involved in his routine because they want their moms no matter if there is other help around or not. I haven’t watched tv or read a newspaper in ages either and I never nap in the day.

  • That is so true. I remember seeing my mom work at home full time. She hardly had time to take a nap or catch a TV serial. She worked harder than I ever worked at office, and she did not even have a cook or maid.

    • Avada, that’s true. Our moms used to work harder looking after everyone the whole day and never really taking time off for themselves. In comparison, we have a lot of help.

  • Yes, I understand completely. I have helps for cooking and cleaning because I attend to my son otherwise. Imagine, attending to him the whole day and when he would nap, cooking! I would go crazy. I want my time for reading and writing.

  • Bang on! I now ignore the people who say such things.. its so irritating . Especially everytime the Chetan Bhagat’s very famous article about how glorified Working mums are keeps popping up on FB ever so often!

    • Sirisha, I feel people share a lot of things without reading it. I remember I saw a lot of posts about ‘share’ to help some kid who was supposedly suffering from some terminal disease. I always check my facts before sharing. So, I Googled and found that it was a scam. Somebody was using somebody’s kid’s picture for this kind of thing. How horrible is that!

  • I feel sorry that stay-at-home moms have to really get out there and clarify misconceptions!! Raising children and taking care of house is the most demanding but thankless job in this world.

    • Atleast the people who should give credit, do (read husbands)..ha ha! But I know some husbands who don’t think much of what their wives accomplish at home. A homemaker’s job is 24X7. Isn’t there a story? When a husband feels sleepy, he straightaway goes to bed. When a wife feels sleepy, she would put a bag for milk on the door, put away all the food etc in fridge, organize the living room, etc etc and after half an hour only perhaps she will sleep. And it is true. Women are perhaps wired like that.

  • very nicely put…being a mother is more of a full time job, it’s about nurturing your most precious resource or your treasure in the right way and believe me it’s not a child’s play one wrong step and the your child is a by product of his or her upbringing which manifests as he or she grows up, its the base which is to be made and being a full time mom I think I can do it better as compared to those who juggle between home and office .After all we are humans and cannot expect to have the best of both…just don’t believe in the cliché “super moms” why do we need to be “super” being mom itself is such an arduous task

    • Hi Ronita, I also wanted to dedicate myself completely to only raising my son and not be pulled by the professional commitments and therefore I decided I need to take a break from work. I am not even thinking about how I will get back to working, I will figure that out. I was in a good profile but it was not my passion, so giving it up was a easier decision but for people who are passionate about what they are doing, it must be a tough one. As you rightly said, the initial years are crucial and therefore I don;t regret my decision ever, especially when I see him learning good habits.

  • Arrey I have seen few houswifes do completely opposite of what you do BUT I will not judge them. That is the way they have chosen to live! The main porblem with us is that we judge people with how they live. Even if u sleep in the afternoon my father what goes??

    Seriously!

    • Smita, how can you be so effortlessly funny on most debatable topics? I admire that quality in you. And the way you said it makes me feel that sleeping should be my birthright. But jokes apart, the most ideal situation would be when nobody judged anybody. I think each one of us are doing our best, choosing our priorities and using the opportunities.

  • Pallavi Patnaik

    Very nicely written article. I am a stay at home mom and have a help for cooking and cleaning. I opted for this because I wanted to enjoy every moments of child’s up bringing. Its hard work but satisfactory. My child is going to play school and now only I am getting some me time. I have only one child. My mom had three. This experience gave me an opportunity to realize my mom’s hard work. And coming to super moms ok there is no guaranty that our children will be better than super mom’s. Both super mom and stay at home mom have one common thing – hard work. It is the satisfaction which matter at last.

  • Pallavi, When I read what you wrote, I felt I had written it. That is exactly the reason why I hired help, to give maximum time and energy to my son. If I try and do all the work myself, at the end of it I will be tired and irritable. So, we have to make a choice. And yes, like you said, there’s no guarantee how things will turn out to be but each one of us are striving to be the best parents we can be 🙂

  • Nischala

    Reema – Interesting subject, and you’ve obviously struck a chord with many women here, as I can see in the comments.. I think it should be a personal choice for the mother – about whether she is a SAHM or NOT.. I do agree that being a SAHM is a full time 24 X 7 and demanding role, but it does come with its share of perks.. You can plan your time the way you want, you can do what you want when you want… You can watch TV when you want, You can eat when you want, You can sleep when you want – You do have that OPTION.. if you don’t exercise it – That’s your choice too right? Its great to see that most of the women here are really self-disciplined and taking their role as “mothers” very seriously! But I wonder if could have larger implications later in life.. because your “mum” identity is so so pivotal to you! The point is this : Put many a man at home (father or not) – for a few days, and I’ll bet he will spend it eating, sleeping and watching TV (on the couch) without a care in the world .. The fact about human behavior is you’d expect others to live life the way you would.. ! And hence, you speak from that perspective.. On a lighter note, if that’s what others expect from – Just maybe once in a way – you live up to their expectations.. what say? 😉 Nischala

  • Ha ha Nischala, it is obvious how many mothers are fed up of being slotted into these stereotypes of Stay-at-Home-Moms. Now for the views you have put forth…
    1. 100% with you on this. It is a personal choice to be an SAHM or not.
    2. I often say being a 24X7 mom is the most challenging job in the world but also has the best perks, and that is the reason I chose this over being a working mom. But the actual perks are the many precious moments which I share with my little one. Those are priceless.
    3. No, I cannot do things when I want them. I have to attend to my son. My intention of writing this article was just to point this out that if I stay at home, it does not mean I can do things whenever I want them. You would have experienced that even if you are a working mom, on days when you are at home. You cannot do things when you want. You must be attending to the needs of your kids.
    4. I am certainly not cribbing about my choice. I love every single day of it. I am thankful for every single moment I have with my child. I am thankful that, unlike so many other women, I don’t HAVE to work. I have the luxury of choice.
    5. Yes, it is heartening that many parents are taking their roles very seriously these days. I think the presence of an educated, aware and concerned mother (or a father for that matter) can definitely make a difference.
    6. Honestly, I preferred to raise a child by staying at home over creating brands or marketing products. That is a conscious choice I have made depending on my passion, my inclination and my priorities. Are you saying I might have an identity crisis going forward? I doubt it. I take my role as a mother very seriously. I am happy to be here. Why should I have an identity crisis? And let me also add that I am not the kind of person who would point it out to my son in future that ‘I gave up my career for you’ because I didn’t. I gave it up for myself because I want to do my best as a mother.
    7. I am sorry I did not clearly understand the last few lines but of what I understood, I am really not expecting others to live by my rules. My intention was to just clarify certain things which we hear quite often.
    8. I also want to point out that I have nothing against working moms. I want to pursue writing in future so quitting my job has no bearing on my future career. Moreover, had I been a writer already, perhaps I would have done things differently. I would not discount that aspect of my situation. But on second thoughts, the control freak I am, perhaps things would not have been much different even then 🙂
    All said and done, I appreciate your comment. Believe me; I do not expect others to agree with me. Why should they, when even I don’t?

    • Nischala

      Reema – Let me respond as per your comment
      2. Agreed that the 24 X 7 demands on a mothers time and life can get challenging. Of course! The numerous everyday joys of being with your child is indeed unparalleled!
      3. I don’t know how old your son is. But after an age (when he starts some form of schooling), I think you can build in some “ME” time. Or you can plan a schedule when you get chunks of time in a day where you can do what you want. I’d like to believe it is easier if you’re not working, though I may not be completely right?
      4. You are so right that you are fortunate to have had a choice, and made it. I know so many women who just DO NOT have the choice. They HAVE TO GO WORK – whether they want to / not. Whether they like it or not. I think that those who have the choice are lucky! Once you make the choice, I think it is equally important to take responsibility for your choice, and then not regret every single day. I know too many women who make the choice, and they live in regret / guilt every single day – Not worth it!
      6. I’m not saying you’ll have an identity crisis. I’m just saying that its so very important for MOTHERS to do little things on a regular basis which is disconnected from their “Mummy” roles.. I’ve seen too many mothers so so so involved in their child’s lives that their world revolves completely around the kids. After an age when the child is more independant, there is a HUGE VOID in the “mummy’s” life. I believe that other facets / dimensions of your life should be nurtured in parallel – However small it may be! In the long run, it makes all the difference…
      7. let me explain – I meant once in a way may be its OK to chill a bit & indulge in some extra TV, extra sleep or whatever others expect from a SAHM.
      8. Good luck on your writing career, and it is indeed a great career alternative / option – with the booming publishing industry in India.. Best wishes for success as a writer

      Love
      Nischala

      • Thank you so much Nischala. And this time I don’t have a reason to disagree 🙂
        I understand what you mean. It is a constant quest to find that ‘me-time’. I write and read at every possible opportunity (every minute I am not attending to my child) and that gives me immense satisfaction. My son would be 2 in a few days. He will start playschool from December and then I will start getting more time for myself.

  • Kat

    Nice post! I divide my time between work days and home days, and the home days are often more exhausting!

  • Thank you for reading this Kat 🙂
    Indeed, staying at home with kid/s and managing the house can be quite taxing.

  • Dear Reema,

    A great piece and oh! so very reflective of what most modern day stay at home mothers feel. Your aptly selected picture says it all.

    But of course, priorities differ from person to person.

  • Hi,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, I agree it depends on priorities. I would also like to add that sometimes it also depends on the options or situations, isn’t it?

  • Reema,

    They say in “Aapne meri muh ki baat cheen lee”.This is what I felt when I read your article.My situation is quite similar to yours (I worked till my son was born) and not I am a full-time-stay-at-mom. What irks me most is the self-pity mode people drive me into for giving up my career.I did it by choice and am quite happy about it.The other kind is “Oh you are at home so you must be dumb” attitude. I want to reply to them saying “I made a choice with my brain and heart and am in complete control of whats happening in my life”. But yeah the gist of your article sums it up all. Thank you for it. 🙂

    • Gayatri, I have come to realize that the only way to deal with everything is a good sense of humour and being content with one’s decisions. When you are happy inside, you must not let others make you feel bad. And have a good laugh when people are being too naive about you. The truth is that no matter what you do people will have problems with that 🙂

  • Oh my..I agree with all. I have a whole case built up for stay at home Moms that I had written for my hubby and others to read. (written from my baby’s perspective – looks less offensive then :)..my whole blog is from his perspective anyway)

    Here:

    http://amayzmom.com/2013/07/10/the-case-for-stay-at-home-moms/

  • Katie

    I found a great company that focuses on living a natural and healthy lifestyle. While being able to earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://parentous.momsprovide.com

  • Shalaka N

    Hi Reema, great post something I always wanted to tell everyone in my household but somehow they never got it! I have been dealing with these questions for so long that now I am done! I don’t feel the need for any explanations on my part whatsoever! I have instances where I was mocked or offended by many people just because I quit my work and became a “stay at home mom”.I still recollect an incident where I visited one of my friends, her family also has just come by for a stay, we were chatting and you know as usual questions started what do you do and stuff and my usual answer that I am at home, one of her family members that time just blurted out that oh how boring to introduce yourself as a stay at home mom “usse kya hota hain” “We are so proud that we dont have to say that for our daughter we can proudly say she is a professor at a big university, noone saw I was embarrased as they were all basking in their own glory! people do that a lot I felt.