I Want To Say This To Stay At Home Moms

“If I get to stay home, the house will always be clean, and I can learn to cook such great food,” I said to Scott at some point in the distant past.

This was before I even got pregnant. So, like, back when I was a perfect mother.

We weren’t sure I would be able to stay home with our first baby until right before he was born and we got the ok to move to Dallas from Northern Virginia. There was no way we could live off of one income up there, but in Dallas it became a reality. Sacrifices had to be made, for sure, but it was workable.

We moved into our house down here when Kendall was 8 weeks old. He was not an easy baby. Sleep was not bountiful. I spent much of the first year of his life a shade of my former self, stumbling through my days exhausted, catching naps when I could. The dishes didn’t get done regularly. I didn’t learn any new cooking skills. I didn’t clean toilets. And many days, my husband came home to find me still in my yoga pants with no makeup on.

For a while, this caused me great guilt. What on earth was wrong with me that I couldn’t get it together? This was my JOB now. I was a Stay At Home Mom, and I felt like I was failing. Looking back, I’m certain I was dealing with some postpartum anxiety, too.

Be sure, this was not because my husband made me feel this way. In fact, he’d often be the one reminding me that this was a huge adjustment for us, and that my only real job duty was to take care of our son. Everything else was gravy. I was a Stay At Home MOM. I was not a Stay At Home Mom/Maid/Cook/Supermodel.

When he got home from the office, he jumped right in. We split housekeeping duties 50/50. If we had a particularly sleepless night the night before, we’d alternate afternoon naps.

During work hours, we both had a job to do. His in an office, mine at home with our son. After work hours, we split parenting and everything that came with that (including housekeeping). It was, and still is, a true team effort.

I say all this NOT to tell anyone how to do their job.

If you are a Stay At Home Parent who can manage to care for your children, your house, and your appearance all in an 8 hour work day, I applaud you. If that setup is truly filling your emotional cup, and making you feel great about the job you do, that is fantastic. But please, do not assume for one second that the parent who can’t take on all these extra roles is somehow failing.

If striving to be the kind of stay at home parent who does it all is making you crazy, leaving you exhausted, and feeling like you’re falling behind, I urge you to reconsider exactly what this job needs to entail. Then have a conversation about realistic expectations with your partner.

If you’re struggling with what being a stay at home parent should mean, I want to tell you that I promise you’re doing a better job than you think you are. I want to tell you to ignore blog posts that tell you you need to have full makeup on and a spotless house when your husband gets home from work.

I want to tell you that it says a lot more about a man’s character than your mothering abilities if your husband thinks less of you for not changing out of yoga pants all day. 

Give yourself some grace. Of course, strive to do the best you can. There will be days you do get it all done. It’s an amazing feeling! But don’t let it make you feel bad for the days you can’t get it all done.

Some days your biggest accomplishment will be rocking a toddler to sleep for a hard-fought nap. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.


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  1. Amen! I definitely feel driven to do it all. Getting dressed like I’m going to work (albeit a very casual work) and doing my makeup make me feel good, like myself. But I certainly don’t judge my friends that live in their workout clothes. Becoming a mother and a SAHM has definitely taught me that different things work for different people and families. Some days are hard as hell and we may still be in the same clothes and positions on the couch that we were in when my husband went to work. But we’re all alive and the kids are mostly happy. Thank heavens for awesome partners though!

  2. Great post Jill! I work outside of the home and tip my hat to SAHMs. It’s hard work. No doubt in my mind. I will say that women who work outside of the home, should give ourselves the benefit of the doubt as well. It can be overwhelming trying to cram so much in the evenings and weekends. Being a parent, whether you stay at home or work outside of the home, is hard. We all are doing the best we can!

  3. I agree most days are spent in yoga pants here, there is a mountain of clean laundry needing to be folded but Ollie and I played cars this morning.

  4. Nike Marie Kirby on

    Thank you for this! I really needed it today. I often feel like I haven’t done anything all day. It can be frustrating. So thank you for pointing out I’m not alone and that kids are work. 🙂

  5. I find it helpful to remind my husband that the house/kitchen/bedroom/life isn’t STILL messy, it’s messy AGAIN…. He’s pretty supportive, but I can tell he does have those moments when he wonders what I’ve been doing all day.

  6. Heather Marie Schiefer on

    I am a freelance graphic designer working from home with my 2.5 year old. I did this working full time way back when (my first is 17 now) and I still wonder what is wrong with me. Dirty floors, laundry, dust, client emails, health insurance calls, the internet is out again …. oh my gawd! Thank you.

  7. Sara Cavallino Ruppel on

    I think this could also apply to working Mom’s – I work all day and come home and I just want to spend time with my family – so dishes, laundry, cleaning all gets neglected and then I get stressed out because it’s not all magically done!

  8. Meg Fyfe Watkins on

    I teach yoga full time now (at 8 months pregnant), and yoga pants ARE my daily getup! I absolutely plan on continuing with my current wardrobe choices once I am a mom. I would never think less of someone for wearing yoga clothes all day (and with today’s yoga clothes, often just putting on some well-fitting tights will up your MILF status 🙂 You have to dress for what your day entails, and if that’s rocking a baby to sleep, spending significant amounts of time on your hands & knees, and doing dishes/sweeping/making beds when you are able, I don’t see why you would dress as if you’re going to an office (or a red-carpet premiere)?!

  9. Oh wow! I was just having a conversation about this with my husband this weekend! perhaps it’s silly, but for me, and hint at an unfinished house duty (which there are, of course, plenty of) is like an automatic label of failure. It seems like an unspoken expectation that I must do it all, but it’s only in my head. He doesn’t really care and just wants me to be happy. Why are we, women, so silly and constantly guilt tripping ourselves? =)
    Thanks for this post!

  10. I so needed this today. My husband comes home tired from working outdoors and still supports his wife with the crazy ponytail made from the baby yanking on it and a crazy kitchen with last nights dishes still in the sink. I’m at home and trying to find extra work so I can stay home- that means I’m up till midnight, 1 am to do the other stuff since 9 hours a day I am the only one home with the boys.
    Parenting is a full time job.
    You have a great guy.

  11. Thank you for this. I have had my I can’t even count what number I am on mental breakdown this week from being a stay at home mom of 3 toddlers. I needed to be reminded of this. My anxiety and depression has gotten the best of me this week.glad to know I’m not the only one out there that has felt this way

  12. So very much with the yes. These are important words for significant others to read as well… because there are spouses out there who don’t understand, and will come home to grumble about the dishes in the sink.
    I’ve been in yoga pants for years… my husband doesn’t mind. Thin material – good for copping a feel. 😉

  13. When I was a stay at home Mom my husband was away on active duty for a good amount of the time. It was much easier while I had his love and support but not all moms do.

  14. Srsly. I am currently a geographically-single SAHM, whose work day spans from 4:30 or so until 6:45, who then turns into the sole housekeeper (and I, guilt guilt guilt, do make my kids entertain themselves while I clean a bit, otherwise I have to do it all at night and I’d lose my mind if I couldn’t relax a little). If someone told me to put on makeup or even shower, I’d laugh in their face. But, a year ago, when we were both working full-time Fed Gov hours (so 10 hour days, minimum, typically), if someone told me I had to put makeup on for work, I would have laughed in their face too. It was just not on the List of Crazy that I could manage in one day. What is it with these expectations that a women is acceptable when she is dressed and made up a certain way? I think we should all give society the big Mom Finger.

  15. Melissa Marie Burruss on

    My house stays dirty I can clean an hours later it looks worst then before. Ive tried an tried but ive gotten to where I give up. I know I techiconally cant do that but I have stopped trying so hard. An I hate that I feel like that but I got 4 kids ages 4, 2, 1, an 8 months old and im 20 weeks pregnant. An im just so look tired!!!!!

  16. I agree with everything here. After having seven children, I’ve learned a few things. Smile, when you can. Laugh, cos that’s fun. Clean, if you can and the kids don’t need you. But most important, I learned that the dishes are still going to be there when you have time to do them. The floor is still going to need to be cleaned two minutes after you’ve done it, and that kids will remember the fun, the love, the singing and the laughter, a lot more than they will remember the mess. They honestly do not care how tidy the house is. What they care about, is that Mummy took the time to play. To snuggle. And to rock them to sleep. To read them that story they love, and to sing those silly songs that make Mummy want to cry with the repetitions. 🙂

  17. God bless you for writing this. I read it to my husband and in found so opened a great conversation. He has always helped out in any way he thought I needed, but I have always seen his helping me as me failing. I HAVE to stop trying to do it all. I’m not coming anywhere close to succeeding but at least this way I won’t beat myself up over it and he can help out so things will actually get done!

  18. I love you so much for this Jill! Get done what you need to get done. Life goes on when the dishes aren’t finished and the laundry is piled to the ceiling (mine, currently). It doesn’t have to be perfect.

  19. Thank you so much for writing this. There have been many times that I don’t feel that I’m doing enough and do get overwhelmed. My baby is almost 9 months old and I’m still getting used to this life style. I was a teacher before and thought it would prepare me to be a mother but it did not. Being a teacher was a piece of cake, it was a 8-4, I had the weekends and all holidays off. Now, it’s 24/7 and never feel that I can get anything done. We moved into a house last July to be close to my family and I just recently unpacked all the boxes. I’m used to moving into a house (pre-marriage and baby) and getting everything done and up on the walls within the week. I had a talk with my husband but his priorities are not the same as mine and his solution was to hire a housekeeper. That does not make really help me because that only means that I have to get out of the house so that solution was laid to rest by me. For the last month, I single handedly organized the garage and empties boxes, etc. I’m also trying to help money-wise by selling art items when I have time and have even started selling some of my clothes that I just know I won’t wear anymore. BUT reading this, I realized I am doing plenty and that as long as I’m focusing my attention on my “little mouse” everything is all right. Reading this (earlier today) made me feel it was OK to just take my little guy on a long walk and forget about the house and the 2 piles of clothes sitting on the table waiting to be folded. Thank you 🙂

  20. This is absolutely true! Once my MIL told me I was lazy and “using my husband” because we both did housework and we ate out occasionally, even though I was a mostly SAHM. Made my blood boil!

  21. Katy Ann Renner on

    I SO wish I read this when I was a stay-at-home mom. Now my oldest daughter is..and I’m so very proud. Embrace this time my friends..it goes past quickly. You all will have plenty of time to get your social on..climb the corporate ladder..and dine with adults…and then you will long for the tender moments you had as a stay-at-home mom. Thank you, Jill. You are making a difference in these wonderful mommas lives 🙂

  22. Suzanne Moyer Grimaud on

    Well said. And the foundation you are laying for your children will show fruit in their LATE teenage years.

  23. Vilija Barsauskas on

    I’m happy for those whose husband/boyfriend actually resemble the man in this article… some men, like mine, do not understand why the laundry isn’t all complete, why dinner isn’t ready when they walk in the door, and why I haven’t had time to shower in a couple of days, when I “have all day to do that”… If my man was anything like the one in this article, life would be bliss rather than heartache and critisism..

  24. Sydney 'Bella' Law on

    I have 4 children and I’m lucky to do my house work every 2 weeks! I have 2 hrs every day to clean bathrooms and kitchen and maybe and I mean MAYBE sweep the floor!! It’s hard being a stay at home mum even if u are a working parent or even a working single parent and than having to deal with home, cleaning and cooking!! It’s tiring and I feel for u all. I wish a man can live like us for just a week and I bet u he wouldn’t survive a few days!! Men think it’s easy and their job is harder – it’s no competition or a game !!

  25. It’s so hard trying to work and manage a family, you really do juggle it all. Coming home from a stressful nursing job and then catching up on everything I missed was crazy!! I just left my job to be a sahm, now I can manage everything without the added stress of a career. I look at it this way, a working mom does everything a sahm does, we are just lose 40-50 hours a week, so we have to do everything at super speed, remember to breathe! Yes I also spend my days in yoga pants and no makeup!

  26. Hemi Ngaiterangi on

    Hemi, a recently employed stay at home dad, was told by his wife when the job was allocated
    1. Don’t smile until you’ve tried it.
    2. Remember it’s a house not a batching pad.

    Hemi struggles to get the dinner on time, home work done and hoover neglects are frequent, and that’s with his son at school for most of the time. Each day is a discipline and self control battle, even without teething sleep deprivation.
    Only now, Hemi understands the hardships his wife endured in the first six years of bringing up their son.

    Hemi is also coming to terms with, having Sky Sports on during the day is not wise.

  27. Thanks for the post, it’s so true!.
    When we got married, my wife and I determined that one of us would stay with the children as we didn’t like the thought of anybody else raising them. It’s been 17 years now and we have 9 kiddos, despite moving a dozen or more times and 5 years of me being gone due to military deployments. As many military families have come to realize, stay-at-home moms are often more to honor than deployed husbands in combat zones.
    Note to frustrated dads returning to a messy house and a wife sitting in a chair reading a book- She’s been waiting for you to come home and help rescue her from an even harder day than you’ve had. Chip him, get the kids and house under control before saying much of anything to her. You’ll both greatly appreciate your discretion, trust me!

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  30. This article is very inspiring. As a working mom for about 1 year, I find my life busy but messy. You’re so right, we are only human and shouldn’t push ourselves too hard all the time.

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  32. Right on! I’m a stay at home dad, also working from home, and wish my wife would read this. So far, most days, I can stay on top of things, but we’ll see what happens when the baby starts walking and talking in the next couple of months. 🙂 All the power to anyone who can raise a child full-time — i.e., the most important job in the world — and still get anything else accomplished simultaneously.

  33. Egon Spengler, Ph.D. on

    In other words, the woman’s pace is always acceptable (regardless of circumstance) and the man should just accept it with no questions asked.

  34. thank you for this! this is wonderful. i currently have “baby rabies” and am (hopefully) going to be a stay at home mom. there are so many mixed reviews on it so i enjoy the honesty, too. i even sent my husband this article, ha.


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