Parenting is Work (Regardless of Your Job)

Lately, I feel like articles about stay at home parents are exploding. How they’re working too.  How it’s difficult to get anything done with kids around. How you have no privacy. The lists go on and in. Then I saw this set of photos, and it was the tipping point for me. I know it’s supposed to be just a sweet and funny look at being a stay at home parent. I really get that. But the thing is, nearly all of those things… I do them too. So shouldn’t it just be what it means to be a parent?

Cooking dinner with a toddler running around? I do that. Struggling to keep the living room floor clear of toys? Check. Going to the bathroom with my toddler in tow? I do that.  Mountains of laundry? I do that.  No privacy? Check.  Taking kids to Target, to the park, to appointments? I do that. All the things every parent does every day to raise their children and run a household? Yep, I do that.

Parenting is Work

I just have about 10 hours less per day to do them in… Because in those 10 hours, I’m either working or commuting.

Look, I have lots of respect for stay at home parents.  I know it’s hard to be with your kid 24/7. I can imagine sometimes you just want a minute to yourself to drink your coffee or run to the bathroom or go to a doctor’s appointment alone.  Do I get to do those things?

Sure, I do. But the thing is, it’s not like I’m just sitting around doing nothing while I’m drinking that cup of coffee. I’m checking my work email, doing reports, filing expenses, and all the other things that come with my job. When I run to the restroom, I’m not sitting in there leisurely.  I have to get back to work quickly or I won’t get my work done that day. I eat lunch at my desk while working. My lunch break is usually spent on the gym, errands, and doctors appointments. If I can’t fit those things in at lunch, it either takes away from my family time or my PTO (which I never seem to have enough of and I’m terrified to use in case one of us gets sick). Being at work all day is not a break from your kids. It’s work.

But you know what else is work? Parenting in general.

Can’t we all just agree that it’s hard no matter what? I am hardly the first to say it, and I know I won’t bee the last, but can’t we just stop categorizing parents and just agree that we’re all parents and we’re all trying our best? That we all love our kids and we all struggle with all kinds of things and we all need support and help sometimes?

Let’s see less of the categories. Let’s support and lift each other up regardless of our employment status. Because we all share a universal truth – being a parent is hard work before we even add anything else to it. Let’s not make it harder.

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About Jess

Jess Beer is a full-time working mom of two girls who writes about motherhood, wellness, easy meals and style.

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26 Responses

  1. AMEN! Life is busy and the balancing act is hard no matter your employment status, single/married and kids/no kids. I wish life was a little less of a competition.

  2. ALL. THE. PRAISE. HANDS. I saw the same set of pictures and thought the same thing. At the end of the day, we are all parents, regardless of our life choices. Celebrate THAT.

  3. So much of this! I am a teacher, a mom of a toddler, and have another due any day now. Since having kids people just assume that I would stay home—-which is simply unrealistic for my life where it is right now. I feel like other women who are/were stay at homes look down on me and often don’t realize their comments often have me feeling like I am not a good parent if I am also working.
    Working or not, mom life is HARD! It’s time women back each other up on this!

    1. I think we all just need to be more thoughtful of each other’s feelings. We all have our challenges and make decisions for our families to solve them, and we should just support that.

  4. The problem is everyone feels like they have to justify their decisions, when the only people they have to justify anything to is themselves and their family.

    I’m guilty of this. As a work-at-home mom, sometimes I feel like I’m not “allowed” to complain about how my day went because I stay at home. (I’m not saying this is what you do, Jess. I know you respect all moms and their choices!)

    Yes, being home is great most of the time, and there are a lot of things about the working world that I’m glad I don’t have to deal with (such as the things you mentioned, the traffic, balancing PTO, etc.). As the daughter of a mom who worked my entire childhood, I know it’s really hard. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss a lot of aspects about working in an office, including the ability to have some quiet time to myself, even if just in the car.

    1. YES. And you know what? Your day is stressful too. If you want to complain, I’m not going to judge you for it. It can’t be easy to balance working at home and kids. A lot of parenthood is not easy, but we all make the choices we think are the best for our families. What frustrates me is when people think being away from your kids is automatically a “break” of some sort. Um, hello? I don’t think battling traffic for an hour (to go only 20 miles on a major highway, mind you) is a break. Working all day is not a break. Every situation is different and every parent makes the best choice they can.

  5. Excellent post, Jess!! It’s called Parenting (cap P for emphasis and importance!), and we all do it. Sometimes I think some articles are written to incite the working vs. stay-at-home controversy, to get more clicks. I’ve always worked, taking a 6-8 week maternity leave, but I’m also a teacher with the summer “off”. Not truly off because I continue to work on curriculum during the summer. Parenting, done right, is hard work!!

  6. Just wanted to weigh in and let you know that HuffPost also had an accompanying article with pictures of “what it looks like to be a working parent” as well. They weren’t singling out just SAH parents.

    1. I actually did see that as well, and while I appreciated that, what stood out to me is that while I do most of the things on the SAH parent list, those things weren’t shown on the working parent list. At the same time, I’m sure there are some parents who mostly SAH but do some work from home (like you, since you run a blog) who weren’t reflected on the SAH parent list. I just think it shouldn’t be about categorizing at all. We all have different situations, and we’re all just being parents. Let’s celebrate and support how we’re the same, rather than categorizing us into our differences.

    1. Thanks my dear! I too have written and rewritten and deleted countless posts like this. I think this one just spilled out and I finally hit schedule, you know? I really try to not offend SAH parents since I have tremendous respect for them, but it’s hard to convey my feelings as a working parent without doing so. The thing is, we’re never going to get anywhere in ending these stupid mommy wars if we don’t start trying to understand and support each other.

  7. I really don’t get the constant battle between working parents and at-home parents. Each family is doing what is best for their family. Do people really need to fight over how what’s best for the Smiths isn’t best for the Jones’? And I don’t know if you follow Lisa over at Two Martinis, but she posted an article she found yesterday about at-home wives being paid by their husbands based on the performance.

    1. I did see that post, and I completely agreed with her – it’s gotta be a partnership. Seriously, if one person stays home, it’s obviously a joint decision, so therefore any money earned should be joint money.

  8. I’m so with you on the less categorizing! I’ve done both –work and stay home. They’re both hard. Why is there always a “working mom”, but never a “working dad?” He’s just dad. It’s such a weird annoying culture right now with “mommy wars.” Fortunately I’ve had babies in my 20s, 30s, and even at 40 and I just don’t give a crap what people say about it anymore. haha! Truth!

    Love this post!

    1. Thank you! It’s hard to get these kinds of thoughts out without offending people.

  9. I am a SAHM and I agree that there needs to be less judging and comparing. We are all just parents as you said, doing the best we can. There are days that I wish I could leave and go to work, but I bet there are just as many days you wish you could stay at home. There are days I feel guilty for not getting more done because I am Stay at home, I bet there are days you feel guilty for one reason or another. We are all different, living different lives, but we all have the same ultimate goal and we need to stop the comparisons! Well written!

    1. Thank you! It’s really hard to get thoughts like this out sometimes – I always try to think if I’m going to offend a SAHM, because that’s not my intention. We all make our own choices!

  10. I love this so much. No matter what your career, parenting is a TON of work – there is just no way around it. There are definite pros and cons of both working and staying home and all you can do is what works for your family but it’s going to be a challenge no matter what the decision is! Also, toddlers are crazy. 🙂

  11. I totally agree. I am sick of the categories and competition. I am a no-kids housewife due to the unpredictable nature of my husband’s job (it’s easier for us to only think about his schedule). There is always something else around my house that can be cleaned or re-organized…even with just a husband and dog! But after working off-and-on in retail for six years, I definitely won’t try to say that those people aren’t really working. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages.

I’m Jess! I’m a working mama of two sweet sisters living in the DC area. This is my space to share inspiration, real stories of working motherhood, recipes, style, and more! I can’t start my day without coffee and always try to show the real side of motherhood – the good and the challenging. I’m so glad you’re here – thanks for following along on my journey!

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