What SAHMs Don’t Understand

Before I start, please know that in writing this, I am NOT attacking any situation a mother is in. We are all in this together, but motherhood looks different on all of us.

The longer I’m a working mom, the more I feel like stay at home moms (SAHMs) just don’t understand what my life is like. Their lives and mine are worlds apart. While they have their own challenges, they don’t know what it’s like to wake up early, get your whole family out the door, commute to work, work all day, commute home, manage daycare drop-off and pick-up, get dinner on the table, then spend a small amount of time together – just to start bedtime routines and repeat it all the next day. They don’t understand what it’s like to only get to see your child for about 2-3 hours each work day.

I am not complaining. I always knew that I would continue working, that this would be our reality when we started a family. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have frustrating moments, and quite frankly, it annoys me to no end when this whole debate becomes a competition. Usually, I find it’s the SAHMs that start it (by defending themselves) without understanding what the life of a working mom is like.

The other week I started reading this book on my kindle. I thought it would be an entertaining, easy read – the reviews are averaging 4.8 stars on amazon right now. Being the mother of a toddler, it should have been funny, right? Well, it was… in parts.  The longer I read that book, the more I realized it was completely directed at stay at home moms, and I just couldn’t relate. It seemed way over the top and whiny to me. There were a few sentences thrown in here and there about working, but they clearly were not from someone who had experience working a typical full-time work schedule. It seemed like they were an afterthought – put in because the author thought she needed to appeal to more people.

And you know what? That’s her experience, and it’s her book, but it just shows me how little understanding she has of a working mom’s life. Yes, toddlers are frustrating and hard to deal with sometimes, but when you only see them for such a short time each day, who CARES if it’s by watching a TV show you hate? Who cares if they’re clingy and annoying? It just doesn’t matter, and their antics don’t seem so bad. I promise you.

You know what does upset or annoy you as a working mom?

  • Hoarding every second of PTO because you’re terrified of your kid getting sick.
  • Not taking vacations because of the above. You just don’t have enough PTO.
  • Having to suddenly tell your boss that you’re going to be out because daycare is closed. (This actually happened to me TODAY because of Veterans Day tomorrow.) Another reason to hoard PTO.
  • Trying to work in doctor/dentist/other appointments on your lunch breaks.
  • When your little time with your child is carved away during the week. I see Abbie from 6-7am and from 5:25pm until she goes to bed about 8pm. (Plus an hour of that is spent in the car.) No, I can’t do things during the week. It’s just too hard.
  • When people say you’re “letting other people raise your children.” No, I’m not. People don’t say this to dads who work, do they?
  • Spending nearly $1,000/month on child care… on the low end.
  • Emails about fun things… that happen in the middle of the week. From people who KNOW you work full-time. Really?
  • When people try to make you feel guilty about working. I don’t feel guilty about it. Stop making me feel like I should.

See what I mean? These things are all unique to the experience of working moms – or at minimum, my experience. It’s just hard for a SAHM to relate to. Now, I totally have respect for SAHMs. I know it comes with its own unique set of challenges and I don’t have it in me to do it full-time. Do I understand completely what it’s like to be a stay at home mom? Of course not. Do I have a good idea, from my experience with maternity leave, daycare closures, and sick days? Sure – I can absolutely relate and empathize, because in some small way, I’ve been there.

The thing is, there’s no way for the SAHM to really understand what it’s like to be a full time working mom (outside of the home) – because there’s no trial period for doing it. A company isn’t typically going to have you randomly work one day or week just so you can learn what it’s like. You don’t know what it’s like until you’re in it, and you can’t understand something you haven’t experienced. It drives me crazy, and I hate the judgement. I don’t judge your choices, so stop judging mine – especially if you haven’t been in my shoes.

What do you think? Can SAHMs ever understand what full-time working motherhood is like?

About Jess

About Jess

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

Related Posts

Stay Up to Date

Easy meals and mom tips are just a few clicks away! Subscribe now and get access to my free resource library!

19 Responses

  1. I really relate to the post and your bullet-points are spot on. Being a working mom is tough and it sounds like we have very similar hours. I would love love love to have more time during the week to see my precious girl’s face and learn with her during the day. I’m quite envious {sometimes} of my SAHM friends. But at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…it’s definitely a challenge 🙂

    I think it’s just HARD being a mom. We will always want more but then we will ALWAYS without fail GIVE even more. And that’s just being a mom 🙂 Running on the negative because we want our loves to always be positive. Thanks for posting this, Jess. I needed this. xo

    1. Yes, yes to all of this. They’re just unique problems that SAHMs have trouble relating to. It is hard being a mom, no doubt.

  2. Working and juggling the kids, errands, and everything else life throws at you is tough. My DH was a mostly SAHD when our sons were young, and I was grateful for that. He found it very isolating and sometimes lonely, but he and our sons have an incredible bond. He truly enjoyed the “job” in a way I know I never could, as much as I love our sons. I’m a teacher (middle school), and that has its ups and downs, but I love the time off at the holidays and summer. Time goes so fast and before you know it, they’re teenagers (13 and 16), that you have to grab the moments with them whenever/wherever you can. I’m glad you don’t feel guilty- I feel guilty for a lot for stupid things, and it’s a huge energy drain. Nice, thought-provoking post! Susan

    1. That’s awesome that your DH was able to do that! What a great experience. It sounds like you and I are very similar in that we wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

  3. I am stuck in an in between place on this one. While I am mostly a SAHM, I also work (very) part-time. So I do understand what it is like to have a crazy schedule, get us out of the house on time, fight traffic both ways, and only see my little guy for a few hours after work. And since I’m a substitute teacher, a lot of times I don’t even know I’m working until the night before. Which makes our schedule even more crazy. But it’s the life we chose for our family and we make it work. And whatever other moms choose to do, I fully support them! It’s all about being the best mom you can be to your little ones.

    1. So true. There are lots of different situations, and yours is a unique one – I think that would make me crazier than working full time like I do. It’s hard enough to do the prep needed for a day at work, so I can’t imagine doing it on such short notice. And yes, we all need to support each other, even though there’s no way we’ll ever fully understand each other.

  4. The mommy wars drive me crazy and I hate that everyone is constantly trying to one up the other in the who has it harder as a mom game. My mom was a working mom my whole life and I’m a stay at home mom- for the time being. That being said I think working moms have it harder these days than my mom did. No one ever said things to her like do you feel guilty for working or someone else is raising your kids. She said most people in her generation strived to work outside the home and it was seen as a good thing. While I do think staying at home has different challenges I honestly think it’s quite easy as far as “jobs” are concerned. I mean sometimes I get bored or my son drives me crazy but it’s not hard or stressful like working full time was. One of the reasons I stay home is because my husband travels 2-3 weeks per month and it was just easier for me be home than trying to juggle it all but that being said I still don’t think it’s hard even when I’m doing it alone! I think working moms are rockstars for handling it all!!

    1. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you saying that you think we have it harder now than working moms used to. Sometimes the pressure feels such that I can’t complain – crazy, but it’s true. I know I chose this, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges. I really think there are pieces on both sides that you can’t understand unless you’ve experienced them.

  5. I’m going to echo other commenters and say that being a mom in general is hard. I work very part time and I can see the up and downs of both. I love being at home with my baby every day, but the days I do work I get adult interaction and a baby break which I do enjoy. Could I do it every day? No probably not, so I admire what you do! But I have a cousin who works crazy long hours and has 2 young children and one day she told me that for her going to work every day is way easier than being at home with her children. So I think part of it is related to that mom’s personality. I think every mom just needs to find what is best for her and her family and go with it!

    1. Yes, so true. Being a mom is hard, no doubt, but I definitely think you’re right in that it depends on your personality. What works for me wouldn’t work for someone else, and each has unique challenges.

  6. I read this without being offended so kudos to you. The article about “SAHM Shut the Eff Up” inspired a post I wrote awhile ago and it was highly offensive (and she even was one!). I love staying home with my kids and yes, they drive me crazy to no end somedays but I chose this and I can’t imagine having to work full time as you explained above and play mommy too. Being a mom in general is hard, and while I won’t understand being a full-time working mom for quite awhile, I acknowledge it’s challenges. But like you said, the mommy wars are so unnecessary.. we should all support each other and understand that each of us has challenges. Thanks for being honest and sharing, lady.. heart you!

  7. First off, kudos to you for having the courage to put this out there. It’s a great read and is truly from the heart. I relate to so many things you are saying and yes, on any given day, being a working mom is just HARD. Each choice has its pros and cons but I honestly think that working moms have a whole different set of challenges. At the end of the day we all make the choices we feel are right for us as individuals and our family and everyone’s situation is different. Regardless of anyone’s choices, the bottom line for me is that we should all just be supportive, period. You want to stay home? Great! Go for it. Do your thing but give me the freedom and support to do me as well. The fact that women are still beating each other up over this topic in this day and age, to me, is just crazy.

    1. I knew you’d like this one. Sometimes I just get so frustrated because every response to my complaints is “oh, you could stay home.” Sorry, not the answer – and most of the time, I’m not even looking for one. I just want to vent! We all need to just be there for one another and try to empathize!

  8. All of this. This. This. This.

    I relate so much, and what is killing me right now is I took a big step back professionally (and financially) when I was laid off. I haven’t worked a full 40 weeks since I started because of baby stuff, my stuff and leaving early when my husband couldn’t do daycare pick up. In an office full of men and a company that is so ‘family friendly’ they don’t let you use your PTO until you are 6 months in … I could cry.

    We all have it hard and life on the other side will always look better.

    1. Yes, to all of this. So many challenges that are unique to us. The PTO stuff seriously drives me crazy on a regular basis.

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!

Stay Up to Date

Easy meals and mom tips are just a few clicks away! Subscribe now and get access to my free resource library!

never miss a post

Easy meals and mom tips are just a few clicks away! Subscribe now and get access to my free resource library!