Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at Home

Yup. I said it. It’s tougher to be a working parent than a stay-at-home parent. But before you sharpen your pitchforks and load your shotguns, let me explain.

Parenting is tough work no matter what. Whether you’re at home planning arts & crafts and doing all the cooking, cleaning and childcare, or rushing home to parent after punching the clock following a full day at the office, we all work hard and face uphill battles. Stay-at-home parents (and I know and love a ton of them) often sacrifice their careers to make sure they can raise their kids right. It’s tough going days without adult contact and dealing with some ignorant people who look down their nose at you because you’re not working 9 to 5 (this is especially true for stay-at-home dads). I’m not sure I could hack it and that’s why I praise all the men and women who choose this route.

But one of the perks of being a stay-at-home parent is exactly what I just mentioned: praise.

Moms who choose to stay at home have long been looked at as heroes. They call it “the toughest yet most rewarding job in the world,” and bloggers fill up virtual tomes with flowery prose about how much work stay-at-home parents do, how it’s non-stop, how they’re under-appreciated, how they make the world go ’round, etc. And even stay-at-home dads—although fairly new on the scene—are now escaping the initial public backlash to their new roles. Public sentiment is shifting in their favor as more men than ever are staying at home with their kids, and these dads are rightfully being celebrated for their contributions on the home front.

But let’s face it, there are certain perks to staying at home.

First of all, there’s no commute. Second, you’re working from home in a non-office environment. And while I totally get how watching Caillou for the billionth time or dealing with a screaming child(ren) can be super annoying, the fact is you’re still watching TV and playing with your kids. Kids who (probably) take naps during the day, allowing you to either catch up on other chores in peace or take a nap yourself. You can leave the TV on, play the radio loud and spend all day in your PJs if that’s what you want. This isn’t me calling stay-at-home parents lazy—not by a longshot. It’s just the truth of the matter.

But working parents don’t have that luxury. My commute isn’t as bad as it used to be, but it still takes up anywhere from 2-3 hours a day. I leave before the sun comes up and get home long after dark. And in between those two occurrences, I’m at the office. I’m dealing with bosses, deadlines, trying to get promoted, trying to make more money and constantly under enormous pressure to produce. Not to mention the pressure that comes with being the primary breadwinner and knowing that if I slip up at work and lose my job, we’re totally screwed.

Then, when I come home, I have anywhere from 60-90 minutes to play with my son. Talk to him about his day, play dinosaurs with him, give him a bath, read him some books and put him to bed.

But guess what? Just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working.

Smartphones and the Internet have created less of a Work-Life Balance and more of a Work-Life Blend. Essentially what that means is to be successful in this day and age, you can’t just check out after 5 p.m. Emails follow me on my phone, my social media responsibilities pop up via Twitter and Facebook notifications as I put out fires and respond to customers in real-time and I take occasional work calls late into the night. All while trying to remain as involved a dad as I can and retain some semblance of being a husband.

The real beauty of being a stay-at-home parent, at least in my opinion, is being able to totally give yourself over to the task at hand. Those who stay at home are doing great work and they throw themselves into it. I know full well the stay-at-home parents in my life give 110% and are absolutely terrific.

But compare that to working parents. We’re still giving 110%, but it’s split between work and home. But you know what happens when you give 55% at work and 55% at home? You constantly feel like you’re not doing enough in either role and you’re perpetually torn between the two. While stay-at-home parents can say with complete certainty they’ve devoted themselves to their kids, working parents are in limbo. They have to work to bring in money so their spouse can afford to stay at home, but they can’t work so much that they become strangers to their families. But the line between work and home is constantly shifting or being redrawn in the sand.

Meanwhile, how many times have you read an article calling for working parents (usually it’s aimed at dads) to spend less time at the office and more time at home? To create more of a work-life balance? To come home after work and immediately go into father/husband mode, taking over chores and childcare duties for the mom who has been at home with the kid(s) all day? I’ve read countless pieces calling for working dads to do all these things, lest they be thought of as slackers compared to stay-at-home moms.

But why doesn’t anyone suggest these stay-at-home parents go work part-time jobs and contribute financially once they’re done taking care of the kids for the day?

That clicking noise you just heard was the collective sound of stay-at-home parents everywhere cocking their proverbial guns in preparation for my execution. I know no one is supposed to say anything that even remotely criticizes stay-at-home parents (especially moms), and that’s really not my intention. I understand every family situation is different and no two circumstances are ever the same. I get it. Decisions to work or stay at home are most often a joint decision based on what’s best for the particular family in question. And I’m not knocking that decision either way.

But it just really irks me how stay-at-home parents are afforded sanctuary from criticism and are seemingly beyond reproach, while working parents are automatically expected to simply suck it up and pull double duty.

Stay-at-home parents are celebrated for their devotion and self-sacrifice. And if those parents do decide to enter the workforce, they’re celebrated again. Moms especially, as more and more studies show women have a stronger desire to take on more responsibility as they become breadwinners. And while dads who decide to be full-time stay-at-home parents certainly face some discrimination and snide looks, the tide is turning and public sentiment is in their favor. They’re being rightfully praised as progressive and involved.

But when it comes to working parents (again, I’m focusing mainly on dads here), I read articles like this one that bash working dads who come home and don’t immediately do the laundry, the dishes and mop the floors after a full day at the office. They even advocate women withholding sex as punishment for not helping out. You know, because sex between married people should totally be used as a weapon.

Then there’s statistics like this one from Salary.com (where I work full-time as a content manager for full disclosure), in which 2,000 people were surveyed. While 2/3 of all men said they’d be willing to support a stay-at-home parent, only 35% of women said the same for men. And nearly 1/3 of all women said they would flat out refuse to support a stay-at-home husband.

Talk about your mixed messages. Some people are saying we’re working too much, yet the age-old pressure to be the breadwinner and provider is still very much in effect.

And while being with my son is my top priority when I get home from work at 6:30 p.m. before his 8 p.m. bedtime, the dishes are not. The laundry is not. Vacuuming is not. Because you know what? If you’re a stay-at-home parent that stuff should be mostly done already. Yeah, I said it. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit. When you choose to be a stay-at-home parent you’re committing to taking on the bulk of childcare duties and household duties. The cooking and the cleaning. Case in point, MJ is out of work right now and stays at home while going to school once a week. Assuming she didn’t have anything out of the ordinary going on, should I expect her to have dinner prepared, the laundry done and have the house in order? Hell yes! Why shouldn’t I? I’m not talking about sparkling floors or building an addition on the house mind you, but stay-at-home parents should absolutely be taking care of household duties.

Working parents should pitch in and do their part, no question. But if a working parent is expected to earn 100% of the money, why is it out of line to expect the stay-at-home parent to do 100% of household duties? It’s the very definition of a double standard, but no one ever addresses it because it’s not politically correct.

And before you get on me, it would be the same for me if I was at home and she was working. This isn’t about gender, it’s about a division of labor and responsibility. I just find it highly questionable that working parents are fully expected to come home and “relieve” the stay-at-home parent, but if you suggest to the stay-at-home parent he/she should find a part-time, paying job at night, you’re suddenly an asshole. It doesn’t make any sense.

The point of this post is not to cause further division between the two sects or diminish in any way what stay-at-home parents do. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, my wife is now (at least for the time being) a stay-at-home mom and I’ve connected with so many wonderful men and women who have chosen this route. You all work hard and your efforts are unbelievably appreciated.

But my point is I’d like to see a little more love for working parents. Instead of telling us we don’t do enough, how about the media and the blogosphere thanks us for the contributions we are making. The money, the security and providing the opportunity for one parent to be home in the first place. Working parents are feeling the squeeze both at the office and at home, stressing themselves out at the thought of having one foot in each world at all times and worrying we’re not doing either to the fullest extent.

Anyone who can walk that tightrope is just as worthy of being celebrated as the esteemed stay-at-home folks.

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61 thoughts on “Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at Home

  1. Awesome post and well said. I think you just addressed every working parent’s thoughts on one day or another. Staying at home is hard and going to work is equally as hard. It’s not about competition of who works harder, it’s about equally working together.

  2. This post kind of strikes me as a little link-baity, which bums me out. But aside from that, I don’t think there’s really a competition. I will say that as a person who DOES have a paying part-time job when the kid is at school or asleep, that I do expect my spouse to pitch in at night, and even when I’m not working on projects, I do, too. I work all day taking care of the house and the kid, just as he does working at his job (a job which, by the way, he receives a LOT of additional benefits that SAH parents don’t receive, like clear expectations, progress reports, intellectual stimulation, lunch and bathroom breaks without an audience, etc.), but when he comes home, we share responsibilities, as it’s the end of BOTH of our “work days.”

    I guess I never feel particularly revered, honestly. I don’t need or even want it, but in the realm of moms, I never thought of SAHMs as being thought of as better than working parents in the slightest. In fact, I think most people in the trenches (and I speak primarily among women) do their best to make sure both roles are considered equal.

  3. While I can agree with your overall point about working parents deserving more love, or at least railing against the negative view of working parents, I’m a little wary of agreeing with your supporting arguments. I think your target audience is probably in the negative view camp and not most normal parent households.

    Having all chores done by the time you or I “get home”? Yeah, if I said that to Kat she would eviscerate me, and rightfully so. She knows what needs to get done and she knows more than I do what can and can’t get done. I have as much right telling her how to do her “job” as much as she has telling me how to do mine.

    The reality is that when I get home it’s still more like 75/25, with me doing 25.

    A baby is the worse boss you can have. There aren’t any rules about how you treat your employees when you’re a baby. And yeah commuting sucks, but you also get an hour to yourself driving in and another hour driving home, every day. My wife barely gets 30m to herself every day and most days she doesn’t get any personal time.

    Again, I can agree in most instances that both types of parents should be treated equally for their contributions, as each one is very important.

  4. Alleluia and Amen! Thank you for standing in front of the bull’s eye and taking one for the team. Too many times working parents are expected to “do it all”. Throw being a single parent in the mix and the expectations can be even worse.

    Note to the world – I cannot do it all. I don’t even want to do it all. I just want to provide for my family, raise my children to be responsible citizens of the world, and get more than 4 hours of sleep each night.

    There are pros and cons to both worlds. Take the time to appreciate what ALL parents are doing and give each other a break from the judging.

    Thanks for sticking up for us working parents.

  5. These kind of situations really do change with the amount of children you have and their ages. I agree with you when you say MJ should be able to cook dinner, do laundry, and clean. If I only had my 3 year old at home my house would sparkle! However I have a 3 year old, nearly 2 year old, and a 3 month old at home. Thankfully my 5 year old is at school now or everything would be even crazier! I used to fold the laundry at night (my kids ruin my piles so fast if I fold laundry around them), but now I have a baby who is fussy from around 7-11 or 12 at night. Cooking dinner all depends on if the baby is hungry when it is time to cook or not.

    There are difficulties in each job and I don’t think it is fair to say one is harder than the other when there are so many variables to every situation. Oh and for the record, I agree with you when you say it isn’t fair that working parents are expected to relieve the stay at home parent. I never understood that. My husband and I feel that when both parents are home the responsibilities should be split pretty evenly. It wouldn’t be fair at all for me to drop all 4 kids on him and go take a bubble bath just like it wouldn’t be fair for him to come home and go straight downstairs and play his video games and leave all the kid responsibilities to me.

    I must admit, I was pretty shocked to read the statistics of women not wanting to support a stay at home dad. That is just crazy to me! The main reason that I’m the stay at home parent and my husband is the working parent is because he has more earning capabilities than I do. If I got a job that made more money than his I’m sure he’d have no problems switching roles (he actually was a stay at home dad back in the day when we only had one kid and he was in college)

  6. Jonniker: The post isn’t link-bait. The tweet was link-bait to get them to the post. And there definitely is competition. I read a lot of content from different sites and have seen a pattern of people writing that “stay-at-home parents are doing yeoman’s work and working parents need to step it up at home.” But never have I seen “Working parents are killing themselves at the office and at home, and stay-at-home parents need to at least take a part-time job to help ease the burden.” It’s always been a one-way street, and anyone who even suggests stay-at-home parents need to do more is blasted into oblivion. And I think if you look at what’s written and published, it’s pretty clear stay-at-home parents (moms mostly) get the lion’s share of the credit while working parents fly completely under the radar.

    Vas: I never said all the chores should be done when the working parent gets home. That’s not even a factor. As long as they get done it doesn’t really matter when. And your point about the commute, I hear you but you’re wrong. I despise my commute. It’s not “time alone” for me. It’s 90 minutes of teeth-grinding, stop-and-go stress. I hate it. Intensely. And I would give it up in an instant if I could.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  7. Hmm. I try to always thank my partner for her working to put food on our table. Her corporate job is the last place she wants to be and she misses time with the kids. But it’s complicated math we have worked out. And chores are an ongoing part of our household math, but I’d say we see it as more of an evenly distributed allocation despite my being a SAHD. Because she’s giving 100% of her day to work and her employment, 100% of my day is making sure the kids are taken care of. Not that you’re wrong about having time to blog, watch tv, spending the day in my pjs. But like the chores, that’s outside the kid-equation IMO. I miss a commute sometimes for time with my iPod, a good book, keeping up with my magazines. That time on the train is golden. Or I miss being able to pop by the store, library, get a haircut. As a SAHD, for us, that’s more something that needs to be figured into a logistical arrangement rather than an afterwork easy errand. In the end, I agree with SDADD. It’s not about who has it worse or better. It’s about finding whatever works in your relationship to get the bills paid and get the kids raised how you want. I do think the guilt working moms feel needs to be addressed better. But we also love the idea of “being relieved” by the parent coming home from work. If she gets to clock out at some point I should be able too. As a side note, do you think this has to do with our assumption in our culture of “work.” Work is the default. We ask people “what do you do?” meaning work. Staying home is seen as a sacrifice, not the other way around.

  8. SarahC: Definitely. That’s why I was sure to point out this is largely dependent on personal circumstances and each one is different. And good point about the working parent coming home and not spending time with the kids. Obviously if he/she does that there’s a real problem. I can’t wait to play with Will when I get home.

    And I’m with your husband in that I’d give the SAHD thing a try if my wife had a great job and was out-earning me. I’m not sure how it would work out or if I’d really want to go back to work, but I’d like to try. Stay-at-home parents justifiably talk a lot about the work they do at home and the time they spend with their kids, but every minute I’m at work I’m sacrificing time with my son in order to provide. Unfortunately there’s an assumption by some people that men at work are frolicking fancy and free, but most days I’m thinking about how little time I get to spend with Will, and wishing that could change.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  9. I’ve been the stay at home mom and the working mom with a stay at home dad. I’ve lived both sides of the issue. The foundation of this argument is psychology and expectations. Because those two things vary so greatly from family to family there is no correct answer.

    I’m working on my diplomacy, lmao. The last time I got into one of these discussions it ended with the whole mommy village screaming for my head on a pike.

  10. NewFangled Dad: “Work is the default. We ask people “what do you do?” meaning work. Staying home is seen as a sacrifice, not the other way around.”

    GREAT point. I absolutely agree. I’m sure there are some people who go to work and are secretly happy to escape the chaos of their home, but for myself and most people I know, going to work is something we have to do. We’re sacrificing our time with our kids so they can be raised by our partners in the best manner possible. Both parents are making a sacrifice, which is really how it should be when it comes to your kids.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  11. I agree, being a parent is tough. I must admit that a working parent should help out too, after all a stay at home parent doesn’t just get to do it 9 til 5, it really is a full time job. Sometimes we all need a break, no matter how much we enjoy what we do.
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  12. “And while being with my son is my top priority when I get home from work at 6:30 p.m. before his 8 p.m. bedtime, the dishes are not. The laundry is not. Vacuuming is not. Because you know what? If you’re a stay-at-home parent that stuff should be mostly done already. Yeah, I said it.”

    I guess not exactly how you stated it but this is the idea I got out this statement. I’m sorry your commute sucks… to me it was always a quiet time to gather my thoughts and prepare for the days work. This is a luxury my wife does not have. And when I get home from work and watch the kid for a while, her “alone time” is doing the dishes because, quote, she’d rather be doing that.

    Again, I agree with several of your points and the overall hook of the post, just not with some of your justifications.

  13. The fact that you could write this article clearly telegraphs that you have never stayed home for an extended period with young children. Your image of the stress-free, Normsn Rockwell existence of the stay at home parent is so far off to be laughable. Many days I would GLADLY trade the hours spent wrangling three little kids — with feeding, clean up and assistance that never, no never, relents — for a 90 minute commute and a nice quiet office where I can drink a cup of coffee and use the bathroom alone.

    I have worked full time, I have stayed home full time, and I currently work part time. I would never try to compare the three. The responsibilities are so different that rating one job harder or easier is next to impossible.

    I will say that for all the supposed “sainthood” stay at home parents (usually moms) are given, financially it often turns out to be a bad call for the sizable percentage who end up divorced. You may believe (and I hope it’s true) that you’ll never get divorced. But if you did, you would almost certainly be better off than your wife.

  14. Carla: You’re dead wrong. While I’ve never been a full-time SAHD, I was my son’s primary caregiver for the first 3 years of his life. I’m a very involved dad and I’ve spent plenty of time caring for my son. But thanks for the completely misguided and unfounded claim to the contrary.

    You obviously didn’t read my entire post, judging by your “stress free, Norman Rockwell” comment. I never said that about stay-at-home parents. In fact, here’s what I did say:

    “Stay-at-home parents (and I know and love a ton of them) often sacrifice their careers to make sure they can raise their kids right. It’s tough going days without adult contact and dealing with some ignorant people who look down their nose at you because you’re not working 9 to 5 (this is especially true for stay-at-home dads). I’m not sure I could hack it and that’s why I praise all the men and women who choose this route.”

    And also:

    “Those who stay at home are doing great work and they throw themselves into it. I know full well the stay-at-home parents in my life give 110% and are absolutely terrific.”

    Your misguided criticisms display the “martyr complex” that so often accompanies being a SAHparent. You’re chasing ghosts that aren’t there, because as I said REPEATEDLY I know how hard SAHparents work and I expressed that they should be appreciated.

    Again, as I said in the article, a lot depends on circumstances. Three kids is more difficult than one. This post did not disparage SAHparents, it called for more recognition for working parents, who are the other half of that equation.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  15. Try being the person who works out of the house. That is far more challenging than people realize. I can’t get away from my office unless I leave my home.

    Many people seem to have similar expectations of those of us who work out of the house as those who are full time stay at home parents.

    I have the best commute you can think of and my work attire is whatever feels comfortable to me. Technically I could nap, watch television or do whatever I want but that doesn’t happen because it would make it impossible to meet work obligations. Doesn’t matter whether you telecommute or work in the home office if you don’t get it done you will lose your job.

    There are benefits but lots of challenges. When the kids are out of school they think nothing of walking into my office to ask for food, to play or for help on their homework. Try handling a conference call with the kids fighting in the background.

    Expectations aren’t always based in reality.
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  16. I wish you had written this article differently. I am all for bringing more attention and respect for WOH parents. It is a tough job, no doubt. And each family should be free to figure out the best balance for themselves, since it will al hinge on so many factors such as how many kids you have, what their temperaments are li,e, what kind of job each parent works, how many hours that requires, etc etc etc. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

    I don’t understand why this post had to be pitted as “WOH is harder than SAH” though. That’s a shame, because it creates more of the very division you claim to be trying to erase.

    “I have worked full time, I have stayed home full time, and I currently work part time. I would never try to compare the three. The responsibilities are so different that rating one job harder or easier is next to impossible.” <– from the comment above, is spot on.
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  17. “Catch up on other chores in peace or take a nap…” > Really?? Try being on the phone with children screaming in the background. You must be kidding when you say take a nap? I have been working from home for over 2 years and haven’t had a single nap, yet.

    “My commute isn’t as bad as it used to be, but it still takes up anywhere from 2-3 hours a day.” > I would take the commute any day over managing kids for the same amount of time. At least you get to breathe fresh air and decompress. It’s fun to play with kids when someone else is doing the chore. Now, let’s take it one step further – when you have to manage a kid with special needs??

    “irks me how stay-at-home parents are afforded sanctuary from criticism” > I guess you haven’t read this http://www.mommyniri.com/2008/07/what-not-to-say-to-sahm-stay-at-home-moms/

    Totally presumptuous and oversimplification of SAHD/M but I understand your frustration of working full time and then being expected to contribute at home. Things always looks greener from the other side.

  18. Jack: Spot on. I could never, EVER work from home with kids present. I’ve tried it with my 3.5-year-old and it is utterly impossible. All the credit in the world to you if you can do it, but I lose my mind if I’m on a conference call while the kid screams in the background. You won’t get any argument from me.

    Marcy: I will admit, I thought about the title of the post long and hard. I chose to phrase it like I did because 1) It’s attention-getting and 2) I made a concerted effort in the article never to trash or disparage SAHparents. If people really take the time to read what I wrote, there is nothing in there that’s negative regarding SAHparents. Nothing. I said they work hard, I said I love them and I respect them. I never said they were lazy or that their work wasn’t important.

    But in the end, everything I write here is opinion. And this is my opinion on this particular topic. But let me ask you, where is all of your outrage during Mother’s Day when bloggers and columnists across the country make definitive declarations that being a SAHM is the most difficult job in the world?? Why aren’t you telling them to praise mothers without putting down working parents? If you do, then I apologize. But if you don’t, then there’s really no room for you to criticize me, is there?
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  19. As for this?

    “And while being with my son is my top priority when I get home from work at 6:30 p.m. before his 8 p.m. bedtime, the dishes are not. The laundry is not. Vacuuming is not. Because you know what? If you’re a stay-at-home parent that stuff should be mostly done already. Yeah, I said it. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit. When you choose to be a stay-at-home parent you’re committing to taking on the bulk of childcare duties and household duties. The cooking and the cleaning. Case in point, MJ is out of work right now and stays at home while going to school once a week. Assuming she didn’t have anything out of the ordinary going on, should I expect her to have dinner prepared, the laundry done and have the house in order? Hell yes! Why shouldn’t I? I’m not talking about sparkling floors or building an addition on the house mind you, but stay-at-home parents should absolutely be taking care of household duties.”

    Consider yourself lucky that you have a kid who entertains himself enough/naps long enough for the SAH parent to do those things during the day. That is most definitely nopt the case in our household.
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  20. I agree that yes I should do some of the house work because I am home, but I am not expected to carry the household burden 100% of the time 24 hours a day, just as a working parent shouldnt have to come home and completely relieve the other of all responsibilities. I think during the work day, which is different in every house, it is all my job, but when we are both home it is more 50/50, I rarely complain that my husband isnt doing chores, my biggest complaint will always be just dont make more work for me. Put your own dishes in the sink, and laundry in the hamper, etc. You seem to think that stay at home parents, have the tv on all day while they laze around the house, while that I guess could be an option I am pretty sure that the same type of behavior at a job would get you fired and I take my job very seriously with play dates, library trips, craft projects and never more then two hours of TV a day. In fact in the summer, we spend so little time in the house, they TV rarely comes on at all. I am not saying TV is evil please dont get me wrong, but being a stay at home parent was a choice my family made to give them opportunities that may not have been available to them if not. I did not stay home to be a house cleaner and I do accept the responsibilities that come with it. I think perhaps the housecleaning and child rearing should be thought of as two different tasks, because I would guess most people didnt stay home to have a perfectly clean house but to help raise their child. If I focus too much on the cleaning, then I am simply causing a divide in my focus as you have stated is a problem for you. I know families where cleanliness has become so important that they never leave their house. The other thing to think about is that a lot of the mess wouldnt exist if there werent people home all day, yes there would still be laundry and dishes, but the toys would not be as much of a mess, because they werent played with yet, there wouldnt be painty fingerprints, and glued paper stuck to the table, or dishes from the cookies I baked.

    I do agree it must be so hard to feel fully involved at home when you are still dealing with work! we chose this life for us,(although I technically work a few hours a week to ease the finical burden) not just me but my husband and I.
    Maybe the people around you are being praised for staying home but I feel a lot of judgement, why arent I doing something more with my life? You had such dreams…are you ever going to work again, must be nice to sit around all day…I think if we could just stop judging people for their very personal choices that do not affect us, we would all get along a lot better.
    “Again, I agree with several of your points and the overall hook of the post, just not with some of your justifications.”
    I think this statement hits the nail on the head for me.

    Ps I have lots of love for all the parents working or not~

  21. Ramesh: Read it again and include the whole quote. I wrote “Kids who (probably) take naps during the day, allowing you to either catch up on other chores in peace or take a nap yourself.” I was specifically saying SAHparents can catch up on chores in peace or take a nap themselves WHEN/IF THEIR KIDS TAKE A NAP. I didn’t say SAHparents can just nap willy-nilly during the day. That’d be ridiculous.

    You can have the commute, I’ll take time with my son. My commute should be 40 minutes normally. Instead, it takes 90 minutes or more. It’s all stop and go and it’s terrible. There is no fresh air. I’m stuck in a car. Even if I open the window it’s on a major freeway. Fresh air?!?! Also, there’s nothing decompressing about being stuck in traffic. I’m claustrophobic and traffic makes me crazy. It pains me to think about driving to and from work.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  22. Katie: I agree with everything you said, except for the “SAHparents lazing around” part. I don’t think that and never said it. In fact, I said the opposite. Having the TV does not denote laziness, at least not to me. That statement was made more to point out some of the creature comforts of being home instead of an office. Nothing more.

    It sounds like you and your husband have a great system. My wife and I have something similar. I don’t come home and sit on my ass either, and there are plenty of chores to go around. I was speaking more to the misguided notion some people have that when the working parent comes home, the SAHparent can automatically kick back and relax.

    And yes, let’s stop judging. I know I didn’t judge in this post. I think when both working parents and SAHparents are equally recognized it will be a good day.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  23. I’m a SAHM I love it and feel bad for my husband (sometimes) bc he works very hard for us and dosnt get as much time as I do. That’s on the good days. On the “bad days” I wish he were in my place seeing that It’s not just fun and games but actual work. Sometimes It’s down right tiring long day and he dosnt get it. I think the parents who work and stay at home both deserve equal praise bc without each of them the kids would be in trouble!

  24. I think this post makes too many broad assumptions. Namely, that stay at home parents are always lauded (pretty much- only in the blogosphere. Everywhere else, we don’t get no respect!

    Not all families work the same way, and the worker/homemaker distinct roles are merging- rightfully so.

    To me, this isn’t an issue of “I make the money, the spouse does the house, the end”. Life just doesn’t work that way. In a marriage, you and your spouse are a TEAM.

    While one is at the office, the other one is at home doing things to create a home life (caring for children, household chores, plus the steady stream of doctor/school/child related activities). When BOTH are home, then the TEAM pulls the load together. Being a homemaker, especially if there are several children, is not a 40 hour a week proposition.

    Additionally- the reason you don’t hear about SAHMs who get jobs after kids go to school is because they no longer identify as SAHMs, they are working moms. I think perhaps perspective and demographics play a part in this- in my neighborhood, I only know of TWO SAHMs (and I’m one of them, and I actually am a WAHM.)

    I won’t put my own situation here because it is admittedly an outlier, but suffice to say that I don’t have everything done every day and I do rely on my spouse – and the whole family, actually, the kids have chores- to help out around the house. (Frankly, in my case, I think my husband has the better end of the deal effort-wise, and he agrees!)

  25. I think this post makes too many broad assumptions. Namely, that stay at home parents are always lauded (pretty much- only in the blogosphere. Everywhere else, we don’t get no respect!

    Not all families work the same way, and the worker/homemaker distinct roles are merging- rightfully so.

    To me, this isn’t an issue of “I make the money, the spouse does the house, the end”. Life just doesn’t work that way. In a marriage, you and your spouse are a TEAM.

    While one is at the office, the other one is at home doing things to create a home life (caring for children, household chores, plus the steady stream of doctor/school/child related activities). When BOTH are home, then the TEAM pulls the load together. Being a homemaker, especially if there are several children, is not a 40 hour a week proposition.

    Additionally- the reason you don’t hear about SAHMs who get jobs after kids go to school is because they no longer identify as SAHMs, they are working moms. I think perhaps perspective and demographics play a part in this- in my neighborhood, I only know of TWO SAHMs (and I’m one of them, and I actually am a WAHM.)

    I won’t put my own situation here because it is admittedly an outlier, but suffice to say that I don’t have everything done every day and I do rely on my spouse – and the whole family, actually, the kids have chores- to help out around the house. (Frankly, in my case, I think my husband has the better end of the deal effort-wise, and he agrees!)
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  26. When I’ve seen people write similar posts to this one, in effect saying “being a SAHparent is harder bc of X, y, z and working is easier bc of a, b, c” then yes I do speak up. Because it’s ridiculous, on both sides. I’ve know parents who say working outside the home was much, much easier for them than saying home, and others who experienced the opposite. It’s different for everyone because, again, everyone has different kids, different jobs, different abilities, etc.

    I think anytime we start going down this path of trying to compare each other’s grievances, we’re going to end up in a bad place. I realize you tried very hard to be respectful of SAH parents, but there’s still a tone of condescension here that I felt very strongly when reading the piece (and you can call me crazy or say I’m making things up, whatever, but it’s still how it came across *to me*). Just as when you read about how SAH is the “hardest job ever” you clearly get quite annoyed. And this obviously was the reaction you expected to get.

    End point: SAH vs WOH is apples to oranges. Especially since each experience is the same. I’m all for support PARENTS regardless of where they work or if they receive a paycheck. We can build *all* of us up without having to tear anyone down or fight over who has it harder than whom.
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  27. “I was speaking more to the misguided notion some people have that when the working parent comes home, the SAHparent can automatically kick back and relax.”

    Wait a minute, does anyone really, honestly believe that? Certainly not anyone who actually has kids, right? That’s beyond laughably absurd.
    Marcy recently posted..Canine visitorsMy Profile

  28. I think this is pretty self explanatory. Working parents have a tougher time than stay at home parents. There is no sleep time, tv time, outdoor time at work.

  29. I get to stay at home while my husband works. We have two children and they can be quiet a hand full at time. But still i appreciate all that my husband sacrifice to let me be a stay at home mom

  30. Why does everything have to be a comparison, especially about who has it harder when not a single family has the same dynamics, personalities, etc. Nothing is ever going to be fair to compare side by side! What is hard for one family may not be so for another. What works for one family may not for the next. It does no good at all to make these kinds of comparisons whatsoever! It simply stirs controversy, riles up anger, and makes EVERYONE feel underappreciated!

  31. Renee: Why not compare? If there is an inequity—perceived or real—you HAVE to compare during the discussion don’t you? In this case I see lots of attention being paid to one side, and almost none to another. For this particular post, the entire subject matter is a comparison.

    It’s not like I’m an authority and this is anything but a news site. This is the opinion of one lowly dad blogger. It’s meant to stimulate discussion. The real problem is no one can put aside their egos for 5 minutes to rationally discuss this. Even though I said NOTHING negative about SAHparents, people automatically (and incorrectly) assumed I put them down. I didn’t. I presented my opinion by analyzing what I’ve personally seen and read.

    Now if I wrote “Working parents are so much better than lazy, good for nothing SAHparents” then I’d see your point. But that’s just not the case.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  32. Great post! I recently became a stay-at-home Mom due to a family relocation and completely agree. When I was working full time, my husband and I had a pretty even division of labor around the house, but now I am covering almost 100% in the home. And I should. My job is now a Homemaker, and the job duties are many and varied. When he does things around the house, he is truly “helping”, as it is now my job to chase kids, cook, clean, do laundry, shop for the household goods, fix minor stuff, etc.

  33. I am disappointed in the tone of this post – and the very inflammatory title. You claim that you do not think that SAH parents are lazing around, but you also go on to describe extended periods of napping, television viewing, and never changing out of sweatpants. If you don’t think of that as lazy, how DO you define that word?

    Mommy stays home with me and works part-time as well. She does NOT expect the majority of the household chores to fall on her shoulders – if she worked full time and I were in day care, do you imagine that the day care providers would also come over to clean our house and make us dinner? No. Taking care of children is a job in and of itself; that’s why if Mommy didn’t stay at home, she’d have to PAY someone else to watch me. When Daddy comes home from his full-time job, she certainly expects him to help out – as an above commenter mentioned, that marks the end of BOTH of their work days. Daddy, in fact, does the bulk of the cooking around here, and Mommy is in charge of cleaning up the kitchen.

    Additionally, in order for a SAH parent to work part-time, there needs to be someone else to watch the child, negating at least SOME of the benefit of staying home in the first place! Every single time Mommy has to go to work, she needs to also arrange for my care – but Daddy doesn’t need to worry about that when HE goes to his job!

    Finally, try caring for a child without a)plunking him in front of the tv (the AAP recommends NO television under 2 years old) or b) spending boatloads of money. Mommy spends any “downtime” she has organizing activities for us to do in the 10 hours a day we are home alone with each other.

    There are certain benefits to BOTH staying at home (more family time, occasional down time IF you are lucky enough to have a child who naps) and working outside of it (bathroom without an audience is a pretty major one). I see no need for them to be pitted against each other as they were in your title.
    Cole recently posted..27 MonthsMy Profile

  34. I’ve been a stay at home dad for over eight years and I can honestly say that I 100% believe that the average working parents have it easier than the average stay at home parent. That’s especially so for dads. Working parents get breaks. When they are at work they get at least somewhat of a break from home responsibilities and when they are at home they’re off from work. They’re doing the same amount of work as stay-at-homes, possibly more, but it’s broken up into smaller well defined rolls. For stay-at-homes it’s non-stop, all day, everyday, with only random little tiny breaks. Even on vacations the stay-at-homes are still working. I miss going to the office. I miss the commute to the office. I’m looking forward to when I go back to work after our youngest starts school so I can finally start taking it easy. It’s a big sacrifice to stay at home, but in the long run it’s just a short period of time and it’s well worth it.

  35. Cole: You’re wrong. Read the damn post again. I didn’t say “SAHparents sit around in their sweatpants and sleep all day.” I said there is an OPTION for a nap if WHEN THEIR KID IS ALSO NAPPING. I said they had the OPTION to be in PJs if they wanted to and weren’t leaving the house. You’re twisting my words to suit your argument, and it doesn’t hold up.

    Baltwade: I appreciate your input even if we disagree. I don’t get breaks at work save 15 seconds for a tweet here or there. Even when I’m in a meeting I’m answering emails on my phone. And many parents are not “off from work” even after they’re home. You’re just wrong about that. And you talk about vacations and make it seem only SAHparents take care of the kids. This just isn’t true (at least not in any family I know). Both parents take care of the kids. I’m not sure what you do for a living where you can “take it easy,” but I guess unlike you I work hard at my job. Just as I do at home.

    But we agree that it’s a big sacrifice and well-worth it to have a parent at home. That’s never been up for debate.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  36. I don’t really know why any of us need validation/praise from strangers. Who cares what people say? If you are comfortable with your choice, why does it matter?
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  37. Can I just say that this post stressed me out? Not in a bad way, but in a “How the hell am I ever going to manage my life if I have children?? I can barely manage my dog.” Yikes. I give you and MJ credit for all the both of you do! Intriguing post to say the least :)
    Melissa recently posted..When I Drive Myself, My Light is Found…My Profile

  38. I take issue with your claim that SAHMs are seen as “heroes” who can do no wrong. Yeah, I get to hear “you have the hardest job in the world” a lot, but I gotta tell you, most of the time it’s just lip service. People say that to patronize me, but at the same time, they’re rolling their eyes, or outright sneering. Many times I’ll then have to listen to “but it must be nice, watching your soaps all day and talking on the phone whenever you want to.”
    I face a lot of judgment because I don’t work. When men (and women, but especially men) ask me “what do you do?” and I say “I’m a homemaker,” I see the interest shrink from their eyes: Suddenly I don’t know how to carry on a normal conversation, or discuss what’s going on in the world, because I don’t have a “real” job.
    You may think I’m wrong, but this is my personal experience. What you think life is like as a SAHM is not reality. At least not mine.
    You can’t make assumptions about what someone else’s life is like when you don’t know. Being your son’s “primary care giver” for three years is not the same thing as being a stay-at-home dad, and being a father to one is not the same as being a parent to two, or three, or more. You want more respect as a working dad? I get that. But it’s sounding to me like you think SAHMs get more respect than they deserve. I think not.

  39. I don’t really know why any of us need validation/praise from strangers. Who cares what people say? If you are comfortable with your choice, why does it matter?

  40. Rivka: As I’ve said repeatedly now (although no one seems to be listening), the only assumption I made about SAHparents is that they work exceptionally hard. I certainly didn’t imply they are lazy, so I think you’re reading into things there.

    Also, I don’t think SAHparents get more respect than they deserve. I think they get more respect than working parents. And I’d like to see it equalized.
    Daddy Files recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  41. I think the hardest part about being a “work outside the home” parent is the tiny amount of time I feel like I’m spending with my kids. We all wake up at 6am but while my kids get to watch TV/play for a bit before getting ready for school, I need to get showered and dressed. I also need to give them breakfast, pack lunch for my older kid and for me, and rush out the door.

    I work until 5pm and get home at about 5:30pm. When I get home, I say a quick “hello” to my boys then I need to rush again. This time, I need to change clothes (dress clothes & tie at home don’t cut it) and start dinner. When dinner’s ready, I need to serve it (often everyone is done with dinner by the time I get to eat). Then, I need to clean up from dinner.

    Now, I get to play with the boys… Unless NHL has homework… Or the boys need a tub… Or NHL has band practice… Or we were running late…. But if all of the stars align, I get to play with them – for a half hour to an hour. Then, it’s time to rush them into their PJs and get them into bed.

    The weekends let me spend more time with them, but I often feel like I’m just a visitor in their lives. Someone who pops his head in every now and then instead of a real part of their lives. This is why I love taking the boys out by myself on weekends. It gives my wife, a SAHM, time off and gives me some quality time with them.
    TechyDad recently posted..Blood, The Red Cross, and Preventing ID TheftMy Profile

  42. And I didn’t say you think they’re lazy. You’re reading into things, too. I said your claim that SAHMs are seen as “heroes” is wrong. SAHMs don’t get as much respect as working parents, they get much less. I’d like to see it equalized, too.

  43. I think the reason that so many are reading into what you wrote is the title partly, but also the sad fact that it feels like we need to validate our choices to others all the time. The reality is the job of working or staying at home is only as hard as you perceive it to be, I can not claim to know how difficult someone else job is, unless I have traded positions exactly. I assumed myself wrongly of course from your title and well the constant stream of things I hear in the “real” world that you thought we have it easy us stay at homers. You do in fact believe it is harder to be you, and I disagree but the awesome thing is we can! you wrote your opinion I can read it, think what ever I want and move on! I think perhaps you like getting us readers all riled up and well who wouldnt, and I applaud you because you did just that~

  44. Rivka: Well then we agree to disagree on that. I think SAHparents get more respect in the parenting community. In the media (especially around Mother’s Day but also during the rest of the year as well) you hear about SAHparents all the time. Their numbers are on the rise, they never stop working, etc. It’s a juicy topic at the moment. And I’m happy to see them recognized. They’re certainly deserving.

    But what do you usually hear about working parents? You hear how little time they’re spending with their kids, how important it is to take time off from work, etc. The only problem is we can’t take time off because it looks bad. Then we get skipped for a promotion. Or worse, demoted, fired or laid off during cutbacks. And if the family is dependent on that income, it’s paramount you stay employed.

    While SAHparents have a very tough job that is more important in that it shapes our children, I contend working parents have it tougher because there’s work AND home. Double the stress, double the worry. I know some people think work is an “escape” but it’s not. It’s work. Demanding and difficult. Just like parenting. And remember, working parents are still parenting when they’re not at work.

    Katie: I won’t pretend I don’t enjoy getting people riled up. I do. But I also believe everything I write or I wouldn’t write it. There’s no advertising on this site and I don’t make any money from it, so pageviews and unique visitors don’t translate into more money for me. I do it because it’s how I honestly feel and I wanted to start a discussion. But you’re right, it’s good to disagree and debate. I just felt many people were misconstruing what I said.
    Daddy Files recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  45. I would love to see links to things in the “media” that give so much prestige to SAHMs. I’m not talking about things people say we deserve (like people who say if they put a dollar amount on work I do, I’d be making over hundred grand a year–of monopoly money, I guess.) I’m talking about actual ways society acknowledges what we do. And Mother’s Day isn’t it, because that’s a day for working moms, too, same as Father’s Day is a day for all dads.
    Remember, saying that SAHMs deserve acknowledgment for their hard work does not translate into actual honor. It’s like selling a house: I can ask for any amount of money I want. That doesn’t mean I’ll get it, or that anyone else agrees the house is worth that much. SAHMs ask to be recognized, and you claim we are, but as a SAHM, I sure as hell don’t feel it on my end.

  46. Having been both a working parent and a stay-at-home parent, I found that the hardest part about being a working parent was that the actual time that I got to spend with my son was between 4:00 and 7:00 PM. It’s known as the “witching hour” for a reason (despite the fact that it refers to a longer time period)! I always felt guilty that I’d be psyched to pick him up from daycare at 5:00 only to be looking forward to bedtime after about 5:30/6:00!

  47. I commute to work every day. I get up at 5, get my boy up at 545, we’re out the door at 615 (my son is not a morning eater. He prefers a sippy cup of milk until he “wakes” up. Like me, he thinks 6am is just too early. Sometimes he wants crackers, but other than that, nothing)
    I drop him off for 625, get him settled, drive to catch the 7am train. begin my day at 830. 430 comes, I catch the 453 train, and pick my son up at 605. we go home, and I’ll vacuum as I’m allergic to my cat while I cook him dinner. Other than that, everything waits til he goes to bed at 830. I’ll do the dishes, take a shower, and crawl into bed. My ex takes him two consistent days a week, and every other friday and weekend. Because of that, I decided that chores can wait. I don’t have to put the clothes away immediately. I can wait til he’s with daddy. I just want to spend time with him. the commute sucks. I’d give anything to stay home with him. Especially when he looks at me in the morning, and cries “no daddy. mommy stay. pwease?” it breaks my bloody heart. And there have been times when I’ve actually said screw it, called in, and stayed home with him. but only once or twice. Cause I miss my son.

  48. I find it tougher to be at home than at work. That doesn’t mean I think ALL parents find it easier to be working parents. It’s just me. I find being at home quite suffocating and all the expectations I have for myself for keeping the house in order, looking after my kids, looking after MYSELF are never met. I mostly feel like a bedraggled failure. I get no praise at home & generally people assume I am lucky to be spending so much time with my kids, hanging out in pj’s etc…. I am sorry if you feel like you don’t get enough praise from society in general. From my standpoint working parents get called superstars for balancing so much, I just get told how lucky I am to not have to work. Maybe being the parent of ONE 3 year old you can say with certainty that it’s easier to be home than work. I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old baby. It would be very difficult to get them both to school and get to work I agree, I would miss them terribly and feel guilty for sure. But it’s also tough being at home with two very demanding chidren. Most days it’s enough that I survive to 7pm when my husband gets home. That is a 12 hour day for me too. It never ends, I never get downtime either, I’m not saying he does, we both work super hard. I would never tell my husband that his commute is downtime, I’ve commuted and it sucks. We both respect the work that we do. We both sacrifice something. Neither of us claims to have it tougher or easier, that would do nothing for our relationship. Some days I have it easy, my kids are nice to me and I love being at home. Some days I want to sell them on ebay, but that is illegal so I can’t. It’s just really difficult being the parent of small children. There is always a sacrifice to be made. We all make it happily for the good of our family. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a diaper to change, a kitchen to clean & laundry to fold. Hopefully I’ll get through it before my son unfolds it all! I’ve enjoyed reading the comments!

  49. Rivka: You can’t discount things like this, http://www.guampdn.com/article/20111126/LIFESTYLE/111260316 which does put a dollar value on SAHMs. It is a form of recognition whether you want to admit it or not.

    Additionally, a (very) quick Google search yields things like this:
    http://www.independent.com/news/2011/dec/01/role-mother/

    and this:

    http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/341655/

    And it’s good SAHparents are recognized. But I’d like to see the same for working parents too. While I agree SAHparents face a misguided stigma of laziness, working parents are all but forgotten.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Working Parents Have a Tougher Job Than Those Who Stay at HomeMy Profile

  50. Your blog executed a big issue in the households today. I’m sure this will receive a lot of comments and criticisms. As a working mother, I know how hard it is to balance my time to family and work. You have to exert all of your efforts to the both parties or else you’ll be lacking excellence either in your profession or as being a parent. But when I come home I always see to it that I make my kids understand that I’m doing this for them and will pay off eventually. My husband is working as well and luckily, we seldom have misunderstandings with regard to this matter. I am very blessed! :)
    Angel Collins recently posted..Holiday Gift Guide: The Mom or Mom to beMy Profile

  51. Of course they do, it is common sense when you think about it, its the ones who sit at home all day that find the time and the need to create theoretical arguments as to why they have it worse. Nonsense!
    lizza recently posted..Snow socksMy Profile

  52. I agree that working parents deserve more recognition. The working parents that deserve recognition certainly are putting in 110% or more. I know SAH parents who somehow manage to do nothing but watch TV and nap all day, and working parents who come home and lock themselves into their personal space for an hour or more after work to “unwind”, and I can’t understand either. When I worked, I wanted time with my kid and husband after work. Now that I don’t work, I spend time with housework, although not much, and mostly keeping my kid from vegging out in front of a screen.

    Personally, I give my working husband all kinds of props and kudos. He absolutely deserves them. Just to put it into perspective, you only get to spend an hour or so a night with your kid. My husband gets to spend a couple hours every two weeks with our daughter, plus video-chat time some evenings. He makes enough money to let me stay home with our 2.5 year old full time, but the price we pay for that is the travel he almost always does for work. This isn’t entirely a choice, but rather a result of the shitty job market. It’s not even fun travel, since he works for a construction company, working 12-ish hour days before going back to a crappy hotel and microwave meals. When he gets home every other weekend, he spends time with our daughter, and sometimes we manage a sitter so we can go out. I can’t bring myself to expect him to do any housework when he gets home, and as a very pregnant mom of a toddler, I don’t always have the oomph to do more than minimum cleaning.

  53. I found it hard to keep balance between my kids and my job, and its happened almost daily, routine cry and fight, do you have any advice?

  54. Enough already. When you become a parent (working or stay-at-home or working-from- home or working -from-Mars ) you trade in your “9 to 5″ job for one that is 24/7. The ‘work’ of being a parent never stops. You are always caring for your child(ren) no matter what way works best for your family. We all need to stop whining (and competing) and enjoy the short time we have with our children. I know it’s hard– my 3 kids are currently the ages of 9, 7, & 4– but in the end it’s worth it.

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