To the woman who feels like you’re not enough… you’re not alone. Stay at home Mom guilt is a real thing – I can attest to that. Yes, you do laundry, dishes, dust, vacuum, sweep, mop, wipe butts, scrub toilets, clean up vomit, cook, make beds, fold clothes, chauffeur your kids to school/soccer/dance/piano/the mall, pack school lunches, read bedtime stories, take care of your husband… should I stop now, because I can keep going. You’re doing so much, but just because you don’t have a “real job”, you still feel like you’re not doing enough.
I’ve felt the exact same way.
And I still do on some days.
I somehow feel inadequate because I’m not the Mom that does 5,483 jobs PLUS works a full-time job outside of the home.
Like I don’t measure up to those Moms.
But here’s the thing…
Stay at home Moms feel guilty because they think they’re not doing enough…
Working Moms feel guilty because they think they’re not doing enough…
So, no matter what we choose to do, it seems that we are bound to feel guilty every now and then, whether it’s stay at home Mom guilt or working Mom guilt.
Here’s a question: Do men struggle with these same feelings of inadequacy?
I was laying in bed with my husband recently, and I asked him, “Do you ever feel any type of guilt?”. He looked at me and said, “For being so handsome?”. Bahahhaha! 🙂 I’m not kidding. That’s exactly what he said.
After I explained my question, he told me that he does sometimes feel guilty about not spending enough time with the kids. Like he is being selfish with his time when he just wants to lay on his recliner and watch TV after a long day of work instead of play Monopoly.
But because we chose that I would stay at home, then that means that he must be the breadwinner. So in our family, he is the one that sacrifices quality time with the kids.
*Side Note – I know that we are incredibly blessed that my husband has a great job that affords us the opportunity for me to stay at home. Without his job and his dedication to providing for us, then this article would be all about working Mom guilt instead of stay at home Mom guilt. So many of you work a full-time job out of necessity and still parent like a BOSS! You all are the true unsung heroes!
But stay at home Mom guilt is what I know… so back to that…
No, I don’t contribute a big paycheck. I do work from home doing a job that I absolutely LOVE, but I only work 10 hours per week. And I struggle with the feeling that my measly 10 hours isn’t enough.
Fun Fact – Did you know that the actual monetary value of all of your Mom jobs is over $150K annually? According to Salary.com, in 2018 the job “Mom” should come with a medium annual salary of $162,581, taking into account the average hours “worked” and the various tasks performed. Yup, if you did earn a paycheck for Mommin’ it would be a big one. Still feel guilty?
Why Did I Choose to be a Stay at Home Mom?
I graduated in the top 5 of my high school class. I graduated cum laude from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. I’m smart, and I’m a hard worker. When I have a job to do, I do it the right way and I don’t cut corners. I want the end product of my work to be something that makes me proud. But, I choose not to “work” in the traditional sense of the word. Why?
I choose not to work full-time because of these two non-negotiables:
I do not want my kids to have to go to daycare, ever.
Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against daycare. My Mom actually ran a daycare out of our home when I was a little girl. But, since my Mom always worked from home, I never had to go to daycare. I was able to come home from school and play. And in the summer, I had a true summer break complete with lemonade stands, bike riding, and fun summer outings with my Mom.
I never liked the thought of my kids having to celebrate their last day of the school year, only to turn around and have to wake up to the same blaring alarm and rushed morning routine the very next day so that I could make it to work.
Not to mention, daycare is expensive! Where I live, the average cost of a reputable daycare is $200 per week. I know this because my husband and I seriously weighed the pros and cons of me going back to work after we had kids. After taking into account the cost of daycare for two kids, we ultimately decided that the remaining financial benefit of me working full-time was not worth it to us.
Which brings me to my husband…
I seriously LOVE that man, and I do not want to give up my time with him.
My husband and I have an absolutely AMAZING marriage, thanks to these great marriage tips. We LOVE spending time together, and we are truly each others’ best friend. I know that for some couples, there is such thing as too much time together. But that’s not us. Since my husband works an odd schedule (he is usually home from work by 11am), then we get a ton of quality time together during the day while our kids are at school. And we’re just not willing to give that up for a bigger paycheck.
His work schedule is also a big factor in my decision to not work a traditional job. He goes to bed at 6:30pm. If I worked a normal 40 hour per week job, then I would probably not even get home from work until 5:30pm at the earliest. We would be two ships passing in the night, and that type of relationship isn’t what we want.
So, I’ve chosen to pursue a lasting and strong relationship with my family rather than a successful career.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m definitely not saying that you can’t do both. I know plenty of SuperMoms that work full-time and still have a home that looks like it’s perfectly staged to be photographed for a magazine cover.
That’s not me.
I’ve never been one to jam-pack my calendar with work, social gatherings, and spin class and still have dust-free baseboards. In fact, I’m just the opposite. I fully embrace the occasional “PJ Day” when my kids and I commit to not putting on regular clothes and letting our living room turn into Blanket Fort Central.
I choose PJ Days and blanket forts over more money.
Plus, in my opinion, having more money doesn’t make you happier. It actually makes you more stressed. More money typically means more stuff which typically means more bills. You would think that making more money would help to lessen the burden on your family, but at what cost. And, if you aren’t great at managing your money and tracking your spending, then you’re going to experience financial stress regardless of if you have a two-income family or not.
And, do I really want to give up my family time to be able to buy more clothes or live in a nicer house? No. In fact, when we lived in a 1980 double-wide mobile home in the middle of nowhere, it was one of the happiest times of our lives.
Tips to Get Over Stay at Home Mom Guilt
If reading this article is more like reading your autobiography, then you know all about stay at home Mom guilt. You’ve made the choice to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean that you need to feel guilty. Use these tips to help you combat stay at home Mom guilt:
Be fully present with your kids. I don’t know about you, but part of my stay at home Mom guilt comes from the fact that not only do I feel like I’m not doing enough to contribute financially, but I also feel like I’m not doing enough as a Mom. Double whammy!
As my kids get older, they are becoming more independent. Yes, my 6 year old does still occasionally want me to wipe her bottom, but that’s a far cry from changing 10 dirty diapers a day. My kids don’t need me as much now, which further adds to the feeling that I’m not doing enough.
To combat this, put your phone down. Stop doing the dishes. Turn off the TV. When you are with your kids, really be with them. Listen intently to what they have to say and take a genuine interest in their days. Play with them. Read to them. Jump on the trampoline with them…
I told you we do PJ Days… and yes, we even jump on the trampoline in our PJs.
Join a Mommy group. There are so many Moms out there that are feeling the exact same way as you (*raising my hand!). Connect with like-minded Mommas to get encouragement from the only other people that know exactly what you’re feeling.
Make a To-Do list, and use it. If you don’t feel like you’re doing enough, then commit to being more productive. Make a to-do list so that you have a visual of what you need to accomplish each day. You will be amazed at how the stay at home Mom guilt seems to melt away on the days that you feel like you’ve gotten a lot done.
As a stay at home Mom, it can be easy to procrastinate because you feel like you have all day to finish your “mom jobs”. So instead of being productive, you open up Facebook or turn on the TV for “just a few minutes”. Before you know it, the day is over and you haven’t really accomplished anything, and you’re back to struggling with stay at home Mom guilt.
Try self-affirmations. Yes, I know… the thought of standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself how great you are sounds completely cheeseball. But there are other ways, like journaling, to dwell on your positive qualities. And studies have shown that affirmations do work for some, so what do you have to lose. Here’s a great article from Psychology Today with tips to make affirmations work for you.
Think about the “greener grass”. You know the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Well, think about what that green grass would actually look like for you. If you were to switch from stay at home Mom to working Mom, then who would do the laundry? Who would make sure the bills were paid on time? Who would run errands? Who would go to the bank or the post office? Who would buy groceries? Who would be available to take the kids to the doctor when they get sick? Who would be able to go on your child’s field trip? Who would be the one to wake up at all hours of the night if the kids need something?
The answer to a lot of those questions is probably… still you. Imagine trying to do everything that you do PLUS work a full-time job. That grass ain’t so green now, huh?
Find a part-time work from home job that you LOVE. If you just can’t get past the feeling that you aren’t doing enough, or you find that you have a little extra time while your kids are in school, then try a flexible part-time job (here are some great options). And I use the term “part-time” loosely. As I mentioned, I only work 10 hours a week from home (doing this job that I LOVE!). But, even a few hours a week can help you feel like you are contributing something to your family’s income. Even if it’s just making enough money to pay the water bill.
How do you deal with Stay at Home Mom Guilt? Leave me a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
And, if you loved this post then check out some of my other parenting posts:
- Tips for Overwhelmed Moms – 8 Simple Ways to Avoid Mommy Meltdowns
- How to Raise the Nice Kid in a World of Mean Girls
- Don’t Be the Mean Mom! 7 Strategies to Tell Kids No Without Saying No
Comments & Reviews
Thank you for sharing this. I feel the guilt of my choice to stay at home and no longer work full time – it’s constant. I know it is self-imposed guilt, but it hurts just the same. About two years ago, I left my job as a technical contractor (it was part-time, but I still worked too much). I always feel like I am not contributing enough financially, and I know that this guilt I feel is pointless because I do so much. Thanks again for writing this post; it’s good to know I am not alone.
Hi Jo! You’re definitely not alone… I think it’s something that ALL moms struggle with. But just think about how much money you’re saving your family on childcare expenses, so it’s like you ARE contributing financially, just in a different way. And even more important than that is the time that you get to spend with your kids, which is something that you can never get back. So glad you enjoyed the post!
Hi. I am in the same boat. Seems to me that if I am not helping financially ( even a little) then I am not doing enough. I feel guilty to sit ,eat my lunch in front of the TV. But that is actually most of the time my only time “off”. I got a real estate license. I thought this was the solution to my problem. But the pandemic started 6 months after getting my license , so I had to stay home with the kids. Yes, I showed houses with my 3 , then when he turned 4 year old. ( What choice did I have). Anyway. Thank you for the article. Well said.
Helen Rodrigues says
I am a mom of teenagers and one in university. I’ve always worked part time but recently and for health reasons I decided to take a break. Now, I lack the confidence to look for work and get out there again. I’m almost 50 and struggle with what I’ve accomplished career wise., which is almost zero. Help. I can’t stop crying some days because of my guilt and loss of identity.
Hi Helen! I know the feelings of guilt that you’re not doing “enough” can be tough… and it’s so difficult for us Moms that choose to take an extended amount of time off to be there for our kids. Do you have any skills that you could parlay into an online or work from home career? Even something that you consider to be a hobby (like knitting or baking) could turn into more of a career with the power of the internet these days. For instance, my husband and I started filming outdoor cooking videos together and started a YouTube channel back in 2020, and now it earns him a full time income with only about 10 hours of work per week. You could also do some research on Virtual Assistant jobs… there are so many ways to work from home these days with a flexible schedule so you may feel less intimidated versus going back to the regular workforce in an actual office setting. Just take baby steps… think about what you may want to do, and then research the heck out of it using Google and YouTube, so you’ll be more confident moving forward. 🙂
It is as if you were inside my mind reading all my thoughts and feelings… this is me.
I am mum to 2 school aged boys, and since they started school I’ve found myself at a loss as to what to do with my “free time”. I get all the usual stuff done sure, but always feel like it’s not enough or I should be doing more. Pretty much everyone I know works which makes me feel even more guilty.
But my husband and I made this decision together, for me to be there for our children, and however much guilt I feel for not working, I actually wouldn’t want it any other way, I want to be the constant for my boys.
So thank you for making me feel better about being a stay at home parent. It won’t fix my feelings permanently but it has definitely made me feel OK about it for now.
Hi Jem! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post and that I was able to make you feel less alone in your feelings of “mom guilt”. I LOVE how you mentioned that you are “the constant” for your boys. I think that’s a great way to look at it, and I definitely feel that I’m “the constant” for my two daughters also. That’s a MAJOR benefit of being a stay at home Mom. Even as my daughters get older and they become more independent, I’m still able to spend extra quality time with them since I don’t work outside the home, and you can’t put a price tag on that. Thanks so much for your sweet comment!
Tasha Beitel says
THANK YOU! I am feeling all of this so much right now. I’m a first time momma to the sweetest boy. He is turning 1 in March. My husband and I came to the agreement that I would be a stay at home mom. My husband is amazing and is working 2 jobs to allow me to stay home. Daycare is completely out of the question. It costs way too much and I don’t feel like they have enough teachers. I also had a family friend lose her son due to negligence of the daycare. I don’t trust them. Period. Anyways, today has been especially hard for me. I am trying to find a work from home job to help with the money situation and maybe I won’t feel as guilty.. Idk. But I really needed this today.
Hi Tasha! I totally get it! I’m so glad that the post was a little bit of a bright light for you. 🙂 There are really so many ways to work from home and still earn a good income, without having to commit to crazy hours. You could definitely do some research on starting a blog and learn everything you can about it – YouTube videos, Google, etc. It takes a while to get off the ground, but it can be an awesome income with a flexible schedule. I tell everyone to think of it as a 2 year unpaid internship when they’re starting out. And I don’t know if you have any sort of hobbies or special knowledge that you can teach, but YouTube could be an awesome income source also. We started my husband a cooking YouTube channel about 2 years ago as a “side hustle” at the start of the pandemic, and now he’s earning a full-time income from doing that – just a few hours a week because he still works a regular job as well. But the bottom line is… try not to feel guilty. Focus on the good, and enjoy being able to stay home with your little boy. Thanks so much for the comment! 🙂
Diane Price says
Every SAHM should really know read this! I love journaling because it helps my me calm down and get my thoughts together. Thanks for writing about this!
Hi Diane! Yes, journaling is a great way to express yourself and release some of your feelings of guilt. Plus, you can do it while your kids nap for a little peace and quiet. Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you found the post helpful! 🙂
Thank you for putting into words how I’ve been feeling these days.
I’ve heard about SAHM guilt/depression, but never experienced it until now, during a pandemic, so who knows where the true stem lies!
The thought of leaving my girls with a caregiver hurts so much, I want to be the one to experience life with them! (They are 4 and 6 now). I don’t want to miss out but I also want to “reach my personal potential” (2 university degrees).
I’m being selfish, I want it ALL, but don’t even know what I want. An extremely flexible, honourable job, with others, that works with my children’s very limited and fluctuating schedule. (Sigh)
It helps to know I’m not alone, and I think it was important for me to publicly “share” these woes. A cathartic release I should’ve done long ago.
Thank you for your content and my apologies for the novel of a comment. ♥️
Yes, I completely understand! I also have a degree, and I am a very motivated, entrepreneurial spirit. I always envisioned myself as a career woman/business owner, but at the same time, I did not want to have to send my kids to daycare. It’s a struggle that I feel like a lot of us moms have, and it’s one of the reasons why I started this blog. It gave me the best of both worlds… I could create a very flexible “business” that provides another source of income for our family, and I could be at home everyday when my kids got back from school or had school breaks. I also felt guilty as my kids got older and were more independent, because they didn’t need me as much so I felt like most of my days consisted of very little “work”. But I’m glad that the post made you realize that you’re not alone… and I welcome and appreciate the long comments that allow you to just get your feelings out! 🙂