Working Mom vs Stay at Home Mom. It’s one of the oldest questions for both would-be and current mothers, should I return to work, or should I become a stay at home mom?
It came up again recently in the comments of one of my Facebook posts. Not so much a discussion about what someone should do, as much as more of a bit of contentious arguing over which side had it better.
So, I thought I would just go ahead and lay it out there- one is not neccessarily better than the other. For you working moms thinking about coming home permanently, or you stay-at-home Mom’s longing for a return to the professional world, there’s going to be Pros and Cons to each. Let me lay them out there for you.
Let’s start with the positives of being a working mother.
Advantages of Being a Working Mom
First, we might as well get it out of the way straight off the bat- the biggest advantage to being a working Mom is that you’re bringing an income into the home. Sometimes it’s a very sizeable income, and one that would be missed.
Not only does a second income help with paying for all of the associated costs of having children, such as childcare costs, and bigger grocery bills; In many cases it’s the difference between more frequent shopping trips, vacations, or a nicer car.
It also helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem. This is something that many stay-at-home moms admit that they sometimes struggle with.
Work can also provide balance when things are tough at home with teething toddlers or sleepless babies. A workplace helps you to maintain something of a social life, and you get to spend much of you time interacting with other adults.
It only takes a weekend at home with my husband and son before I’m ready to escape the insanity and go back to the office.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, returning to work allows you to continue to do what you enjoy. If you hate your job then this won’t be the case, but for people who enjoy their career and get a lot of satisfaction from their job, then this is an important consideration if you are thinking about not going back.
Cons of Being a Working Mom
There is one massive con to being a working Mom, and that’s not being there for your child, in a variety of different ways.
It’s not just missing out on things like first steps, first words, or playdates, it’s things like not being at home on time to put them to sleep, or not being able to spend time with them teaching early development skills. It can also be tough coming home from work to find that they’ve learned something new from other adults, such as your nanny or at the pre-school.
Even when they’re school-aged, it can be tough missing out on all of that after-school time. By the end of the day, when you’re picking them up from whatever childcare you’ve got them in, you’re both too worn out to have as much quality time together.
For some, the pain of missing those important moments of growing up is too much to bear. Others take solace in the fact that they are working hard to build their child a better future.
It can also sometimes be difficult to maintain your previous work levels. Some coworkers without children find it hard to relate to only having a few hours’ sleep with a screaming baby, and expect results from you regardless.
Advantages of Being A Stay at Home Mom (SAHM)
First, you get to spend every moment you can with your child. You get to witness all of those amazing moments of growing up, and give them all of the love and attention that you can.
Your child only grows up once, so it can be very rewarding to be there for all of it.
And many SAHM’s have great satisfaction knowing that they are there for their children whenever they need it. It can be tough being stuck in some meeting or cubicle, unable to return at short notice. It’s even worse when you have to travel for work.
You can also get rid of the stress of work-related deadlines and office politics, and instead just focus 100% of your energy on your child or children. And you get to set your own routine- if you decide to go to the park that day for a playdate, you can!
What’s more, employers are taking a much more pragmatic approach to the dreaded “child gap” on your résumé. Many are now smart enough to look past that, and take on Moms for roles at a similar level to where they were before having kids. So, now you can return to the workforce later in life, after spending many of those important early years with you child, with less repercussion than before.
Cons to Being A Stay-at-Home Mom
Being a SAHM mom is certainly not a life of sitting on the couch and eating popcorn! No, the struggles that working mothers face are just replaced with different struggles.
First, while many working moms are fantasizing about a play date with their son or daughter during a terrible day at work, many stay at home moms are fantasizing about having meaningful adult interaction, rather than being stuck with a child that might even be able to talk yet.
Many also find it difficult when their social circle dwindles rapidly since they have no work colleagues to meet for drinks, or networking events to attend. Soon, many SAHM’s find their regular acquaintances only consisting of other moms.
Many SAHM’s crave intellectual conversations that go beyond simply saying “hi” to the same cashier at the local grocery store.
You may not have the stress of work-related deadlines, or have to deal with horrible coworkers, but that stress is replaced by the rigors of running a household.
Sometimes SAHM’s often have to cook, clean, do laundry, get children to where they need to be, and pay the bill’s all in the confines of one day! When a toddler decides to go into full-meltdown mode, you begin to see how difficult and stressful running a household can get.
Many SAHM’s also feel guilty that they have given up their healthy paycheck to spend time with their child. When a household income dramatically reduces, it is very quickly noticed. And not everything can be simply couponed away or scrimped on. It sometime means difficult financial decisions have to made.
Others struggle with a feeling of a lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-purpose, that their job gave them. Many feel they want to be defined by more than just being a Mom.
And, despite improvements in this area, many Moms still find it hard to return to the workforce after being out for several years. It can be very depressing to not be able to break back into the same career path you had before kids, and having to settle for more lower-level work than before.
Working Mom vs Stay at Home Mom
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to both being a stay at home Mom or a working Mom. There are no right or wrong answers, they are both incredibly difficult, just for different reasons.
Before making any decisions, weigh out the pros and cons. Some may find it better to go back to work, while others may feel better staying home with the kids for a couple years. It really depends on what’s best for you.
Find the right balance
Luckily, as more companies offer work from home roles, and there’s more opportunity for contract and gig type work, more and more Moms are finding a happy median between the two. Being able to generate an income and have the flexibility of working from home, while still getting to spend a lot of time with the kids. For some Moms, this may be just the balance they need.
What path have you followed as a mom? What do you struggle with?
Let me know in the comments below!
You might also want to check out- Working Mom- like’s there’s any other kind