I’m a husband and father of three daughters. I’ve worked pretty much 40 hours+ a week since I graduated high school. My wife has worked on and off, but currently stays home with our toddler. So, I’m in a great position to offer advice to husbands of stay at home moms.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Stay at home moms often live a stressful & isolated life. While husbands are off at work interacting with other adults, our wives are at home with kids. Then on top of that, most are cleaning the house, doing laundry, and trying to balance that with having a life and identity of their own.
So in this post, we’re diving deep into the world these stay at home moms find themselves in. We’ll answer all the top questions that come up and look at some cold, hard, facts.
But specifically, we’ll be looking at simple actionable advice for husbands of stay at home moms so that we husbands can better understand and support these amazing women.
Being a SAHM is hard, but so is being married.
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Is being a stay at home mom hard?
If you have to ask this question, you should probably ask one.
But the short answer to this question is yes; being a stay at home mom can be very hard. Sure there are moments of freedom and flexibility that those of us locked into a 9 to 5 don’t have.
But really to compare the responsibilities of a SAHM to someone who works a 40 hour a week job is like asking which drink do you like better; milk or apple cider? They are so different that it’s just not a fair comparison.
Being a stay at home mom often means looking after the running of the house, getting the kids ready for school, shuttling kids to and from after-school activities, and if you have pre-k kids, it often means teaching them so they are prepared when they do enter school.
But for oblivious husbands (of which I have been one), we go off to work, come home and often find everything just as it was when we left. We don’t see the work our wives put in or the damage a single toddler did throughout the day.
We may not even notice the clean laundry put away or think about the time that went into preparing the dinner on the stove.
As you begin to appreciate your wife more for being the amazing woman she is, you will naturally find youself growing your relationship in other ways too.
Take a moment and review the 5 best Ways to Help Your Relationship Grow and see if you can’t take a good thing and make it great!
What are the responsibilities of a stay at home mom?
Bear in mind that unlike the job description for a corporate job, stay at home moms wear MANY hats! Also be aware that the “responsibilities” could vary greatly from house to house, couple to couple, and person to person.
But there are certainly some commonalities about the responsibilities of SAHMs, including:
- Teacher – Stay at home moms are often the first and best teachers of our kids, ensuring a smooth transition when they start school
- Meal planner – SAHMs generally make sure dinner is on the table or plan and budget for those rare nights at restaurants
- Grocery shopper – To be in charge of meals also means doing the grocery shopping, coupon clipping, and keeping the grocery budget in check
- School lunch maker – SAHMs often make sure the kids have a nutritious lunch each day at school or at least coordinate the lunch account for those who eat at school
- Housekeeper – It goes withouts saying that stay at home moms often are in charge of keeping the place clean, from laundry, to toilet bowls, it can be a very tiring, neverending, and sometimes thankless job
- Chauffeur – As kids age into after-school programs, Moms more and more find themselves shuttling kids to and from activity all week long
- School communicator liaison – Thankfully, these days, most schools and teachers email communication, but there’s still a lot to keep up with between progress reports, lice outbreaks, and school events
- Homework enforcer – Let’s face it. Even the best kids still sometimes forget to do their homework. Evil-eye Mom makes sure it gets done, done on time, and is complete
How can a stay at home mom be successful?
“Success” means different things to different people.
To her, it might mean staying on top of all the various and ever-changing needs and priorities with nothing slipping through the cracks.
To an oblivious husband, it might mean coming home to a clean house, good grades for the kids and a hot meal on the table.
For the kids it might mean having a tasty lunch, being supported in their after-school interests, Moms saying yes to those occasional sleepovers and not hammering them too hard on their grades.
Ultimately, for a family and household to function well, Mom has to be happy, so she has to come at the top of the priority list. Remember the saying, “if mama ain’t happy, nobody happy”.
So my advice for husbands of stay at home moms is to ask your wife what she needs from you to be happy, feel fulfilled, and to feel appreciated.
Don’t compare your job to hers or see yours as superior because it earns a salary. In a well-functioning household, ALL jobs are important, and everyone performs tasks that move the family, couple, household, and individuals forward.
If you do see things that you think aren’t as they should be, remember it’s ALWAYS better to ask questions instead of making statements or accusing.
How do stay at home moms survive?
Being a stay at home mom can be isolating.
After all, if the kids are in school, then they are alone all day, and if the kids aren’t yet in school, then most of the conversations your wife has are with little kids.
Those of us at a 9 to 5 take for granted being able to occasionally have deep philosophical conversations about the news of the day, crack a joke or three, or even stop what we’re doing to watch a video on YouTube or check our Facebook.
For stay at home moms to avoid depression and survive, a few things are imperative:
- They need a support network
- An understanding spouse is crucial
- Memberships – For SAHMs with pre-k kids, memberships to museums, libraries, zoos, etc are a great way to get the kids out of the house, have fun, and connect with other SAHMs
- A night off – Few things can recharge your wife quite like a night off where she can just be herself, she isn’t a mom, or even a wife
Newly married couples and new moms always struggle to find balance.
That’s totally normal at this stage of your relationship. But, you don’t want your relationship to get stuck there.
Thus, recognizing the different Stages of a Relationship, identifying where yours is at, and finding ways to take it to the next level are crucial for couples to succed in the long run.
So why not take just a minute and review the steps and what you can do in your relationship to ensure it makes it to the next stage? Just click the link to read it on my site.
How can a stay at home mom be happy?
As supportive husbands of stay at home moms, we don’t want our wives to just survive, right?
So how can we help our wives to be happier and feel fulfilled?
To be clear, no one can make anyone but themselves happy. But we can remove roadblocks to happiness, change our own attitude and understanding, and support our wives in their needs.
Here are some of the top things we can encourage and support our stay at home moms in doing to be happier:
1. Take a shower daily
It might seem like a small thing, but when your world revolves around diapers, dirty laundry, cooking & cleaning, it can be easy to let personal hygiene go by the wayside. After all, who’s going to see us anyway?
But a daily shower (or least 3 or 4 a week) where we aren’t holding a baby lifts our spirits. It makes us feel better about ourselves. When we feel better about ourselves, we’ll be more likely to want to get out of the house and do things.
2. Find activities outside the house
The life of a SAHM can’t revolve 100% around the house. Thus, it’s important to find activities, meetups, play dates, and other activities that get us out of the house and connecting with others.
Plus the more kids are out of the house, the less mess they make!
Memberships to local zoos, museums or even the local library are all great things to get as they make it easy to go on regular field trips.
3. Connect with other moms and friends
As we’ve discussed, your wife can’t have a toddler be the sole source of conversation for 8-10 hours. That would stretch the sanity of even the best of us.
So encourage her to find meet up groups, local neighborhood Facebook mom groups, or just connecting with friends and family.
Trust me; she needs a connection with others to maintain her sanity.
4. Spend time on a hobby
Everyone needs something they love to do just for themselves.
It doesn’t need to take tons of time or cost tons of money, but for an isolated SAHM, she needs something to do she feels passionate about that doesn’t involve being mom or wife.
That could be a true hobby or it could be something as simple as watching the kids for an hour in the evenings so she can read a good book.
As her what she would love to do, find a way to make it happen, and then encourage her to follow through; it’s easy to make excuses, so a gentle push from you may be necessary.
5. Be comfortable setting boundaries
Some of us, husbands and wives both, have trouble saying no.
Many of us were raised to be pleasers. We love saying yes to everyone and everything. But you know what else that is?
Every time we say yes to something, we are effectively saying no to something else. In the world of the stay at home mom, it’s not uncommon for her to say yes to everything only to find her own needs wants and desires totally last in the priority list.
So encourage her to say no.
Make sure she feels comfortable telling you if a request you have isn’t realistic for her day. Ask her what you can do to help her with her priority list.
Stay at home moms never get to clock out, so our work as dads doesn’t end the moment we get home.
6. Ask for help
As with the above, for many of us, it’s hard to ask for help also.
Especially if your wife feels a sense from you that everything to do with the house and kids is “her job”, it can be very hard for her to ask for help.
But depending on the size of the home, how many kids you have, and their ages, she may need help; sometimes desperately.
As day job dads, we may never fully understand what SAHMs go through.
The good news is we don’t have to fully understand to be empathetic and supportive. Ask your wife what helps she needs. Depending on your circumstances, maybe a once a week cleaning person might make all the difference?
Or, as I do in our house, get the kid’s breakfasts ready in the morning, clean the kitchen, and then take the kids to school (with the toddler).
Your wife’s needs may be totally different from mine, so check in. Ask what she needs, and be as supportive as you can.
What are the top things SAHMs wish their husbands knew?
As a husband, I can guess all day long what my wife wants or wishes I knew.
But that, and about $2.50 won’t get me much more than a cup of coffee. So the best way to find out what stay at home moms wish we, as their husbands knew, is to ask them!
Luckily, it’s not hard to talk to wives and ask, so here are some of the most common responses to the question “what do stay at home moms wish their husbands knew”:
1. Being a SAHM is lonely
Being a stay at home mom is isolating and adult conversations are few and far between and the social interactions you take for granted at your job don’t happen in mind.
2. It can be exhausting
Each daily task, by itself, isn’t a big deal. But keeping up with cleaning, cooking, shopping, kids, schools, pets, and everything else, and feeling the pressure to do everything “perfectly” is flat out exhausting.
3. SAHM IS a “real” job
Maybe I don’t punch a clock, get a paycheck, or answer to a boss, but being a SAHM is JUST as much of a real job as yours and our household couldn’t function without both of us doing what we do.
4. Not bringing in a salary can bring up guilty feelings
While I know my job is important, I still feel guilty about not bringing home a paycheck and contributing financially. Thus, the last thing I need is passive-aggressive comments about it.
5. Pressuring us to get a “real job” makes us angry
While there can come a point when it may make sense for me to work outside the home, pressuring me isn’t the way to have that discussion. We have to be on the same team, communicate about shared goals and talk about how we want to structure our household.
6. When I see you when you first come home, even if you’re tired, make time for me
On many days, I haven’t had an adult conversation in hours. I have had a long day, have done a lot, and sometimes just need to vent or connect with you. Thus, I don’t need anything to be fixed; I just want you to be present and listen.
7. I feel guilty if the kids aren’t “perfect”
Every bad progress report, wasted expense on an abandoned after-school activity, or report about misbehaving makes me feel guilty.
While they are “our” kids, because I am a stay at home mom, I feel like the kids are my responsibility so I take their mistakes personally as if they were my fault.
Make sure to remind me that kids are never perfect and that raising them is “our” job, not just mine.
Fear of Failure is a real challenge.
If you or your spouse struggle with fear of failure or rejection, why not take a moment and review some of the simple steps in my article on how to overcome those challenges? The link takes you to that post now on my site.
How can husbands better help stay at home moms?
To a degree, we’ve covered a lot of ground here and we’ve reviewed a lot of advice for husbands of stay at home moms.
But if I had to boil down what I’ve learned both from reading & research, but also from being married to my wife for almost 13 years, I would say these are the top things husbands can do for their wives who stay at home with the kids:
- Be appreciative
- Encourage your wife to take time for herself
- Being a SAHM is hard work – understand that even if you have no idea what she does all day, it’s just as hard (or harder) than what you do
- Remember she never gets to clock out, so you should expect to work around the house before & after work too
- Don’t forget she is your wife before she was a mother; romance her, compliment her and make sure she feels desired (and not just when you want sex)
- Listen to her when you get home
- Be supportive and encouraging, but don’t try and “fix” everything she complains about
One of the cornerstones of being a good husband (or wife) is communication.
To be a better communicator, we have to first start with being a good listener. As guys, we’re almost hardwired to want to fix things that are broken. But your wife isn’t a “thing” needing to be fixed.
Thus “Learning How to Listen with Empathy” is crucial to really hearing her and making her feel heard. When your wife doesn’t feel heard or understood, she will naturally escalate the conversation.
So if you struggle to really hear her, I highly encourage you to take a moment and click that link to review my article.
How many stay at home moms are there in the US?
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, but what are the numbers?
According to Pew Research, about 18% of households in the US have 1 parent who stays home. Thus, that means 1 in 5 families have a stay at home mom or dad.
In real numbers, that’s about 11 million people.
Ironically, the numbers are about the same as they were in 1989, but a key shift is a significant increase in stay at home dads while the mom is the primary breadwinner.
In those years, the stay at home dads went from being 4% of parents to 7%, so they almost doubled.
Stay at home moms, by comparison, only dropped 1% down to about 27%. Thus, SAHDs represent about 17% of all stay at home parents.
Did I cover all the advice for husbands of stay at home moms you wanted?
In this post, we took a deep dive into the world of stay at home moms.
We examined what most SAHMs do, what some of their biggest struggles are, and how they can be happier and more fulfilled.
But specifically, we aimed this post as advice for husbands of stay at home moms.
Being a SAHM is a HARD job. It can be very lonely and isolating, and as much as they try to put a routine into place, it is often a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants situation, especially dealing with babies and toddlers.
Hopefully, this advice can help us husbands be more understanding and supportive, which in turn will help bring everyone together.
If you are a SAHM what is your biggest challenge? For husbands of a SAHM, what was the biggest misconception you had about what your wife does?
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