Many people complain about their jobs, but what they don’t realize is stay at home moms have the hardest job of all – raising kids. Different age kids have different needs, so it’s important for moms to balance all their kids’ needs plus take care of their own.
Moms work just as hard, if not harder than a lot of people, but many get very little support from their kids or spouse. They do it all without any pay when they should be making as much as some top executives. Here we’ll discuss what the research has to say about stay at home moms, what exactly moms do all day, how much they would make if they got paid for what they do, and strategies for dealing with mommy guilt.
What does the research say about stay at home moms?
Stay at home moms are more depressed, sad and angry. According to a Gallup survey, 42% of stay at home moms feel they’re struggling, vs. 36% of working moms. Fifty percent of those surveyed reported stress in their previous day, and 26% reported sadness.
Another study from the University of Maryland found moms spend too much time with their kids. While they may feel pressure to spend as much time with them as possible, the quality of that time matters. Kids shouldn’t have to see sad, stressed-out mothers. That’s why they need to find a balance between their marriage, kids and daily lives.
What is the invisible work of a stay at home mom?
In case you think mothers don’t do anything, think again. Moms do many things throughout the day. Depending on how old their children are, their day may start at 6:00 am. They’ll get up and take a quick shower. If they have school-age kids, they’ll wake them up around 6:20. By 6:30, they’re starting breakfast and packing their school-age kid’s lunches. They’ll feed their kids breakfast about 6:45, then get everyone into the car about 7:00 so they can take them to school and/or mom’s day out.
If they have younger kids who aren’t in school, they’ll have to put the car seat in the car if it’s not in there already. Between 8:00 and 9:30, they’ll run errands like grocery shopping or going to the bank. If they have younger kids, about 9:30 they’ll have a playdate or visit the playground with their toddlers and preschoolers. About 10:45, they’ll make lunch for the younger children, then read to them and put them down for naps. About 11:00, they’ll start on the household tasks they need to do for the day, like unloading the dishwasher, washing the dishes, or doing the laundry.
That takes care of the morning. About 12:45, they’ll make themselves lunch before they wake up the kids. At 1:00 they’ll have someone one-on-one time with their younger children, such as doing learning games or art projects. At 2:00, they’re finishing cooking and cleaning before they take their younger kids to pick their older kids up at school. By 3:00, they’re going home for snacks or handing out snacks before taking their kids to dance lessons, piano lessons, karate, or team practices. By 4:30 they’re heading home and then at 5:00 they’re starting dinner while the kids play outside or in the house. By 5:30 they’ve got dinner ready. At 6:00 it’s time for the kids to do homework while moms finish cleaning up. At 6:30, they bathe the younger children, and then the older kids take their baths at 6:45. At 7:00 they’re putting younger children to bed. After tucking in younger kids and reading to them, by about 7:15 they’re spending quality time with the older kids. At 8:00, it’s time to put the older kids to bed.
Now that they’ve got all the kids in bed, they can finish any leftover chores they have left at 8:15, spend some time with their spouse and then get in a little to themselves before they go to bed around 10:00, praying they don’t get woken up during the night by kids who are having bad dreams or meltdowns and need to be comforted.
Sometimes moms aren’t so lucky. They may have to work around the clock when a child gets sick. If more than one child gets sick at the same time, she’s working even harder at the nurse role, yet she takes it quietly and prays that the kids get better soon.
On top of all the things they do for the kids, mothers are also expected to do other things like:
- Remember extended family birthdays
- Plan family celebrations
- Send holiday cards
- Pick holiday presents
- Send thank you cards
- Plan family vacations
- Keep in touch with extended family members throughout the year.
- Remember to dress the baby in that special outfit grandma bought them when she visits.
How much should stay at home moms be making?
Moms take on many different roles – they basically get a little bit of experience in many different professions. During the time their kids are growing up, they may take on the role of:
- Academic adviser
- Art Director
- Athletic Director
- Day Care Center Teacher
- Event Planner
- Executive Housekeeper
- Facilities Director
- Laundry Manager
- Logistics Analyst
- Maintenance Supervisor
- Marketing Manager
- Network Administrator
- Public School Teacher
- Recreational Therapist
- Staff Nurse
- Social Media
- Tax Accountant
- Vocational Teacher
- Work/Life Program Manager
For taking on all these different responsibilities at one point or another during their kids’ lives, they should earn about $162,581 a year.
How to deal with mommy guilt?
Many moms feel they have to be with their children 24/7. This isn’t true. Moms should spend some time with each child, as well as by themselves. Some ways to deal with the guilt of not spending every minute with your children include:
Connect with your children using statements, not questions.
If you notice something your child is wearing or something they did right, tell them in a statement. Saying “You got an A on your test, good job!” builds a stronger connection than asking “Did you get an A on your test?” It’s almost impossible to get lost in the moment when you’re commenting on something your children are doing or have done. And when you have more meaningful interactions with your children during the day, the guilt goes away on its own.
Don’t reach for your smartphone.
It’s easy to reach for your phone when you’re feeling stressed during the day. You get lost in it, and 20 minutes later your kids bring you back to reality. That’s because smartphones don’t relieve stress, they actually increase it.
There you have it – information on what moms do all day, how to deal with mommy guilt, how much they should be making, and what research says about them. The next time you see a stay at home mom struggling, or if you know a stay at home mom who’s struggling, offer to give them a hand. Pick up their kids from school or watch their younger kids while they go pick up the kids from school. Help them with gift ideas or help them select car seats for their children as they grow up. You’ll make their lives a lot easier, and the mom will be thankful for it.
Keren Simanova is a busy mommy by day and a passionate writer by night. While spending countless hours researching car seats for her children, she created an educational car seat blog, CarSeatsMom.com to educate other mothers about the importance of car seats. Further, along the way, the blog became an invaluable source for research of a variety of car seat brands, unique features, and mommies’ reviews.