Working Moms Care About Their Kids Too

by Sandy L on July 21, 2010

Last week's Art

I’m the first to admit that I love reading mommy blogs.  Since most of the people who do these blogs are SAHM moms, I pretty regularly run across the “I choose to stay at home because I care about my family assumption.”  Yup, us working moms dump our kids off with some stranger, put on our designer clothes, and go to work so that we can run around spending frivolously. YEAH RIGHT!

There is a false theme out there that the # of hours a parent spends with their children directly correlates to the quality of their upbringing. By now, all of us working mothers know there are many benefits to daycare, but I thought I’d summarize some of these items below.

  • Socialization – learning to play with other children.
  • Set Routines – most daycare or family daycares have regimented schedules for naps/snacks/eating/playing.  (Children need routines and some of us are better than others at sticking to them, ehem me)
  • Access to a Child Rearing Expert. – As a first time mom, I would often get advice from my daycare provider who has cared for hundreds of children for almost 30 years. I am ever grateful for her advice.
  • Independence – a fellow working mom told me that people had commented that her 3 boys were very independent and mature for their age.   They knew how to fix dinner, help out around the house, do their homework, etc.
  • Safety – My daycare provider is proficient in CPR and has to pass annual state mandated training to maintain her daycare license.
  • Quality Time – most working moms make an effort to make weekends special.  They have the financial means and the energy to do things like take a trip to the zoo.  At least for me, the stress and energy expended for work is often different than what is needed for children.  Yes, laundry and groceries have to get done on the weekends too, but one day is always an “adventure” day.  I always make an effort to be 100% on when I am home with them.  I think it’s harder to be at 100% when you’re with them 24/7.
  • Positive Role Models – Any mom can be a positive role model, but I think this one applies more to the dads. I’ve seen husband’s of SAHM’s who literally have no clue on how to do the most basic of child rearing tasks.  In contrast, most dual income families have a very active dad who participates equally in chores, errands, taking care of the kids.  I think it’s important that kids see that it’s an equal partnership and regardless of your gender, everyone contributes to whatever task is needed at that time.  I really think having “daddy chores and mommy chores” just proliferates the stereotypes.
    • And for those single working moms out there, I was raised by a single mom and thinking back I have no idea how she managed it all. At any rate, it taught me that if you work hard you can get ahead in life. My mom made minimum wage, yet, I was able to go to private school, we lived in a home she paid for with cash, and I graduated from college.  I didn’t feel like she loved me less because she was working to keep me fed and clothed.  She was a role model. She taught me how to be frugal.  She taught me that it takes sacrifices to get ahead.
  • Exposure to Germs – I’m sure this is a controversial topic, but more and more info is coming out about how it’s good to get exposed to various bugs earlier in life to build up immunity.
  • Money – Not all working moms have the option of staying home, but for those that theoretically could, why are we working?  Retirement fund, college fund, vacation fund, emergency fund, paying off the house early, etc.  Money problems cause family problems and I am too risk averse to have a limited cushion.
  • Security – Leaving the workplace for a long period of time may affect your ability to re-enter the workforce when and if you need to.  (Think: computer scientist)  Also, in times like these, there is a constant fear of layoffs and it’s unlikely both parents will get laid off at the same time.
  • Sanity – Okay, I’ll admit it, when I was on maternity leave, I had a lot of conversations about pooping,  puking and crying.  As an engineer, I needed something a little more stimulating at least part of my day.  I started to lose perspective.  I was getting stressed/upset over trivial things because at that time, it was my whole world.  Working gives you perspective and you don’t get as upset over trivial things.

Not all daycares are equal, but if you have one that you trust and feel good about, then there are many benefits…

Lastly, a lot of this goes out the window if your cost of daycare exceeds your income.  I know a bunch of rocking SAHM’s and I admire their ability to juggle it all and stay sane. They have great routines, schedules, set nap times, play dates. I know I wasn’t as structured when I was on maternity leave. When my son comes home with a stack of artwork every day, I feel good that it’s 8 hours of learning, playing, and not second of tv watching.

I also have a confession to make. Before I had kids, I thought being a SAHM was easy. I was SO WRONG. How the heck do you gals manage dentist appointments and that kind of stuff?

I am sure there are other benefits and would welcome comments from anyone with an opinion on the matter.

BYW..where  is my macaroni necklace? How long do I have to wait before I get one?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie July 22, 2010 at 2:38 PM

I so agree. Sometimes I feel guilty for being a working mom but I have no idea how i’d stay sane if i was home 24\7. I totatlly admire SAHMs but I love what daycare has done for my daughter even though it’s only a few days a week. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

Reply

Sandy L July 23, 2010 at 1:40 AM

The most guilty I felt was the day before I went back to work. Then when my daycare provider put my son on a schedule in literally 1 day after I couldn’t figure it out after 3 months, I knew it was the right decision for all of us.

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Nicole July 29, 2010 at 7:01 PM

That is exactly right.

And honestly, it isn’t healthy for a child to be raised by just one person 24/7. In reality, it takes a village to raise a child, whether that village is family or daycare is immaterial so long as it is a healthy loving environment. Stay at home moms need help too because it really is the hardest job there is.
Nicole recently posted..I- sorceress

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Rachael Myers August 2, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Hi Sandy,
I loved reading the story behind your mom’s house, but mainly because it lead me to your “mom” article. I loved how you are able to capture your thoughts on the whole SAH mom VS working mom issue. I have always firmly believed that both ways work, as long as your family is happy. I am happy because I want to be home with my kids right now. I am lucky enough that I have a husband who supports this, and that my background in education allows me to reenter the job market at any time. (although it would be harder to get a good salary right now given the down economy)
You say your don’t know how we SAH Mom’s do it, and in fact you have told me this before, but I say, How do YOU do it? Sure I miss non-adult conversations, being the only one around 24 hours a day to handle every little crisis, and of course I hate changing all those diapers, and it stinks dragging the kids all over town for every doctor appointment, activity, play date, etc… For me, I can’t imagine attaining the balance your life has as well as you do. My hat is off to YOU, SANDY!!!! Not only for being the great mom that you are, but how well you explained all the benefits of your decision. I am happy to call you my friend. :-)

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firstg6 August 3, 2010 at 12:29 AM

Rachael, you’re definitely one of the SAHM role models I always think of. So sad you’re so far away now. I particularly was impressed by the mommy support network that you setup with the other moms in town.

My point was that there’s no one right way to raise a family. We do what we are comfortable with. I had a working mom role model so I knew it wouldn’t screw me up too badly.

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Oskar August 2, 2011 at 9:11 AM

What about all the working dads? Why are we not discussing them? In a perfect world I think both parents work but fewer hours and also have sufficient time to build strong relationships with their kids.

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Sandy L August 2, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Oskar-my company has a plant in the Netherlands and one of my colleagues said it’s actually quite common for both the parents to go down to 4 day workweeks, so that at least one parent is home with the children 4 out of the 7 days of the week. I think it’s a great plan.

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BigLittleWolf August 8, 2011 at 6:07 PM

I’m with Oskar – and having lived and worked overseas (and back & forth), it’s obvious that this issue of employment structures, benefits (health care, child care), and the responsibilities of family are handled far better in other countries.

Why we don’t look to these other models to begin considering alternatives I simply don’t understand.

At the end of the day, I think we could also reframe the issues (and contention) over SAHMs and “Working Moms.” Nothing is harder than being a full time parent (male or female). Going to a paid work environment is – in my opinion – much less stressful, especially during certain stages.

All parents (sans FT childcare) are “working parents” – they’re just not paid.

Perhaps we could refer to Stay-At-Home-Parents and Work-Outside-The-Home-Parents? Or possibly Work-At-Home versus Work-For-Pay?

Long gone are the days when “middle America” could make ends meet on one paycheck. Our assumptions about who is or isn’t a good parent should be long gone as well.

Great post.

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