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5 Things I Learned by Having a Stay-at-Home Mom

5 Things I learned by having a stay-at-home mom.

By the way, that’s my mom, dad and oldest brother in the photo. Don’t they make a cute little family?

Stay-at-home moms verses working moms; the mommy wars are alive and well still. You can read about it online until your eyeballs burst into flames. You can read about it in magazines and overhear the debate in local mommy groups. Me? I don’t really care about public opinion or research papers. I am just happy that I live in a time and place where we each get to make our own choices. 

Here are five things I learned by having a stay-at-home-mom.

1. Caring for a home is important work

Keeping it clean, having homemade meals and laundry done. My mom was an expert in these areas. Like a well-tailored wife out of a 50’s sitcom, my mom loved being in charge of her home and children. When people asked what she did for work, she always proudly answered that she was a housewife.

She, herself, was raised by a single mom in the 50’s…back when that was something to be ashamed of. Being the oldest, she was often in charge of her younger siblings, cleaning  house and cooking dinner. Her biggest ambition was to marry and have a family of her own.

And when she did, she did an excellent job.

Things I learned from having a stay-at-home mom.

2. Caring for children is important work

My mom always said she never wanted to have kids only to have them raised by someone else. She wanted to enjoy those babies herself. Remember, she was raised by a mom who worked hard day and night and never had the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy her own children. My mom determined when she had her own babies, she would be the one to care for them full-time.

3. Having friends is important

When I was five or six we lived in a duplex. Directly across the street from us was my mom’s friend Yvonne. I still remember her after all these years; mainly because I was fascinated by her 80’s style cigarette holder. I can still remember how much I loved that case and how much I wanted one of my own. Never mind that smoking was a SIN (hey, in my 80’s pentecostal home, it was considered a sin). 

Anyway, I can remember my mom and Yvonne sitting around the table chatting while we kids played outside, unsupervised. When we were too pesky they would send us outside and tell us to stay there. I know, I know that is child neglect now…in the 80’s it was called having an adult conversation. 

4. Self-care is important

Once we children got a bit older my mom found more things to occupy her outside the home. She was an Avon lady for a while, sold Watkins, worked for Hallmark and at the voting polls. Working these jobs gave her a bit of spending money, got her out of the house and gave her a chance to talk to adults.

Even when all of us kids were in school, my mom didn’t work full-time. She cooked and cleaned…. and then still made us clean house on Saturday mornings. Why? Because were kids and we needed to learn how to work and keep a house too. 

5. I get to choose my own path

I used to dream of the day I would greet my children after school with still-warm cookies and tall glasses of cold milk after school. When I played with my dolls, I gathered as many as I could to be my family. I dreamed of a career. I dreamed of getting married and having children. I knew the choice was up to me. I didn’t feel pressure to be a stay-at-home mom…nor did I feel  the pressure to find a career. I knew the choice was up to me.

Recent studies show that the kids of working moms are better off. They have better and higher paying jobs. The New York Times says: 

In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. 

I’m not really worried what the statistics or studies say. My mom was the daughter of a working mom, and both she and her sister ended up stay-at-home moms.

I always dreamed of having a houseful of babies….I had other dreams, which included: being an author (hey, look! I have a blog and am writing a book), a teacher (homeschool mom) and linguist…well, I didn’t quite make that one.

One of my brothers (who always loved planes) is an air traffic controller and my other brother (the one who was always hyperactive and taking things apart) is the multimedia director at a large church (married to a working mom).

Working mom. Stay at home mom. I don’t really care which one you are.

For me, I’m happy to spend my days with my kids, even if it involves cooking for them.

Now please excuse me, I’m off to fold another load of laundry. 



  1. Melpub

    Statistics, shmatistics–children are better off with a happy mom. If the mom is happy working and also happy being a mom, the kids are better off. I never understood women who wanted to leave the kid in day care from seven in the morning til seven at night, but I understood the agony of having to leave the kid in care for a few hours a day when I worked. But the kids turned out well. Even though . . . truthfully . . . I almost never fold the laundry. We have two massive piles: one clean, one not.

  2. Jess Guest

    I don’t think the line needs to be rigid nowdays. Right now I an 100% a sahm. Over the next 15 years I have plans that involve working from home, studying, writing (and hopefully publishing) and eventually as my kids become independent even being crazy enough to go on to get my PhD (probably when I am in my late 50s or early 60’s and a grandmother by the time I’m done!). Between now and then I will work, study and nurture my career but with the advent of the internet we can do so much from home. I am proud to be a mother and love my role and I am thankful I will be able to nurture my career and still be at home with them.I suspect in five years or so the answer to “what do you do?” will be pretty complicated (sahm? master’s degree student? tutor? writer? lecturer? all of the above) It can be a spectrum now rather than a binary choice.

  3. Hayley

    I’m always a fan of you’re non-judgemental writing style; so refreshing to see someone voice their opinion without berating the choice of others 🙂

    I can’t stand statistics and reports that pit working mothers against stay at home when it should be left to each family to decided what is best for them.
    I have friends/family who couldn’t wait to be a full
    time stay at home mum.
    I have friends/family who wanted to go back to work as their career was still a huge relevant fulfilling part of their lives.
    I have friends/family who may not want to return but have to for financial reasons.
    I have friends/family who work part time as they just need something else outside their family but don’t want the full on career.
    And guess what? They are all amazing wonderful mothers and their choices make them a happier and better people which makes them happier and better mothers.
    I personally hope that when I have kids I will be able to stay at home full time (though I’ll probably go batty and end up returning to work part time) but that’s my choice not anyone else’s and I would never look down on anyone who chose to return to work.

    • Renee

      Well, I didn’t used to be so nonjudgmental (though I would have kept the thoughts to myself, not spoken them). But you know what? I’ve been parenting for 20 years. I have nieces and nephews who have: been homeschooled, gone to public school, gone to Christian school, had stay-at-home moms and working moms…and they have turned out fabulous! I think the difference hinges on committed, loving, involved parents, not educational choices. So see, I’ve learned 🙂

  4. Julie @ Logger's Wife

    I am a SAHM to my daughters but I also run a blog and and Etsy shop and may some day do a part time job out of the house when they are bigger (preschooler and a baby). I really hope that they can learn some of these same things from me. I go out with friends every so often. Until we started doing scheduled monthly nights out, my oldest daughter really had no idea that her mom could go out and do things with friends without kids in tow!

    My mom totally kicked us kids outside back in the early ’90s, especially in the summer. I do the same thing with my older daughter. At four, she can totally play outside by herself where I can see her. Independence is a good thing. Totally not neglect. 😉 #ShineBlogHop

    • Renee

      Yes, back in the day when kicking your kids outdoors was totally acceptable!My kids were shocked to learn I knew how to ride a bike…and play softball.

  5. Maria from Collecting Moments

    What a beautiful sentiment. I’m a SAHM myself and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Stay-at-home or working mom…to each it’s own, but let’s not forget how lucky we are that we have a choice in that matter. Your mom sounds like a wonderful and dedicated parent. I can only hope my daughter writes a similar list to you when she grows older. Hopefully, she’ll know all the sacrifices we make and learn from it somehow. Thanks so much for sharing this with us on #shinebloghop this week!

  6. Abby

    SAHM or working mom, what matters is that they are a happy mom! I’ve always wanted to stay at home when I have kids. Who knows, maybe when it happens I will realize that I want to keep working. It’s nice to hear your nonjudgmental thoughts on the matter! #shinebloghop

  7. RaD

    I think you need to post some pics of Chuck’s family because I’m beginning to think your kids all look just like you!

    Oh and my grandma and aunt had that cigarette case too.

    • Renee

      Hilarious! Chuck’s family all lives in Canada, some of them as far away as Alberta. This post has Chuck’s brother and his kids (Arianna is our niece).

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