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7 Things Never to Say to a Stay-at-Home Mom

Seven years ago, a few weeks before my first daughter was born, I finished up the year at the elementary school where I was a librarian, packed up my office, and turned in my keys.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom ever since.

Now with seven years of stay-at-home mommying under my belt, I’ve heard pretty much every comment you can imagine about choosing to stay home with my four little ladies.

Here are seven of the ones I like the least:

1. “So you’re just a mom?” I don’t think anyone wants to be called “just” anything. Someone isn’t “just” an accountant, or “just” a chef. Everyone has lots of aspects of their life, and being a parent isn’t the only thing someone does. And even if it was, it’s enough!

2. “What do you DO all day?” Oh, the laundry, making three meals (and a bunch of snacks), reading stories, getting everyone dressed, cleaning up messes, nursing a baby, going for walks or to the park, teaching a co-op preschool. You know, the usual. The paycheck might be lousy, but it’s certainly never boring.

3. “I could never do that!” Of course you could. It might not be your first (or even tenth) choice, but if you needed to, you could do it, just like I could leave my children at daycare or work a full-time job if my life situation required it. I’m not a saint, just someone who has made my own choices.

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4. “Are you going to get a real job when your kids are in school?” One thing that surprised me when my oldest child entered kindergarten is that having a kid in school didn’t make my life less busy – in fact it made it MORE busy. Now I was responsible for getting my child to school on time and picking her up on time, dealing with homework, field trips, days off and early-release times, and the ten thousand colds that come home from a classroom full of 5-year-olds. Not to mention that school was now taking away my most helpful and competent child! Also, I’ve worked since I was 15 and believe me, no job has been more real than staying home with toddlers.

5. “Since you’re home, would you be willing to … ?” This is a tough one, because of course you want to help out, and it’s true that being home gives you a little more flexibility than a desk job, but most stay-at-home parents also have a routine, things to get done, and children’s schedules that keep them plenty busy. Guaranteed they aren’t sitting at home wishing they were being asked to do more with their time.

6. “I wish I had that kind of free time!” One thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I have a fair amount of flexibility to work in the things I want to do, whether that’s attending story time at our local library or going to the grocery store while other people are at work. But free time? Not quite – I’m always accompanied by a gaggle of small children who want my attention and have plenty of demands.

7. “But didn’t you go to college?” I did (plus got a graduate degree), and I don’t think those things were a waste. I worked before I had children and I continue to use those skills now to run my household, raise my children, and contribute to my community. Also, I look at my mom, who stayed home with all four of us, and now is an empty-nester and I think she has many many years left ahead of her (she’s in her mid-fifties), so even if you stay home until your children have all left the house, there is plenty of time to use that higher education!

What things do you wish people knew not to say to stay-at-home moms?

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