Stay-at-home mom

9 Things Never to Say to a Stay-at-Home Mom (and Their Responses)

Stay-at-home moms often find themselves on the receiving end of insensitive comments. Here's what you can say back.

For those who don’t spend all day, every day with their children, the job of a stay-at-home mother can be mysterious. Whether a mother can afford to choose to stay home or is doing so because her salary would barely cover childcare expenses, most stay-at-home moms know how it feels to be on the receiving end of an insensitive comment. Here we have listed the kinds of insulting questions that some stay-at-home moms have heard since deciding to stay home with their children.

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While it is nobody’s business why you decided to be a stay-at-home mom and no one should have to put up with insensitive questions, sometimes it is empowering to have a response at the ready. So, to help those mothers out next time they are faced with such questions, we’ve also come up with some suggested responses:

“What do you do all day?”

What you want to say: “Oh, nothing much. I eat candy and watch soap operas mostly.”

What the experts suggest you say: Contrary to what some may think, a stay-at-home mom has a never-ending mountain of work to do. You could respond by saying, “I do a wide range of things during the day, from housework to working in the community to working on my own career and helping my kids experience the world, and before I know it the end of the day is here.”

“Being a stay-at-home mom must be so nice”[when nice means easy].

What you want to say: If you think enduring endless messes and never-ending whining of little people whose moods change on a whim and who may or may not throw food at you is easy, then yes.

What the experts suggest you say: There is no way to weigh up which is easier and which is harder, so we suggest you focus on the wealth of work that all mothers have to do by saying something like, “We all work really hard. Whether you’re home or at an office, kids are work and we Moms wear many hats.”

“What did you do when you worked?”

What you want to say: “I still work, and I work harder than I used to.”

What the experts suggest you say: When this question is phrased with a little more tact, there’s obviously nothing wrong with it. However, if you are at the receiving end of this inappropriate question, respond with an upbeat informative answer like, “Before I had kids I was a [NASA engineer, defence lawyer, Primary school teacher] and I have to tell you, it was a lot easier than the job I do now!”

“I don’t understand how you didn’t get it done” (phone call or errand etc)

What you want to say: “Are you kidding me? I can barely get myself dressed in the morning.”

What the experts suggest you say: Every stay-at-home mom knows that it’s impossible to get on the phone or do anything that requires much concentration when you have young children awake at home. You’re constantly doing stuff all day-and you’re constantly interrupted. It can be overwhelming to be left a list of chores with high expectations that they can get done without hiring a babysitter to give you peace and quiet.

People who don’t take care of children all day long might not understand how much time and energy is involved. Whether this comment is from a partner or family member, we suggest challenging them to try it out for themselves. “I’d say, ‘I’ll leave you home with a big to-do list and a baby and see how much you can get done.'”

“Why don’t you ask one of the stay-at-home moms to do it? I work.”

What you want to say: “Good idea. We stay-at-home moms have unlimited time!”

What the experts suggest you say: People have to recognize that depending on the age of the kids, that the ability for stay-at-home moms to do volunteer work is really going to vary. While they do have flexibility, that doesn’t mean they have unlimited time. It’s unfair for anyone, regardless of employment status, to make others feel guilty about not participating. You could take the high road in this situation by saying, “All of us are very busy in our lives, so if you can find the time to participate, we would appreciate it.”

“Do you have to ask your husband for money?”

What you want to say: “No, do you?”

What the experts suggest you say: The first thing this inappropriate question implies that stay-at-home moms don’t make any money, which just isn’t true in some families. Many moms still have a hand in something that brings in some cash. Rather than stammer through an explanation of your family finances — which is none of anyone’s business — we recommend you say something along the lines of: “We all make choices and financial decisions in our lives, and the decisions we’ve made for our family work for us.”

“You don’t work, so you don’t understand.”

What you want to say: “Oh, please. This again?”

What the experts suggest you say: Yes, if you haven’t walked in a working mom’s shoes, you may not know what it’s like. But dismissing a stay-at-home mom’s work is not fair. We suggest responding to this sentiment by saying something like “We all work hard on behalf of our families and we all want the best for our children. The best thing we can do is respect and support each other and value all of our hard work raising children in this world today.”

“When are you going back to work?”

What you want to say: Why? Are you afraid that I’m wasting my education?

What the experts suggest you say: This question might be just an innocent inquiry, or it could be asked with an underlying when-are-you-going-to-do-something-worthwhile message. Answer honestly but try to focus on value of what you’re doing now. For instance: “For now, I’m feeling really lucky to have this time with my children, and I believe they’re benefiting from it too.”

“I could never be home with my kids all day.”

What you want to say: You’re missing out then.

What the experts suggest you say: Here, people seem to be saying, ‘You’re so domestic and simple — staying home with the children is satisfying for you, but me, I couldn’t do it’. Turn it into a positive by saying, “I thought that way too until I started doing it. It’s best for my family right now, and I’m glad I can do it.”

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