By Melissa Uhles
When my husband and I bought our first house together, our son was two. I was entrenched in my role as a stay at home mom (SAHM) and a 1950s Housewife, minus the jello molds.
When we filled out the paperwork at the title company, under occupation I wrote “homemaker”. It felt weird. There was now a paper trail stating that I was a “kept” woman. But I’d always thought of myself as an independent feminist woman. What happened? Why did I become a SAHM and housewife?
Having a baby happened! And I’d become June Cleaver--or as my husband likes to think of me, Lucy Ricardo. He also says I’m the “artist” and he’s my “patron” because I have more freedom and time to write. The truth is, I’m grateful for his patronage.
I didn’t get married until I was 32. I’d been in the “workforce” from the time I was sixteen until I got pregnant. I’d supported myself financially for many years.And I felt confident that my AAA membership would solve any getting stranded on the road issue that would come my way. I’d been adulting as a single woman in the big city for so long I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.
Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom and housewife, I like to remind my husband that I’m providing a huge service to him. It results in him having the ability to work more hours, travel for business and get promotions that wouldn’t happen if he had more to manage on the home front.
Not only that, but for fun, I calculated living expenses just for me. This calculation included my portion of food, utilities, insurance, gas, entertainment, clothes, etc. for the year.
My expenses ended up being close to the amount my husband saves in taxes because he gets to file as married filing jointly versus what he’d owe filing as a single person. And we have one dependant (child) which allows for a deduction as well. The caveat is that he makes a good salary so this calculation will vary greatly based on a family’s financial circumstances.
If you try out this math for yourself and your family, don’t forget to factor in the cost of daycare. The average cost of childcare in the U.S. can be as much as $11,000 a year per child.
I’m sure everyone thought it was cool that I was home with my kid when he was little. But now my son is eight years old and in school most of the day. I feel very lucky that my husband makes enough money that I can still be home with my son when he gets home from school.
However, recently it dawned on me that I’m officially in that window where people may wonder what the heck I’m doing with myself if I’m not “working” a traditional job and my son is at school all day.
I keep my writing life part time. I spend about 15-20 hours per week on writing, blogging or marketing activities. This is intentional because I still have to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and most of the child rearing. I’ll be honest, I also like to reserve a little down time to read, watch my favorite TV shows and sleep.
Well if you follow our blog, you all know I use that time for writing. Sadly, some may perceive writing as a cute little hobby. Though anyone who has really given it a go, knows it’s hard work that requires long stretches of quiet time and mental focus.
My mom friends are a combination of full time working moms and stay-at-home moms. I believe everyone does what works best for their families. There are also times when families have no choices.
In addition, some women choose to work because they love what they do. I feel blessed to be supported and to help support this awesome group of women.
Personally, I did not have a stunning, high paying career to return to. I’d worked most recently in the nonprofit sector, which I’d enjoyed but the stress and low pay was at times, soul crushing.
Where I live now, most positions in my areas of expertise would require a commute. So if you factor in gas, time, low pay and having to pay for childcare, it didn’t make sense financially for me to go back to work.
At least it didn’t make sense to go back to a traditional role. That’s why when my son started kindergarten I got back into writing after a long hiatus. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed that I can do from home.
As most of us know, staying home with a kid is a job with a capital J! I approach my parenting and housewifery like a job. How do I know it’s a job? Because if I stopped doing what I’m doing right now, I’d have to pay someone else to do it.
When I know my husband is out working hard for the money I try to work just as hard at home. In a relationship I think both partners need to offer something to each other.
For example, I keep the house clean, grocery shop and stay on top of the laundry. I also make my husband enormous amounts of meat even though I prefer to eat more like a vegetarian.
Helping our kiddo with homework, volunteering on field trips and doing the nurturing (cleaning up vomit, snuggling and talking about bullies) is mostly on my shoulders. Social events, playdates and birthday parties are also handled by me.
In addition to being available to my family, I have more time to help others too. I think of myself as a community ambassador. For example, I was home when a neighbor cut her finger and needed help.
I was home when my working mom friend had to go out of town for work and needed someone to pick up her kid at the bus stop for a few days. I was home when my stay at home mom friend was home sick with the flu and asked if I could watch her son at my house for a few hours.
Cool collaborations have happened for me too, as a result of having more time at home. I’ve worked on creative projects with two working moms that may not have had time to do all their tasks without help. Of course, these partnerships have been mutually beneficial to me. Because if someone wasn’t counting on me, I might have been a little lazier with my free time.
Have you or anyone you know wondered about this choice to be a housewife and stay at home mom? If so, I’m happy to answer a few questions that I may have heard over the years.
Some days I don’t know how I do/did it. But I also thought that on days when I was childless and single and trapped in an office cubicle answering phones.
Yes! I know divorced moms and a widow. I’m super aware of the fact that we never know what’s around the corner in life. Part of the reason I have this writing side hustle going is to make me feel more secure should anything happen.
However, for years I was part of the “gig economy” before it was even a term. So I know I’m scrappy and have always been good at finding creative ways of making money. I’m also insanely frugal, it drives my husband nuts.
Yes. When I was pregnant I started my own moms group via a Craigslist ad and when we all had babies we’d meet for coffee and mall walks. As the kids grew, we met at parks in the summertime. One of these women got into filmmaking and we made a short film together.I also connected with other writers on Facebook and reconnected with my college friend Amber, to write a novel and start Pen and Parent. Sometimes you have to go out and find what you need.
For now, I’m cool with my choice to stay home and so are my husband and kiddo. My son is healthy, happy and I’m mostly content. Though, I admit I look for part time jobs online all the time, it’s a strange compulsion. When it comes time to pull the trigger and send out a resume and figure out child-care I always change my mind.
The truth is, most women’s roles change over time. Some women stay home until the kids start preschool or kindergarten and then they return to work either part-time, full time or find a work from home situation.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me. Before I know it, my son will be a teenager and driving himself around. He’ll need me less and that may be the time I decide to pursue a more traditional work situation or a writing position with higher expectations. At this moment though, I’m trying to be all Zen and live in the now.Speaking of which, I’ve gotta take a little writing break and get that roast in the Crock-Pot! Dinner isn’t gonna cook itself.
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Do you stay home or work outside the home, how do you manage your writing life based on your situation? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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