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10 Things You Should Never Say to a Stay-At-Home Parent

By Devan McGuinness |

There really is nothing that can prepare you for the job of stay-at-home parent. It’s ever changing, constantly chaotic and can leave you with a feeling of cabin-fever. I have been in this position for just over 6 years — though now I am a work-from-home-parent (which is a whole different story), and I am still amazed with how little what we do is understood.

The image that comes to mind when I hear ‘stay at home mom’ is June Cleaver — a perfectly coifed woman with perfect meals, perfectly clean house and the rest of the time she spends sleeping or watching tv. In today’s world where many families have to have a dual income to keep their house running — it can be misunderstood as a luxury. I assure you, it’s hard work that comes with a lot of sacrifice but a decision that should be respected (just like for parents who work outside the house).

Click through to read 10 things you should NEVER say to a stay-at-home-parent:

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What Not to Say to a Stay at Home Mom

"What do you and your partner talk about?"

Why?: Assuming that the SAHP has nothing stimulating to say is so insulting.
Photo Credit: photostock

:: Tell me — what is something people have said to you? Which is the worst? ::

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Work-From-Home Parent
10 Things You Should Never Say to a Working Mother

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Read More on Kid Scoop:
You Look Great in Your Sweatpants: 10 Things Any SAHM Would Love to Hear
Unconditional Love & 10 More Things Being a Mom Has Given Me
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About Devan McGuinness


Devan McGuinness

Devan McGuinness is the writer of the lifestyle website byDevan. After surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan founded Unspoken Grief, a resource and support site for perinatal and neonatal loss. Read bio and latest posts → Read Devan's latest posts →

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35 thoughts on “10 Things You Should Never Say to a Stay-At-Home Parent

  1. SaratogaMama says:

    Comment #6 totally hits home for me. Yes, I am extremely fortunate that my husband has a good job, BUT we cut back on everything to enable me to stay home with our two children. When I was a working mama, our two salaries gave us the freedom to have dinners out, take vacations, have premium cable, buy ourselves nice clothes, get a pedicure, etc. We adhere to a strict budget, which really sucks sometimes! To me though, it’s worth it being able to stay home with my kids.

  2. Alley says:

    Hate to break it to you, but a lot of the things that the slideshow speaks against are legitimate. Even though that college one is ridiculous… I’d never assume a SAHP is uneducated. And I might think a lot of the stuff on that slideshow, but I’d never be uncouthe enough to say it to any SAHP’s face.

  3. Tanya says:

    I am lucky that my husband has a really good job but we made sacrifices so that we didn’t sacrfice how we wanted to raise our children. It was the right decision for us and we are lucky enough that we can do it. I rarely take naps, my house is clean because I work hard at keeping it that way. Being a stay at home mom is MY job, I take pride in it and I work damn hard everyday. I hate when people assume that my job is easy, it is not by any means easy but I can rest easy every night knowing that I am the one rasing my children:0)

  4. sally says:

    Other than education, I don’t agree with ANY of this. As a working mom, I find time to clean my house and spend time with my kids, as does my working husband. So, if a stay at home parent does not have a clean house, I have to wonder why and yes, I think it means they’re lazy. Also, having the OPTION to take a nap every day must be nice-I dont care whether you actually take it or not. Instead of trying to defend your lifestyle (come on, we all know this post is exaggeration) enjoy the fact that you have more free time then the rest of us and that you’re life is *dare I say* a bit easier.

    PS. I WOULD feel totally unfulfilled if I didn’t work, and I spend every waking moment that Im not at work with my kids.

  5. Camille Bauer says:

    I’m sorry but I agree with the list. I ‘ve heard them all too. As far as not being fulfilled When I was not working, never happened. I was fulfilled by being there for my kids. Wish they were still home with me. When I worked things were different and if you think you can do it all, you are fooling yourself. Now that I am retired I hear What do you all day ?

  6. April says:

    I have never gotten a nap as a SAHM. Raising twins I had to spend their nap times cleaning up or doing laundry. They stopped napping at 2 and a half and so then no way would I get a nap with them being awake. So the whole option for a nap is pretty funny. What option?

    Maybe the WAHM parents have a cleaner house because their kids are at daycare playing all day and their house stays empty. Easier to keep a house clean that way. I have to feed my kids every meal in the house, they do their playing in the house, they do their craft projects in the house so heck yes it would get messier than havin the kids at daycare all day! My house is clean enough and it looks great when I have guests over. But, I also would rather spend time with my kids or husband or on myself than make sure it is 100% perfect all the time. I only have it perfect for guests. I worked at a daycare and trust me we spent a lot of time cleaning up after the kids there. Your house would be the same if your kids actually got to stay there.

    My husband barely makes enough to not qualify us as poor. We go without cable, cell phones, vacations, fancy clothes, eating out, cheaper older cars, etc. so I can stay home. It is not because my husband makes a gazillion dollars a year because that is so not the case.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sally, that’s just insulting. I’m betting your kids are at daycare or school 8 – 10 hours a day, right? If they were home messing up your house during that time, you’d find it a lot harder to keep it clean! That is the big difference. Kids who LIVE at home mess up the house. I have no option to take a nap — I have three kids who don’t always nap at the same time and my oldest doesn’t usually nap at all (and isn’t old enough that I could just sleep while she’s awake). This post was written just for people like you. It’s not an exaggeration at all.

  8. Mrs. Nieto says:

    The most offensive is “did you go to college?”. I am a housewife currently trying to conceive and I graduated from college at 19 with Summa Cum Laude honors. Jeez!

  9. Amy says:

    My husband is the reason i am not a SAHM anymore. He constantly told me that me being at home ment that i was lazy and that i didnt want to get a job. He thought me watching our kids wasnt a job and that i did just sit around all day and did nothing. I love being home with my kids everyday and watching them grow everyday. Now i work a full time job during the day and my husband had to go to afternoons so he could watch the kids. I’m pretty sure hes eating crow now.

  10. anonymous says:

    sahm’s are misunderstood. period

  11. Tammy says:

    I teach school during the school year and am at home during the summer and breaks. I will say that it is much easier to get everything done around the house when I don’t have to somewhere else 9 hours a day. My kids are never at daycare when I am home, so yes, the house gets a little messy. However, having the time to clean up without having to hurry is awesome. I wish I didnt have to work outside the home – the months I am home life is definately less stressful!

  12. Stef says:

    Part of the difficulty if being a stay at home parent us the lack of maturestimulation. .sahp’s become selfless abd its easy to get lost along the way.

  13. Hollie Persick says:

    I think the worst anyone has ever said to me is “Are you to lazy to get a job or just to stupid?” That really hurt because I work my ass off around the house and taking care of our baby. Being a stay at Home mommy is not easy. I don’t get to go out and socialize, and money is tight. I think people need to appreciate stay at home moms a bit more then than do.

  14. MommaR says:

    I have to agree with anonymous – Sally’s comment is rather insulting. The house sees soo much more wear and tear because we are home during the day doing stuff and messing it up. and OPTION to nap? are you kidding me? aside from the first few weeks when dh was able to take some time off and help, I’ve never had the option. lo stopped napping at 30 months, and before that, when she did, it was “quick, pop in the laundry, run the dishwasher, sweep the floor (vacuuming was out of the question, that would wake lo up!) and then, 5 seconds to sit down before lo was waking up again. Easier? hah! You should try to entertain a 2yo ALL day long!! You have to be creative and engaged with them the WHOLE day.

    The other thing I hear often that drives me NUTS is from my mom, who is forever telling me I did such and such with you kids AND the day care kids in the house (she ran an in-home day care for a while so she could be home with us once my brother came along) so why can’t you do it with just one? Duh… with all those kids in the house, we entertained ourselves. With just one, who else is kiddo gonna play with??

  15. Stefanie says:

    This whole article is crap.

  16. Turtle says:

    I worked when my oldest two – now 22 and 20 – were babies AND went to university. I was young when I had them. My oldest is now grown, graduating from nursing school this spring and has a baby of her own. My son is also in university. I worked until the older of my younger 3 was born. She’s now 13. Her sisters are 10 and 8. I was working as a teacher, so I had fairly good hours, but it was cheaper between expenses for the car, my work clothes and child care expenses for me to stay home. I missed so much with my older 2 by working. I love staying home with my kids. The house is clean, my kids are happy and my husband and I get along much better now that I’ve been home.

  17. Jess says:

    Um… yeah, Sally- I’d like to punch you in the face! lol You really won’t be fullfilled spending time and raising your own children?! I know how this works from both sides. Some of us can do it, some can’t, and some won’t! I respect most people’s decisions for what they need to do. But when someone insults me and other like me… well that irks me to no end!! I know lots of daycare parents and teachers, and you know what? The kids they watch often refer to them as “mom” how does that make you feel!!!
    I’ll trade places with you for a day- bet it wouldn’t even take THAT long for you to give up!! I know you- the type that “spends every waking hour” with you kids when you’re not working! I babysat for those kids. They were with me for almost 10 hours, went home, ate and were in bed by 7! The parents spent about 2 hours with the kids, and part of that was the time to drive home!
    Dont insult something you have absolutly NO idea about!!!

  18. bwsf says:

    I haven’t heard many of these things outright, but a lot of them are implied by the way people look at me when I have a conversation with them. For instance, when my husband makes a joke about “putting laundry in the hamper and then it magically ends up clean, in my drawers” in front of our friends who are both working parents and don’t have laundry facilities in their home. My friend responded in this situation with, “If I could have done it, I would have.” Which implies that it was an easy decision for us (which it SO wasn’t) and that it’s an easy lifestyle for us (TOTALLY not). But they are friends, so I don’t want to start anything. What’s worse, sometimes I feel guilty for admitting that I made all my son’s baby food, I never had to pump my breast milk, I have time to clean house and make meals, and that I look forward to sending my son to preschool in the afternoons. Because some people view these things as complete luxuries (which they are, yes) and that I am bragging about them and being flippant about being a SAHM. It’s a difficult life, whatever choice you make. All we can do is make the choice that feels right for us, and give the judgment a rest when dealing with other people.

  19. misty says:

    Ever been trying to do dishes, and your child destroys the bathroom? Ever been using the bathroom, and your child raids the fridge and makes a huge mess? I am a stay at home mom, not by choice, but by circumstance (the option to actually go job hunting isn’t there). Yes I get offended by many things. Mostly because, when my husband and I both worked, no one was ever home, and we split the chores. To assume someone is lazy if they cant stay on top of constant messes is insulting. There are a lot of SAHPs who wish they could be like June Cleaver. The rest of the worlds opinion of us, can send us into depression, because, despite) what the working parents assume, we bust our tails, from the time the kids are up, to the time we finally get to call it a night, and even then we feel unfulfilled. We don’t get to see a finished project. We don’t “get done”. We don’t get time off. A nap? I’m sick as a dog right now and have barely gotten to sit. We don’t get sick days, and most of the time we don’t even get recognition, because we always fall short of our expectations. Lazy? No. At least you get to clock out, and do other things, not related to the same thing you have been doing all day. Offended? You bet. Come live my life.

  20. misty says:

    And yes, its hard to be like June Cleaver, when your child is like Dennis the Mennace.

  21. Jen B says:

    I agree with Misty 100%! Napping is NEVER an option in my house. I have an 11 month old and a 3 year old. As I sit here typing this out I have my 11mo asleep on my chest and my 3 yo making a mess with his blocks in the living room. There are toys everywhere that will be picked up and put away about five more times today, there is a load of laundry in both the washer and dryer and my dishwasher is full waiting to be started. I also have dinner in the crock pot cooking. So please, tell me when my option to nap is going to happen because I welcome it!

    I understand that some women would not feel complete if they didn’t work. But there are some of us that would much rather raise our own children than send them to daycare while we are at work trying to make enough money just to pay for daycare (which is the reason I stopped working. I’m not going to work just to have all of my paychecks and part of my husbands go into daycare). We had to cut out going out to eat and to the movies so I could stay home with my kids and to be honest I don’t miss any of it. Why would I spend $50-100 on a meal for the hub’s and myself when I can put that $50-100 into food for the house or for new clothes/toys/shoes for my kids? I get my hair done once a year (on mother’s day), I’ve never had my nails done and don’t really wake make-up.

    My MIL is always making comments about how there are jobs out there, I just need to look. Well yeah, I’m sure that if I was looking for a job I would be able to get one, but I’m not looking. I put out a few apps here and there thinking that a part time job a few days a week would bring in some extra money, but if I never get a call back it doesn’t bother me. I would much rather be home with my monkeys than at work WISHING I were home with my monkeys.

  22. Jen B says:

    wear not wake. lol

  23. Yesenia says:

    Frankly, I feel that people who criticize sahms are jealous because they neither have the support nor the capacity to raise children full-time.

  24. Yesenia says:

    Frankly, I feel that people who criticize sahms are jealous because they neither have the support nor the capacity to raise children full-time.

  25. Yesenia says:

    C’mon, you people that criticize sahms are jealous. There’s nothing more to it.

  26. EENNIS says:

    @Sally. Wow. You obviously do not have any sahm friends. The “option” of taking a nap? I have never had that luxury. I have been both the bread winner and a sahm at different times in my life. Working outside of the home is less work – even with a stressful job. You get a break – you come home refreshed to see your kids. You can actually sit down and eat a meal in peace. You talk to adults during the day. You get to dress in something that isn’t eventually sticky. I have 3 kids who range from 2-10 and I am busier now than I ever was at my 6-figure job, but it is fulfilling – I have never missed a first word or step. It is the most fun, stress, frustration and satisfying position I have ever held. No, I do not understand the women who take it the extreme of scheduling their child for every activity under the sun and have this selfless image of being a sahm. I’m working on my masters in ed b/c being a mom made me change my career path. My house is picked up, but not everyday. Dinner is not always on the table and when my husband comes home I do expect him to chip in with the household chores. He has a job he goes to and is done at 5, I have a job I never leave and he appreciates that (he stayed home for a little while). For you to look down your nose at sahms is insulting, arrogant and ignorant. It’s not like the kids are quietly playing by themselves so we can cook and clean (and nap or goof off) while we are home. Spend a day at a childcare center and you will get a dose of what we have to do at home. I have been on both sides of this – neither is easy or the best choice for everyone. Don’t criticize until you’ve walked in a sahm’s shoes.

  27. Jill says:

    I don’t understand why anyone get upset about either side of the issue. If what you do works for you and your family, everyone is happy and health then that’s perfect for you. Unless you have lived in one person’s shoes you have no bearing to make assumptions. Even between mothers who stay home there is major differences based on age of children, number of children, age difference between children, and personality of children. I am just glad to be married to a man who appreciates all I do. Since he’s taken days with the kids alone he understands a bit what it is all about. And yes, there are times when my one day of work (in private practice healthcare) seems like a day off. I can see the benefits of both sides. Do the best you can with your kids…that’s all they ask for.

  28. Daddy Mojo says:

    Big thanks for using the term ‘stay at home parents’ instead of ‘stay at home moms’.

  29. DeShieka says:

    being a SAHP is a full time job. you cook, clean, run errands, raise the kids etc. I personally couldn’t do it all the time. But i respect parents who are (mom/dads) You are pretty much a Chef/Personal Assistant/Caregiver. that is 3 careers last i check

  30. whatisbabble says:

    Work structures your day for you. One of the hardest things about staying home (aside from cabin fever) is having to structure your household and your own time. Once you understand that, though, and build time management strategies into your life, you may realize you actually can make time for a nap when you want one.

    When they’re old enough, you can build time schedules into your children, too, so they’re a lot less of a force of destruction to yours. Some people never learned any time management skills of their own, and will strike down this entire concept as impossible, but seriously, after the age of 18months – 2years, it works.

    SAHPs seem intent on insulting working parents or pretending they are insensitive to their children’s needs. Some of us have been on both sides. Some of us work, but still never bring home takeout or frozen dinners. Some of us just happen to send our kids to school during normal hours and take over after 4pm. Why so much hate?

  31. Sara says:

    I give alot of credit to SAHMs, even though I’m not fortunate to be one. I was fortunate (if you want to call it that) to be off work for six months on disability and enjoyed all the time with my baby even though I had a back injury. It was busy, and I did feel under socialized but that can be fixed by having scheduled meetings with my SAHM friends! Now that I am back at work I miss every moment with my baby. And yes, I am jealous I cannot be a SAHM but I have a graduate degree and chose my career way before I decided to have children so I have to pay off debt. I still find time for my baby, husband and keeping the house semi-clean. I’ll be honest, it’s never completely clean cuz my husband and I are usually too exhausted and choose to spend time with my now toddler instead of making sure house is in tip-top shape.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Being a SAHM is both challenging and SO rewarding at the same time. I worked full-time in the medical field before having my daughter. My job was crazy but very fulfilling. Sometimes I miss it- especially the interaction with patients. But I can’t imagine only spending an hour or two an evening with my daughter. My hubby is in the military and works crazy hours. I see how little he actually gets to enjoy with our daughter… and I feel SO lucky to have been here to experience every milestone my daughter has made. It is definitely a financial sacrifice. I haven’t had my hair cut professionally in over a year… and have dreams about getting a mani/ pedi again someday. :D Personally, I find it insulting to see magazine articles applauding moms that “work 3 jobs, have 2 kids, and have it all figured out”. There is NO way you can do that and never miss any of your child’s major milestones… or worse yet, always be there when your children really need you. I have great respect for SAHMs. It is a faulty assumption that we are all fat & frumpy with messy houses and too much time on our hands. I approach my job at home the same way I did my job in healthcare. With dignity, purpose, hard-working attitude, and a resolve to continually improve my performance as well as the lives around me. Will I ever return to working fulltime? Possibly. But in the meantime I challenge any holier-than-thou working mom to do my job WITHOUT pats on the back or payraises. My mom stayed home with my brothers and sisters and I. I have amazing childhood memories. Today, my mom and I text or talk on the phone at LEAST once a day. Aside from my spouse, she is my best friend. To me, having that kind of relationship someday with my daughter and, hopefully, future children is worth everything I sacrifice now. SAHMs, I applaud you! And heaven help the person that ever says any of those 10 things to me…

  33. Shannon Mackenzie says:

    I’ve been on both sides. I was a working mom and am now a stay-at-home mom. I can honestly say that this is much, much harder for me. (For me, mind you. I don’t speak for anyone else.) And I have had people say some of these things to me. It can be very offensive and hurtful. There’s a lot of misunderstanding between SAHPs and working parents. I’m glad to have the perspective of both sides.

  34. Jen says:

    Sally, I’m a SAHM to 15 mth old twins. I nurse one and the other won’t nurse never has so I have to always pump to have enough milk for him. My husband came home for lunch one day and he was shocked to see the house so clean. And that’s because the kids were taking a nap. When he getts home from work around 4 it doesn’t look like I did a thing and that’s because they get up from nap and it lunch and play and then I prep dinner, there’s days where I’m wondering if I brushed my teeth. Being a SAHM is a lot more then what u think. My hair is never done mackup not put on and im lucky if I get a bit to eat. I would love to join the gym and be around adults for a change. Being a SAHM does a lot to a mom. I. So rundown. I NEVER took a nap and everyone would say too. My dr yelled at me and said when they sleep u should too. But never could there’s to much to do. my twins finally started to sleep through the night my husband would never get up it was always me. I have an education I’m grateful everyday my husband is very successful where I can happy stay home with my kids. I work christmas season just to wipe my hands of motherhood so he can see what is was like and I needed a brake and I will never forget it. I think he ordered out every night lol and he was a lot more appreciated of what I do all day. I’m sorry but u shouldn’t really make an opinion unless u have been in our shoes. I’ve been in yours. Don’t get to eat a warm meal or take hot showers covered in poo buggies and vomit. But I wouldn’t change a thing I love being home with them and women like u need to back off.

  35. sadie says:

    i think the point about the ‘option to nap’ wasn’t referencing stay at home moms to two year olds, rather the ones who still claim to be stay at home moms when all of their children are in school full time. if your kids are gone from 8 til 3, you really can’t say you don’t have the option to take a nap. because you do. i think staying home with your kids is great up until they start school. once they’re in school, you really aren’t a stay at home mom, you’re just staying home. there is a HUGE difference between a stay at home mom and someone who is unemployed.

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