Why Being a Stay At Home Parent is the Toughest Job in the World, Written by Someone Without Children

I’m going to start this post by making a statement that some may not like.

I don’t like young children.

I’ve never been a maternal person. I come from a small family of four, with no additional relatives and so I wasn’t brought up with any younger children other than my two sisters. As I started to reach my 30’s I expected to feel the desire to become a mother that some of my friends claimed that they felt, but to this very day I have yet to feel anything but annoyance.

They’re everywhere.

While others around me seem to turn mushy when presented with a new baby, proclaiming how ‘beautiful’ it is, I am simply reminded of the ‘Cabbage Patch Kids’ that I had when I was little. Regardless of where I am and what I am doing, it always seems to be accompanied by a screaming child and it’s frustrated parents – shopping, restaurants, public transport, even the cinema… I have lost count of the amount of times my ankles have been battered by a pushchair or I have been woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of next door’s toddler having some sort of tantrum (although they’re lovely so I don’t actually mind)…

I am a big advocate in maintaining authenticity when writing, I believe that everybody should be entitled to their opinion and most of the time I avoid becoming involved in controversial discussion. However, I read a post this morning that both shocked and amused me at the sheer ignorance demonstrated in it’s content. In short, it diminishes and destroys the role of the ‘stay at home mother,’ claiming that a woman who chooses to raise her children on a full-time basis need to stop complaining about how difficult it as and categorises the process of getting married and having children as ‘average’ in the fact that everyone can do it.

Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?

The reason why I don’t have children is simple: it is the hardest job in the world.

I work. I work really hard. I can sometimes work as many as 100 hours a week and those of you that follow my blog reguarly will be aware of my current frustrations with my profession. However, when I have finished work I get to go home, put the laptop down and spend a few hours in the bath. The Bloke and I can have some quality time together, we can go for a meal, watch a film, I can meet my friends for a quick drink or visit my mother. If I want to stay in bed until 9.00am at the weekends, I can.

This is not a luxury that is available for a parent, regardless of whether they work or not (and here I say parent rather than mother as there are plenty of fathers that stay at home too). In between feedings, changes, comforting, entertaining and household chores (all this being done whilst suffering from severe sleep deprivation) most parents are lucky if they get five minutes to themselves. Indeed, when I have visited friends with young children I am exhausted after just a few hours and thank my lucky stars that I am able to return to my nice, quiet house.

At thirty-two years old, my mother was, and still is, my rock. She was a stay at home mum up until I started school, at one point having three children under the age of six, and some of my earliest memories are of her teaching me how to read and playing games. I lived in a clean house, wore clean clothes and ate three healthy meals every day. When I was ill, she took me to the doctors and worried until I got better. Her evenings were spent taking me to the various activities that I was involved in. She attended every parents evening and every performance I was involved in. She taught me how to knit, sew and cook. When I took my GCSE exams, she sat and revised with me every night. She praised me, encouraged me, and disciplined me when my behaviour was not acceptable. When I was nineteen, she cried when I left home to go to university. She’s taken calls from me at 2.30am and has patiently listened and offered advice. She’s laughed with me, cried with me and grieved with me. There have been times when I was young where I have let her down, dismissed her and been rude to her, but even now is prepared to drop whatever she is doing to help my sisters and I with anything we need.

Over the last thirty two years my mother hasn’t just had the job of being a mother and a P.A.(the job she actually gets paid for). She has taken on the role of taxi driver, teacher, therapist, chef, cleaner, maid, waitress, hairdresser, tailor, party planner, nurse and a personal ATM for the three of us and I don’t remember her asking for much in return. However, as an adult, I have been able to help her out and/or spoil her when she has needed it, and it is a great feeling!

So, for those of you that look down on the role of a parent, I advise you to go and spend just a few hours with one and their offspring.

And for now, I’ll stick to teaching. Far easier.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

146 thoughts on “Why Being a Stay At Home Parent is the Toughest Job in the World, Written by Someone Without Children

  1. Incredibly well written but I must admit something to you all – I can’t stand parents that need to remind everyone how hard it is to be a parent on a constant basis. I know it’s not easy.. Never said it was. Oh.. But your going to continue to remind me. Oh great.

    • Thank you! I get a similar response when i complain to my non-teacher friends about teaching. Oh, but you get 3 months off a year don’t you?? Makes me mad…

  2. This is a brilliant honest post. As a Mum of Three, who is trying to juggle being a mum, wife, makeup artist and running an online shop, I still get looked at as if I do NOTHING because I am at home. I don’t apparently ‘work’. Despite the fact that 2 out of my 3 bits are working in film/tv and theatre so have to fit that in too. Massive thank you for supporting those who try their best as parents. I may even blog now my experience related to this. S x

  3. I completely agree – I am childless and plan to remain so for at least 10 years so I can instead follow my passions. I work with three women who all have children and each of them have sacrificed so much and spend so long telling me how they envy my freedom to look after myself and no-one else. I have no doubt that they love their children unconditionally, but each appears to have a hit of regret for the things they didn’t do and this is something I couldn’t stand to have eating away at me.. It is the hardest job in the world and comes with so much responsibility – you are literally raising the youth of tomorrow – the next generation. It is a huge responsibility to take on and I know I for one am not ready for this – I respect those who are.

    • Thank you very much! A friend of mine once said she wanted to live her life with her children instead of living it before having them. However, she still has to drop everything she is doing for them…

      • I would never say that young parents are bad parents, but I have always felt that the more life experience you gain before you have children, the better prepared you will be for coping with the chaos of having children. Plus the better prepared you are to give them advice on their own situations later in life – they will respect your opinion on the matter far more if you have actually experienced something and can tell them a story.. I just think it is important to get being selfish and doing all you want to do out of the way first before focusing all your attentions on someone else. But there is no right or wrong way of doing it – every person is different and handles their own situation very differently. But never feel bad for your feelings on the matter – you are entitled to your opinion on the matter, even more so if it is different to the norm!

  4. Reblogged this on Susan Jane Bradfield and commented:
    I had to re blog this. Purely because it has really struck a chord with me. I will be writing my own blog in response to this. I appreciate the honesty of this blog and feel that there are people that ‘get it.’ They get the fact that having children is hard. It is our choice yes… But it is hard never the less. I will save the rest for my own blog. Susan x

  5. I’m somewhat like you – I have absolutely zero maternal instincts. I’m almost forty (gulp…) and have never wanted children, ever. Give me a baby animal and I turn into complete mush, talk about human babies and my eyes glaze over. It’s just always been that way and is never going to change.
    That said – I completely agree on what you said about stay-at-home parenting being the hardest work. And what you wrote about your mom – I just kept nodding my head while reading. Yes, a thousand times yes.
    I’m off to give my mom a BIG hug.

  6. Ahh, kittens – yes please! I get mushy over babies (and spookily have just written a post on whether or not to stay childless), but screaming toddlers? Sulky teenagers? Babies are cute, but not for long! Thank you Suzie for reminding me that I’m not alone in not wanting to have children, in valuing all that time (not sure where ot goes?) that I have with my partner (and cats!!).

  7. Pingback: 5 reasons I’ve chosen to be childless, and 4 reasons I might be wrong | Silver Linings Project

  8. Um, I didn’t like babies even when I had my own! (Somewhere on my blog I tell the story of my evolution from baby-hater to baby-whisperer — but the baby that truly changed me wasn’t my own!)

    On the other hand, I chose not to be a stay-at-home mom… because I knew that wouldn’t be good for either me OR my children. It takes more patience than I have to be that person. I admire them, love them, but I do not envy them. Not one bit.

    Good for you for rising to their defense, because someone may listen to you that would otherwise tune-out that stay-at-home friend trying to say the same thing.

    Now…. where’s my cat? I need to cuddle.


  9. Great post! Agree on every level! I would have loved to remain the cat lady my entire life. and honestly kittehs are as good as kids!! Love them! I was just thinking that yesterday. I am now a stay at home expat mom, and I would trade place with a mom who works any day of the week! You get a break from the kid and a change of atmosphere! I miss working and then coming home to a baby that missed me, and a hubby that appreciated how hard it was to take care of the child. About your profession..Teaching is a super hard job, and I don’t envy you that. So many people to please. I have best friends who are teachers in the U.S. and here in Serbia. I don’t envy you! I hope you make good use of your time off in the summer! you deserve that break! Don’t mind my little blog post here in your comment section. πŸ˜‰

  10. Sometimes the baby urge skips a lass even with a dedicated role model like yours. It’s best to have none than have one and not dedicate yourself to the task. Congrats on the honesty. I put aside my uni learning until mid-forties to raise three progeny. No regrets. Although a twinge now and then about wondering if pursuing my PhD could have been a possiblity.

    • That’s a lovely message. I don’t want to get to the point where it gets to the ‘what if’ stage, but I don’t want to create one just for the sake of it…

  11. I was a stay at home mom for the first few years of my little ones life and it wasn’t for me….don’t get me wrong my kids are my life but I needed to keep my sanity and I did that by working.

    I will be honest and say I don’t have the patience for little kids and I am thankful that my kids are 18 and older……..it just baffles me when I see a person my age (or older) wanting to start all over again after raising their children. I am quick to remind them about the sleepless nights, the smell of formula, stained shirts, spit up in your hair, screaming uncontrollable fits…..yeah little babies are cute, but that’s when they are sleeping or content for the minute.

    My sister runs her own daycare from her home and I don’t know how she does it ….. although, she does have a couple of glasses of wine once they all leave!!

    • Thanks Jolene! I like the idea that one day I will have kids, but I certainly don’t have the urge to have them! You much have been Wonder Woman to raise kids from the age of 17!

      • I wouldn’t say Wonder Woman….. it was more like just having to do what I had to do, it was flipping hard and when I hear of young girls wanting to have a kid I stop them and tell them to live their life first because being a mom is SOOOOO hard!!

  12. Great post! I think the biggest think people don’t realize about being a stay at home parent is something you touched on – you DO NOT get a day off. Ever. You can be sick, dead tired, have a broken limb (I went through that one – try taking care of a two year with a broken ankle) – you STILL have to be there for them and do what is required. I know the path of SAHM isn’t for every woman, and that is 100% fine. But to look down on someone because they made a different choice than what you want for yourself is just laughably ignorant.

  13. I love this post! It’s so nice to see the honesty…and the notion that we don’t all long for children. I opted to stay at home to raise/ home school my step daughter (and work on my business), but I’ve never been interested in having “my own” children. You should see the looks I get for being a stay at home step mom. Geez…you’d think I had tentacles growing out of my face. πŸ˜‰

  14. very well written, and I love the fact that you stated that you did not like young children. Bravo! Parenting is hard, staying at home is work, but, it is a choice you make. You complain about any job you hold, it’s natural… I was a stay at home mom for years, and a working mom for years, I was a taxi driver (one season I would put on 100 miles a day while driving and working, in town). I am well passed all of that now, and I dont’ regret a minute. My cell still stays right beside my bed so that I can get calls or texts at any time, and have. Great post. Thanks.

  15. Yes yes and yes. At 26 I have yet to feel the pang on wanting a child. People look at me like I’m crazy when I say that in truth, I’m not sure if I ever will and babies terrify me. Usually they give me what appears to be a look of disgust like I told them I eat people or something. No, I just don’t want a baby right now or maybe ever. I agree with you that it is a tremendous job. No thank you πŸ™‚

  16. Really honest post, thank you. I am without children through choice and circumstance. I love children, but as the saying goes, I couldn’t eat a whole one πŸ™‚ I used to be a paediatric nurse and I have done lots of voluntary work with children. I am a fantastic aunt and my nieces always come to me with questions and concerns, some easy to manage, some not so easy (the recent ‘wet dream’ explanation was a corker). I am the first person my friends call if they ned a babysitter or advice or medical advice etc. I do absolutely love children, but I have never had the desire to have my own.
    The thing is, if I had children of my own I wouldn’t be able to give them my all, and that just wouldn’t be fair. There is high risk that I would continue to have relapses and I would hate to put a child through that. I feel guilty enough about neglecting the cat when I have to ‘take to the bed’. And what if the children inherited it? I get too tired already and being a full time mum, like you say, is the hardest job of all (I’m guessing the article you read was by Katie Hopkins?).
    Just to add to your rant about pushchair injuries….can I just rant about small children in restaurants? Why would you take a toddler to a restaurant…there are so few now that you can go to without having screaming kids throwing tantrums and toys….grrrrr. My rule with children in my life is that they have to prove they can behave at the table before they can come to a restaurant with me…and we have left when they have played up (only once).

  17. Just having a kid is not that hard, but the difficult part is raising them. I have 5 kids between me and my boyfriend. It is fairly easy for me to have them all. However, I know that it is not as easy for others. I respect those ladies who do not have those instincts and choose not to have children. It is far worse to have a child when you don’t want them. I have a part time desk job as well, but for those ladies who work full time and more, to me your work/jobs seem much harder. I even feel that fast food is harder than raising 5 kids. I will not say that one day you will feel that maternal ache, but if you do… I wish you the best of luck. If you never feel it, then I say, thank you. I love my kids and I would not change the fact that they were born, but I feel that our planet is over populated and if you don’t want kids, please do not have them. It would be much better to have kids and raise them properly than to have all of these entitled, lazy, spoiled, and undisciplined humans because you didn’t want them in the first place. Thank you for choosing to be different from the rest of society. You are far more intelligent than most women and I applaud your decisions.

  18. You’re right, it is the toughest job in the world and not for wimps. I don’t have children, but I live with my single parent sister who does and was raised by a single mother. I also admire you for being upfront about why you don’t want children. There’s no shame in that as far as I’ve seen. It’s a personal choice and no one should be made to feel like they are inferior for it.

  19. My husband and I are eldest children in very large dysfunctional families. We helped raised our younger siblings to such an extent we were referred to as little mother and little father. We continued to support the younger ones financially and emotionally after we left our homes, so unsurprisingly we chose to remain child-free.

    Both at work and in our personal lives we have contributed financially to children’s organizations and given freely of our time and labor as well, but when it comes to being child free – we celebrate it!

    Between 1960 when β€œthe pill” was introduced and 2007 a stigma against childfree couples, based on the same old religious saws deeply entrenched in our society was revived, and minding the reproductive business of others became the agenda of religious zealots.

    There are many reasons to choose not to have children and when couples make the childfree choice that choice should be respected. Between November 2004-July 2006 Laura S. Scott conducted a Childless by Choice Survey. 171 self-selected, voluntarily childless/childfree individuals (single, partnered and married) living in the U.S. and Canada participated in the survey 121 (71%) of the respondents were women and 50 (29%) of the respondents were men. If you search the web you will find participants 18 reasons for choosing to remain child free.

    • There are a variety of reasons that we choose to have children or to remain child-free. I think the main problem with the blog post that Suzie refers to (and I did in my own response) is the lack of respect for the choices of others. The author blatantly says that she “looks down on” women who get married or have children (she says it about both).

      I personally want children eventually, but that does not mean I look down on anyone who chooses to remain child-free. My brother and his wife decided that they do not want children, and that works for them. All of us make choices that work for us, and I think that makes life more interesting. Variety is the spice of life, after all. πŸ™‚

  20. Well written and well said. As a stay-at-home (most of the time) mom, I greatly appreciate these words!! If more women, all people really, spent more time lifting one another up for their good deeds and hard work rather than comparing and putting one another down the world would be a much better place ! πŸ™‚

  21. I feel the same way about Creatures- they flippin scare me out of my fur!

    And I hear that another one of my human’s Creatures (who is in her 30’s now) is going to have a Creature herself!! (HELLLLLLLLLLLPPPPP)! Sometime in May there will be ANOTHER Creature fur me to hide from!! (digging my tunnel to Japan)…..

  22. I have some young friends who are “stay at home” mothers. They look after children, and a husband, a house and also study. It is not easy in this day and age, or, I suppose any day and age, but they manage quite well. I enjoyed reading this post but I have to confess that the very first statement brought to mind the words of the great W. C. Fields ” Any man that hates dogs and children, can’t be all bad”

  23. I have three kids, 12, 9 and 4. Every once in awhile they are all in school at the same time, which seems really rare these days with the terrible weather and long vacations. People wonder what I do during those hours. During the time they are all in school, I don’t do much: write, blog, walk, laundry, errands, paperwork, gardening, house projects, oversee contractors, cook three meals for whoever is around to eat, sew split seams, run the kids here, there and everywhere, pick up forgotten items, drop off forgotten items, play piano, shovel snow, support my kids, attend concerts, recitals and sporting events, research what to buy, buy it, referee arguments, tie shoes, brush hair, examine worms, look at birds, smell my children’s hair, test foreheads for fever, pick nits, wipe noses, wash sand out of hair, wash sand out of tubs, clean, scrub, find places for things, organize birthday parties, plan on paying for Christmas, organize valentine crafts, listen to stories about crushes, hear about bullying and dole out advice, the list never ends. I could go on and on, but I will call it quits and say, thank you!! So many people devalue the stay at home mom. I’m so happy to hear that someone has noticed and appreciated. So thanks. I notice my list spilled from time during school into time the kids are home, but that’s how my life seems to go, so I left it. πŸ™‚ Cheers, Brenda

  24. A fantastic piece. I’m 33 and child free but I have been step parent to 7 kids in the past (3 in 1 relationship, 2 in another and 1 in 2 others) who ranged in age from 9 months to 14, and you’ve hit the nail right on the head. YOU DO NOT GET DAYS OFF, no matter what. Heck sometimes you’re lucky if you get to have a bath in peace, eat your dinner/drink a cuppa while it’s still hot or have 2 minutes to brush your hair before leaving the house. There is also pretty much no chance of a ‘sick day’ either, kids still need looking after despite you having a migraine, flu etc.. and if any of your kids have disabilities it’s even harder, a week of sleeping in 3 hour shifts because your adhd/autistic child won’t sleep REALLY takes it out of you.

    Personally, I’d love to have my own child, but I have no illusions regarding how hard it can be.

    My own mum has been there for me in every single way for as long as I can remember and even though I’m now 33 she is still there for me 110% (she’s spent the last 8 months doing practically everything for me while I’ve been severely ill), so for anyone who thinks being a parent stops when your kids move out, think again.

  25. All the women in my family are extreme stay-at-homers, homeschooling their children and everything. It’s my biggest pet peeve when they complain about it. YOU made the decision to homeschool them. YOU decided to let them get away with murder and become tyrants. -I- don’t want to hear it. I understand that it’s hard — like you say, it’s the most difficult job in the world! But being a parent is a service to your children, and nobody likes a complaining giver.

  26. Pingback: Respecting the Lifestyle Choices of Others | theauthorwhoknows

  27. I was appalled by that original post, and was further appalled by what else that woman has written. This is well done, and as another childless woman, I greatly appreciate your view point. You should read a response by Julie Horman if you haven’t already to the original post.
    Great post on your part!

  28. Lovely Suzie! I needed to hear this today. Thank you! I don’t like other people’s kids and never thought I’d be sold on being a mom. It is, however, the joy of my life and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Someday I’ll pee alone again. For now, I’m pouring every ounce of love and energy I have into this little girl’s life and praying she is better for it.

    Meanwhile, sleep in for me. I miss that. πŸ˜‰

  29. Love it! It’s weird but I always wanted kids, I was the youngest so had no idea how to relate (still don’t like other peoples kids a great deal) and I wasn’t the only one who worried what sort of a mother I’d be.
    I’m loving it now as they are getting to the age where I am becoming less of “someone’s mum” and more of me again. Not that I ever lost me, but it’s more prevalent now.
    I’m also off to read that other post, and good on you for stating you aren’t interested in having kids, not everyone is and that is cool.

  30. Omg!!! That blog is just in believable. While we all have out opinions, you can read that she had no idea at all. And from other comments, based on some kind of nasty history. I actually feel sorry for her in shallow and naive outlook on life.

  31. I absolutely adore being a mother and now a grandmother. For many years after my 2 sons had grown, I wanted one more day with my kids when they were young, one more day I could hold them on my lap and do it again, maybe better. And then I had grandchildren. Not my choice of course, but I am the lucky recipient of my children’s decisions. I love being with my grandkids. Having kids was my choice and I have never regretted my decision, only that I wasn’t always the best mother that I should have been. Having grands is the most wonderful experience of my life. They are incredibly special little people whose joy and zest and appreciation for life make me appreciate my life. When the rest of the world knocks me down and shatters me, a few hours with these children make me whole again.
    I respect that you are making a different choice, one that suits your personal goals. Don’t let anyone else convince you that you want something that they want, though I doubt you are susceptible to that kind of pressure. Good for you for knowing who you are and what you want to give and to get out of life. Being a parent is a tough job if it isn’t what you want to do. It’s the best job in the world if it is what you want, but it is 24-7 for about 18 years.

  32. Well-written. I have to say, I do love this job, even though the hours are nuts. I do have to say also that it is a job you shouldn’t ever try and talk someone into. I really admire that you have chosen not to have children because I think childless couples get a lot of flack that they should not. Thanks for defending my choice to have children and stay home with them and I’ll certainly defend yours πŸ™‚

  33. I wonder who wrote the post that sparked you off.. Katie Holmes? πŸ™‚ It’s great to hear some support for SAHMs. I decided to stay home when Bigfoot hit the age of three, and went back to earning a salary (I won’t say “working”, because SAHMs work their cotton socks off) six years later, but working… from home. It involves a lot of juggling, and a lot of lip-biting when people tell me I’m lucky to be at home “doing nothing all day”. If only they knew… πŸ™‚

  34. I really enjoyed reading your article. I love children but do not have any. However, I can really appreciate your point of view and I think that it is brave of you to write about it. You are sending an important message about stay at home moms.

    I have many friends with career aspirations who ended up home with children and they’re self- conscious about it. It’s a tough job and I really admire them. In addition to society, some are underappreciated by the children and/or father.

    There’s only so many hours in a day. A working parent with a “career,” has less time to develop and really get to know their children….Hat’s off to them, though, especially those who find time for themselves. I think that raising healthy and intelligent children is a great achievement, regardless if it is done full-time or not.

  35. This is a great write up. My wife and I had our 1st (and probably only child) a year and a half ago. She quit her job to stay home with our child while I work. To this day she gets maybe…maybe 3 good hours of sleep. Not in a row. I work 3 types of shifts. Mornings, evenings, and nights. Every week the shift changes. We are literal zombies. My wife cooks everyday using whole foods and does everything in her power to keep us healthy and I work nonstop to allow her to do that and to build a nice 401k so we can enjoy retirement. Its hard. Very hard and stressful for the both of us but its worth it to see our spawn healthy and growing with not a care in the world except to let me know what alphabets shes learned that day. One word of advice: learn to know yourself before you have children. Your kids can smell fear and inconsistency. Be their rock and show no fear. It makes them feel safe and at home. I was 31 and ready….and still im not ready. I owe my wife everything for the sacrifices she does. Its the hardest job in the world.

  36. I like this for it’s honesty and would never suggest that being a stay at home mom is easy, but having done all three (SAHM, working childless, and working mom) no doubt working mom is the most difficult and nearly impossible! Especially with a husband who is gone for work about half of each month. I happen to think kids are great, so for me, it’s worth all the toil. Just barely.
    As I lay snuggled in a twin bed smothered in fluffy down duvets with a little one tucked in on either side, I’m happy that today we have a treacherous ice storm so we will be stuck inside together all day but conflicted because we have missed so much school lately that I need to replan my semesters in order to get everything in before May exams. I’ll play hard all day and be up late all night. My choice.
    Good read though. Thank you.

  37. I am an expectant mom and I know parenthood can be daunting…hihi! But I know it will change my life big time–for the better. Thanks for this witty blog. Love it! I actually love your posts!

  38. I’m a stay-at-home mom. This was a decision that took me 2 years to finalize. Just when my career was slowly shooting up. Just when I finally found a job that I could be happy at, excel in, and brag about all at the same time, I was made to choose between that job and my kids. Of course I chose the latter. And I’ve never been happier with any of my past decision as I am with choosing to stay home. Thank you for this blog, though. It gives light to what we parents go through from a single lady’s perspective.

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