The working mom vs stay at home mom debate has been around since time began.
Since the 1950s, mothers have increasingly chosen to take part in the labour force outside of the home while simultaneously raising their children. Many families today require two incomes to live comfortably, making stay at home parenting an impossibility for many. However, in recent years, more mothers (and some fathers) are choosing to forgo the second income and return to traditional childhood rearing practices.
There are both benefits and disadvantages to the working mother and stay-at-home mother roles. By weighing the pros and cons of each, you can decide which option is right for you.
It is a hot topic of debate for new moms, working mom vs stay at home mom.
It’s been going on for years and I don’t think it will ever stop.
But wouldn’t it be nice if it did? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone finally realised both options come with pro’s and con’s and that one is not easier than the other?
Dreaming on my part? Probably, but I hope this post will help moms see the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Before my baby was even born, I’d have people asking me if I was going back to work afterwards or not!
Before we start, I’d like to let you know I am a working mom. I work outside of the home in a full-time job and also work on my blog.
So, if my stay at home mom section is not as good as the working mom section, I apologise – I mean no offence.
Let me know anything I’ve missed in the comments below.
The truth is, being a stay at home mom is tough and being a working mom is tough.
One is not harder than the other, one is not right, and one is not wrong.
Both options are perfectly fine – It’s your choice.
Let me walk you through some pros and cons of each.
The Pros and Cons Of Being A Working Mom
Pros of Being a Working Mom
Make a second income. The most obvious advantage of being a working mom is that it has obvious financial benefits.
Making a second income provides your family with greater financial flexibility, allowing you to spend money on luxury purchases such as a nice new car or a family holiday abroad. It also has practical benefits, including making it easier to save money for your child’s college education and saving more for retirement.
Enjoy pursuing passions and social interactions outside of your family. In addition to making more money, having a career that you’re passionate about allows you to pursue your interests outside of the family.
Having relationships with coworkers also diversifies your social interactions. While your family is the most important thing in your life, it’s okay to enjoy experiences outside of that bubble.
Model independence for your children. For moms with little girls especially, by working outside of the home, you’re demonstrating to her that being a working mother is an option for her in the future, too. It’s good for your daughter to see high-achieving women around her.
Take a team approach to housework with your spouse. With both you and your spouse working outside of the home, you’re more likely to divide the households tasks between you as well. Instead of having distinct roles in the family, you share the responsibility of both the finances as well as the chores.
As a working mom, here are some pros I can think of to list.
- You are a great mom
- You earn your own money
- Teach your children the importance of working
- Maintain your own sense of identity through your achievements at work
- You get to have an adult conversation
- Value quality time you spend with your children
- Your child is having fun & building relationships with others
- You get to go to the toilet in peace a few times a day.
- You get to drink your coffee whilst it’s still hot a few times a day.
Cons of Being a Working Mom
You miss out on time that could be spent with your kids. For 40 hours per week, you’re away from your family. While you’ll still see them in the mornings before they go to school, and the evenings before bed, you miss out on all the little things in between. Even if you do part-time work, you are still spending several hours a week away from your children.
However, unless you’ve considered homeschooling your children, you wouldn’t see them during the day between Monday to Friday, once they hit school age, anyway. You’ll still have weekends with them and can make time for the big things like birthdays, recitals and family outings. This is important to maintain a healthy family life.
You may spend more on child care and housecleaning. That second income sure is nice, but with both you and your spouse having commitments outside of the home, you may not be able to take your kids to school, or be there before they get home. This means you’ll have to arrange before and after school care. Child care is in high demand and therefore isn’t cheap.
Depending on how busy your work schedule is, you may also elect to hire help with the housecleaning. While this takes a significant load off you, making it worthwhile, this too chips away at that second income.
Finding balance is more difficult. With competing demands between work responsibilities and cooking, cleaning, and caring for your kids, it can be challenging to juggle everything. Working moms are often more stressed and tired. You’ll likely have to give up something to find the balance you need.
Related: More Tips & Ideas For Working Moms
- You miss your children – a lot
- Tiredness from rushing around and getting everyone where they need to be
- Feeling like you have two jobs
- Mom guilt when you miss out on parents’ evenings, plays, and other school events.
The Pros and Cons Of Being A Stay At Home Mom
Pros of Being a Stay At Home Mom
You have more time to spend with your children. You’ll be around for not just the big things in your kids’ lives, but the little things too. If you also choose to homeschool your children, it won’t just be their early years that you’re always around for, but their formative years as well.
All parents will tell you they can’t believe how quickly their children grew up. Staying at home means you’ll get to experience motherhood to the fullest.
Create a stable environment for your children. As a stay at home mom, you’ll be home to send your children to school and ready with after-school snacks the moment they walk through the door. Because you’re not burnt out from a day in the office, you’ll have more time and energy to help them with their schoolwork.
You have control over what your children are exposed to. With childcare being so expensive and hard to find, many mothers worry about whether the facility they’ve chosen provides the right environment for their kids.
Instead of worrying what values the daycare teacher is instilling in your children, you get to pick the values you want them to be exposed to. You also have greater control over what they eat and the activities they engage in.
- You are a great mum
- You’re getting to spend a lot of time with your child
- You don’t have to split your time between two things.
- You get to see all the firsts
- No expensive child care
Cons of Being a Stay At Home Mom
It can get lonely. While you love your kids, sometimes adult company is nice, too. Though there are opportunities to meet other stay at home moms, finding friendships through other avenues is difficult. This can cause you to feel isolated and depressed.
However, finding relationships outside of your family is still possible – you’ll just have to put more effort in to find them.
You forgo the second income. Living on a single income and saving money on childcare and housekeeping can offer financial benefits, but the amount you save on this is often less than a second income offers.
The trade off may be worth it to you if you decide having a luxury car and a big house aren’t as important to you as having quality time with your kids. The decision will also depend on your spouse’s income.
All the housework falls on you. While you may be less stressed about finding the right balance between your career and taking care of the home, you’re likely to take on extra work in the house. Often, the workload of the stay at home mom is comparable to that of the working mom. Rather than working less, you’ll just be doing different work.
- Lack Of Adult Conversation
- It can be lonely when your children are young
- Can cause lack of identity
- Can cause financial strain
- Your children can lack socialisation with other children
When comparing being a working mom vs. a stay at home mom, you may find that one is not better than the other. Both offer advantages and disadvantages, so pick the option that works best for you and your family.
Mums would all support each other, whichever option they choose. Being a mum is a hard job and none of us want or need to feel judged for the decision we make about children.
We all do what is best for our family. We all want what’s best for our family.
So whether you’re a Stay At Home Mom or Working Mom, I salute you! You’re Doing Great!
Moms do feel judged for the decisions we make. Those who stay at home are ‘sponging off the state’ and ‘lazy”.
The moms who work are ‘more interested in money’ ‘don’t care about their child’ or ‘aren’t naturally maternal, anyway’.
On more than one occasion, I have felt judged for my decision to have a full-time 9-5 job, whilst my little one attends child care. He has done since he was 8 months old.
We all suffer enough ‘mom guilt’ of our own without others adding more doubt and feelings of guilt upon you.
For Those Moms Who Work Full Time – I’d Like You To Know:
- Just because you work it doesn’t mean you’re not maternal
- Because you work, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your child
- Just because you leave them, it doesn’t mean they’ll stop loving you or forget you – you’ll always be their mom.
Don’t be so hard on yourselves – this being a mommy job is tough.
Let’s all show some love and understanding for each other instead of trying to decide who is right and who is wrong in the Stay At Home Mom vs Working Mom debate.
There is no right or wrong answer – only what’s best for you and your family.
What Real Mums Think About The Working Mom vs Stay Ay Home Mom Debate
I’ve been asking around and here are what some real mums think about the working mom vs stay at home mom debate. I feel it’s always a good idea to have views of mums from both sides of the debate to get a good, fair perspective from both sides.
Below are some of their comments.
I’m a stay at home mum. I don’t really have an opinion on working mums or staying at home either. I just see ‘mums’ as a collective, doing what needs to be done and what is best for their family. Being a mum is 24/7 regardless if you are at work or not. Life is a constant juggle, it’s never-ending and all mums are permanently tired, but they are the glue holding their family together.
I recently went part time to spend more time with my two young children I hated being away from them every day and only seeing them evenings and weekends. I envy stay at home mums for the extra time they have with their children but I’m also glad that I can work as it does feel nice to get some adult company
When I left my job to become a stay at home mum it met me with shock from family members and received comments about money. Mostly how do you afford it?! I was really taken aback as when I worked, money never got mentioned. I felt like I was being made to feel ashamed and started saying oh I’m JUST a stay at home mum. You shouldn’t have to be made to feel this way. It’s everybody’s personal choice on what they do. Oh, and being a stay at home mum led to me becoming a work from home mum thanks to my blog.
Oooh, this is an interesting one! I have been both and as a mum of four currently on maternity leave I would say hats off to stay at home mums! Being at home 24/7 with kids is exhausting, thankless, mind numbing & repetitive & what I would give to be able to give a single task my 100% full attention! But at the same time, being a working mum is also exhausting, plus the guilt factor, although at least you get to wee alone & drink a cup of tea when it’s actually hot! Not sure what I’m saying other than it’s a case of swings & roundabouts!
Nobody knows another mother’s situation, so it’s unfair to judge their choices. I was a SAHM until my children started school because I wanted to and because I could afford to. If other parents work for financial purposes or because they wish to have a career, then fair play to them!
I’ve been a stay at home mum for five years. I took voluntary redundancy at the end of my mat leave with my first, then went onto have twins second time round and childcare for three under three would have been insane. So getting a job would never be worth it. I think it’s a shame both ‘types’ are sometimes pitted against each other. I know friends who struggle with the balance of work and parenting, and I know that some days I’d give anything to hand my three feral boys over to someone else and sit in my old office drinking hot coffee, and having adult conversation. Nobody has the perfect situation. Parenting is hard whichever scenario you’re in. I do think I’d drink less wine and shout less if I went to work, though
I don’t know how working mums manage it all; they are flipping super heroes! I have been a SAHM since my twins were babies. 4 under 4 and working was financially pointless and I couldn’t cope with doing it all. There are compromises no matter which way you go and being a mummy is challenging, whether you stay at home or not.
I’m a work from home mum earning a very good wage for myself but get sick of people thinking I am a stay at home mum that does very little because I actually work 10-hour days as well as usual things like cooking, cleaning, etc. My son is almost 15 but special needs means he is more like a 7-8 year old. I just want to be recognised as a working mum who juggles everything, still not a stay at home mum that can do what I wish!
I’ve been a SAHM for just over 9 years. Being married to a civil engineer who worked on roads we moved from project to project, country to country until 2 years ago when we “settled” for the kids.We have no back-ups, grandparents, aunties, or lifelong family friends, most live a continent away! It’s just the 4 of us. Working never made sense, and we could financially afford for me to stay at home. That said, blogging has given me a mental “out” because I really do envy working mums. The company, the reliable income, and relative independence they have is vastly different from my reality. I’m grateful to be here for my kids 100%, but I hate being solely responsible for the laundry & cleaning!
As a full-time office worker, we were lucky enough to afford nursery fees. I have to say for me working seems the easier and less exhausting. Being a stay at home mum sounds easy, but it’s tiring on so many levels!
Working mums and stay-at-home mums get a tough time. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I’m a work from home mum and I’ll admit that I feel much happier working. I felt like it was my choice, and I personally haven’t had any negativity because of it. I have tons of respect for stay at home mums and I really love that we live in a time and place that a woman can be respected for pursuing a career or for looking after her family. Both choices are valid, and it should come down to what’s best for everyone in the family.
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I’m a working Mum and have been since my daughter was a baby. Working shifts with a 1-year-old was exhausting and required a lot of organisation and juggling to make sure there was someone to pick her up and take her to nursery. Missing bed time when she was young was tough and missing her first steps. I worked because we needed the income, not through choice, but I do think it has made us all appreciate the time we got together.
People find themselves in certain situations not of their choice. I’m a working mum and some of my friends are stay at home mums. As long as you’re a mum, irrespective of working or stay at home, it’s a tough call because of our maternal instincts. We all go above and beyond to nurture our kids, hence the reason we should be supporting and respecting everyone’s decision.
I have always been a stay at home mum but have always had work which I have done around my kids I realise how incredibly fortunate I am. To the stay at home mum who has put her career on hold, I salute you and to the hardworking working mum whose heart aches a little sometimes; I salute you too. We are all doing our best.
I can see both sides of the ‘argument’ and believe every mum is entitled to make their own decisions, and should not be shamed for whatever they decide. I loved being a stay at home mum for some time when I was younger, but due to finances I had to go back to work, and I am working to strike the right balance between the two. It is important that the children are loved and nurtured, and that mums take time out for self-care so they can be better equipped to look after their children, whatever their choices.
I’m a work-at-home mum and I have managed to find a way to work around my children. I used to work very long hours before I had kids, and I made a conscious decision to leave my job because I knew I’d never see them if I stayed. I did judge working mums before I had kids. But I judged many things pre-kids because I thought I knew better. I had a nasty shock!
Now I realise that it doesn’t matter what we choose – the guilt will surface at some point, whether you’re a stay at home mum who wishes she’d continued her career to the working mum who wishes she had more time to play with her kids. My guilt is that I’m always mixing work and time with the kids and lockdown was a nightmare because I was drowning on both ends! Going forward, rather than judging or picking a side, we should help each other stay positive about our decisions because if we continue to feel the guilt, so will our kids, and that is worse. We’re all super mums!
Working mom vs stay at home mom FAQ’s
Is it better to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom?
- Working Moms:
- Pros: Financial independence, career progression, social interaction, personal fulfillment, and potentially serving as a role model for children about balancing work and family.
- Cons: Potential stress from juggling work and family responsibilities, guilt from not spending enough time with children, and the cost of childcare.
- Stay-at-Home Moms:
- Pros: More time with children, direct influence on their upbringing, potential cost savings from not needing childcare, and flexibility in daily schedule.
- Cons: Potential loss of financial independence, potential feelings of isolation, potential challenges re-entering the workforce later, and societal judgments or pressures.
- Ultimately, the “better” choice is subjective and depends on individual and family needs, values, and circumstances.
Are there more working moms or stay-at-home moms?
This varies by country and region. In many developed countries, the majority of mothers work outside the home, either by choice or out of economic necessity. However, the number of stay-at-home moms has fluctuated over the years based on economic, cultural, and societal factors.
Are stay-at-home moms more happy?
Happiness is subjective and can be influenced by numerous factors. Some research suggests that stay-at-home moms report higher levels of depression or sadness than working moms. However, this doesn’t mean that staying at home inherently causes these feelings. Factors like financial stress, lack of adult interaction, or societal pressures can contribute. Conversely, some stay-at-home moms report higher levels of satisfaction from being able to spend more time with their children. It’s essential to consider individual circumstances and personalities when evaluating happiness.
What percentage of moms are stay-at-home moms?
This percentage varies by country, region, and over time. In the United States, for instance, about 24% of married-couple family groups with children under 18 had a stay-at-home mother. This percentage has fluctuated over the years, with economic conditions, societal norms, and other factors influencing the numbers.