Are Stay at Home Moms More Depressed?

Are Stay at Home Moms More Depressed?
Via Hot Air, Gallup recently published a study showing that stay at home moms are more depressed at every income level. They’re more worried, more stressed, and angrier.

What’s up?

Over at Hot Air, they’re trying to explain why stay at home moms are stressed by income: if you stay at home, you’re poorer than you otherwise would be, so of course you’d be more stressed.

But that can’t be the whole answer, so they’re asking the question: what else is it?

I think it’s rather obvious. You’re more depressed because you’re with children all the time, you don’t get a break, the work is never done, and you get little adult interaction. Kids squabble. They puke. If you try to keep the house clean, it’s a never ending job. You could start to vacuum only to turn around and find a 3-year-old is trailing behind you munching through a box of crackers. And nobody is standing behind you saying, “Wow, that is a clean pot. You really washed that pot like a pro! I’m so impressed with that pot.”

At work we get stimulation. We get other people telling us we did a good job. We get a sense that our task is finished and we can move on to the next task. Anyone who has ever said, “today, I’m going to get through all the laundry in the house” knows that this is an impossibility. The laundry is never all done.

And when you stay at home, you don’t get to sit down and take a break. Kids even want to come into the bathroom with you! You’re tired. You’re overworked. And no one tells you what a great job you’re doing. So of course we’re going to register higher stress!

But here’s the thing:

We should not decide what to do based on whether or not it will give us the least amount of stress. We should decide what to do based on our values, not our feelings.

Just because staying at home is stressful does not mean it’s not worthwhile.

It also does not mean there aren’t incredible benefits. Yes, it’s more stressful, but it also gives us those wonderful moments when someone cuddles up and says, “I love you, Mommy.” It gives us those amazing moments of outings to the library, where we all giggled and read books. It gives us wonderful times of bonding with each other. It gives us pillow fights.

And at the end of it, you get to look back and say, “I made a difference.” You can see it in your kids.

Does this mean every woman should stay at home? I wouldn’t say that, although I do have serious reservations about day care centres. But what I do believe is that the fact that it is stressful should not mean that we choose to not do it.

That seems to be the conclusion of the study, and those commenting on it are treating the study like it’s radioactive. “Shoot! We conservatives have been saying it’s wonderful to stay at home, and now it turns out it’s more stressful!”

Yes, but you’re measuring apples and oranges. It may be more stressful, but it’s still wonderful. It’s just simply hard work.

But when has being hard come to mean that we don’t do it?

Just because something is harder doesn’t mean we should steer clear.

We seem to have this idea in our society that people should do the easiest thing, the most fun thing, the least stressful thing. That’s not the biblical way of looking at it. The Bible tells us to do the right thing. It tells us to seek God’s will. It tells us to be concerned, first and foremost, with people’s souls, not with money, or with prestige, or with standing in this world. It tells us to look to permanent things, not to temporary ones.

I’m pretty sure that the route that was chosen by many of those early Christians was far more stressful than the lives they had before. They left their homes and became missionaries, and quite frequently martyrs. They went to strange lands that didn’t welcome them. But they did it because God called them.

So I don’t take this study to mean, “Oh, my goodness, if it’s more stressful, maybe women shouldn’t do it!” I take this study to mean, “Of course it’s more stressful. But that just means we have to make sure we surround ourselves with support systems, and go to God to make sure that this is what He’s calling us to, so we don’t second guess ourselves. But lives are not about leisure; they’re about meaning and purpose. So decide what has the most meaning and purpose for you.”

And I really am okay with that.

Want help reducing the stress? A mom of 8 shares her secrets of how she schedules her day to make it less stressful.

What about you? Do you find staying home more stressful? Or was it easier to stay at home than to work outside the home? Let me know in the comments!


Comments

  1. When I was working outside the home part time, I found it really stressful trying to balance everything. Getting everyone out the door in the morning was hard, followed by gruelling days then rushing to get errands done, dinner ready, etc was definitely not leisurely.

    Now that I’m home full time, it’s less stressful schedule wise, but it’s still difficult for the reasons you mention in the article plus the added financial stress of having less income available.

    • Exactly! I think it’s just a different kind of stress.

      • I find that in my job there’s really not that much stimulation not a lot of “good job. But then I’m a teacher and with kids all day. And in this day and age educators are constantly run down.
        I agree that they are just different kinds of stress.
        Attempting to figure out how to balance everything, figuring out how to feel like you’re still giving your kids quality time even though you have a load of “work” to do from work at home, plus all the work that needs to be done at the house… Being a working mom is plenty stressful, as I”m sure being a stay at home mom is.
        As to which is “more stressful” does it really matter? We’re all stressed any more!

    • Yes, I agree! stress is stress is stress. I am a stay at home mom, who, all of my life told myself that if I ever had any children, I would do my best to make it possible to be a stay at home mother. I grew up with my family away all of the time–a “latch key” kid, as they called it. So, I promised myself that I would do my best to see to it that my future child / children would see more of me than that of their teachers and babysitters. My boyfriend works full time at a cable company, and works TONS of overtime. His job is what supports us, and I am so grateful for that, and for him. However, neither one of us has any family nearby at all; and the few friends we have, are generally pretty busy with lives of their own. My son is just over 2 months old now, and I am finding myself pretty conflicted in the “social” department. It is neccessary for me to be home all of the time right now, and let’s not forget that I actually CHOSE this anyway. Now, I am finding that I am VERY uncomfortabe being social because I am “rusty” at it; but also, I know that when I DO get to actually go out because of (rare) babysitter, I think I might actually want to get out more often. Because that isn’t possible, I almost don’t even want to pull at that thread–I will want it more than I can have it, so, as absurd as it sounds, I don’t really let myself get out on those “rare” occasions much. This works for me until my boyfriend (baby’s father) decides to get out for sveral hours for a “guys night out”, which he so much deserves. Boyfriend is supportive, thoughtful, caring, hands-on daddy, who DESERVES to have a baby-free night. And I really feel that way. But, that’s when I feel left out, and truly lonely. Then, I am reminded of the lack of any real stimulation in my life, how mundane it can be. I love and cherish my baby boy beyond words; but I do fear that “making him my life” is a dangerous philosophy to flirt with, since most of us know that a parent should never try to live “vicariously” through their children; it’s not fair of healthy for child or parent, and once child leaves nest, then what? In the meantime, I don’t want to make daddy feal guilty for time he really needs, nor do I want to start resenting him……and the whole “chore” thing? Endless. Simply ENDLESS…….

      • Your baby is only two months old,?? You are completly normal to feel this way! You are still recovering from giving birth and adjusting to your fast growing baby! Soon enough you will have energy to want and feel ready to go out to socialize. I think babies and mama’s are engeineeried to spend all their time together these early days to allow your little one to grow and develop healthy.

        “I don’t want to make daddy feal guilty for time he really needs, nor do I want to start resenting him”

        Yes I have gone down this road myself, worried that asking my husband to stay home with us to help me so I could have a break (okay, a long soak in the bath is still a break:). And if I didnt’ ask him to stay home, I would resent him for wanting to go out!!! By the second baby, there seemed little point to go out those early months because sure enough the night he choose to stay out late, was the same night she would be up every 45 mintues! So now its a non-issue. I think communication was key to our survival.

        Oh and sooo know what you mean you say your feeling “rusty”!!!

  2. I certainly love your take on this! Who ever said the best thing to do and the easiest thing to do are always and everywhere the same thing? However, I’d be careful about taking any “study” at face value. There’s rarely much real science behind them, and self-reporting is notoriously inaccurate, especially when the researchers come at it with a predetermined conclusion.

    IF this study is accurate (which I’d doubt, because others seem to show that women in general are more depressed than they used to be), I’d say it’s because our culture sets women up to fail at homemaking. We’re isolated, not out of choice, but because there is no well at which the town’s women may gather to converse. It can be lonely. Family and neighborhood friends are essential, but we’ve all been taught to seek our friends among our “peers”, regardless of their real relationship with us, and where do you find those? Jobs. Or MOPS, if you like that sort of thing. Forget it if you’re not interested institutionalized “friendships”. Where are the older women, teaching the younger ones how important their work is? Where are the relatives dropping by or calling to lend a hand? Oh, right. They’re out doing “real” jobs. Being a mom at home is hard. It is also very important, and I think the bulk of why SAHM’s feel down about their job is that few people value it…or them.
    Cindy recently posted…Homeschooling and the Introverted MomMy Profile

    • So true! Here’s a story to illustrate your point. My kids were born when we were living in a small apartment in downtown Toronto. Everyday we’d go to this playgroup at the local school because we couldn’t stay in the apartment all day. We’d all go stir crazy; it was just too small. So the kids got to unwind and I got to talk to other moms.

      When we moved to a small town with a big backyard, all of a sudden we didn’t need to go out anymore. The kids had all their play equipment at home. And so did all the other kids in the neighbourhood! So people in my small town didn’t go to playgroups. We were so much more isolated. It’s not even just that all the moms work; it’s that we’ve created these homes that we never have to leave, and expect that this is a sign of the “good life”. But in many ways I think the model I had in downtown Toronto was healthier, where we all got together for play two hours a day. Those moms wouldn’t have been my friends in other circumstances; we didn’t have a lot in common. But they were my lifeline, and I loved them!

      • I am a stay at home mom in a very small town. Luckily, I have a different experience than you did. All the neighborhood kids play together and us parents sit out front and watch. The kids go from backyard to backyard, to front yard to an elderly neighbor’s basketball goal. It is wondeful. We treat all the kids the same. We all agree that we can discipline each other’s children. I am the only SAHM. It’s nice to have adult interaction every evening. This town is small enough to where my kids can ride their bikes without adult supervision. We are very fortuneate to live in such a town. It’s great to be in a town where kids play outside. I have found if you complain about your situation all the time nothing is going to change. We have a “big city” mom who is having a very tough transition because there aren’t any organized activies for her to do… here all you have to do is plan it and people will come. We have a very nice park, library with story hour, and quite a few SAHM. I was lucky to be raised by a stay at home mom (boy was she looked down on back in the 70’s) so I had a wonderful teacher.

        • Oh, Leah, that sounds ideal! I found that when I moved to my smaller town, I had to make much more of an effort to get together with other moms. My women’s Bible study at church was a great help to me, too! But we do have to make efforts to get together with each other. Maybe the answer is to try to create more communities like you have!

    • Couldn’t agree more, Cindy! My thoughts exactly. :) As a SAHM myself, I’ve felt for years this societal stigma that SAHM’s either can’t get a decent job and pretend it’s a choice, or they just aren’t as educated as successful, working moms. And I think the lower income in particular reinforces that belief – smaller homes, older cars, second-hand furniture/clothes. We tend to associate wealth/success with intellect. And then there’s also the stereotype of an overweight wife watching Soaps all day with a box of chocolates, the house going to ruin, and the kids running wild. (i.e. SAHM’s are lazy) One thing I find particularly trying is when you spend hours cleaning up after the kids just to maintain the status quo, but to the outsider your house looks the same at 5pm as it did at 8am, because they never saw the chaos in between. :)

      But about the support network, today’s SAHMs are almost nothing like the SAHMs of 100 years ago. We may have laundry machines but we own ten times as much clothing. We don’t have friends and family next door coming in and out of the house every day, keeping one another company. We visit relatives for special occasions and usually have to drive a fair distance to get to them – unlike the days of old in which you could just walk down the street. A lot of women do not know any of their neighbors, much less have close relationships with them. And even if they do have lots of friends, if those friends also have kids, it can be tricky to schedule times to get together, and if those friends don’t have kids – again, they are at work during the day, and it’s hard to get together. It’s a different landscape for SAHMs in this ever-increasingly technological world. Cars are convenient but they also encourage families to live far apart from one another. So, I would have to say that much of the loneliness today’s SAHMs experience is really nothing to do with “staying at home” – it’s just a byproduct of our culture.
      Bekah Ferguson recently posted…Ashley Madison: Potiphar’s Wife?My Profile

      • My sentiments are ditto, Bekah! Another thought… when families were just trying to survive or had less so that extended families lived closer or even together to share the financial and work loads, life may have been more physically demanding but they had built-in companionship and encouragement.

  3. I work at home. I’ve been “Nanny”~Sitting on and off for years, since my oldest {almost 22} was little. I now have a five year old. One of three boys I watch is my grandson. He’s here late two nights a week. I’ve worked outside the home on and off throughout the years doing various things.

    Since I sit for moms who work including my own daughter, I feel I have a great comparison to stay {or work} at home moms vs working moms outside the home. NO, I do not feel my stress is higher than theirs. I listen to their problems and yes, I have my own. YES, I DO get stressed. Of course I do. I would say in many ways it’s harder. But I truly feel that we moms just trade one stress for the other as far as choosing whether or not to stay at home or work at home. When working outside the home you have the stress of coming home and feeling as though you have limited time to do it all–cooking, laundry, homework during the school year, etc. When we’re at home we tend to do so much that that too can become stressful.

    I love your statement about choosing what’s right because of our values, not our feelings. That’s not to say that if you work outside the home your values are lower. I learned when I was young that God calls women to different things. Every family has a different dynamic. However, we’ve traded in many of our morals throughout the years. Women’s lib-ers helped swing the pendulum from one extreme to the other.

    And you know what? I do NOT want to wear the pants. I do NOT want to “do it all”. I want to BE all that He called me to be. Therein lies the key! If we will seek and follow Him as leads for direction in our lives then we’ll be more content. It doesn’t mean we won’t have stress. But we’ll know we’re right where we need to be and that makes all the stress worthwhile. Plus, He never called us to sit in stew in our stress. I do believe we are supposed to allow His principles to work in these circumstances and learn how to surrender our stress.

    That’s my two cents.
    Rena Gunther recently posted…MamaMy Profile

    • So true, Rena! I think if we’re stressed at home, we need to go to God, clarify our calling (“Do you really want me here, Lord?”), and then wrestle with our frustrations. I think if we were to do that, He would help us through much more than if we try to do it in our own strength. And honestly, knowing that you’re in His purpose for your life is very freeing.

  4. I don’t think it’s necessarily that we are more stressed, because I can’t imagine that amount of stress I would have if I had to work outside of the home and try to juggle everything, I think it’s that we have less daily interaction with other adults, and we have less of a support system. I think the best thing a stay-at-home mom or homemaker can do is get herself a good support system and have regular interaction with other moms.
    Great post!
    Megan Elzey recently posted…We survived an affair (our story, part 2)My Profile

  5. Oh gosh, I can’t even remember which was more stressful! It’s all just so normal now…I guess if I had to decide, staying at home with three boys ages 4, 3 and 6 months is probably harder than teaching high school French. After all, I did have three months “off”, right? When a working mom tells me that my job as a SAHM is so hard, I always wonder if they don’t actually have it harder balancing marriage, parenting, homemaking AND a full-time job on top of it all.

    I love your point about how just because something is stressful doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. I feel like that about homeschooling right now. I am pretty convinced that God wants us to homeschool the boys but when I think about it it just seems overwhelming. But I know that if God wants us to do it, than He will equip us and it will draw us to depend on Him even more.
    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…The Beauty in Choosing Not to SeeMy Profile

    • Elizabeth, I guess my encouragement for you would just be to pray it out so that you’re sure that it’s God’s calling, because once we’ve wrestled that through, then on those bad days that come you can look back and say, “I know I’m doing this in obedience to you, God.” That’s important. And second, it isn’t as stressful as you think it will be! Honest! :)

  6. In all of history past, until the last 100 years or so, being a SAHM was a VERY social thing (unless you were a pioneer or something). You probably had a multi-generational home for one thing. And you probably walked outside your tee-pee or cabin in the morning to lots of hustle and bustle of other moms and kids doing their daily activities. You met women at the well, you cooked with other women, you quilted with other women, you ate meals together, etc. etc. etc. You had more accountability because your friends were in and out of your house all the time — it wasn’t just your husband and kids who knew if you didn’t clean your house or cook dinner (a dirty house = a sure recipe for depression). You knew everyone in your community and could let your kids run around outside without you without fearing they would be abducted. You had help with your kids (your mom probably lived with you), and you were constantly learning from older women. You were in a constant state of personal GROWTH and mental CHALLENGE. We are MADE to be social creatures, women especially. Our culture leaves HUGE gaps in this area. Like you mentioned, many of us have entire days where we don’t even leave our homes because we just don’t really need to.

    Unfortunately, the way we fill in those gaps makes things even worse. We truly need social interaction, so we find it on our phones and computers. We need ideas for homeschooling or even just how-do-I-keep-my-toddler-busy-all-day-long. We need advice on how to please oh please make this baby sleep at night! But all of that actually pulls us AWAY from our kids by looking online, reading books, etc. So now, not only are we getting a much less efficient way of learning these things, but our kids are growing up seeing us with our noses looking down all the time. I’m as guilty of this as anyone; I just don’t know how to change it.

    Recognizing the cause of this problem doesn’t really help me though… I can’t change our culture! It just adds to my frustration and guilt, that to find the interaction and information that I truly need I end up neglecting my kids. GUILT GUILT GUILT. A staple for moms, and a sure contributor to depression.

    A big part of the answer of course is walking step-by-step with Jesus. But even this is hard to do when you can’t hear yourself think from the noise. :-)

    I LOVE being a SAHM most of the time. I am so grateful that I am able to do it, and am more than willing to give up all the “necessities” that we do (cable, eating out, going to movies, etc. etc) to be able to afford it. I feel like my menu planning, budgeting, consignment clothes shopping, etc. DOES contribute to our income by reducing our costs. But it can be SO LONELY sometimes, and I think that’s the root of the issue here.
    Lauren recently posted…{Menu Monday} Pizza PartyMy Profile

    • So very, very true, Lauren. (And I love what you said about how a dirty house is a recipe for depression! I’ve found I’m always more energetic when I’m organized, too). I think we need to work more at creating natural community for raising our kids. I had that when my children were very small, and it was a real godsend.

  7. I haven’t worked outside the home since I’ve had kids, so I can’t compare, but I think every job or title has it’s own stresses.
    I, in my limited view, think that staying home would be less stressful. It may just be my personality, as a introverted homebody, but I enjoy staying home. I don’t enjoy rushing about, especially in the mornings.
    Paula recently posted…Which Woman are You?My Profile

  8. Sarah D says:

    I hear everyone focusing on the question of stress, but the study was looking at depression, which is not as much a circumstantial feeling as it is a medical condition. I believe their conclusions were accurate for the following reasons. A majority of people today are genetically predisposed to depression through the simple statistics of biology. Factors such as lack of sunlight, exercise, and social interaction greatly increase the likelihood that someone will suffer from full-blown depression or its milder version, disthymia. A deficit of time spent in quiet and leisure activities makes it harder to combat depressive patterns. Stay-at-home moms across the board are more likely to be indoors for longer periods, work out less, have less personal leisure time or quiet time, and fewer social interactions. Add to this the lack of sleep endemic to new motherhood (which accounts for a significant portion of stay-at-home moms, and the fact that many moms with young children are too busy to put the same focus on self-care (dressing nicely, salon appointments, good food, etc.) and it is hardly surprising that SAHMs suffer from an epidemic of depression.
    But “by my God I can leap over a wall!” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God is able to bring us safely through depression into His lasting joy! If any of you are struggling with depression right now, a great Christian resource is http://www.drgrantmullen.com – and dig into the word of God! :)

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Sarah D.!!! I was a SAHM until my kids hit school age and then went to work PT. I can handle the greater stress when I’m exercising and eating right. I am more motivated to find social interaction when I feel better.

      I also blame June Cleaver. She was perfect and we all try to emulate perfection. When my husband finally told me he didn’t mind if the house was dirty, it was freeing! Guys don’t notice dirt like us girls. AND the other people coming to my house were people with kids. So, they totally understood the destruction of my home. But, what I’m getting is at is LET GO of the superficial. Don’t let go of playing with your kids and teaching them God’s word. But, let go of the perfection. Letting go of perfection was my de-stresser.
      Pearl recently posted…SEX (cheaper than plastic surgery)My Profile

  9. For me I found that working full time outside of the home was so much more stress. We had more money, but less time. I missed things with my oldest. I was lucky enough that he was with his Grammy or daddy. I hated waking up one morning and my baby had grown up.

    Now I have a new kind of stress. But I am sure its God’s calling for me to be home as much as possible. My youngest has Celiac and at only 9 months old, I know I would never be able to put him in daycare.

    Life is stressful. It just is. I think though, how you handle that stress means more than it being gone from your life. Making time for your marriage can really help battle the day to dayness of being a SAHM. For us, I find the nights that we sit down and work on a devotion together, I sleep better and have a better day at home with my boys.
    Lacey G recently posted…Our Love StoryMy Profile

  10. The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? Until you get to the other side and you realize the grass is just a different variety of grass – it may look like a different color, but it still needs to be mowed, fertilized, and have those annoying dandelions yanked out before they go to seed and spread like demon spawn. LOL

    I honestly don’t believe any kind of mom has it easier or harder than the other. We all have stress. Just different varieties. At the end of the day, we’re all just moms, flying by the seat of our pants through this thing called motherhood praying we don’t screw it up. I’m a stay-at-home mom right now with a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 week old. And it’s stressful. Goodness, I had a complete meltdown in the middle of the night last night because I’m so stinking tired and the baby seems to think nighttime is perfect for every-2-hour feedings! But a lot of my friends are working moms, and I see the stress they experience too. Their grass ain’t greener. Just different.

    So I don’t think “studies” like that are fair. All they do is pit one classification of mom against another. And don’t we do a good enough job of that ourselves?
    Melissa recently posted…I think…My Profile

    • Anonymous Too says:

      I LOVED your “grass is greener” analogy!! Perfectly said!

    • I, too, love your “grass is greener” analogy. I’m also tired of the “mommy wars”. Being clear about why you are making the choice is critical. When you are comfortable with your decision, you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Your life is your life, not theirs. Your priorities are yours as well. To stay at home or not should be a decision made only by you and your partner based on the pros and cons in your life.

      To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt–no one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission. A lot of stress is due to trying to live up to others’ standards or opinions. Stop giving them the power over your life. Make the decision that is right for your family and honor it with pride. Just make sure you are including your emotional and mental well-being in the equation.
      Lesli Doares recently posted…How to Take Your Marriage From “Ow” to “Wow”My Profile

  11. I tried to go back to work after my daughter was born, but missed her too much. That, coupled with a complete idiot for a boss, caused me to walk out the day I returned. I haven’t looked back. While my now-3 1/2 year old can drive me absolutely bonkers, staying home with her and her almost-2 brother has been great. My son has a rare genetic condition, and for a while (before we understood what was going on) he was on a feeding tube for about 7 months. During that time, it would have been nearly impossible for me to work outside the home because my days were filled with replacing tubes, feeding schedules, and many, many doctors appointments. While things have calmed down considerably since last summer, we still have too many doctors appointments, and me keeping him home keeps him healthier since he’s not being exposed to sick kids (and he’s immuno-suppressed.)

    So, while there are days I would love to get out and talk to adults (though having friends on Facebook DEFINITELY helps) I’m in the place I need to be. No one will take care of my sickly little boy the way I will. And nothing’s better than getting little boy or little girl hugs before and after naps. :)
    Liberty Speidel recently posted…Mind RamblingsMy Profile

  12. Tessa W says:

    When I was reading the comments on your post about Romney (I think that’s her name) a lot of the moms said that it was less stressful to be working full or part time compared to staying home full time. It is so important to find a good network of support! I’ve been blessed to find an awesome La Leche League group and made some excellent friends there. I love a bit of isolation and would stay home most of the time if it was up to me. But at the same time, I love the fact that I am going to visit a friend and her 4 children from noon till supper time. We get to sit and have tea and fold laundry together while the kids entertain eachother. Socialization, help with housework and meal prep, and not being cooped up indoors all day on a rainy day are all wonderful.
    One thing to look at is that depression is usually amplified by isolation. As one who has suffered from depression and post partum depression (still working on moving beyod PPD and no, not all depressions are the same) I can say that I would stay home all the time and dig myself deeper into a hole if I had the option. But I have Bible study at church, I have volunteer responsibilities, and I have friends who invite me over and I have to get out of bed for the children’s sake. When I get out on a “blue day” then life is more about having fun and getting things done; when I stay home and have a “blue day” then life becomes about just surviving till bedtime. So yes, for me anyway, I believe that being a SAHM made if more difficult to deal with my depression. Even with that in mind, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Another way to look at the study: I have more bouts of anger at my children, and more moments of stress in my life because I am around my kids more. If I was never around my kids I wouldn’t get angry at them as often. But I also have more moments of joy with them. More moments when I laugh at their antics and just play with them.

    In conclusion, I can understand the study and many of the comments here. And I praise the Lord for teaching my husband and me how to make it possible for me to be a SAHM (though I technically am a bit of a WAHM now I guess) and I (usually) do not feel like I am missing out on anything. I am truly doing what God wants me to do and I have the confidence to tell people I am a SAHM without feeling ashamed. Now I’m off to pack the diaper bag and head to visit my SAH and homeschooling mom friend to get encouraged and see what my life can be like in a few years. Another great thing: make friends with people who have children older than yours so you can see the result of your long hours and know the time and effort are worth it!

    • Great comment, Tessa, and thanks for your perspective on depression! I agree: we have to fight against the social isolation. But it is worth it!

  13. Sheila,

    AMEN to the great reminder to make decisions based on what is right rather than how it makes us feel (especially how it makes us feel RIGHT NOW). Makes a world of difference.

    You know, one or two of the comments mentioned something that may be a bigger factor than we’re realizing. And maybe this is too much of a can of worms, so feel free to delete this if you think so!

    Sleep deprivation.

    It’s huge. HUGE. And (at the risk of starting a frenzy), a lot of it (not ALL, but a LOT) has to do with parenting style. The current trend toward baby-led parenting means babies are not sleeping through the night as was much more common in our parents’ day, when more parents put their babies on a schedule.

    I’m not debating the reasoning behind why people choose one way over another, but I’ll say this.

    We scheduled our babies. They are happy, healthy, well-loved, well-nurtured, well-adjusted, and well-attached to their parents. And they all slept through the night by 3-4 months old. And by “slept through the night”, I mean minimum of eight hours.

    That was a HUGE factor in my outlook on life and ability to cope with three little boys, underfoot in a small house! HUGE!

    When I could count on a decent night’s sleep I was a whole new person. I had the energy and mental clarity to gain perspective on the trials of the day. I can’t imagine trying to parent effectively while not sleeping well for months (or years) on end.

    I wonder if chronic exhaustion is a bigger factor than we’re realizing?

    Julie

    • I hear you, Julie. I think exhaustion is a huge issue, and teaching our kids to sleep well does them a favour; it doesn’t just do us a favour. Learning how to sleep peacefully, and how to put yourself to sleep, and not need someone to lie down next to you, actually is less stressful for the child, too.

  14. Statistics don’t mean much if you don’t have context or reason to them. If the reason why stay at home moms are more likely to be depressed is because they feel isolated and under-appreciated(and I suspect it is), then the stats tell us that it’s pretty common and something should be done to help. The solution is not to stop having stay at home moms, it is to figure out what can be done to prevent stay at home moms from becoming depressed. Statisically speaking, breastfeeding moms are more likely to be depressed because of isolation, so the dr.s and nurses at the hospital suggest going outside lots and joining mom groups, etc. I imagine a similar solution works for stay at home moms.

  15. Here’s another thought for you: just because something is stressful doesn’t mean it’s not needed.

    In our ministry to the military, we know some folks with some real high-stress jobs, but they are crucial to the security of the nation.

    Also, I noticed that somehow the government makes it look good to be say, a Marine, or a Navy Seal. With all due respect, these guys may be very tough and good at what they do. but they are brought through the most difficult training on the planet…just to be a Marine. How do they make people want to go through that? They make it look good, give them medals or awards, have ceremonies to honor especially brave Marines. In essence, they help them to be proud to be a Marine.

    The SAHM has none of this. In fact, she has the stigma in our society of being a lazy person who could easily go out and be productive if she only wanted to.

    As we inspire ladies to proudly embrace their role as mothers, it may not ease the stress, but it gives a sense of purpose, thus strengthening them to forge through any obstacle to “be all that they could be” for God.

    God bless you, Sheila!

    Lisa
    http://www.LisaRaub.blogspot.com
    Lisa recently posted…How to Make Your Home a Better Place – Part 1My Profile

    • Such a good point, Lisa! We need more people recognizing the great job that SAHMs do. But for most of us, there’s that knowledge that we really won’t get recognition on this side of heaven–and we do it anyway :).

      • And then there is the assumption that work out of the home moms are neglecting their children, completely career oriented, not maternal and basically selfish. There is the assumption that only SAHMs could possibly be taking their children to the library, doing school work and extra learning with their children, baking, cooking, cleaning, or even being on parent council.

        So you have people who think that SHAM sit all day alternating between their computers all day(or smartphones) and the television whilst their children wreak havoc on the neighbourhood, but then you have other people who think that SHAM are “full time moms”(as opposed to working mother’s who apparently have a punch card to clock out from motherhood while not at home) who are the only people capable of actually raising well rounded children.

        And guess what?? I know many stay at home moms who complain ALL DAY LONG on FB, twitter, in person, on the phone, etc. to anyone who will listen that their children are driving them insane and they just wish they would sleep all day or leave them alone. Even when their children are not at home, they say that they are SO GLAD their children are gone. Do you really think that gives a child a good sense of self worth? It’s not like these people are saying, “I’m doing math with my daughter right now and it’s driving me nuts that she doesn’t understand” or even “I’m trying to clean right now, and my toddler follows me around making a mess”. No, no, it’s things like the children want to play or walk to the park and mom just wants to sleep. Now mind you, I do recognize that such moms are likely the depressed moms we are talking about here, but I have to wonder what came first, the chicken or the egg? Were they full of negativity in the first place or didn’t bother doing things with the kids in the first place; therefore, created or worsened their depression through resentment and isolation??

        Which brings me to another point. Do people really think that work out of the home moms don’t have to stay up all night with babies or children, too??? They do. And then get up at 6:00a.m., feed said children, clean them up, get them dressed, do the same for themselves and then they have to go to work and act “with it” all day long. They can’t put their bosses down for a nap.

        That being said, I also know SHAM who get up at the crack of dawn, take their kids on various educational adventures all morning, clean the whole house AND do school work with the kids all afternoon, get dinner on the table AND find time in the evenings to be involved in their communities. I have the utmost respect for them.

        BUT, do think they are more mother than I am?? NO! Do I think I am more mother or person than they are? NO!

        I mean don’t get me wrong, I do know some working mothers who I wonder why they bothered to have children in the first place when it’s clear their career is their “baby”.

        I guess what I am saying here is not all the negativity is thrown on to SAHM. I sure don’t feel my self esteem boosted for being a work out o f the home mom, either.

        Being a parent is hard. It’s the most demanding job that I can think of. It carries huge responsibility and there is a slipper slope between being an involved parent and losing yourself to parenting. You are still an individual. Yes you are also part of a whole(your family, God’s family), but you still have your own personality.

        So would having people put you down and call you lazy contribute to depression? Sure. But the thing is, so does being called selfish when you are not only working your buns off to try to feed your family, but also nurturing your family with all of your non-out of the home hours; therefore, I’m not sure that is the main cause of the higher rate of depression in SAHM.

        I think it’s losing your own identity. The main reason I think work out of the home moms are not as depressed is because although you can’t just turn off being a mom(trust me, the daycare isn’t who the school calls when your child is sick or gets in trouble at school and you still have to make all the decisions, etc for you child), when you work outside the home, you are forced to socialize with other adults and you do little things like eat the lunch YOU want, not the PB and J the kiddos are having. You talk about opinions on things other than cloth diapers, etc.

        Now that my rant is over, I would like to take a minute to applaud all parents who take their job as a parent seriously(and I think most do). Parenting is hard work.

        I also want to say that if someone is feeling depression, please please please talk to somebody about it. Start with a close friend. Go to your family doctor. Try getting some sunshine and vitamin D.

        I struggled with depression for years and didn’t think there was help. It’s a horrible cycle and isolation makes it worse.

  16. I am looking forward to the day the Lord allows me to stay at home full time. I currently am a homemaker, for sure, but I am also balancing working outside of the home. Once we have a child, I want to stay at home. This is the desire of my heart, a desire I know the Lord has placed there. Stressed or not, I agree that it is worthwhile. I don’t want anyone besides myself and my husband raising our children. I would be very jealous by someone else being able to stay at home with my children instead of me, their momma! Thank you for this post Sheila. Blessings to you.

    ~Nicole, Working Kansas Homemaker
    Nicole recently posted…Celebrate in the Lord!My Profile

    • Nicole, the best advice I ever heard was to save every penny of the second income earner before you have kids, so that you get used to living on the one income. Then you have a nest egg for baby stuff, or for a downpayment for a house or something. Or use that second income entirely for paying down the mortgage, and not for lifestyle stuff (like eating out). That way the transition isn’t as dramatic, and you’re prepared for it! :)

  17. I think in some ways staying at home is “easier.” Afterall, there’s not much higher level thought in folding clothes and playing Candyland. And I couldn’t very well take an afternoon nap in the breakroom simply because it was “nap time.” But it is certainly more depressing for all the reasons you said. (Money isn’t a big stress to me. It is just a “thing.”) You’re post was refreshing and encouraging to this mother of four. Thanks.
    denise recently posted…Journaling like Psalm 44: A Place to Put Your PainMy Profile

  18. I’ve been a working mom and now I’m a SAHM full time. Yes, being at home is more stressful. You mentioned the rewards and benefits of the choice to stay home and I have to stress that again because I believe the benefits far, far outweigh the stress. In fact, I look at it as a privilege and a joy to be able to stay home with my kids, stress and all. I LIKE my kids. I WANT to be around them. I ENJOY staying at home, even when it comes with stress. The Lord called me to this, so it’s my responsibility to turn any stress over to Him.
    Jennifer K. Hale recently posted…God Is Good…Right?My Profile

  19. Kelley Howard says:

    Yes, especially when your hubby calls you lazy! Its has been a rough day :(! ITs like if I make a mistake its the end of the world.

  20. I find this such an interesting study and after doing both, I’m not sure I’m any more depressed than I was when I was working. I may be more stressed, but it’s only because I’m home and that’s where the stress is, it’s not just at work and I can’t just leave it at 5 when work is over … it NEVER is. Although I have those days which never seem to end, staying at home is so much more rewarding than my work could have ever been (and I was working in Children’s Ministry). For my job I prayed with countless kids to accept Jesus as their Savior, but NOTHING will compare to the day my 5 year old asked me to pray with him to make Jesus his Savior. The good clearly outweighs the bad (and I have to remind myself that daily)!
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  21. I’m just commenting again so I can subscribe to comments by email (couldn’t see how to do it without commenting..?) Feel free to delete! :-)
    Lauren recently posted…{Menu Monday} Pizza PartyMy Profile

  22. Another thought… if it’s more stressful to be a SAHM, it may be because we are much more invested in what we’re doing.

    I mean, before I had kids I worked in a busy OB-GYN office. We cared deeply for our patients. In fact, the office was as much ministry as medicine :D But I care more – much, much more – about my own kids! The stakes are higher exactly because we love and care so much.

    Julie

  23. desiree rodrigue says:

    I love this post I believe that sheila brought out the great points. I am a stay at home mom with a low income my husband works and we are christians. I had a job that I had to quit just after christmas. I have been home now five months and I do find that there are times when i feel a bit on the low side but dont we anyway as moms in general? I see it like this, I get to stay home and nurture the gifts that God gave me (children) and I have seen dramatic changes since december. I also see it like every chance that I do get out is a chance for “networking” for Gods kingdom. Everywhere we go our light is supposed to shine and so that is a “job” to do too which makes everyone i share the gospel with a part of my networking system. I believe that if you seek God (matthew 6:33) he will guide you on your path thats right for your family after all he has great plans for you (jeremiah 29:11)

  24. I have been a SAHM for 1 week! So perhaps I can’t really comment as well as others, but I thought I would give my opinion anyway. I was an executive assistant for the past 7 yeast until I finished a week ago because my husband and I decided we could afford for me to stay home with our 21 month old daughter. What a change! There is definitely stress – I mean, it was hard before getting everyone organised and out the house but once in the car it was ‘me time’, then at work I could plan everything out and know that it would more or less fall into the order I put it in. At home I can make the most organised list, plan it out, and only manage to have crossed dinner off at the end of the day! But I wouldn’t call it ‘stressful’ as much as exhausting! The stress I have felt making this change is from others. I can’t tell you the amount of times people have asked me how long I plan to ‘take off’ before starting a new job. Like I’m on a holiday. Even my family have been extremely sceptical. thank goodness for my husband who is 100% on the same page as I am. I think I have a long way to go before I am confident and proud of my position. Unfortunately, I find, a lot of the stress is from judgement and people outside the home making you second guess yourself.

  25. Jennifer says:

    For me, staying home is WAY more stressful than working outside the home. But I have a much better relationship with my son because my husband and I made the decision for me to stay home with him. I had post-partum depression and didn’t feel that loving bond with my son and found it wonderful to be able to leave him with day care and go back to “real life” after my maternity leave was over. But that wasn’t reality. Reality is that I am a mother and I needed to bond with my son. And my husband, thankfully, saw that. And the Lord provided us a way for me to be home.

  26. I am a stay at home mom. I still have those days when I miss working big time. However, then my kids do something that makes me glad that I’m home with them. Especially since I home school as well, and I get to have the pleasure of seeing their eyes light up when they grasp a new concept.
    Crystal Green recently posted…Story behind “La Dixie Dawn”My Profile

  27. I have worked part time and full as a teacher. The most stressed I’ve ever been is as a full time teacher with two small children at home. Try spending all day with 32 children in a classroom (many with bad attitudes and very little motivation), then come home to your own kids and try to be a great mom to them. Dinner, homework, ball practice, reading, bedtime……then worry about what you are teaching the next day and which parent is going to be on your case for trying to discipline her child…..I could go on and on….please pray for your child’s teacher, especially if she has kids of her own. Ask how you can help ease her load. Many of my colleagues are in the same situation as I was, and many, like I did, take anti- anxiety meds just to survive the stress and not lose it in the classroom. I know staying at home can be difficult, but I have always been jealous of my friends who are able to do so. It is the ideal situation for mom and kids.

  28. I was teaching full time till Monday, May 16, 2011. I went into labor 2 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011. And since then, I’ve been home full time with my little boy… and I am far, far busier now than I ever was before. And my house is messier and dirtier, and I’m further behind on laundry. I spend a minimal time online, and only evenings after Peanut is asleep watching some TV with Hubby.

    I can totally see what anyone would suggest that SAHM are more stressed or more depressed than working women. Sheila, I think you hit the nail on the head. In the working world, there is someone there to praise you when you well (if only via a pay check!). I got lots of social interaction at work, now, I have to seek it out quite purposefully. I love my little boy and he lights up when he sees me, it makes my day. But it gets old wiping up food off the floor, and cleaning a poopy bum.

    And doing the easy thing isn’t usually the right thing. Right things are usually harder things.
    Rachael recently posted…Gardening Spring 2012My Profile

  29. Shiela,

    Great post! I’ve just recently been following your blog, and I have been extremely challenged and blessed by several posts! I was a teacher for 7 years until my 1st baby came along after my husband survived cancer. According to the doc, we weren’t supposed to have children because of the extensive chemotherapy. I just had my third baby and have stayed at home with all three (4, 2, and 3 months) after resigning my position at the school district 3 years ago. Leaving my job there was an incredibly difficult decision because I LOVED it so much, but I wouldn’t trade my time at home for anything. When I start having my pity party because someone won’t listen, when I want an adult conversation, or my floor needs washed (AGAIN!), I try to remember that each day I have with them is a gift. Sometimes, we can go through each day without a reminder that our job as a mom (working in or out of the home) is to leave a positive, life-giving legacy. Stressful or not, it’s our job and our God-given responsibility and gift! Without God’s grace, no one is able to handle the stress and overwhelming emotions that come with the job of be a SAHM!

    Christa:)

  30. fiona harjono says:

    Sister Sheila, your post came in the right time! I’m a young sahm for 2 under 2, I’m one of your reader. To be a sahm is our decision (my husband and I), but I really do not imagine that it’s very hard job! These few days I feel more and more stressful, I feel that I don’t have my own life! Last day, I’ve just missed my life before kids :( Sometimes I want to give up; I want to get a nanny to stay at home so I can work out of home!! I try to find many of encouragements (one of them is from your blog) but really cannot lie that I’m tired. But when I read your post, I know that I did the right thing; to stay at home, take care of my kids to be Christ’s followers. I do feel stressful, but I believe the grace of God will be enough for me. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sure that this is what God want me to do. •????ªn? ? ?o???•??

  31. Amythest says:

    I had to chuckle in agreement with this post. Being a SAHM is stressful in a different way than having a job outside the home. But it is also rewarding in a different way. I must confess that there are days that I would gladly go get a job and leave my husband home to deal with the kids for several months and I’d come home and be crabby and expect a meal on the table and a spotless house and nag *him* about it! lol I agree with something my mom told me once: “A SAHM’s primary job is to raise her children. It isn’t to keep a spotless house, to never have laundry waiting, to always have perfect healthy meals prepared from scratch 3 times a day. It is to raise your children. Sure, you need to clean and cook and do laundry but those things are secondary to your kids.” AFA stress, I do feel stressed at times. Mostly its when kid after kid after kid misbehaves, makes another huge mess, you know the idea. I had 3 kids in 2.5 years and then the 4th 2 yrs later. So I’ve been in “crisis mode” for a long time. When you have 3 babies you just take care of those babies, you don’t have time to cook and clean and do everything else. Now that my youngest is 2 years old I am finally coming out of that crisis mode and being able to clean and cook etc. I enjoy a clean house as much as the next person but I’m not so fanatic that there can’t be a little clutter her and there.

  32. You got a very beautiful and wise site here. Great post. I am a mother of two, working from home and loving every bit of it.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)

  33. Megan G. says:

    I worked outside the home when my oldest son was little bitty. I find that the two situations are hard in different ways. I do agree, though, that the hardest two things about staying at home are that, 1) you never, ever, ever get a break, and 2) there is so little positive reinforcement. I know that not all outside-the-home jobs have positive reinforcement, but a lot of them do. No one is sending me commendation emails to tell me what a great job I did at laying out the kids clothes before bed, etc.

    I do miss some part of working outside the home, like having friends at work, having something that is “mine,” and having some time to myself (commute, lunch break, etc). But ultimately we’ve decided that me staying home is best for our family, so I will keep learning to find the joy in doing it, and will keep learning to do it better.

  34. Christa says:

    Tnx for this post! My thought will just duplicate most of the comments already posted (feeling judged, second guessing myself, overworked, unapreciated, lonely, isolatedn etc…) All this just to say: I’m soooo glad I’m not the only SAHM feeling this way! :) It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible – for with God all things are possible!

  35. I’m now a stay-at-home grandma, having stayed at home throughout my life, supporting my husband in his career and raising our children. There are a couple of keys to avoiding discouragement over the SAHM choice, in my opinion. First, make sure you have some other SAHM friends who are positive–who share your values. And discuss your choices and the benefits together…as often as you can.

    Secondly–and this is something I did not do but would do if I had it to do over–develop yourself in ways not directly related to your family. Take a college course, take up a new hobby that you do without your children, learn a new skill, take Bible courses online, join Toastmasters and improve your public speaking skills…do something that helps you maintain your identity as a child of God, not simply a mother and wife.

    If you don’t do this, I think you set yourself up for discouragement and extra loneliness when your children leave home. It took me awhile to get back on my feet after my children left home and moved away because I had become mother and wife and nothing more.
    Gail recently posted…Always WitnessingMy Profile

  36. Krystle says:

    I think that one of the biggest problems is media (social & otherwise) We are hammered with what we should feel, what we should want, & even what we should need! Things like the internet have allowed us to constantly compare ourselves to others. I belong to a strictly moms website and I even see a lot of women telling other women that they should be unhappy in their current situation for one reason or another. Honestly, when I read comments about women being unhappy because of how rarely they get out of the house, how little they see their girlfriends, or how many date nights they get I can’t help but think of “the old days”. The days when most families lived in rural settings, where trips to town were few & far between, where weekly night out with the girls didn’t exist (think Little House on the Prairie). I wonder if those women depressed? It’s much easier to be happy with what you have or do when you can’t compare your life to what others have or do.

  37. I was blessed to be able to stay home w/ my children throughout their years of living at home. The most stressful thing to me was no support or encouragement or positive reinforcement for me being a stay-at-home mom. My husband was fairly supportive because it was something that we talked about and planned before we got married and that we talked about while I was still at home. (He seemed to like it better after a few years because of all that I was taking care of. :) But, I did have people being jealous, people expecting me to be involved in everything at church & school & community (and then being angry/negative when I said “no,”) people thinking I should have everything perfect in my house and yard because of all the “time” I had, and people just not being positive. And many of the people were in my own family–my mother, sisters, and aunts. (Someone even called me “lazy.”) I also really had no friends because of staying home. But, I would not trade the years of being home with my children for anything! I just wish I had said “no” a lot more, I wish I had felt better about myself, and I wish blogs like this one and others about motherhood, etc. were available. Stay-at-home moms & dads need support and positive reinforcement.

  38. I didn’t read all the above comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating something already said… but I need to point out something completely ignored by the study above. Moms may be more stressed/depressed/etc. when they are “at home,” (I prefer the term “at home” to “stay at home” as “stay” seems to imply missing out on something) but their *children* are definitely less stressed, more secure, and more likely to succeed in their daily endeavors. Better that one be “stressed” and the 2-10 be well cared for, than the one to be “less stressed” and the several to be unguided.

  39. TracyDK says:

    For me, I’m not more depressed. I’m less depressed, though I would say that I am a little more stressed, but in a different way. The only reason for the stress is because I can’t even pee by myself. Taking a shower is a magical feat that happens in fairy tales and in bygone days. One day I know this will pass and I’ll be so sad that he’ll be so independent and asking to borrow the keys and the quick, “yeah, love you too!” as he runs out the door will be the only thing I get. But every night after he goes to bed and his father is at work, I can breathe. I can unwind, do a little yoga, and try to be me before going to bed myself so I can get up and do it all over again. But really, what can beat your 3 year old saying “Mom, you’re my BEST friend!” with a big hug. Hello!?!? NOTHING! I wouldn’t trade spending time at home with my son for working any day. I worked for the first year of my son’s life. I was more stressed out and unhappy then, than I have been since I’ve stayed home. Yes, we had less income. Yes, we’ve had to tighten our belts and do without. BUT….we’ve grown closer, my son is a happier child (even if he is one of those that don’t sleep much or long), and because of not having to worry about how his son is going to be taken care of the Mr. has been able to take better positions at work.

    So, yes, it is stressful. But I’ve always been told that the best things in life aren’t free or easy.

  40. LOVED your article today and support your views fully. I am an “older ” mom as I married later in life and had my kids at 36 and 38. Because of that I worked for 15 years before I became a SAHM. I worked at the high executive levels as and Exec. Asst. and found the higher up the food chain you go the more demanding the bosses can be. Had tons of responsibilities, organized conferences, travel etc. etc. and have to admit that you don’t always get affirmation there either. Lots of OT at times and little recognition (depending on who you worked for) and many times the outcome of all your hard work is but a puff of smoke and you are on to the next thing with no lasting value to what you did.

    Staying home with kids was a big adjustment at first for the reasons you stated. Kids all day, little to no adult interaction, fatigue, nobody telling you you did a good job, 24/7/365 job with benefits of sleep deprivation, fatigue, never ending laundry and picking up toys etc. However, I could not have been happier :) My mind set was and continued to be the fact that I hold the responsibility God has given me as a mom VERY dearly and do ALL t hings as unto to Lord as he chose me to be their mom for a reason and that in of itself is quite an overwhelming feeling if I take the time to ponder it long enough.

    My full time job is to raise kids who will love God with all their heart soul, mind and strength and serve Him and others for a lifetime as well as being a contribution to society and able to stand on their own two feet once they are out on their own. Character development is another HUGE job description and all these “objectives” are no small task and ones that I feel very under-qualified for in many ways. Yet that very feeling is what drives me to seek God’s help and His assurance of working in and through me to leave lasting fingerprints on the hearts and souls of my kids. I want my kids to be strong leaders for Christ and to stand firm in a relativistic world. There is SO much we need to pour into our kids and the window is short (even through there were days when I wished they would be older LOL.

    It has come at a price – hubby is self employed so we have a yo-yo income and nobody earning a stable pay cheque , no family vacation yet, living for “needs” and only getting a few “wants” along the way, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. To get an unsolicited “I love you, Mommy” or to hear them say “you were right mom”, to be able to model my faith and discuss it with them, to study God’s word with them, walk through issues they are dealing with at school or with friends and tying it into what God would say/do, having a place for them to “unwind” after school, and at my age actually having some energy for them verses coming home exhausted after work, have taught me SO much about myself, and pushed me to grow in ways I would never have faced at work, etc. They are a treasure to be cherished, taught and then released.

    On the flip side, I also run an in home daycare and it has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to provide a stable environment for kids that come here. I have never advertised, it is all word of mouth, and God has been gracious in continuing to provide new kids. Most kids have stayed 3 years or more and many of them we count as our “other kids”. They have all come to our VBS with me, seen us praying for our meals/snacks, abide by the no swearing or no saying “Oh My God” and having to do 10 push ups if they say that, learning how to ask forgiveness from others when there are altercations (versus just sorry) etc. It has been a wonderful ministry field, to say the least, and parents have loved having their kids come to a home versus an institutionalized day care. The bonus is I have been able to stay home with my kids too :)

    My biggest desire is to have God one day tell me “well done, Mom” and that is all the encouragement I need to press on through the “tough days/seasons” of being a SAHM :)

  41. I found that I have felt more depressed since becoming a stay at home mom. I think part of it is due to the lack of sleep. I have a 9 month old and am pregnant with number 2, so sleep is a bit hard to come by. But I also think that the lack of “praise” is a really big part of it. It feels like I am always working, with no breaks. I can’t imagine though, what it feels like for a working mom.
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  42. I’ve been a full-time working mom, then a stay-at-home mom, now a part-time working mom. I like the part-time working the best. I am home all day and work in the evenings while my husband is home. I was much more stressed and depressed when i was just home all day. I think everyone’s personality is different but I craved some adult interaction. And feeling like I was contributing. I really like my job though.

  43. Tina Crowder says:

    I stayed home to raise all nine of our children, for over 30 years. Yes, it was hard work. Yes, it was sometimes frustrating. Yes, it was sometimes lonely. However, I don’t regret spending all that time with my children. I didn’t see my job as a “babysitting” job, but as a “developing human potential” job.

    I read to the kids after breakfast, lunch and dinner. I learned so much just from reading thousands of books to them over the years. I played with them. I taught them at home…what fun…they loved it and I loved it. We learned new things together, we worked together, we remodeled the house together, we grew a garden together, we traveled together, and we hiked/biked together.

    I could have stayed in the work place, but I would have missed out on all the precious moments during those years. If someone were to ask children, “Would you like your mommy to go to work, or stay home with you?” what do you think they would say? Enough said.

    • Tina, I think you’re right! Kids would choose Mommy. I know that’s not possible for all families, but I do think that often kids’ feelings are left out of the picture.

  44. Victoria says:

    Thank you. I read a different version of this poll on MSN and it made me want to cry. It said that if you had a purpose then stay at home moms wouldn’t be so depressed. It said that as long as you brought in a paycheck, the depression wouldn’t be as bad. I really feel like it is the devil in disguise. I love being a SAHM. I’ve wanted to do that since I was 5. I have a college degree, and I would still rather do this, but my depression comes from so many outside sources telling me…it doesn’t make a difference, your kids will still grow up scarred, you shelter your kids too much, there’s nothing wrong with only seeing your kids 3 hours a day, etc. I struggle with knowing this is what God wants me to do and feeling like even though I want to do this, that I am not enough.

    Lauren was right though, I do tend to fill in the blanks with the computer, and it does take away from my parenting. Our best days are when we run away from electronics, and all other outside sources, except for our friends. I have found that having tons of friends over helps all of us. My husband is military and other wives are starved for companionship, especially those without family nearby. One of the ministries I have found myself in is fostering friendships with these women. It builds stronger families and marriages. As The generous wife is found of pointing out, you can always minister where God puts you. I forget that so much of the time; and when I do, lies start seeming like truth, which for me leads to not being enough…and depression.

    • Victoria, you bring up a great point. The key really is to cultivate relationship. Let’s have more people over, have fun with others more, and then we’d likely find a lot of that stress disappeared! And yes, the computer makes you feel awful about yourself by the end of the day!

  45. Wow!Reading this made me feel so much better.I am a SAH mom with a 5 and almost 3 year old and had a really bad day today,almost cried my eyes out because I,again,felt so stressed out today.I have worked for almost 12 yrs before me and my husband decided,by the Lord’s instruction,that I should stay home with my two kids.But boy-oh-boy,how quickly the exitement turned into depression.By the 3rd month I could not cope with stress of being home with 2 toddlers and trying to be a super mom. So I took the kids and went to visit my mom for a week.What a relieve and a revelation.I realised that my main reason for feeling so stressed was because I had no support system at my own house.All of my neighbours kids went to school during the mornings.I took the kids for long walks and we just met dogs along the way.I tried working out a schedule for us which included lots of kids activities which they enjoyed but was very tiring for me.I just could not keep up with my own schedule of having a spotless house,healthy cooked meals and providing in every need of my kids.Frustration,irritation,fatigue,you name it,got hold of me.And today I realised how it handicapped me and my family.All the discipline is gone.When I asked my son to do something today,he yelled at me.I was shocked to say the least.cause I realised what I have become.And what I am,they will be.I feel ashamed to have failed in this God given responsibility.And I realise what a huge effort I will have to make to restore the health in our home.but I pray that God will hold my hand once more as He did before.

    • Sonica, I can just hear your pain! But don’t add shame to what you’re feeling. We all go through down times; there’s no point in beating yourself up about it, and I don’t think that’s what God would want you to do. Just try little things everyday to make your life more enjoyable and more peaceful. Whatever makes you feel good, do more of that. And keep your focus on God.

      And, yes, find some friends and a good network! That’s absolutely vital.

  46. I found this posting a took to it very quickly. I’m a SAHM of 3 young children,all under the age of 4. (Yes i have been ridiculed over this many many times. ) Well my two oldest are boys and I have a little girl (my youngest.) My sons are from previous relationships but my bf has been there for them since my oldest was 7 months old (and I was pregnant with my youngest son.) Once my boys were 2 and 1 I worked for awhile, but we decided that it was in our best interest that I stay home with the children seeing as the childcare expenses were being barely covered by the extra income I was making from my part time job. Well just so happens that we found out I was pregnant, so it was obvious that being a SAHM was the best route.
    I love my children but I never get any me time…EVER.
    The bf works 9-10 hour days mon-fri with OT sometimes on Sat. When he isn’t working he is off playing cards at his buddies house or at the casino playing there. But yet I never get to go out with anyone. I went to high school in a different state so pretty much all my friends are a good distance away. I don’t get to get out that much to make friends that live around me. Tried getting into a mommy and kids group but that doesn’t work out when you have only one vehicle.
    I have found that the everyday stress is finally getting to me. I’ve tried telling the bf that I need a break, but all he ever tells me is that’s fine just let me know when you want to do something. Only problem is that he always has thing planned for him to go do (playing cards all the time.)
    Is it too much to ask for a bit of time to myself. I know having kids at an early age wasn’t too wise, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
    Seems like when I start to think my day is going good, something always happens which leads to me yelling, and I am a very calm person. I have realized my temper is coming out more often and I think I’m just depressed, I wish I had family that could help out but that is wishful thinking. Crying has become somewhat of a way for me to cope.
    Everyday tasks (dishes, cleaning, laundry,sweeping and etc.) just seem to never end. I finish only to find that the kids are ahead of my by tearing everything back up.
    I don’t even get the shower time to myself or even going pee, someone is either always fighting, screaming or crying. Fatigue is a past tense when I start to talk about it. Up by 5:30 am pretty much everyday, with kids in bed by 10 ( but we all know sometimes the bedtime just doesn’t cut it) plus my youngest wakes up throughout the night sometimes. Doesn’t help that I’m such a light sleeper anything will wake me up.
    Guess I just needed to vent a little seeing as I really don’t have many people that I can talk to about the situation I’m in, they all don’t understand where I’m coming from.

  47. Thanks for addressing that article. I have never been a working mom, but I have been a working wife and taking care of house, husband, and 145 seventh grade students was WAY more stressful that staying home. We have less money, but my husband and I are both happier because we get what we want–uninterrupted quality time at the end of each day.

  48. Tanya Wycinski says:

    My husband likes to remind me that since I am a stay at home mother that there should be no reason for me to be depressed. I dont have to work or go to school. I pretty much have the whole day to do whatever I want. THIS IS MY SOURCE OF STRESS. I have no support system and I feel worthless and pathetic as a SAHM!!! I feel I have no value at all a wife or a mother.

    • I have been feeling the same way lately. I actually wish there was MORE stress in staying at home. It’s like, yeah, I could mop the floor today, but I have all day tomorrow too….every day is the same. It’s lonely and frustrating, and my husband and friends don’t understand.

  49. I’m reading this while my three-year old sleeps on my lap and thinking God knew I needed to be still in this cozy chair, with my sweet girl, for a while!

    The stresses I’ve found being a stay-at-home mom versus the ones in the working world are very different. Though I’m an introvert and crave time alone to recharge, I find that on days where I don’t leave the house or don’t interact with adults, I feel very overwhelmed and on edge. I’ve been a SAHM for nearly 8 years: my son is in third grade and is gone most of the day for school. My daughter isn’t in school yet, and 99% of the time I am at peace and in good spirits.

    There is very little time for independent thinking or acting as a SAHM. Having control over small details is more difficult. God knows what I need far better than I do, and I have learned more about patience, self control, contentment, sacrifice, and dying to self as a SAHM than anywhere else.

    The stress I felt before I became a mom was relatively easy to leave at work. My husband is a physician, so he endures round-the-clock stress, too. I know I absorb some of his work pressures simply from hearing him speak about his days.

    Having a good support system is key. I do have great family (parents fairly close by) and a wonderful friend/neighbor who is also a SAHM. Without them, as well as my husband (who fully supports my staying home with our children), I would be sad and lost. Without my faith, it would be hopeless. I am a mess, as are all of us, without the redeeming work of Christ.

    This is long and rambling, but the writing is therapeutic! Thank you for your insights into being a SAHM. Blessings to you! And finally, I wouldn’t trade this role for any other. I’ve been a SAHM in times of financial want and in times of financial abundance. That doesn’t change the value of being able to raise our children up every day. Thank you for reminding me of that priceless blessing on a day where I was throwing my hands up in surrender. Isn’t surrender what Jesus wants from us, anyway?

  50. Great blog. Very interesting but I think most of the study, and many of these comments, have us focusing on the wrong people’s stress. A better question to ask, I think, would be are the Kids of SAHM less stressed than the kids of working outside the home moms??!! I would bet the answer would be yes. I would rather be more stressed because of the never ending work or whatever to give my children a relaxed, loving, educationally stimulating environment that they can grow and learn and be loved in than for me to be paid more and have a accolades at work. We are adults and should be able to handle the stress better and have more resources and abilities to fix our lonely, stressful lives if we need to. Go volunteer at a community organization, church, or a nursing home. Find an elderly neighbor that needs some yard work done or that can teach you to crochet or knit. Join MOPS or BSF(bible study fellowship). When you are serving others and focusing on helping them with their problems you tend to realize how small yours are. Get your eyes off yourself and on others and you will feel happier!! :).

  51. I’ve been a SAHM for 25 years (4 kids – one still left at home), and homeschooled all four. All you ladies have touched on all the issues I’ve dealt with for years. But from the side of “been there, done that,” and seeing how my children have developed and blossomed having that steady, ever-present person in there lives, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

    Yes, there were times of frustration, loneliness (like when my best friend and fellow SAHM moved 2-1/2 hours away!), exhaustion, and even depression, but the good SO outweighs the bad, and when you get to the point I’m at now and look back, you will see and reap the benefits! We need only be patient, and focus on the little joys to be found in every day (if only we look!). Treasure the moments, because your children really DO grow up fast!

    There is NOTHING better for a child than that steady presence in their lives, whether it’s mom or dad. A small child, especially, needs security and routine. We are raising the future generation, and owe it to them (and to our “senior” selves) to raise up this next generation.

    It is challenging, tho’, to reenter the workforce after many years at home, even with a college degree. Nobody wants to hire a 50-something employee who’s only (probably) going to retire in a few years. That’s the stress I’m dealing with now.

    So if you’re dealing with SAHM stress now, try to find another SAHM or two to socialize with. Start with your church. In the US, we have MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) – they offer activities for both moms and small children, and childcare for the littlest ones. Maybe find a playgroup, or YMCA and take an exercise class (they usually have drop-in care where you can leave your child for an hour or so). If you homeschool, join a support group. As a SAHM, you have to seek out your support, and it always helps to socialize!

    I used to get together at least once a week with my SAHM best friend for tea, and our kids would play. When they were very small, we’d just sit and chat and juggle or feed our infants. It was just good to get together and swap notes with another mom in the same situation I was in.

  52. Kimberly says:

    I find it much more stressful to be working! I have 11 children from 19 months to 18 years and I have homeschooled them all. I started a part time job as a homeschool coordinator last spring and have experienced a great amount of stress and health problems, losing my gall bladder in the summer, a miscarriage in the fall, constant bleeding, and repeated urinary tract infections. However, I enjoy my job and I feel that I am encouraging other homeschoolers and blessing others more than when I was a 100% stay-at home mom and my kids have access to a great homeschool program that includes art, science, and foreign language. I hope and pray that this is merely an adjustment period and that things will get better soon for my stress level and health.

  53. With so many here, I agree that it is more the isolation and lack of affirmation that is the stress — and my family has had the added tight budget, though we have never missed a meal and God is always faithful to provide. With my kids being teenagers, I am currently working a part-time job while they are in school (AND I’m going back to school). The juggling of “doing it all” is SO hard, and I CAN’T STAND my job — but I at least know that I am helping get my kids to the summer camps they love and on mission trips. You don’t get that at home — you get a pile of clean clothes that will turn into a pile of dirty clothes in the blink of an eye. You get a sullen teenager when you making a stand for what’s right. HOWEVER — I’m far from “done” parenting, but I can see the amazing, godly people God is molding my children into. I feel BEYOND blessed that I was able to have a front row seat for the molding and feel that every bit of it was worth it.

  54. My plan was always to work because I loved it and because we were low income and I did until my little one was six months old. My dad died and I had two surgeries and little one was in NICU all in 5 months and it just got to be way too much for me to try and handle all that in such a short time.Plus I was missing so much work it wasn’t really worth it.I’ve been a sahm for over a year now and I think it’s a little more stressful in the fact that I miss having adult interaction,getting ‘lunch’ breaks and we had the little extra income,and we only have one car so im literally stuck at home unless a family member comes picks us up,but I do love being a sahm and watching her grow,doing fun stuff with her like making homemade play dough and teaching her new things. :] I remembered coming home from work and having a family member who babysat her tell me what new little thing she did and I remember feeling that pain of not being there and she got more attached to the family member so I’m grateful now I can spend so much time with her.I thought we couldn’t make staying at home work with our income,but we have and actually do pretty well on it.We use the envelope system which works wonders for our budget and we pay more attention to where our money goes now and cut out things.

  55. Not more stressful…LONELY. I feel way more lonely. My church is 30 mins away in another town and no one from there lives local, especially not other moms. I spend my day from 6am to 7pm by myself with my youngest. My oldest is in Kindergarten now so I am down to only one, but still I rarely see my husband. I cook, clean, educate, entertain, discipline, etc by myself and everyone wonders why I am tired and depressed. No one can just go out to lunch once a month because they have jobs and prior commitments and really who wants to go out to lunch with another mom if she’s going to bring a 3yr old with her. So, yeah it’s super lonely. I don’t feel stressed at all. I just feel alone.

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