Top 10 Reasons Women Feel More Like a Maid Than a Wife and a Mom

Taken for Granted Moms: Why you sometimes feel more like a maid than a wife and a mom--and what you can do about it.

Ever feel taken for granted? Most moms and wives do at some point.

To Love, Honor and VacuumAnd that’s why I wrote To Love, Honor and Vacuum (the book). I wanted to help moms who feel unappreciated rethink how they do family so that instead of feeling like a maid, she can feel like part of a healthy family unit that’s all working towards the same goal. And a revised and expanded To Love, Honor and Vacuum is being launched this week!

On that vein, I thought I’d share the top 10 things that we wives and moms do that we think are helping, when really they can actually make our family situation worse. Be sure to read through to #10, because that’s the most important one–and it’s the root cause of all the other ones.

I asked on my Facebook Page last night, “when do you feel most like a maid instead of a mom?”, and many of these 10 things were mentioned! Now, of course, you could answer that question with “when my husband ignores me” or “when my husband sits on the couch all night and does absolutely nothing”, but I think it’s more helpful to give women strategies they can use to actually change things. We can’t change someone else; we can only change ourselves. So whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom, let’s look at the things that we women do to undermine ourselves, here on Top 10 Tuesday:

1. Doing all the housework yourself

One woman on Facebook says that she feels most like a maid when she’s doing the dishes–for the fifth time that day. I totally get it! Housework is exhausting. It’s never ending, it’s tedious, and no one really says thank you. So why are you doing it all yourself?

You cannot keep a perfect home and raise kids who are active and engaged all at the same time. Something’s gotta give. And one of the best ways to help you not feel like a maid is to make sure that from a very young age kids are doing chores, too. Tie the chores to an allowance when they’re young. If it’s a struggle with teens, change the password on the wifi everyday, and don’t give it out until they’ve completed their chores. Require your kids to work.

A 3-year-old can dust a coffee table and can clean the bottom kitchen cabinets. A 5-year-old often LOVES cleaning toilets with that toilet brush thingy. An 8-year-old can clean a bathroom well and can certainly do the dishes. So don’t do it all  yourself.

Teach your kids to do chores! Click through to learn why.

Here’s an article on age appropriate chores for kids.

2. Not asking your husband for help

Many men do very little housework if they work outside the home and you stay at home. My husband always worked long hours, and when he got home, I didn’t want him doing dishes. I wanted us spending time together as a family. So I didn’t ask him to do housework (though he always picked up his clothes and took care of his own messes). But if you both work outside the home, you’re definitely going to need some help. Even if you do stay at home, you still will need help with the childcare (and men need to spend time with their kids) and you’ll certainly need help on weekends.

But too many women don’t ask for help. They assume that the men should know what to do, and if they’re sitting playing a video game or if they’re goofing off, they’ve actually decided not to help you. That may not be the case. I asked on Facebook a while ago how many women had actually asked their husbands for help, and I received story after story of women saying, I stewed for ten years about how insensitive he was, and yet when I finally asked him to do the dishes after dinner, he did them no problem. He just never knew I needed help!

Try asking. It doesn’t always get you the results you need, but don’t be resentful if you’ve never even asked. Men often think that because we have systems for things, we would find their help more of a pain than anything else. If you want help, don’t expect him to read your mind. Ask.

3. Allowing your children to treat you rudely

From an early age, make your children say “please” and “thank you”. If they talk back, discipline immediately. If they ask for anything rudely, they never, ever get it. Do not let them treat you with direspect.

When my oldest was five, another five-year-old once stayed with us for a week. That little girl whined all the time. It was her default setting–and I can’t stand whining. So I stopped giving her anything if she was whining. “Can I have some mi-i-i-lk?” she’d whine. And I would say, “when you can ask in a proper voice.” After three days she had stopped whining. I honestly don’t know how her parents stood it. It would have driven me beyond the bend if my kid talked like that all the time. Within a few seconds of her mom walking in the door, though, the whining had started again. Don’t ever reward whining or rude behaviour, or they’ll just keep doing it.

4. Picking up after everybody

Do you spend your life putting stray socks in the hamper and picking up toys? That’s exhausting–and can easily fuel resentment.

But people will keep leaving stuff everywhere if you keep picking it up.

If your ten-year-old comes in the house and drops his coat on the chair and his backpack–with his lunchbox inside–on the floor, and you pick those things up and clean out his lunchbox, you’ve taught him to treat you with disrespect. But not just that–you’ve also taught him to ignore the mess he’s making, so that he likely doesn’t even realize that he’s inconveniencing you.

Don’t pick up people’s stuff. Require them to pick it up–and have consequences if they don’t. For husbands, have a corner of the bedroom/house where you can put stray items if they drive you nuts, so that they can be his responsibility again.

Here’s an article I wrote on how to get kids to pick up their stuff!

5. Rescuing everybody

You’re running late, you’ve got to get to work, and you get a text that your 13-year-old forgot his lunch at home. So you drive back to get the lunch and drop it off, making yourself even more frazzled. Or  you mentioned to your husband that he really needed to send that birthday card to his mom, and he didn’t, and you notice it on the counter the morning after it should have been sent, so you run to the post office and send it express. You had to squeeze it in between appointments, but you did it–and you were only mildly late for the kids’ piano lessons.

Do you rescue everybody? There’s no problem with doing it occasionally, out of love. But if family members start assuming you’ll rescue them, they also stop taking responsibility or even making an effort. They’ve taken you for granted. That’s going to make you feel like a maid, too.

6. Overscheduling yourself and your family

If you’re busy and exhausted, you’ll feel like a maid. If your life is spent chauffeuring everybody, but rarely in the things that feed our souls, like down time with those we love, we’ll go through life with this chronic malaise like something’s wrong.

Beware of overscheduling your family.

Here’s an article on the time crunch with extra-curricular activities

7. Being disorganized

Are you the kind of laid back person who goes along life just fine for about five days, letting the messes get worse and worse, but having fun with your kids, until you finally realize OH MY GOODNESS THIS PLACE IS A PIGSTY and you go ballistic? And then you feel like you need to spend twelve hours in a row cleaning?

Sometimes the best way to feel less like a maid is to get a little more organized, so these crises don’t happen!

8. Asking your children to do things instead of expecting it and following through

When you ask your kids something, do you make it a firm command? Or are you wishy washy?

Compare this:

Johnny, it’s getting to be time to clean up your toys, okay? It’s almost time for dinner.

To this:

Johnny, start cleaning up your toys now. You have five minutes before we eat, and I’m setting the timer now.

In the first case, you haven’t actually asked Johnny to do anything. You’ve just made a statement about the time. You may feel like you’ve asked him, but you haven’t. And so he’s unlikely to listen and do anything, and you’re likely to get your blood pressure boiling! If you want them to do something, make it very clear. Ask firmly. Set a deadline. Expect follow-through.

9. Eating in a rush–and not at the dinner table

You’ve spent an hour making a great meal, but everybody sits at the table, rushing through it, with their phones on. Or else someone grabs it and heads to their room. Perhaps you all sit at the table, but the kids are whiny and picky and don’t like it and the meal is over in five minutes.

Make dinner a family time. Keep conversation starters at the table. Ask trivia questions. Have everyone say their “high” and “low” for the day. Start some family traditions where you really connect and talk over dinner. It’s an important family time–don’t waste it.

Here are some tips on getting picky eaters to eat!

10. Thinking that the goal is to make your family happy

Finally, here’s the most important one: You think that your job is to make sure your kids and your husband are happy. In fact, that’s likely why you do each of the nine things already mentioned. You want them to enjoy life. You want them to smile. You want to avoid unpleasantness. But in doing this, you’re likely inadvertently causing your own unhappiness, because you’ll feel taken for granted. But even more importantly, you’re missing the point.

To Love, Honor and VacuumGod’s priority is not that your kids are happy; it’s that they look like Jesus. And He wants that for you and your husband, too. If you set up your family in such a way that you’re enabling selfishness, laziness, and ingratitude, you’ll be miserable because you’ll always feel put upon, taken for granted, and like something’s off kilter. But the rest of the family will also not learn what it is to look like Christ.

That’s what To Love, Honor and Vacuum is about–it’s to change our perspective so that in everything we do, whether it’s housework or childcare or paid work or even how we do marriage, we’re encouraging Christlike behaviour from ourselves and those around us, rather than encouraging people to take us for granted. It’s amazing how the way that we do the little things in our home, like chores and dinner and school, can have such spiritual ramifications.

So be careful that happiness doesn’t become your goal. If it does, you’ll almost guarantee that everybody will be miserable. Raise a family to be responsible, though, and you’ll likely find that peace and joy you really want.

If this is resonating with you, pick up To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

Now tell me: when do you feel most taken for granted? What have you tried to do about it? Let me know in the comments!



  1. Wow this sounds like my life. My wife was in a car accident last year which messed up her back more than it was before. Her doctor told her she could not do any housework so that leaves me with it. I don’t mind doing it. Sometimes it feels just frustrating that there is not enough hours in a day to do everything, from working 7-5 and then cook, clean, wash dishes, wash clothes, walk the dog, mow the lawn etc etc etc. It gets overwhelming. And then she wants me to spend time with her and help her with her things.

    • Mandy Wilson says:

      As a women I just want to say you sound like an incredible husband. I’m Sure your wife appreciates you. Its got to be difficult for both of you. I can imagine how how lonely she feels. Maybe having her near you in the kitchen to talk to while your cleaning would help. I find if you make chores time for bonding it becomes less tidious (mind my spelling).. Good luck to you both!

  2. Hi,

    My husband and I both work full time. I have often asked my husband to help around the house but he refuses, saying is my job to take care of the house and to take care of our children and their activities. Many times I stay up late cleaning and preparing for the next day while he sits on the couch for hours. So asking husbands to help it doesn’t work all the time.

  3. Great, great tips. And I think many women, along with feeling like a maid, feel truly anappreciated by their husbands. Maybe because they never ask for help like you’ve mentioned, and maybe because their communication “style” needs a little fixing.
    Everyone who feels taken for granted should remember that in some way they are allowing it, and in worse cases they even unknowingly encourage it. I’ve also written a post about what to do when you feel unappreciated by your husband, maybe you’d like it:
    Lisa recently posted…Comment on Can Separation Save a Marriage? 3 Surprising Ways to Use the Split to Save Your Marriage by Lisa PennMy Profile

    • So true, Lisa. Love this sentence:

      Everyone who feels taken for granted should remember that in some way they are allowing it, and in worse cases they even unknowingly encourage it.

  4. This is a great list, especially #10! I get frustrated with my husband because he doesn’t pick up after himself: laundry, food, trash, etc. I asked him if he would make the bed after he takes a nap in it (we only have a comforter, no sheets, so it’s not like it’s difficult) and he said, “yeah, that’s not likely to happen.” You could just laugh at that statement, couldn’t you! :) His mom never let him clean anything growing up because she was a perfectionist, so that’s what he learned, never to help out, never attempt because it won’t be good enough, anyway. SO MAMAS! Let your youngin’s help out, even if they don’t do a good job, and especially the boys! Train them now, and they will be a BLESSING to their future wives! Amen. 😉

    • I said in To Love, Honor and Vacuum: “The best gift you can your future daughter-in-law is a son who cleans toilets”!

    • I recently told my teenagers (boy & girl) I was no longer doing their laundry. When more than a week went by, they were ready to learn how. And now I find them picking up after themselves more without me asking them too. But still no one wants to do dishes or clean the bathroom. :(

  5. Great points! I think sometimes women do everything because they feel that they are serving their families by doing so. But I read a quote in a book once that I think sums it up perfectly: “Servitude is not service!” When we are serving so much that it becomes servitude, we are actually doing our families a disservice because we are not teaching them to be self-reliant and helping them develop the skills they will need in the future.
    Laura recently posted…Why I Believe by MarkMy Profile

    • So funny you should say that! I used those exact words in the book. Here’s the thing: Jesus served by washing the disciples’ feet, but the reason that resonated with them was because He was who He was. Lots of people would have washed their feet in that culture, but they would have been the “lowly” ones, and it wouldn’t have registered. If we want our service to register to our family, then we can’t act like we’re lowly–and too many of us do. We have to garner respect at the same time, or else we’re not modelling respect. We’re just enabling people’s laziness. And those are two entirely different things! So glad you saw that, too.

  6. Growing up, my mom did nearly all the housework, and I just assumed it was my job as an adult. Now, as a homeschooling mom of 4 kids ages 9 to 16 I tend to forget that I do in fact work, albeit at home with my own kids. I am learning to ask for help. I still forget especially when everyone gets tired, and I revert back to doing it all and feeling resentful. I could still use to get life more organized to prevent myself from falling into the tired trap. I have To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. I guess it’s time to read it again!

  7. Hi Lisa,

    I read your blog, and I have a question. What do I do when my husband asks where would I like to eat, but constantly saids “gross” to every place I mention. I am not trying to be a victim here. But my husband is very difficult. When I fix meals he comes home and adds more to it, this annoys me. In a few occasions he has thrown the coffee I prepare because is not good enough for him. So I have stopped making coffee.

  8. I love these Sheila. I think # 10 sums it up! I am quite the juggler and “hard worker” because I grew up thinking hard work equates acceptance and love. # 2 resonates alot..unless I ask my husband, he really doesn’t notice things. I am glad that he picks after himself but unless I ask for specific help, he thinks i have it under control. Thanks for the reminders :)
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Why We Should Stop Asking Single Women When They are Getting MarriedMy Profile

  9. Melissa says:

    I feel taken for granted when I work my butt off to get the house to a state my husband likes (he’s the neat freak, I’m the messy one, he works full time and I stay at home so the bulk of the cleaning is my domain) and then stuff just gets dumped and left for me to pick up. You wanted a clean house, I worked hard for it, do your part please. Or when the systems I set in place to help keep the house clean are not respected. Is it really THAT hard to put one’s socks in the hamper instead of on the floor next to it???

  10. Teresa R says:

    My husband is disabled (Tourettes) and stays home while I work. If the trash bag is full, he won’t remove it from the can, he just puts what he’s throwing away on the kitchen counter next to the trash can. And when he helps me vacumn, he has to sit in “my” desk chair and roll around in it to vacumn

  11. Thumbs up! Great points, Sheila!

  12. Renee Greaner says:

    Where can I find your book in paperback. I am one of those who still like to turn the pages

  13. Thanks for the enlightenment Sheila. A lot of homes have problems with communication. In our case, I always take the initiative to speak out with my hubby and kids. If I’m tired, I let them know. If I need help, I joyfully asked them. After all, what makes things grouchy and unhappy depends on how you choose to react on things. Respect is very very vital in our family. I don’t feel like a maid because we do things together.
    Pria recently posted…Tips for Carpet BuyingMy Profile

  14. frusterated parent says:

    Thank you for the article. I can see how we can create our own hell, but also let’s say that you and your husband/significant other have totally different parenting styles that strongly affect the way the kids respond to Mom? For instance, he is the good guy in everything, but I have to be the bad guy…… their minds anyhow. So, what that does is totally makes it OK in their minds to undermind me and do what they want……..and in the meantime, I’m getting no support (ridiculed even) in front of kids by husband for being firm and structured with the kids. I have tried many different tactics with them all….but I’m thinking that it will all be for not if he can’t find a way to back me up on all levels. Kicker is: I know our family needs counseling…but he won’t go says it’s stupid. He knows what he needs to do and doesn’t need anyone’s help in that respect……….

  15. soccermomnc says:

    Please help me with #4!! We both work fulltime. My husband is a great help around the house. We have 3 young men ages 15,18, and 21 who leave dishes and food everywhere! Same with their bathroom -always dirty. We have tried everything. Changing the WiFi passsord won’t help because we pay the bill. Please help!!

    • Being a young man, I found I was more inclined to do something if I saw some sort of beneficial result for me. Doing the dishes for mom? Gross. Doing the dishes because I’m hungry and there’s no plates? Disaster. Attempt to separate yourselves from the boys. It sounds childish, but “my dishes, your dishes” will get them to clean, unless they use yours. Find a way to make the chores “for you” have an appeal to them, even if it means leaving a mess. Your OCD will survive :)

      • Why does anyone NEED a reason to pick up after themselves? The 3 young men are well old enough to do it without expecting or even seeing a reward. How about helping mom and dad who give them a roof over their heads and food in their bellies?? Jesus NEVER asked for anything in return but our love. Why does doing what’s right have to APPEAL to them? This I don’t understand. Why is doing anything for mom gross? Your mom loves you unconditionally and would do anything for you … even die for you. Why do you have to treat her like that? Why do you expect HER to make it worth your while. As many parents have said, once you have your own place, pay for all of it, you can do as you please. It has nothing to do with OCD, it has to do with living a healthy and fulfilling life, and that’s all mom wants for you. Your mom loves you, why don’t you just love her back?

    • Honestly 2 of the mentioned young men are old enough to start either paying rent or paying you to clean up their mess. If they don’t like it they are also old enough to move out and make their own way. I’m all for having my kids live under my roof for as long as possible because I know they can be saving more money for their future if they don’t have to pay rent. However when it reaches the point where they don’t respect the house rules or contribute in anyway then it’s time for them to grow up.

  16. Thanks for or write up, I’m actually a victim n it has turned mi into a resentful wife always quarrelling n making faces at home, but it hurts that most tyms when u ask for help or hubby says he is busy or starts comparing u to other women especially his mom. I’ve dislocated my waist fetching water in my pregnancy state n not only that I had to back my baby of recent to fetch water n the same dislocation occurred n I was like what was wrong in my husband helping mi but I will work with this 10lists so I could be happy again. Thanks.

  17. Mandy Wilson says:

    I think my issue is that I feel guilty because I don’t work. I let myself believe that I’m useless. I battle adhd, and The truth is when I clean I honesty have no idea where to put things and so forth. The fact that five of us live in a single wide and have no closets .doesn’t help either. I don’t ask for too much help because my husband constantly rubs in my face how I work and I feel bad because the kids have school. But what you said is true. Because I’m constant running in circles with nothing to show for and everyone is miserable!!! EXTREMELY

  18. It sounds great in theory to make your kids pick their stuff up off the floor but I have 4 sons from 8-21. The mess is never ever ending. The 8 yr old hears nothing unless I attach a curse word and raise my voice. So basically you’re saying I need to spend an hour a day AT LEAST being a persistent nag. They hate me, I hate them and then I hate myself. And by the time a hour passes, the cycle restarts.

  19. I work outside of the home full time, and I feel like the maid, too. Since I’m tired of asking my family for help keeping the house clean, I’ve hired a cleaning lady. I hate to spend the money, but I can’t do it all myself.

  20. Sunshine8604 says:

    My problem is a 42 or old son. I am helping raise is daughter after the death of his wife. He is in my home. Never picks up after himself in or out of the home. I fuss to get the yard cut.He has to be ask several times to do something or pay his part. But let a friend call for help he is gone. Several times he says he will be home in afew mins. It may be several hours. I have his daughter knows mama is here. Mama will cook, clean, baby sit. Etc.

    • That’s such a tough situation! I’m so sorry about the death of your daughter-in-law. How absolutely tragic.

      Have you sat down and talked with your son? With everyone in the house sitting down together and dividing out the chores? Sometimes we assume that people get it when they don’t. And then just make consequences: Something like, “I don’t mind cooking dinner for everyone if you’re also cutting the lawn and cleaning the bathrooms. But if you can’t do that, then I’m going to ask you to get your own food. I’ll feed your daughter, but I won’t feed you.” And stick to it!

      And don’t do their laundry. They can be responsible for their own laundry. I know it’s tough, but sitting down and talking about it and putting down limits is the only thing that will work. Magically hoping he’ll figure it out one day won’t.

  21. If my kids leave their things lying about the lounge I will pick it up but will leave it ALL on the floor of their room and then ask them to tidy their room. They are shocked to discover how messy it is! They ask me why I dumped their stuff on the floor, so I remind them that it was already on the floor. And since its in their room now, its their problem! 😉

  22. Hi I feel overwhelmed and taken for granted from my kids I’m a single mom working to provide for them I have a 16,15,13,11 year old sons they talk back to me yell at me and tell me I’m a liar when I tell them I don’t have the money to buy what they want they don’t believe me when I tell them I have bills to pay they tell me I’m being pushy when I tell my 16 and 15 year old they’re old enough to get a part time job. I’ve been balling my eyes out because I can’t hold it in any longer I told them I’m not going to be buying them what they want anymore because they’re not helping me out with the chores at home without having to be told too

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  1. […] Top 10 reasons you feel more like a maid than a mom “Lets change our perspective so that in everything we do, whether it’s housework or childcare or paid work or even how we do marriage, we’re encouraging Christlike behavior from ourselves and those around us, rather than encouraging people to take us for granted.” […]

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