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to think working parents don't 'do all the things SAHPs do plus work'?

(604 Posts)
Sampanther Sat 19-Apr-14 15:12:15

I've heard this response an awful lot, particularly to that awful 'being a SAHM is the hardest job in the world' advert. I have worked outside the home and been a SAHM and I do not feel that working meant I did all the parenting plus work on top. For example, as a SAHM parent I'd deal with squabbling, tantrums, discipline, naps, take them to parks/soft play etc and help them to play nicely with other children, cook with them, do painting and play doh and so on.

As a working parent I had an hour of getting them ready in the morning, dropped them off at childcare, then an hour of winding them down and putting them to bed at night. I could eat and go to the toilet in peace during the day, the house was tidy and needed little cleaning as we were rarely in it and I had very little to do with discipline etc.

I'm not trying to say working parents don't parent, because obviously they do but AIBU to think parents who work fulltime don't 'work and do all the parenting as well'? I don't get why working mums respond that way and think they're right but if a working husband came home and said to his stay at home wife that he does just as much parenting as her then I'm sure mumsnet would not agree.

MammaTJ Sat 19-Apr-14 15:30:04

Before I became a student I would say YABU!

I worked full time, three nights a week, and still did all of the parenting you would do as a SAHP, with even less sleep in the holidays or when the DC were ill!

Best not to make assumptions about other peoples lives IMO!

Retropear Sat 19-Apr-14 15:32:41


GrassIsSinging Sat 19-Apr-14 15:32:50

People have different experiences.

I found being a SAHM harder actually, in many ways, but I DO more as a WOHM, no doubt.

I found being mainly responsible for the domestic chores as a SAHM quite hard going. Squabbling/discipline/naps...hmm. Yes. That was definitely harder and admittedly, when I went back to work and my children were in childcare, that wasnt my responsibility all day. (should add, here, that I do think its really different being a SAHM with sole responsibility of babies/toddlers, compared to being a SAHM of school age children).

I think some - perhaps more organised/proactive - SAHMs probably DO do loads that I didnt do. I wasnt out every day on great trips or doing craft projects or anything like that. I know some women (and a few men) are really great at stuff like that and are just really imaginative, active parents and fantastic homemakers. I wasnt, particularly, if I am honest.

However, having just negotiated going down to part time hours after working full time for a fewyears, I can tell you why I have made this choice. Because I am mentally and physically knackered in a way that I could never have imagined as a SAHM. Up at 6am to get kids breakfast, spend some time with them, get them ready for school, share school run with DH...then on to a commute...then a full day of work where I am a manager and have shitloads of responsibility (on top of parental and familial responsibilities) and multiple complex, brain-straining projects to juggle. I am going to sound like a bitch for saying this, but its my reality so I will say it: I deal with responsibility for the lives of two children, one with SEN, and ageing/unwell parents...just like any SAHM...they are ultimately MY responsibility...and yet I still put in a 40 hour week managing a team in a highly pressurised environment, that make difficult decisions about other peoples lives. It has UNDOUBTEDLY involved an expenditure of energy, brain power and sheer bloody determination that being a SAHM (for me) just wouldnt have.

I have negotiated oart time hours BECAUSE of that. Because it is just too much for me going forward. Not because I think my children will benefit from having me around moreif I am brutally honest (although that informs my decision to some extent), but because I am fed up of being super woman. I will be going down to 20 hours a week next week and I fully intend to spend at least some of my new found time sitting on my arse with a cuppa grin

goofygoober Sat 19-Apr-14 15:33:43

OP, I totally agree. I have worked full-time with 2 DCs and now work part-time and am a SAHM with our youngest DS. Both roles are tiring, for different reasons. Whilst working, housework was at a minimum and was relatively easy, now it is non stop, I rarely sit down before 9pm.

I cannot stand judgmental people who think that the SAHM parent does sod all. It helps if you've actually been through it. My DH and I often squabble because he gives the stock answer of 'I've been at work all day' when I ask for a hand in the evening. He's had a morning break, a lunch hour and been sat a desk. Mental, not physical exhaustion. Sometimes the gripe goes on and on!

schmee Sat 19-Apr-14 15:33:53

It matters if people are denigrating the contribution that SAHP make.

If you have preschool children you subcontract part of the childcare during the time you are at work. Depending on the type of childcare (nursery, nanny etc) this may mean subcontracting the developmental play and learning, toileting, clearing up of toys, feeding and cooking and comforting that take place within working hours, or, if you have a great nanny, it may mean subcontracting all this plus some of the clothes washing, bed making and admin too. It doesn't make a WOHP less of a parent, but it does mean that they do less of the "work" associated with childcare. That "work" exists whether the parent does it, or the childcare provider.

The situation is obviously different when the children are at school, at least for the 70 per cent of the year that is term time, depending on the type of wraparound care that you have.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Sat 19-Apr-14 15:34:33

I hate the need to pacify and justify when it comes to the decisions mothers make, whether that be SAH full time or part time or WOH full time.

I wish we could all stop doing this and agree that each and every single one of us do what we feel is the right decision for our family. And there are more than 1 way to do the right thing.

rootypig Sat 19-Apr-14 15:34:42

YANBU and well written. The essence and back bone of SAHP is time. Endless time with your children, time to be filled and endured. That is its curse and blessing.

There are only 24 hours in the day and WOHP and SAHP as far as I can make out are working for most of the waking ones. So, it's all work, just with different natures. SAHP is for me a special hell, bundled in maternal guilt. It annoys me when people assume it's a luxury.

All that said, I do think a family with one SAHP is better off than one with two WOHP, because the SAHP can multitask and do the domestic work in the week, rather than evenings and weekends.

Sampanther Sat 19-Apr-14 15:34:45

I said fulltime in my OP Jinsei so I'm presuming 9-5 plus travel time which in my case meant I was away from 7.45 until 6 p.m. I know for many fulltime working parents it's longer.

GrassIsSinging Sat 19-Apr-14 15:36:10

If its about 'parenting'? Then yes...SAHMs are around more. Thats not in dispute. Does that make them better oarents than their breadwinningoartners, though? No. Same goes for working mums.

fidelineish Sat 19-Apr-14 15:36:13

but I DO more as a WOHM, no doubt.

But that's not the same as 'doing everything a SAHM does plus FT job on top' is it grass?

In my WOHM years, I condensed, simplified, rushed, cut corners, and missed sleep and social activities to make it all fit. Which is fine, but it isn't all I did as a SAHM plus work.

monkeymamma Sat 19-Apr-14 15:37:07

Agree and YANBU. Wohm parents have it bloody hard and I'm sure it's a huge and stressful juggling act for them but to say that they do 'everything sahp do' plus working is to massively understate/ignore/insult the work of the childcare professionals who fill in the gaps looking after their children while they pursue their careers. IMO nursery workers are hardworking, good humoured, patient and largely underpaid, without also being 'forgotten' during these types of debates. I'm a part timer and on the days I'm at work I don't do everything, I have a huge amount of help from ds's nursery, my mum and partner. Whereas on my 'at home' days I'm responsible for the 'everything' bit in quite a different way.

fidelineish Sat 19-Apr-14 15:37:21

Not to mention delegating.

shrunkenhead Sat 19-Apr-14 15:40:33

I agree with womble, how can you fit art and craft, cooking/baking, reading stories, snugly cuddles, chats, outdoor adventures/Countyside walks, swimming, playing, play dates, water play etc etc into two hours a day???? I tried it, it want possible.

GrassIsSinging Sat 19-Apr-14 15:41:06

fidel - no, its not the same. As a FT working parent, I paid for childcare and I paid for a cleaner and Ipaid for online shopping deliveries.

I was quite selfishly relieved to not do those things, though. I liked working (although FT has become too much), I hate cleaning and shopping, and I have this rebellious bit of me that says I am a mother but I didnt go to university to end up doing an 8 hour housework shift every day. Thats NOT a judgement against SAHMs that do that, it just was never going to be my gig.

Small point of the fact that I need to work, financially, and have been in a job that makes itnwrth my while financially to do so, even after childcare costs (I know this is not the case for many families).

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 19-Apr-14 15:41:16

I disagree that WOHP do less parenting. You don't stop being a parent because you're at work. If your child gets ill/injured while you're not there, you don't abdicate responsibility to anyone else; you are responsible for your child. However, of course SAHPs often do more childcare.

GrassIsSinging Sat 19-Apr-14 15:42:11

shrunkenhead, you cant. But I didnt do all that as a SAHM, to be honest. Nursery did it much better for my chilren. If I am REALLY honest.

GrassIsSinging Sat 19-Apr-14 15:44:05

I think the 'debate' is a non-starter realky when children are under five. People do whatever works for them. Once they are at school, though...SAHMS are surely having an easy ride? The ones that CHOOSE that, I mean, not people who cant find work or have disabled kids etc...

shrunkenhead Sat 19-Apr-14 15:44:24

Wasn't possible, even.

womblesofwestminster Sat 19-Apr-14 15:45:03

Nobody apart from the parent can be 'parenting' though can they?

So is this just a battle of semantics?

OK, even then, the dictionary definition of 'parenting' is:

"the process of taking care of children until they are old enough to take care of themselves"

fidelineish Sat 19-Apr-14 15:45:04

Exactly Grass; they are just equal but different choices/lives. The insistence that one is more/better/harder is pointless and got dreary a long time ago.

mrsbucketxx Sat 19-Apr-14 15:45:43

i find my house suffers massively when i'm at work, my children are better cared for by nursery imo as they do much more.

why do sahm feel so hard done by its a blessing to have your children daily and not have to work,

as others have said why pit both types against each other. it doesn't help anyone.

mothers are that whether they work or not

mrsbucketxx Sat 19-Apr-14 15:46:28

just that sorry

BluebellTuesday Sat 19-Apr-14 15:47:47

What is the point of these discussions? I am a working single parent, do I get to count the work I do at home looking after DC twice as there is not another adult to share all the tasks with? Does keeping a roof over DC heads not count as parenting? Yes, DC are at nursery, school and afterschool, they also go to the park, various classes, have playdates etc. Who is sorting it al, not to mention keeping car roadworthy, doing garden, paying bills, you name it. It is not a competition, but I defy anyone to tell me I am not parenting my DC as much as a SAHM, yes I delegate some childcare, I need to bring in the money. That is the way life is.

outtheothersidefinally Sat 19-Apr-14 15:48:22

Parenting hours - sahp may do more if they have preschool age children at home.
Parenting - a very different thing. I've done both and the parenting 'count' is the same when I've worked and when I haven't.
And cuddle count - apart from it being quality not quantity, it is effortless to make up the cuddle count when you come back from work! Undoubtedly so!
I know some sahp who don't have much quality time with their children, and some wohp who do. I also think of parenting (and I have to, as a single parent) as putting a roof over their head and food on the table.
Whether we work outside of the home or not, we are all full-time parents. Working or staying at home do not make us better parents alone, and are not objective deciding factors in your children's wellbeing.

monicalewinski Sat 19-Apr-14 15:48:27

With 2 children in full time education I think I do the same amount + work as the SAHP who lives over the road from me (also with 2 children in full time education).

The only thing she does extra to me is that she does the school run, but I do the childcare run - and her kids are out playing in our street from half 3 to 5, but mine are playing at the after school club.

All the 'home tasks' she does between 9 and 3, I have to do when the kid day have gone to bed.

The lady next door to me has 3 children, two are not at school yet - I do nowhere near the amount of things she does when I am at work. She works much harder than me.

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