I remember when I told my dad that I landed my full-time position as a designer. It paid almost double my first job, and it was salaried. I had never seen him so proud. A year and a half later, when I told him that I decided to stay at home to focus on our kids, his response was concerned, “I just don’t want you to give up on your dreams.” That’s where it began: the stay-at-home-mom guilt.
This is the gnawing guilt you feel every time your husband comes home to an explosion of toys and macaroni and cheese for dinner. The shame you might feel when you have to tell a stranger that you “just” stay at home with the kids and wipe butts all day. In this post, my goal is to help you answer that question without shame, without any extra explanations, and with full confidence. More than that, I want you to realize your worth.
- 7 Books to Encourage Stay-at-Home Moms
- How to Introduce Your Child to Jesus
- 8 Best Tips to Save Money as a Stay at Home Mom
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical or financial situations.
How to Get Rid of Stay at Home Mom Guilt
1 Ask the Question: Why Do I Feel Guilty for Being a Stay at Home Mom?
First, let’s separate guilt from toxic shame. We use guilt and shame interchangeably, but I really want to make a distinction before we move on.
Guilt is a natural emotion that all humans experience. In itself, guilt isn’t a bad thing. It helps us mend broken relationships, adjust our behavior, or fix something that our subconscious is trying to tell us is broken. However, toxic shame isn’t based around an action that we are doing. It’s how we perceive ourselves.
Are you ashamed of your identity as a stay at home mom? Has someone said something that makes you feel ashamed?
If so, that’s a whole different animal that I hope this post will help you tackle.
Here are a few reasons why I’ve experienced stay at home mom guilt:
- You feel pressured by someone to pursue your dreams outside of the home.
- You feel like a crappy stay at home mom (that statement is a good example of toxic shame btw).
- Maybe you’re losing your joy in it that’s causing you guilt.
- You feel guilty because your husband does “all the work” while you get to stay at home.
- Maybe you don’t feel like you’re doing enough at home, for your kids, or your family.
- Even though you’re at home, you feel like you’re not paying enough attention to your children
Really, really ask yourself WHAT is causing this guilt. Decide if it’s true guilt or shame.
If you’re feeling guilt, then you can decide if there is an action you can take that will improve your situation.
2 Realize Your Value
Do you feel guilt when you hear these questions?
- “What do you do all day?”
- “When are you going to start working again?”
- “You’re a housewife?”
- “I wish I could stay at home all day.” (Usually said as a joke…implying that what you’re doing is easy.)
- “Do you work or do you just stay at home?”
- So, what do you do?
That last question, asked innocently enough, makes you square your shoulders, swallow your pride, and prepare for the worst. Why? The answer makes you vulnerable to some of the meanest criticisms in America. Not only that, but it surfaces our own insecurities about no longer being a member of the workforce.
Do you ever feel guilty because your husband works all day and you “get” to stay at home?
For whatever reason, the fact that stay-at-home moms don’t bring a paycheck to the bank account, devalues their service.
Tell me, why did you become a stay-at-home mom? Was it because you woke up one day and thought, “hmm, I don’t feel like working today. I think I’m just going to stay at home and wipe up poop all day instead.”
You probably made this choice because you thought it was best one for your family. Because you wanted to spend every day watching your little one grow. For some families, it’s the most cost-effective decision.
Or maybe, heaven-forbid, becoming a stay-at-home mom was your ultimate dream.
Whatever the reason, you do A LOT.
You’re the chef, day care specialist, accountant, maid, taxi, and mom all in one package. And the kicker is, you never clock out.
Also, on a side note, never doubt that you are a huge contributor to your family’s finances. When you tally up all of the services that you provide for your family, your salary should be well into the six-figure range.
3 Don’t “Give Up on Your Dreams”
There’s this common misconception that when you become a stay at home mom, you’re giving up on your dreams.
Yes, giving up on your day job was probably a huge sacrifice. You gave up a piece of your independence, your identity, and acceptance in society’s eyes.
But, you don’t have to give up on your dreams.
Motherhood changes us. If you’re a new mom struggling with the feeling that you’ve just given up all of your career dreams, let me reassure you that the change that is about to happen inside you will produce new ones.
When I became a stay at home mom, I thought my dream was to become an interior designer at an impressive architecture firm. Do you know what I discovered after rolling through diapers and bottles for about a year?
I didn’t even truly enjoy interior design. It was something I wanted to do to prove myself to others.
Instead, my real dream was only revealed through motherhood: I desperately–with every square inch of my heart–wanted to be a writer. Motherhood helped me finally discover who I am and what I really wanted in life.
Becoming a stay at home mom can change your dreams.
Maybe it will sharpen the dream that you set aside. If that’s the case, you should know that there is still opportunity for you. Getting back into the job market can be hard but it’s totally doable. Many of my friends have gone on to pursue successful careers outside the home after their babies grew older.
Don’t give up.
4 Stay-at-Home Mom Guilt is Cultural
Have you ever thought about how odd it is that an au pair, nanny, or teacher is considered a reputable profession, but a stay-at-home mom isn’t?
I think that’s because stay-at-home mom guilt syndrome is influenced by our culture. 23 percent of children live in single-parent households where the mother is the bread-winner. Pew’s Research Center found that most households with stay-at-home moms were minority groups, such as Hispanic and Asians heritages.
My point: staying at home with our babies is not mainstream.
Let’s talk about how other countries differ. Only one-third of German mothers choose to return to work in the first three years of their child’s life. Three years. In the UK, moms actually get up to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave! Meanwhile, in Switzerland, only 16 percent of women work full-time.
However, moms in the United States, might find it harder to hold their head high as a stay at home mom. Meanwhile, in these countries, it’s normal and deemed a valuable part of your baby’s development.
5 You Might Feel Guilty Outside the Home Too
My husband confesses his guilty feelings to me all the time. He wishes he could spend more time with our girls. Sometimes, he feels guilty because he’s stressed and disconnects when he’s at home. This is a good example of how guilt is a universal, frequent feeling.
If you worked outside the home, there’s a real chance that you would experience guilt from being away from your children.
I think that’s because our subconscious, whatever our circumstances might be, wants to check in and make sure we are doing things right.
6 You Were Literally Born for This
So many moms lose their sense of purpose when they become a stay at home mom. It’s SO easy to get lost in the diapers, meal prep, and endless questions.
It’s easy to feel like you’re not living up to your full potential.
Just remember that you, out of everyone else in the world, were chosen for a very special purpose. I’m willing to bet that you think your babies are special. Out of all the women in the world YOU are their mama.
Look, I get that not everybody believes in God or being chosen for something. But, I do and this is my blog so I’m just gonna say it:
I think God entrusted YOU with your children’s hearts, education, physical needs, morality—everything. Being a mother hasn’t negated your past history, life experience, or strengths. It’s just the opposite. Consider the fact that God chose you to parent these beautiful children because of these things! He chose the unique person that you are.
Do you need more biblical truths to overcome stay-at-home mom guilt? Check it out:
- Proverbs 31: 10-31
- 1 Timothy 2:15
- Proverbs 11:16
- Galatians 6:9
- Proverbs 1:8-9
- Matthew 20:26-28
Related Post: How to Introduce Your Baby to Jesus From Day One
7 Work From Home
One of the most depressing aspects of becoming a stay-home-mom is feeling like you’re never going to be able to pursue the things that represent you. That’s just not true.
Becoming a stay-at-home mom isn’t an all-or-nothing kind of deal.
Indeed, there are tons of career paths you can pursue that actually pay well and are completely home-based. Especially post-COVID. If you want to look at a few awesome side-hustles, check out this list. BTW the couple who wrote that post also work from home and are killin’ it!
Just remember, working moms suffering from feelings of guilt too. Going back to work will come with its own set of challenges.
8 Join a Mom Group
You need other women in a similar phase of life to build you up. Seriously. Only they will understand the constant, never-ending struggle you face at home.
Here some more benefits of other stay-at-home mom friends:
- They offer advice based on experience. It truly takes a village to raise children…but the RIGHT village.
- Other SAHM provide a support group
- Their children become your children’s friends.
- Some women can be judgemental, but that’s everyone in the world. Just stay away from the judge-y ones. Most are gracious and imperfect just like you.
Facebook is a great place to start for finding a good mom group in your area. Many towns, cities, and metropolitan areas offer local Facebook mom groups.
Here are a few places I’ve learned about that meet up nationally:
- La Leche League: Breastfeeding mom meet-up.
- MOPS International: This is a Christian organization but you don’t have to be religious to attend. They have meetings EVERYWHERE. Almost always provides childcare.
- Bible Study Fellowship (BSF): If you’re wanting to increase your knowledge of the Word and meet incredible women of all ages, check out BSF. They almost always provide childcare programs.
9 Shake it Off
When people ask, “What do you do?” It’s important to realize that 90% of the time, they aren’t purposefully being hurtful. They’re just being polite or trying to get to know you.
Think back to when you worked outside the home. Didn’t you assume everyone else did too?
Having said that, there are some people that genuinely have issues. Some women get their self-worth from working; stay-at-home-moms are easy targets for belittlement.
That’s their deal, not yours. You could be the CEO of Amazon and this person would still say, “Pfft, I could have done that too.” You’ll never win, so don’t get pulled into their drama.
10 Find a Part-Time Job
If your financial situation is becoming dire, then don’t feel guilty about getting a part-time job. I’ve seen women, particularly Christian women, feel like they are abandoning their children for working outside the home.
I just want you to check your motivations before moving on to this tip. If you’re getting a part-time job to assuage your mom guilt…then we need to read steps 1-9 again!
However, if you’re getting a part-time job because you love what you’re doing and it lights up your brain or for financial reasons, then feel zero guilt about it.
I write when my girls are asleep. Writing is THAT THING that I love. If I had to stop, I would lose a piece of myself. I feel zero guilt for working in my “free-time” or giving the girls to their dad for a couple hours a week. The only time I start to feel guilty is when that work distracts from my first calling: taking care of my girls.
The One Sentence to Overcome Stay-At-Home Mom Guilt
I hope you realize that your worth does not lie in other people’s opinions or the monetary value of your job. Being a stay-at-home mom is a prominent position in many other cultures, despite our own country’s bias. And you realize that spiritually, being a mother is an incredibly high calling.
Here’s the ultimate fix to overcome mom guilt. Are you ready for it?
The next time you’re asked “what you do”, don’t say, “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.” Get rid of the stay-at-home mom guilt. Remember your worth. Be proud of who you are. Value yourself. You’re a daycare/chef/coordinator/healer/personal assistant/cleaning crew all rolled into one impressive package.
That’s something to be proud be proud of.