Kirsten Dunst: ‘It’s so much easier to go back to work than it is to be a SAHM’

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Kirsten Dunst has gone all-in with TV now and I don’t hate it, at all. She was brilliant in Fargo, and now she’s got the kind of showy, scene-chewing role an actress dreams of: playing a white trash con artist working through a pyramid scheme in On Becoming a God In Central Florida, on Showtime later this month (it premieres on August 25). She plays Krystal Stubbs and I think this was her first role after giving birth to her son, Ennis Howard Plemons, in May 2018. Here’s the trailer:

For years, I forgot that Kiki was genuinely one of the best actresses of her generation. I’m glad she’s reminding everyone of that fact with TV work. Anyway, Kirsten was taking part in a panel discussion at the Television Critics Association Summer 2019 press tour, and she was asked about going back to work after having a baby. Her answer was…interesting.

Kirsten Dunst is happy to be back at work! The star, who appears in the upcoming Showtime series On Becoming a God In Central Florida as Krystal Stubbs, said that it’s “so much easier” to head back to set than to stay at home.

“I’m just tired all the time,” Dunst, 37, told reporters at the Television Critics Association Summer 2019 Press Tour, where she appeared along with costars Mel Rodriguez, Beth Ditto and Theodore Pellerin to promote the project.

“Also doing the show too, it’s so much easier to go back to work than it is to be a stay at home mom,” Dunst added. “I was like, ‘bye’ to my mother-in-law [who watches her son while she’s at work]! I was like, [phew!]” she said.

The actress told PEOPLE in a recent interview that she picked “the hardest thing” possible after becoming a new mom in playing Krystal. “I basically went for the hardest thing that I could possibly do after having a baby,” she said. “I was with this role for two to three years. For me, it was just the perfect time frame. I had family and friends to help me.”

[From People]

It’s interesting to hear Kirsten say this, because I kind of thought that once she had a baby, she was just going to stay home for a few years and nest and do that. She had talked about that a lot before she met Jesse Plemons – her dream of a stay-at-home mom life. I guess once she got it, she was like “damn, this sh-t’s hard, I wanna go back to work.” So what’s more difficult, SAHMomming or pretending to be a trashy con artist? Now we know. And yes, I’m sure this will ignite some debate in the Mommy Wars. I do think Kiki was just saying that this was HER experience, that momming is harder than actressing.

Kirsten Dunst touches down with 2 month old son Ennis at LAX

Photos courtesy of Getty, Backgrid.

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82 Responses to “Kirsten Dunst: ‘It’s so much easier to go back to work than it is to be a SAHM’”

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  1. Ashley says:

    The lizard-snap judgement part of my brain says of course being a SAHM is harder. We get zero breaks – no lunch break, no bathroom break – and the job has insane hours. The job starts when you open your eyes early, early in the morning and ends when you give up and pass out late at night.
    BUT . . .
    The logical part of my brain knows that both are equally difficult. Finding/affording childcare, meeting the demands of a boss while sleep deprived, missing out on milestones- these are all big challenges that SAHM don’t face.

    • ByTheSea says:

      Did both, both are hard.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, both are hard. Although some dads might disagree, lol. When I first went back to work after having my oldest son, my boss’s boss was like “how does it feel to be back?” I looked around the room, where we were chilling, drinking coffee, waiting for clients, and said it felt like a vacation. He laughed and said “Now you know why we dads all escape to work.”

      That first day back at work was nice but it get get much harder. I really struggled with balancing full time work and motherhood. When I was at work, I worried about my son. And when I was home, I worried about the work that I felt people thought I might be neglecting (even though I wasn’t, although my head wasn’t really in the game). So I was happier when I was able to stay home and only had to focus on the kids. I did freelance work but that was not the same as being in a job full time where I also had to navigate a tricky team dynamic.

      But staying home with kids is uniquely difficult and exhausting. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for me. And finding a job again now that my kids are in college is not easy, as we discussed here last week, I think.

    • KittenHeels says:

      Both are hard, but I have little patience for mothers who complain about having to be a “chauffeur, cook, doctor, etc. etc”! What did you expect when you were pregnant? Your kid would get to 8 and start driving himself to soccer practice?

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      I found returning to work a lot easier than remaining at home.
      I cast no judgement and hope none is thrown into me as I can speak only for myself and my circumstances at that time.

    • Anna says:

      It seems like being a mom is hard, period. Whether you’re a STAHM or working, they each bring their own set own challenges.

      I wish the United States did a better job supporting parents in either of those roles, because being a mom is hard enough without all the other bullshit our society likes to heap on moms.

    • Anitas says:

      @KittenHeels
      Nobody likes a sanctimommy or constant woe-is-me, but it’s OK to admit and talk if you’re overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenthood. You may have expected it but nothing can prepare you for the reality of it. And some people cope better than others. On the other hand, self-righteous, smug or deeply insecure people who have to put down others and their life choices to feel good about themselves are always annoying.

    • asdfa says:

      well said.

    • PointingScreaming says:

      Let’s face it- we can’t win as moms. I was a SAHM for ten years, and was constantly shamed by full-time working moms, because “YOU don’t HAVE to work”. When I went back to work -part time- when she was 5, I personally felt selfish, as I was short-tempered w kiddo at day’s end. When I went out w friends I was shamed by co-parent for coming home a bit late. The FU from me to the world is kiddo is now an artist/Honor roll hilarious as F teen who is independent social, AND kicks A**. So -I- couldn’t win, but kiddo is doing super well. Sigh.

  2. CharliePenn says:

    I’m a SAHM. I fantasize about working again. Literally any job where I get to leave the house, talk with adults, collaborate with adults, tend only to my own bodily needs for 8 hours, use my educated brain, and make a paycheck.

    I will remain a SAHM for about two more years because it’s whats best for my family. I will always be grateful that I can do this. But I’ve worked many many jobs, from gruntwork to teaching, and this is the hardest.

    Some of what’s hard is the constant self motivation needed, the patience, the organization that needs to come fully from me, the lack of higher thinking involved most days, the lack of adult goals and adult collaboration. Also the crying, the poop, the demands, the mess, the little-kid-talk that scrambles the brain pretty often, the constant feeding and cooking, the lack of interest in playing the same things over and over.

    It’s nice to hear that it’s hard for others, just so I know I’m not failing and it’s ok for it to be hard. Some days are so wonderful. Some days I’m drowning. My babies are my world yet I feel shut off from the real world very often. It’s such a strange thing… to be so grateful that I can be the one with my little babes, to have times when I’m just in heaven with them and so happy to be with them, and yet have such a yearning to do something else.
    For me I think going back to work part time will be the best balance. Once my littlest one is in school that becomes an option!

    • Betsy says:

      Sing it!

      I love my kids and I’m still very happy this worked out for us (also some personal problems in my 20s meant I didn’t have a career that I cared about at all), but I do miss adults. I miss having something other than family to focus on. I am an artist for pleasure but the likes I get on my work from strangers on Instagram really mean a lot to me because it’s not like one ever gets any professional recognition for work performed inside the house, you know?

      I think for Kirsten, much of the hardest part of WOHM – logistics – isn’t as big a worry as it is for the average woman. I would bet that changes her calculus.

    • A random commenter says:

      I’ve seen my friends who are SAHM, and you couldn’t pay me to do it. They all long for adult company, stimulating conversation, and work beyond changing diapers. Doesn’t mean they don’t love their time with the kiddos, it’s just supremely hard work and undervalued.

      One of my staff was registering a pediatric patient a few weeks ago, asked mom what her job was, mom said “I’m a stay at home mom and homemaker,” so the registrar said, “oh so I should just put down you’re unemployed then.” I swooped in with the quickness because mom’s face fell and the assumption that it isn’t a job just didn’t sit well with me. It’s the *hardest* job. It’s 24/7, you’re constantly on call, and there’s always someone around to assume you’re on your backside with the bonbons.

      • Megs says:

        Yes! I remind parents who stay at home that they may not work “outside the home” but they work!!

      • PointingScreaming says:

        Thanks, random commenter for lot letting your co-worker say “unemployed”. ))((

      • MissAmerica says:

        That’s it exactly. Maybe people only think it’s just a job if you’re getting paid. It’d be considered a job if you ran a day care or preschool. But I guess it’s just considered “unemployed” if they’re your own kids. 🤦🏼‍♀️

    • asdfa says:

      >>It’s nice to hear that it’s hard for others, just so I know I’m not failing and it’s ok for it to be hard

      I am 100% with you there. I am grateful I got to stay home with my twins when they were tiny, but god DAMN was it hard

    • Kimmie says:

      I breathed a sigh of relief after reading this. To know that other moms feel this way is so important to hear. There is a dichotomy between loving our little ones and being with them as a SAHM, and wanting something more for ourselves. There should be an app similar to Peanut, but for SAHM.

    • PointingScreaming says:

      ))Feeling you SAHM(( see my post above, hope it makes you laugh :)

  3. Lawcatb says:

    I work 10 hours/day Mon to Thurs, then I’m home with my two kids on Fridays. All I can say is Fridays went from being my favorite day of the week to the worst. I just count the hours down until my husband gets home so I can have some relief. God bless parents who do it every day. And single parents.

    • CharliePenn says:

      Single parents amaze me, and inspire me to realize that it could be harder. Shout out to single parents! HOW?!

      • Embee says:

        THANK YOU!!!! It’s always appreciated when someone gives us a shout out! But I honestly think that there’s no weighing the “hards” and finding one heavier. At some point you’ve reached a 10 on the pain scale and all you can do is endure. Friends help a LOT.

      • PointingScreaming says:

        I was SSAHM from infant to teen kiddo. I have to say, the NO DRAMA of NO RELATIONSHIP was a relief. Mostly zero decision conflicts w absentee co-parent. I was ready financially and did it all late life. I’d recommend the late path for most women, as relationships are optional & not imperative.

  4. Maria says:

    Love Kiki, have missed her. Working in this industry is all she knows so I’m not surprised she feels that way.

    But nothing is harder than being a single mom and having a job too. Thankfully not in this position but have many friends who are….

  5. Léna says:

    Of course it depends for “real life moms”, one can prefer to stay at home, one might prefer to go back to work. But let’s be real, her job is to pretend to be someone else in front of a camera and be paid for it. Of course it’s easier than to be a stay at home mom.

  6. Sayrah says:

    I was not cut out to be a sahm so I completely agree with her but that’s not everyone’s experience.

  7. Swack says:

    Why does one have to be harder than the other? They are both difficult. There are arguments on both sides as to which is harder. For every person it is different.

    • Mel M says:

      I think that’s what everyone is saying though, it’s different for everyone. In her case staying home is harder for her and she’s just expressing her experience with that. I have a friend who works full time and sometimes crazy long hours and she tells me all the time that the days off at home with her kids are way harder and more exhausting for her and she doesn’t know how I stay home. That’s her experience too. I also have friends that have to work but hate it and would love to stay home full time and that’s their experience. Everything in life is different for everyone and this is just how one person feels about one aspect of it.

    • LadyT says:

      Not to mention it depends on the job. I can’t begin to tell you the things I’ve accomplished with a happy attitude—with the primary motivation being ANYTHING is better than going back to THAT.

  8. Risa says:

    It is HARD to be a working mom and it is HARD to be a stay-at-home mom. Personally, I am a better mother when I am not around my son all day long. I love him like crazy… but he is a mini-me… and we need space. LOL

    • Mel M says:

      Yes! You and me both. It’s my oldest son that that I’m this way with. That’s why we filled his schedule this summer with everything so he wasn’t just sitting home all day. He’s also someone who needs a schedule and structure.

  9. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I’ve never Mommed. But I have actressed. And I feel that I can safely say that SAHMing looks leaps and bounds harder. Being an actress entails a lot of emotional navel-gazing and think about your character. You’re not really responsible for anything else. As opposed to being a Mom where you are responsible for a whole other human being.
    I get what she’s saying.

    • Xi Tang says:

      Hey VV that’s so cool that you’re an actor. Love reading your comments but had no idea!

  10. Anitas says:

    I work from home which is often like the worst bits of working Mum and SAHM combined :/

  11. Ali says:

    I agree that the difficulty for most women in going back to work after having kids is that moms are still largely responsible for managing the logistics of childcare plus all the stuff that needs to be done before and after work, not just the outside job itself. Sounds like she has great help, passes her child off to good hands and is free to focus on her job where people attend to her every need until it’s time to go home. Even if she hadn’t said so, I’d believe being an A list celebrity on set is a lot easier than dealing with a baby who doesn’t give a shit that you are famous lol.

  12. Noodle says:

    I’m right smack in the middle of both. I am a full-time Professor, but my classes and students are mostly online, so I can work from home. When my oldest (14, girl) was a baby, I stayed home with her and dived into a deep depression. I needed intellectual, social and professional stimulation that I couldn’t get from a newborn and homemaking. With the second baby (now 11, girl), I stayed home, but I started a doctoral program that satisfied those professional and intellectual needs in me. Once she started preschool I found work as a professor online, and it’s a nice compromise. I get to work, really focus on my personal and professional goals, but I’m also home if a kid gets sick, if one forgets a lunch, or if I need a nap at lunch. I can pick up and drop off, but also have a helper should I not be able to do those things due to work. The flexibility is wonderful. I like not having to get dressed up, commute, or sit at a desk for 8 hours when my work is done in 3. I miss seeing colleagues every day, and engaging in some of those conversations that discuss ideas and ethics and the direction of academia, assessment, etc. But that’s the trade off; I’m home for my family, but away from collegial relationships. Right now it works for our family, but once in a while I dream of working in an office where I actually get to talk to adults.

    • Anitas says:

      Great to see your positive perspective on this! I’m in a similar position in that I work from home full time. I also have a 2 year old who’s very attached to me. Like you, I appreciate not having to commute, dress up or even deal with people sometimes. But any time my son is ill, it’s me who takes time off work, any time he has an appointment it’s me who has to take him, it simply makes more sense as I’m already home as opposed to my husband who works in an office. Because even if he took time off, my toddler wouldn’t settle for anyone but me, knowing I’m in the house. I also don’t find it easy to detach myself from my Mum role when I’m working and have to constantly make an effort to stop myself from thinking about domestic stuff that needs doing – laundry, dishes, rearranging the closet, whatever. Because the visual reminders are everywhere. Sometimes it’s downright suffocating. But also, drawing the line between work time and personal time is even harder, as they seamlessly flow one into another, and work inevitably spills into the ‘off’ hours. And I do miss spending time with grown up people, being in a space where I’m not primarily a Mum but closer to what I used to be before motherhood.

      At this time it makes more sense for me to work from home for financial and practical reasons, the good still outweighs the bad. But I do have a goal of working in an office again in a couple of years.

      • Noodle says:

        @anitas YES!! 1000x YES! We get the “luxury” of working from home, but it’s not without detractors. I can’t tell you how many meetings I attend while on mute and doing dishes or laundry. Or how many last-minute trips to Target I take every week because this one needs glue sticks or that one needs muffins. I like having the option to do all these things, but at the same time, I don’t like being on the phone at 8pm with a panicking student who didn’t plan ahead, or having to grade on the weekends because my “work time” was interrupted by transporting to soccer practice or the stomach flu.

        You have my empathy in working from home with a toddler hanging on. I hired a nanny (I also have four-year-old) for several hours a week because I just couldn’t get work done with a toddler at my feet. That, and I felt like a bad mom. My attention was so divided I felt like I couldn’t do either well. We have found the right solution for now, but like most things, it will change.

        Best wishes to you as you navigate this season in your life!

  13. Lindy says:

    I’ve been a divorced single working mom and am now the primary breadwinner in a pretty demanding tech job while my husband stays home full time with our 1yo and 10yo (though of course the older kiddo is in school).

    I’ve never been a SAHM. I can imagine it has to feel isolating and exhausting and uniquely hard. My husband certainly gets really worn out.

    That said, the constant anxiety and unhappiness I have trying to balance work and motherhood, trying to be everything everyone needs, never being fully committed at work or at home, the feeling I have that I’m missing out on so many things I want to share with my kids, the sheer exhaustion of working more than full time, commuting 40 minutes in traffic, and then jumping right in at home without even a second to catch my breath… I don’t even have words for how miserable it is.

    I was just passed over for a promotion–a woman a couple years younger with no kids got it. I was told they need to see more desire and drive from me. I’m always out the door at 4 pm (ummm yeah, I have to pick up my kid) and never stay for team happy hours. It sucks because I work very hard and try to be a team player in every other way.

    If there were any possible way our family could stay afloat with me staying home full time I would do it in a heartbeat. At least in that case, you get to decide what the bar is to clear.

    I can’t relate to Dunst’s feeling of relief at going back to work. I went back at 4 months and still have mornings where I cry in the car on the way to the office because I miss my baby and feel like I’m missing out.

    • Green Desert says:

      Oh Lindy, some of what you say really resonates with me. I had a baby last fall and was home for 14 weeks, and my son has been in daycare since then. Our situation though is that based on how much we each make, my husband and I both have to work even though daycare is expensive as all hell. I totally agree with you and can relate to the feelings of anxiety and sadness having to balance everything and missing out. *hugs*

      I’m sorry about your missed promotion, but I hope something even better comes along for you soon!

  14. Wilma says:

    I have a very good role model at work and seeing her balance work and family has given me a lot of confidence. She’s also very non-apologetic about it all and that has been very liberating to emulate. When I work, I work, when I’m at home, I’m at home. I don’t agonize about one or the other, but am completely present wherever I am at that moment.

  15. DS9 says:

    Mothering is basically the same regardless of how you do it. It’s the prioritization that separates the two.

    You are still usually primarily responsible for the feeding, clothing, education, discipline, and shaping of a young mind or 4. And none of that mental, physical, or emotional labor is any easier from the living room or the breakroom.

    It can only be a little easier to bear one way or another depending on your mental, emotional, physical, and/or financial responsibilities.

    And easier to bear, to be clear, doesn’t mean less hard.

  16. Cee says:

    To each their own. I’m not a mum yet but I can guess being a SAHM is hard while being a mum with a job plus kids is also hard. Women should do the best they can and be kind to themselves for it. Mummy shaming is so vile!

  17. Caitrin says:

    Yeah, no. It’s hard no matter what. I have 3 kids and work full-time. I’m really fortunate to have an active partner in my husband, who helps me juggle the household responsibilities, the judo classes, ballet, and gymnastics.

    But regardless of HOW you parent – whether you’re a SAHP or you work full-time – it’s always going to be hard.

  18. Darya says:

    Ennis Howard Plemons is a very Fargo-style name. I’m pretty sure their was a character called Ennis in Fargo but I can’t remember which season.

  19. AppleTarin says:

    I was an original latch key child my Mom went back to work to escape dealing with having to be a Parent. She would even work on the weekends. I think you can work and be a good parent if you prioritize your time and make sure quality time is there for your kids. Just don’t hide behind work when it’s too hard. Or as a SAHM don’t just stick your kids in front of the tv as an electronic babysitter. Same rules apply.

    • Hoot says:

      Lol, speaking of “electronic babysitter”… As a SAHM I had a neighbor down the street (educated woman, also a SAHM) tell me I was “socially stigmatizing” my boys because I refused to buy them a gaming system (they were 7 and 11 y.o.) – I think it was Nintendo at the time. She had purchased one for her son and daughter and she’d get so frustrated when children came by to play and didn’t know how to operate their system/play the games. She drove me bananas! I told her I had my kids involved in activities that didn’t require being glued to a tv monitor (also did a lot of activities with them myself), and if she couldn’t cope she should kick all the kids outside to play. (Common sense, right?)

  20. tealily says:

    I love Kiki! She’s someone who gets some hate, and I’ve never understood it. I agree… one of the best of our generation. I’m happy to see her back.

    When I think of her, I always think about how she was accepted to Case Western Reserve University. She didn’t end up going, but she must have some smarts! I always thought it was an interesting choice to even apply. That was at the height of her career too.

  21. A.Key says:

    Which is why I would never, ever have kids.
    No one has forced her to be a mother. You wanted a kid and you brought this on yourself. You don’t get to complain now. At least she can afford babysitters unlike most moms.

    • ME says:

      That is true she chose to be a mother BUT have you never complained about your job/career? You may have chosen that field of work but still complain about it because everyone has good days and bad days. With SAHM though it’s a bit different because your child grows and will attend school full-time by age 5 I believe…so there is an end to the chaos of a SAHM when children aren’t home all day. As a person in the working world, the chaos goes on for ummm the age of 65 lol !

    • tealily says:

      Nah, of course you get to complain. I’ll complain all day about the choices I’ve made! Complaining is the bedrock of many of my most treasured friendships.

  22. SilentStar says:

    MODERATOR, PLEASE DELETE THIS

    When you have a high needs child like my first one was, going back to work is a relief! It was completely necessary for me to have a break from him and share the responsibility with other care givers. I also appreciated my job more too because it was comparatively easy.

    But my second child was mellow and easy. If he was my only child I think it would have been easy to stay home with him a bit longer, if I’d had that flexibility.

    I’m definitely not the SAHM type though. Total immersion in baby world drove me bonkers, and I felt a total loss of identity that made me depressed. I was miserable, and not accrued to admit it.

    I only love parenting now that my kids are older and I can balance my home life with a rewarding work life. We are all happier.

  23. SilentStar says:

    I get it, Kirsten!

    When you have a high needs child like my first one was, going back to work is a relief! It was completely necessary for me to have a break from him and share the responsibility with other care givers. I appreciated my job more too because it was comparatively easy.

    But my second child was mellow and easy. If he was my only child I think it would have been easy to stay home with him a bit longer, if I’d had that flexibility.

    I’m definitely not the SAHM type though. Total immersion in baby world drove me bonkers, and I felt a total loss of identity that made me depressed. I was miserable, and not afraid to admit it.

    I only love parenting now that my kids are older and I can balance my home life with a rewarding work life. We are all happier.

  24. Isa says:

    I find staying at home easier. I don’t understand the not getting a break, especially these days with iPads and TVs. One kid is currently watching his show, one kid is coloring with me, and the newborn is napping beside me. Pretty soon I’ll get up and cook lunch and fold some laundry. Later they’ll go swimming. I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something.

    • DS9 says:

      I’m glad your children are low maintenance.

      Mine have been but there are many who are not. An ipad can’t keep a climber off a countertop and youtube won’t get a poor sleeper to stop shrieking in his crib the moment you put him down.

    • Betsy says:

      We come down hard on most screen time, that’s why. The kids just aren’t allowed to have much tv/movies and the five and under pair don’t get any iPad or phone at all.

    • Noodle says:

      @isa, My experiences as a mother of three were such that the nursing and cooking and cleaning and and and were overwhelming, and unfulfilling. Yes, I could and would do all those things, but doing those things day in and day out was so terribly depressing for me. We are all fulfilled and find meaning in different things; for some it’s being a SAHM, and for others, it’s having someone else care for the kids while we work. But neither one of these is inherently better than the other. You can be a great Mom in either scenario.

      • Isa says:

        I’m not saying stick your kid in front of a screen all day, but even a 30 minute show, plus nap times are breaks. But most of the SAHMs don’t seem to be limiting screen time since they laugh about watching whatever kid show 100x a day. And I don’t fault people for doing what they need to do to get through the day, but screen time certainly helps get moms a break.
        I get not being fulfilled, bc it’s different for everyone. We should ideally be able to do whichever makes us happy- i say ideally bc I know many moms won’t make enough for childcare and others have to work to pay the bills.
        And I agree one isn’t better- It’s whatever balance we can find, and I find it easier to balance when I have less on my plate.

  25. Metislady says:

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence and they are equally as hard as each other in different ways. I’m sick of the back and forth that goes on about this issue. Being a mother is difficult full stop no matter how you are doing it. I appreciate honesty from parents that say it like it is. She is coming from her experience and it’s just as valid as a mom who chooses to be a SAHM

  26. Vinot says:

    I resigned from my position toward the end of my pregnancy, purposely intending to be a SAHM. I lasted a month before I found another, more flexible job where I could take my daughter to work with me. I thought I’d want to stay at home and nest, but once reality hit, I realized that I am not SAHM material and went stir-crazy before I could even drive again. I was very lucky to be able to do this how I did it, and I think Kirsten acknowledges here that she is also extremely lucky to have family support. I don’t think we have to set up a false dichotomy between which is harder, but rather create an environment where mothers feel supported choosing either, even if it isn’t what they originally planned.

  27. Kk2 says:

    I work part time (3 days/week) which is perfect balance for me. Leaving them is hard but the days i work feel like vacation compared to days I’m at home. And you really come to appreciate how gratifying it is to be valued for your mind when you have times without that. I find the work days recharge me so I can be happier on the days I’m at home (and vice versa). But it is very hard to leave them with someone else, especially when they are very small and the caregiver isn’t family. You just feel pulled in all directions. Want to go, want to stay. It’s tough.

  28. Darla says:

    I think working moms have it hardest, and hear me out. It’s because they are still coming home and doing the cooking and the childcare, and the cleaning. I mean, that’s a lot. That’s a lot. At least from what I have seen. This doesn’t mean SAHM have it easy though. I mean, that comes with other challenges too. I just know that for me, I am way too lazy to spend all day at work and then come home and cook dinner, do homework, get the kids ready for bed, and don’t forge they want you to play with them too! And men for the most part just don’t pull their weight on this.

    • DS9 says:

      And for many men, it’s even easier to leave a SAHM holding the bag because “what else is she doing?”

      Mothers who stay at home often lose the argument before it’s even made that they ara entitled to time outside of the house or time alone inside of it, that they need help with the daily tasks of the household.

      For a SAHM there is often very little down time and no shifting gears that might break up the daily tedium. Because it’s viewed as a job, they often feel guilty asking for help and then minimize how badly that help is needed and often have to justify asking for it.

      A working mom often gets 20 minutes at least to work and back to shift gears and get alone time. A sahm can struggle to go to the bathroom without an audience.

      Children at home need attention all day and because they are used to mom providing attention, play, and help, they will keep going to mom after dad is home and on the weekends.

      Obviously all of this is subjective, dependent upon how old your children are, family dynamics, etc..

      But still, I’d be hard pressed to claim either is easier than the other and I don’t think anyone else should claim it either unless they take pains to add “to me” to their explanation.

      • Annie says:

        It’s a beautiful summer here and I literally didn’t leave our house to go further than the back porch from Sunday afternoon until Saturday afternoon (one month old and two older kids, a pest problem in our backyard which has now been resolved, no parks in walking distance, no family members within a 30 minute drive). I had so much been looking forward to going grocery shopping at 7 am on Saturday when my husband told me he had to spend the first half of the day driving his dad around to doctor appointments.

        When my husband broke the news to me I wept and felt so silly doing it. After all, we’re safe, fed, and a roof is over our heads. Who am I to complain? But when you can’t even take a shower by yourself, when your neighborhood is entirely retired people who keep to themselves and circumstances keep you home-bound, you have no idea how amazing going grocery shopping can be. All day long I’m in fight-or-flight mode, vigilant to make sure the kids are okay, while my husband can kick back and read a book on the bus, listen to a podcast, step out during lunch, etc. I love what I do. But it’s not like 75 years ago when our grandmothers had a whole team of other grandmothers nearby raising kids and keeping an eye out.

      • ME says:

        @ Annie

        Does your husband know how you feel? You might want to have a talk with him so he knows how overwhelmed you are. Your mental health is important !

    • ME says:

      Things need to change. Men have hands too. There is NO reason a man can’t feed or clean their OWN children ! Men have gotten away with this for a long time because women allow it. Demand he do his fair share !

      • DS9 says:

        This is so pervasive that it’s not readily identifiable as happening until the dynamic is part of your marriage.

        Trying to weed these guys out is next to impossible which is the definition of patriarchy. Sort of how others can’t see racism even when it’s waved in front of their faces.

      • ME says:

        Well most women don’t know how they’d be as a mother UNTIL they have kids. I have an aunt that did ZERO child-rearing. Her husband took care of the kids and worked. But in most cases, these men just assume women are supposed to do it all and THAT needs to change.

      • Hoot says:

        I come from a family of three brothers and I have two male children. From the time I was a kid the attitude I grew up around has ALWAYS been that when something needs to be done whoever is free to do it pitches in and does it. Whether it be changing a baby’s poopy diaper, cleaning up vomit from between the cracks of the crib, making sure muddy shoes come off before walking into the house, making the kids a snack, etc.

        It’s totally alien to me when I hear women complain that their spouse/partner doesn’t pitch in. I made sure to teach my sons how to do their own laundry, iron, cook (not talking about just warming things in a microwave either), and to clean a bathroom and kitchen properly from germs that accumulate. I had an excellent example in my father, and for that I am fortunate. He showed us that you can take on domestic responsibilities, do them well, and still be a man’s man. He took no sh*t from his friends or my relatives for it either. It’s up to us to teach this so that male entitlement is not an issue. Everyone is a product of their own environment.

        p.s. When my youngest brother married, his wife thanked me over and over for making him split the housecleaning duties my mother heaped on me from 10 years old on. They both work f/t with two kids, and he pulls his own weight at home (if not more). Men can do it. They just need to be taught. The younger the better!

  29. Stacy Dresden says:

    Working, with a commute and small kids in the care of someone else, is hardest in my opinion. It’s too stressful to try to balance all of those needs and expectations (family, colleagues, employer) while also finding time to tend to your own. Of course I respect that each person struggles differently and with different circumstances. Currently a SAHM to two. I find the constant tedious cycles of cleanup to be the most challenging part of being a SAHM, second to my efforts being underappreciated.

    • DS9 says:

      I work now, have for the past 4 years but I was a SAHM for 8+ years and I can relate to what you wrote about being a SAHM.

      I tooootally felt undervalued as a SAHM. I felt like he just took for granted my efforts to do as much as I did while judging what I didn’t do. Those years set up a dynamic that’s been made abundantly clear to me anyway since I started working. Our marriage is virtually dead because of it and when we eventually divorce I doubt I’ll marry again until my children are grown.

      At minimum, I won’t have babies for anyone else specifically because I think most men are incapable of egalitarian attitudes towards the work of maintaining a household, particularly one with children.

      The only thing I can do at this point is raise my boys to not only see and value this work but to understand that it’s theirs in equal measure.

  30. ItReallyIsYou,NotMe says:

    I am glad that she admitted this (I also will give her the benefit of the doubt that she was talking only for herself). I thought I would want to stay home with my kids and even saved money to be able to do that, but I really missed the intellectual challenges and rewards of my 9 to 5 (I’m a lawyer). I still miss time with my kids but after a full weekend of answering their 10000 questions, it’s sometimes nice to go back and sit at my desk and answer questions on my own timeline. (I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t like explaining what happens when you die to a 5 year old before your first cup of coffee and having to reexplain it 5 times every day for a whole week!) 😁

  31. Anya says:

    I tried being a SAHM for 9 months. Couldn’t handle it. Being a software engineer is so much easier for me. I get that some people have a desire and need to stay home with children (my mother in law did it), I’m just not like that. But I’m glad there are people who do.

  32. Whynot says:

    I went back to work full time after my one year maternity leave was up, which was a disaster at first. Work itself wasn’t the issue but trouble with the day home we chose, then frantically getting my mom to come from another city when we pulled my kid out of that day home, then I had to take a week of stress leave while my parents were on vacation when we had trouble at the second day home. It was awful. Plus I only have one kid. I don’t know how parents of big families manage.

    I was able to get part time work in my field and it has been so much better. I feel like I have a good balance of work life (interacting with adults in my profession, which I enjoy) and home/family life. I know I’m fortunate to be able to afford working part time. Everyone is different but I think many mothers would probably be happier if they were able to strike a balance like this. Trying to do both full time is a lot! Kudos to those of you who do it successfully because I sure suck at it.

  33. Grey says:

    Ah, if only men split household responsibilities and helped to raise the children they father…. Why are men never expected to stay home after the birth of their children? Why are men never asked about balancing work and daddyhood? Why do women (a lot of then here) procreate with men who do not pull their weight with housework and child care?

  34. Snarky_McSnarkerson says:

    This is a response to a few of the comments I read upthread, but I’m not going to tag people.

    I am child-free. One of the biggest reasons for this is that I watched two of my closest friends become mothers very young (20 and 21). One became a single mother quite quickly, the other ended up with two children with severe behaviourial issues. The bloom was off the rose for me. While both love their children I have had a front row seat to the fact that there are no guarantees in parenthood.

    However, I do get a little insulted when I’m faced with comments about how I can’t possibly be tired or stressed about anything. Child-free people have parents who require caregivers, financial stresses, siblings dealing with life changing situations, etc. A few months ago my dog became very ill. He was vomiting blood and I was up all night running him into the yard because he had horrible diarrhea. At work the next day I was asked why I looked so tired. I explained the situation and a few of the women I work with started talking about how “just wait until you have kids – then you’ll really know what stress is” and “I wish all I had to worry about was a sick dog.” I thought these comments were unnecessary and bordered on cruel. When I told a friend (who is a parent) she became pretty upset. As she stated, “I was tired before I had kids and I’m tired now, I was stressed before I had kids and I’m stressed now. Mothers don’t have a monopoly on being worried and exhausted.”

    When I talk to my friends who are mothers one of the things that stresses them out the most is the judgement they receive from other moms. It’s unrelenting. The food they feed, playgrounds they go to, whether they get babysitters or only have family watch their child, going back to work, letting kids use Ipads…it goes on and on. I think in our society being a mother (and to a lesser extent a father) has become almost performative in some ways. With social media we curate our lives not just on those media platforms, but often in our day to day lives and conversations. I think this is dishonest and likely leads to a lot of isolation, especially for new moms.

    As someone without kids the only time I feel judged is when talking to women who have children (not all of them, I have some amazing friends who have kids!), but I have received some pretty harsh comments from some women. However, my friends with kids also talk about only really feeling judged by other moms. Then I realized of course! That’s how the patriarchy is most successful – ensure women are policing other women! Since I’ve realized that I just smile and nod and remember everything works out the way it is supposed to. Maybe I’ll have a couple of kids, maybe I won’t and I’ll retire at 55 and buy a lake house. Who knows :)

  35. Amaria says:

    Unpopular opinion – SAHMs would have it way easier if they stopped obsessing about being “perfect” mothers and were just good moms. The more I observe them, the more I see how much they focus on non-important details that don’t make a difference to their kids, their kids’ wellbeing and the whole family’s wellbeing. The obsession with appearances and perfection could destroy anyone. Helicopter parenting, attachment parenting, [insert another neurotism-generated fad] parenting… It’s not healthy. Love your kid. Respect your kid. Protect them. Care for their education. But give them some space to just be kids and develop on their own, too! Some will hate me for it, but yeah – my job is harder than mothering. It IS easier to stay at home, read to the kid and steam some veggies. But I love the job and will return to it.

  36. Sarah says:

    Personally, I think if you can have flexible hours or work 3 to 4 days a week, you get the best of both worlds. It saves on daycare and you can easily transition into more hours after they get into school. it’s nice if one parent can do this while they’re young. It helps the child or children with socialization at daycare but also gives them time with their parents. I understand that this is not always an option for everyone.