Most Americans are apparently a little too judgy for their own good…

Or are they?

According to recent research, a third of Americans and 22% of full-time working moms think that “the most ideal situation for young children is one in which their mother is not employed. Another 42 percent of all Americans think that a mom with a part-time job would be best for these children.” (via)

So, all in all, 75 percent of Americans feel that having a mother who does not work full-time would be best for her children when they’re young.

But, when asked about working fathers the same group of people responded quite differently. While 75% of respondents agreed that mothers should not work full time, 70% of those same respondents said fathers with young children should still work full-time.

While this sounds like a bit of an unfair double standard (admittedly we got a little heated after reading this far), the research shows a more in-depth look at where these feelings are coming from.

“It’s not the idea of working women but the actual experiences of having to juggle working and parenting that a lot of people do not always treasure.” (via)

Women have to work harder at balancing their work life and their home life, because for men it’s expected.

For more on the study, check out The Washington Post.

Today is my husband’s and my anniversary.  We’re celebrating 14 years of wedded . . . ah . . . marriage.  Because as much as I’d love to tell to you that it’s been all bliss, it hasn’t.  Oh, I love him and he loves me —  there is no doubt about that. But love isn’t what keeps us together.

I hate to burst your bubble, but love is not enough for a healthy marriage.  Even people who are in unhealthy marriages can truly love each other.  They may not show each other in healthy ways, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel love.

Having a healthy marriage takes work.  It’s a daily, even moment-to-moment decision to show your partner love.  Even when they are not being lovable.  Even when you don’t feel loving. It’s this kind of work on our marriage that keeps us together.

Before I go any further, I want to state that this post is not for couples who are in an abusive marriage.  If your marriage is abusive, you can try these tips until you’re blue in the face and they will NOT make your marriage healthy.  Both partners must first be emotionally healthy and free from abuse or abusive behaviors before trying these tips.  

Do not use these tips to attempt to change your abusive partner.  Instead, spend your energy working on a way to find your freedom. If your partner gets the help he or she needs and you come back together as two emotionally and mentally healthy people, then you can try these tips to move ahead in your relationship and to maintain a healthy marriage.

Five Daily Practices for a Healthy Marriage

1.  Know Yourself

When you and your spouse come together at the end of a long day or if you are together throughout the day, know what’s on your mind.  If you are having a bad day, if you are dealing with illness, if you are upset about something, go in to interactions with your spouse understanding what may be causing you to be in a bad mood.

If you don’t know the reasons behind your sadness, annoyance, or anger you may blame your spouse for those feelings.  It’s unfair to rope your biggest ally into being responsible for your big feelings that were caused by someone or something else.

Be mindful about what you’re feeling so that you can interact with your partner honestly.  Let him or her know upfront that you are in a bad mood or that you don’t feel well.  He or she may be able to help you feel better.  But, if he or she can’t, don’t waste time being upset over it.  Simply work on helping yourself to feel better so that you can be a better partner.

2.  Assign Positive Intent

If your partner is really working your nerves today, take a step back.  Try to assign positive intent to his or her actions.  For instance, did he leave his laundry on the bathroom floor?  Maybe he ran out of time or was distracted.  This doesn’t mean you have to pick it up for him, but try to remember the times when you weren’t able to finish chores for one reason or another.

Stop assuming that the annoying things your spouse does are done to spite you.  Likely it has nothing at all to do with you!  Stop taking it personally  and assign positive intent to his or her actions.  When in doubt, ask your partner why he or she did the thing that you find bothersome.  But do not ask in a rude or blaming way.

3.  Give Each Other Space

You can also file this on under “get a life”!  This tip is especially important if your spouse is an introvert.  There may be some days when you or your partner just want to be alone.  This is okay and is not a red flag of a failing marriage.

Give your spouse some space and take space when you need it.  As I said in the last tip, assign positive intent to your spouse in these times. He or she isn’t rejecting you by needing some time alone.  He or she is simply doing what it takes to stay healthy and for some people that means having some time alone.

4.  Say What’s Bothering You

If something is bothering you about your partner, let them know.  Do it in a respectful way, but don’t hold it in.  Unspoken resentment leads to contempt and contempt kills marriages.

Talk about the little things as they come up.  Assign positive intent and be sure to use your “I” statements.  Example:  “I feel frustrated when you leave your laundry on the floor.  Help me understand why you left your laundry on the floor.”  Also, ‘What can I do to help?”  is a great way to spark a healthy conversation without inciting defensiveness and anger from your partner.

5.  Ask for What You Need

Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader.  Not even after many years of marriage should you expect your partner to know what you need if you don’t tell him or her.

Of course, it’s great when our spouses anticipate our needs.  Sometimes we hit it out of the park and know exactly what the other person needs or wants — sometimes before they know they need or want it!  But, expecting this all the time is tiring for your partner and frustrating for you.

So, just ask.  Tell them what you need and don’t play games.  It’s not true that if they loved you, they would know what you need.  They have a whole life of their own to figure out.  Unless you want to be held to the same standard of mind-reading (at which I promise you would fail), stop expecting your spouse to know what you need from them without being told.  Use your words and get what you need!

Of course, there are many ways to improve the health of your marriage, but I have found that these five have taken my husband and me a long way toward a better marriage.

A couple of the tips (assigning positive intent and asking for what I need) have been a struggle for me to implement at times, but when I have gotten outside of myself and practiced these things, I have seen the positive effect they’ve had on my marriage.

This post was originally featured on Allison’s blog, Our Small Hours. Featured image via

It’s been one month since my youngest started kindergarten. For one month I’ve been a stay at home mom of school aged kids. And people are finally done asking me, “So, what are you going to do all day?” Thank god for that. Now that the school year is in full swing I’m finally getting used to my new routine.

But, I know there are plenty of people out there who still question my SAHM existence. To those people, I feel like we need to get some things straight.

First: For the entire month of September I stammered my way awkwardly through my answer every time someone threw “What are you going to do now?” my way. It was difficult for me to come up with a good answer and I’m not exactly sure why. But It’s pretty simple really. You want to know what I’m going to do all day? I’m going to do everything that I’ve always done all day. I’ll just be doing it without my kids hanging on me. I’m going to continue to run this house. I’m going to continue to do all the shopping and errands. I’m going to continue to make sure everyone has everything they need when they need it. There are still a million and one things that need to get done for this family on any given day. That will never change. What HAS changed is that I can do those million and one things much more efficiently now without having to stop and cater to kids every 10 seconds.

Second: When you tell me what you do for a living, do I put you on the spot by asking YOU what YOU do all day? Nope. I certainly do not, because that would be rude. It’s really none of my business. It’s probably safe to assume that your time management skills are on point. And I’m sure you fill the hours of your day productively. You don’t have to justify any part of your work day to me. Is it wrong that I ask you to afford me the same courtesy?

Third: In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you what else I’m going to do. After my kids get on the bus I’m going to sit down and enjoy my coffee in the morning. It has been over 10 years since I quit my teaching job and started staying home full-time. In those 10 years I have had at least one child, if not three, vying for my attention every…single…morning while I tried to sit and enjoy my coffee. 10 YEARS! Nothing you can say (or ask me) will make me feel guilty for taking some time to relax now.

Fourth: Here’s something huge I want you to understand. I’m home between the hours of 8:30 and 2:30 most days. That’s 6 hours. Yes, you can sure get a lot done in 6 hours. But that time goes by incredibly quickly. And here’s a fun fact for you. Between 2:30 and 8:30 at night, I’m running my ass off. Carpool, dance, football, basketball, piano lessons, homework, dinner, bath time, book time, bedtime. Many days I do it all on my own when my husband is traveling for work. There’s no way we could fit it all in if I was working full-time. Being at home has allowed my kids a lot of flexibility to be in all of the activities they love. I’m so grateful that we can make it all work.

Fifth: Effective immediately, you know what else I’m going to do now that I’m a SAHM of school aged kids? I’m going to own the hell out of it. I’m going to stop apologizing for it. And I’m going to stop feeling like I need to defend it. This is my life. This is a choice that I have made. It works for me and it works for my family. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery. It doesn’t pay well. But it’s the most important job I’ll ever have. I wouldn’t change being a SAHM for anything.

It’s true, many things about my life have changed over the last month. But something that hasn’t changed is my value as a mom. Just because my kids aren’t with me all day now, doesn’t make my job any less important. Will I eventually go back to working outside the home? Of course. But this is it for me right now. It’s all I do and I do it well…um, some of the time. I know people don’t mean to be rude when they ask, “What do you do all day?” That probably seems like an inconsequential question to most. But to this SAHM, it’s been difficult not to take it personally. All I know is, the next time somebody asks me to justify what I do with my life, you can be damn sure I’ll be ready with a good answer.

This post was originally featured on Marie’s blog, Make Your Own Damn Dinner. Photo via

Over three years ago, I started a new job; one I had dreamed of having for years. On the day my oldest daughter, Ginny, was born, I became a stay-at-home mom. As my job into motherhood began, I was fearful and full of hope. I felt blessed that I would be able to stay at home, since many moms are unable to do so. Luckily, I found that my new “job” suited me. It didn’t frustrate or bore me, most days. (I’m aware that being a stay-at-home doesn’t work well for all women, for a variety of reasons.)

While many perks come with being a stay-at-home mom, it isn’t perfect. Unlike a typical job, there are no breaks during the day to take a minute for yourself, unless you count locking yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes. (You can’t count on your children taking naps.) Adult conversation is rare, unless you count Facebook or Twitter. Sick days? Nope. They don’t exist. I’ve only had one sick day when I had the stomach flu. My husband took the day off because I lacked the ability to leave my bed other than bathroom runs.

Because being a stay-at-home mom is 24/7/365, I occasionally find myself going a little crazy. While I love my “job” most of the time, I do have moments where I question my choice to stay home.These moments usually occur on the days when both of my little girls have constant meltdowns, and my husband has to work overtime that night.

I’m blessed by a husband who recognizes that I need occasional “me” time; time for me to get out of the house by myself for a few hours. Generally, I escape to the movie theater with a large tub of popcorn and a soda. Afterward, I feel much more refreshed and ready to be at home with my lovely girls.

I figure that I’m not alone. All of us moms need some “me” time. We all have our breaking point where we need to some time to ourselves. Here are a few signs that you just might need a day off:

1. You think about faking an illness that will force your husband to stay home while you hide out in your room.

2. Anytime you hear the word “Mommy” you have a PTSD reaction.

3. You find yourself yelling every other word instead of every other sentence.

4. You’ve created a Pinterest board with places where you hope to escape.

5. Not only that, but you can be found on Expedia, Travelocity or other travel site looking at possible trips you can take.

6. You look forward to filling your tank full of gas because it means you get out of the car and away from the kids for at least 5 minutes.

7. You start going to the gym twice a day; not to workout, but to put the kids in the free day care.

8. You consider taking the kids to the park even when it’s raining.

9. You hide under the covers in the morning with the hopes that your kids won’t notice you.

10. When your children refuse to nap, you break into tears.

11. You count down the minutes until bed time.

12. You decide to make bed time 30 minutes earlier than normal.

13. Instead of a bottle of wine, you are now drinking wine from a box.

14. You found a great delivery service for your wine supply.

15. You’ve started looking at job postings in the local paper.

This post was originally featured on Denise’s blog, Jayhawk Mommy. Photo via

I was (mostly) a stay-at-home mom for 11 years.  I was working outside of the home in another job that I loved when my oldest was born, but was desperate to be at home with my sweet baby.  I cut my hours to part-time, but when he refused to take a bottle at daycare while I spent half of my part-time day pumping milk for him, I knew something had to change.  I approached my boss with a boldness that, at 23, I had no idea I possessed, and asked him if I could work full-time from home.  He agreed and off I went.  

I was ecstatic to be home with my baby and get to keep my job and the income it provided.  For two years I worked from home and raised my baby boy.  For two years my life was blissful and being a stay-at-home mom was everything I’d ever dreamed it would be.  But then, management changed at work and the awesome deal that I had with my boss vanished.  I was required to come back to the office to work, as the new management believed telecommuters to be low in productivity.  Especially mommy telecommuters.

By that time I had another baby boy and a mad case of postpartum depression.  I ran the numbers and realized that after taxes, my full income would cover only childcare.  And, following in the footsteps of his older brother, my baby wouldn’t take a bottle.  Furthermore, there seemed to be something . . . different . . . about my second son that I wasn’t able to put my finger on then, but later found out was mild Asperger’s.  Intuition told me that full-time daycare was not the right place for my delicate newborn and my calculator told me I’d be working simply to pay for the care of my children.

Leaving my job behind to stay at home full-time was a no-brainer, but that didn’t make it easy.  I missed my job.  I certainly missed the income.  I missed the sense of self it gave me outside of motherhood.  Still, I loved being with my children all day and had long before fell into a martyr mentality concerning their care and upbringing.  I was the only one who could do it right and leaving them with another person, even for a date night, was akin to child abuse in my hormone-hazed mind.

And so, I did the mom thing.  I worked part-time at  my son’s preschool, teaching a class, doing the bookkeeping, spending my days caring for children.  When it began to feel like work and it was no longer bringing me joy, I reminded myself that at least I was contributing to the income.  But, the guilt of not contributing more was constantly on my shoulders.  And, very secretly, I resented the loss of myself as motherhood overtook me and I worked hard to parent by the book, many times ignoring the stress that it caused.

Finding Work From Home Jobs; Losing Myself

I watched my boys grow, gave birth to their little brother and eventually gave up my job at the preschool.  It was then that I almost obsessively looked for work that I could do from home.  I made bits of cash here and there through various means, mostly writing, but there was never enough work or money to fulfill me.  I knew I needed more, but didn’t dare say it out loud.  What kind of mother actually wants to work?

Other moms I knew admitted that the more they were away from their children, the less they wanted to be with them.  I had never found that to be true for myself–in fact, the opposite has remained true for me regardless of the age or stage–but the fear that I would spend less and less time with my babies out of a selfish desire to be fulfilled outside of motherhood kept me close to home, fighting the good fight and setting a brilliant example for attachment parents everywhere.

Finally, needing to have something to do that wasn’t childcare-related, I returned to school, finished my Bachelor’s, moved on to my Master’s and began home schooling my boys.  By the time my youngest was 3 years old, I admitted to myself that being a stay-at-home mom was no longer everything I dreamed it would be.  I wanted to work, but I felt enormous guilt for even considering it.  I needed to work, due to the financial demands of our growing family, but I resented having to think about the finances when all of my time was spent caring for our children and our home.

I was smacked with reality after a particularly tough week of caring for my children, finishing my school work, cleaning the house and worrying about the finances.  My husband asked me what he could do to help and I snapped, “Make enough money for me to hire a nanny and a housekeeper.”

There.  I’d said it.  The care of my children and our home was not all that I ever dreamed it to be.  And we both knew then that I was not completely happy at home.  And I knew that I would not be completely happy working outside of the home.  My husband encouraged me to do whatever I needed to do, but the guilt, the shoulds, the picture in my head of the way things ought to be would not let me make that decision without a heap of grief.

Being a Stay-at-Home Mom is Bittersweet

I was tired of the grunt work involved in mothering, but I loved those impromptu snuggle sessions that could happen anytime of the day.

I hated the sibling rivalry between my youngest and my oldest, but I was grateful to be able to take my children to activities no matter the time of day.

I wanted to scream when the boys undid my housework within minutes of completion, but I loved teaching them how to cook.

I despised being woken early, kept up late and disturbed in the middle of the night, but I adored snuggling down for naps with a kid or two during the day.

I grew depressed in the isolation of work-at-home mothering and dreamed of a career, but I comforted myself with the flexibility that setting my own work schedule provided.

I envied working moms who seemed to feel no guilt about leaving their babies with another caregiver while they worked all day but convinced myself that the guilt was good for me because it kept me grounded and focused on mothering.

I began to judge more well-to-do, stay-at-home mom friends who had mother’s helpers and money for weekly massages while I worked to menu plan and DIY anything I could, but I told myself that the simple life was noble and felt oh-so-smugly-hipster and artsy with my homemade laundry detergent and re-purposed  plastic containers.

Searching for Fulfillment Outside of Motherhood

And when I finally began my internship, after years of working toward my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, I felt choked and stifled and my health declined quickly.  I soon discovered that I had picked a career in haste.  In a desperate attempt to find value in myself outside of being a mother and wife, I had chosen a career for which I was unsuited.  What I really wanted was my former job, the one I’d left because I had children.

After months of telling my clients to let go of “the shoulds” and to do what they really wanted to do with their life and relationships, I finally followed my own advice.  I left the field of therapy, changed to a different Master’s degree program and began job hunting.  I knew I wasn’t likely to find a job in my desired field that was flexible enough to allow me the best of both worlds.  I would have to leave my children in the care of others, or alone as they got older, while I worked.

Letting Go of the “Shoulds”

It took me over a year to find my current job and while I waited, I tried to prepare myself for the overwhelming emotions I’d feel when I finally found it.  Mostly, I tried to prepare myself for the guilt I’d feel when I went back to work and turned my family’s whole world upside down.

Before I found my current job, it became apparent that working outside of the home was no longer optional for me.  My husband had suffered a job loss in the Spring of 2010 and had shortly thereafter accepted another position for less pay and longer hours.  He was working 7 days per week and the bills were paid, but his health was declining from the 3rd shift work and no time off.  Our family life was non-existent, as well.

I spent my days home schooling the boys, working on my Master’s, trying to keep the boys entertained and quiet so that my husband could sleep while I fretted over the budget.  There was absolutely no joy in being a stay-at-home mom and no time anymore to work from home, even if the work had been readily available.

Finally, a job offer came through for the perfect job, I went to work, and my husband got a new, less demanding job.  It all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to roll around in guilt or to ponder what “they” said might become of my children if they were raised by a working mom.

And you know what?  Everything has gone incredibly well.  We continue to home school our children, my younger has an amazing sitter who, on a daily basis, provides him with the kind of interaction and stimulation that fits his personality but isn’t possible for me to give him while also caring for his brothers, the house, and all of the demands that I had to meet as a work-at-home mom.

My oldest two are independent and responsible and accomplish more now than they did when I was there to tell them what to do and when to do it.

As for me, I can’t believe I waited so long to become a working mom!  Truthfully, I believe that everything happens for a reason and that I needed my time as a stay-at-home mom to grow and to decide firmly what I wanted and what I didn’t.  I can honestly say I have no regrets.

I’ve even begun to think about that fourth child that I always wanted and have often felt was missing from our life.  After having my third son, I didn’t dare to have any more children, despite my original desire for four or five,  because taking care of the three I already had was enough emotional and financial strain.

Spending Quality Time with My Children

The most fantastic part of my life as a working mom is that I am excited to see my children every day after work.  When I pick up my youngest, I can’t wait to hear about the adventures he had during the day.  When I come home to my oldest two, I look forward to our one-on-one time (something I never had time for when I was at home!) and they are happy to see me without having spent the day with me reminding them to do this and that.  (The this and that are almost always completed when I get home and sometimes they find the time and energy to do extra around the house with no nagging whatsoever from dear old mom!)

The quantity of time I spend with my children has been diminished but the quality of our time together has increased.

I revel in my weekends and smile at my work-clothed reflection in the mirror on Monday mornings.  I’m happy that dishes and laundry aren’t my main daily goals any longer.  I seem to have more time to write these days, as well, despite the full-time job, half-time school work, home schooling on weekends and evenings and getting in that precious one-on-one time with my boys.

My marriage has gotten stronger, as well.  I have to trust my husband to pull his weight when it comes to parenting and housework and I have to be very specific about my needs because there is no time to wait around for him to figure it out as we women tend to expect our men to do.  Our communication is better now than it has been at any point during our marriage.

Does Your Life Bring You Joy?

This reflection of my time as a stay-at-home mom is not meant to convince other struggling stay-at-home moms that they should begin job hunting immediately.  It’s not meant to encourage unhappy working moms to stay put in their career instead of being home with their children.  From my honesty about my experience with motherhood, you should only take away that doing something because they say you should is never a good thing.  If your motherhood experience is not bringing you joy, fix it!  That might mean simply changing your expectations or asking for help.  It may mean quitting your job or going back to work.

Only you know the answer for your situation. I believe that the answer is pretty clear to most of us, but we push it aside and make excuses for why it’s simply not feasible.  Don’t be afraid to try something different.  If you are not happy and whole in your way of life, you can’t teach your children to be happy and whole.  Finding wholeness and being an example of such to your children is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give them.

This post was originally featured on Allison’s blog, Our Small Hours

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