SAHM vs Working Mum



Today is a rare day for me at home alone. I’m off work sick & the kidlets are at kindy/preschool.  I thought I would spend the day relaxing, sleeping, blogging and generally chilling out.  Instead I’ve mopped, vacuumed, attacked Mt Washmore (4 baskets folded & put away!), striped beds, cleaned out the fireplace, tidied the toy room and have plans for making some meals to freeze before popping to the shops and collecting the offspring.  Phew!  Doesn’t sound relaxing does it? But apart from still feeling pretty sick, I’m feeling fantastic about what I have been able to achieve without interruptions, kid’s snacks & meals to prepare and the general feeling of fatigue that usually accompanies my days at home with the children.

I work 3 days a week with the kids in care on these days. I’m so in awe of mum’s who work 5 days a week. I’m not sure how they achieve anything (or have any sanity left) however I know some wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today has made me question what my preference is. Being a stay at home mum (SAHM) or a working mum.   

Obviously I had time off when the boys were born but must say this was largely wasted on me for various reasons. I thought I would be organised. I thought I would be social. I thought I would be fulfilled. I was not. My post on Thursday will shed some further light on why…

After my first stint of maternity leave, I was keen to get back to work. In hindsight, I had never really disconnected from my work. I kept in touch with my colleagues regularly, knew what was happening and wanted to be involved again.  However, after I had been back a few months, I started to feel that I had robbed myself and my son of precious time together. This wasn’t altogether true, of course. We needed the money and the Wilful One was being cared for by his 2 grandma’s which has created wonderful relationship between him and them.  It was clear to me though that my priorities had changed.

My time off after Bam Bam’s birth was somewhat different. It was busier with 2 under 3 and even though I thought I knew what I was doing the second time round, a new baby always brings new challenges. And Bam Bam was (& is still) a very big challenge.  Even so, I wasn’t keen to go back to work but did after 13 months as The Man’s work prospects were already starting to look grim at that point.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back 18 months. It’s difficult, as even though I like my job and am only there part-time, I find all I think about are the things I have to do at home.  When I’m at home I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of achieving these things with constant interruptions from little people. I feel guilty that I’m not spending as much time as I should playing and teaching them. I feel guilty that the house is always in a semi-state of chaos. I feel guilty for sneaking off to have a coffee and do some blogging. I HATE feeling guilty.

I think a craving for intellectual stimulation was a big factor in my “need to work” after having my first child. Now that I have my blog, I feel I have an outlet for that. So would if be different now if I was a full-time SAHM? Would I be organised, social and fulfilled? Would I feel guilty for not contributing to our family financially?

I know every mum faces these dilemmas. The work/family/life balance is not a new quandary by any stretch.

Ultimately, my ideal would be having a business I could run from home. One day this might happen.  But for now I must be content to have a secure part-time job with the guarantee of returning full-time if when I’m ready. Our babies are well cared for when I’m at work and have ample (much loved) home time. I know I am lucky to be in this position but boy am I looking forward to 5 weeks holidays in October so I can play SAHM a little more.

Tell me, what’s your ideal? SAHM, WAHM or working mum?





Image from We Heart It



  1. I can completely identify with Anne’s story and your post! I always dreamed of being a SAHM and never really contemplated going back to work with little ones. I was a professional photographer before my first was born and my second is now 15 months old. But I really really struggle being a SAHM. I totally love spending time with the kids, but I can never get the pressure and worry out of my head that ‘I need to be working’. My husband works for a charity on a fairly low wage so it’s a huge sacrifice for us for me to stay at home, but photography work is so unpredictable that we couldn’t put the kids in daycare a day or two a week assuming I’d get enough work – some months I’d have 40hrs a week and some none!
    I find my confidence has dropped a lot since becoming a SAHM, and I really feel insignificant around working women explaining that the most eventful part of my day was Sam going to the doctor. (A little bit jealous of their aspirations and opportunities too.) I also worry a lot about how I’ll get back into work after such a long break. I try to do photographic editing jobs at home on the computer but realisticly, only get an hour or two done each day when the kids sleep (luckily my clients are forgiving!). I’m so glad to be with my kids, but it’s not all cookies and craft. There’s a lot of sacrifice and mental conflict involved. I think these days, mums can never feel like they’re getting it 100% right, whichever path we take. We have to learn to live with the guilt and get on with it!

    • So true! Even being part-time at work I find it hard to feel confident & often feel I have little to contribute to intellectual discussions as I’m more a mum than a professional. Mind u my tongue-tie affliction doesn’t help either. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I am the bread winner in our family so staying at home and not working has never been an option for me, unfortunately. Its probably one of the biggest regrets I have. I have all these visions of me pottering around baking cookies and making fun crafty things with the kids and folding up my washing the instant it is dry and maybe even watching Dr Phil for an hour during the day. Yes, I do realise this IS a fantasy and life as a SAHM would probably drive me insane!

    When I had my firstborn I worked from home full time which was great as there was the flexibility to feed and play with him and catch up on work when he was sleeping. By the time No. 2 came along 18 months later I was back working in an office which had a creche so I was able to breastfeed him at work until 6 months. Then we got a live in nanny at home for the 2 boys. When No. 3 came, I breastfed him at work until 3 months (he was a hungry little bugger and could never get enough so eventually I had to put him on the bottle) and then he stayed at home with the nanny too. A year later No. 4 was born and I breastfed him for 5 months before I had to leave him. My greatest regret is having the nanny call me at work and tell me that my last little baby had just taken his first step. And I wasn’t there to see it. Even now I feel like crying when I remember that day. Since moving back to Melbourne last year, I am back working at home again and do 30 hours a week (9am to 3pm). No. 3 is at kindy three mornings a week and No. 4 is at home full time. It is AN ENORMOUS TASK to work, entertain and feed the kids and maintain some kind of semblance of domesticity in the house. Most of the time the house loses out *sigh*. But I am so lucky to be able to provide for my family and get to spend more time with the little ones and my big boys after school than if I was working 9 to 5 in an office in the city.

    • Wow Eloise what an amazing story. I’m not sure how you do it (& that’s just the 4 boys bit – let alone working as well!). I can’t imagine how difficult it was/is for you. I’m also not sure how you get ANYTHING done trying to work with littlies at home!

  3. Hi Nee, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I was a young girl my answer was always a Mum. I think I prepared myself for the role all my life (with a little full time work thrown in as a bit of a filler). When it happened, OMG. It was nothing like I had planned. I hated it at first, to tell you the truth but I never thought about going back to work full time. It just wasn’t in my make up. I’ve tried about 4 times with part time evening jobs, ie data entry, Woolworths home shopping order filler and more data entry, thinking I could juggle full time Mum, part time work and full time tidy, organised house. Nuh! I barely can do the full time Mum part let alone anything else. I’ve got one set of grandparents interstate and my Mum is getting quite elderly and while she loves the kids, her patience runs thin.

    For me, staying at home will always be my first choice and dreaming of winning the lotto (if I ever buy a ticket LOL). We somehow manage on one wage but could so do with that extra income. Maybe I’ll rethink things next year when my baby is at school. Looking forward to reading your story on Thursday.

    Anne xx

    • I think motherhood is a shock to the system for most. Definitely not around the clock sunshine & lollipops! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the lotto for u 😉 x

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