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The Stay At Home Mom vs. Working Mom Debate

Being a mom is hard.

It’s even harder thinking that you’re doing it wrong, all day, every day.  It is atrociously easy to question the decisions that you make on a daily basis, from the food you’re feeding your babes to the manner in which you either calmly or not-so-much lose your mind when you become overwhelmed.

Know what’s even worse??

Feeling like you’re being judged by others for doing it “wrong”.

One of the biggest areas of judgment that I have experienced either firsthand or through stories/vent sessions from other mom friends is the stay at home mom vs. working mom debate.

Let me be clear when I say unapologetically that this is stupid.

First of all…

There should be no debate.  It is my true belief that mothers are doing what is best for their family OR FOR THEMSELVES on either end of the spectrum…and that really shouldn’t be questioned by anyone not living in their shoes 24/7.  Ever.

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Mom guilt is real, and as sisters together along the journey of motherhood, it really does nobody any good to point fingers at another for doing it differently.

Here’s the deal: you don’t know.  That’s it.

We are all on a different journey

Personally, I think that’s rad.  I love perspective.  I also love having friends who are on a different journey than me.  It grounds me.  It makes me appreciate the things that I complain about at times, and I am able to provide that perspective for others.

stay at home mom vs. working mom

Working Moms

I know mamas who work full-time and are BOSSES making waves, making moves, and making a difference.  They are either contributing significantly to the income of their family, chasing dreams for a career that they are passionate about, or BOTH.  She is *amazing*.

I know mamas who work part-time, finding the delicate balance of work-life and family life and painstakingly scheduling for both.  They are fueling both their family and their job, likely with little to no help because they are “part-time”.  She is *outstanding*.


I know stay at home moms who have expectations that are literally unreasonable.  This mom is expected to feed her children the perfect balance of healthy organic home-prepared meals all day long, follow a daily cleaning schedule, engage her children in developmentally appropriate and engaging activities throughout the day (including community outings), and have herself put together every day.  She is *radically* underappreciated, and likely taken advantage of.

Necessity, Happiness, and Exhaustion

I know working moms who wish they could quit and be at home so that they could spend more time with their family.  She works not by choice but by necessity to put food on the table, bills paid, and extra-curricular activities currently for every season.  She grits her teeth and pulls up her big girl panties each and every day.  She is *remarkable*.

I know moms who LOVE their job and are genuinely happy being at work but are made to feel guilty (either by their own hand or more likely by the feelings of others imposed upon them) because they’re not spending more time at home.  This is GARBAGE that she has to feel this guilt.  She is *breathtaking* because she has the courage to chase after her dreams and is an astounding example to her family.

I know the stay at home mom who just wishes she could have a couple of hours away from the other souls that rely on her all damn day long.  She loves being the constant that her family can always count on but is exhausted by having to *be* the constant.  She is *awe-inspiring* because she has literally set her own SELF aside to lift up those she loves most.

stay at home mom vs. working mom

We are all “working” it

You may or may not fit into one of the Mama categories that I have listed above.  You may have a category all your own (like the work-from-home mom who can’t manage to say no and has therefore committed herself too far more than she ever intended, i.e. ME).

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have never held a full-time working position since I became a mom, and the only experiences that I can speak to are my own or those that others have shared with me.

Regardless of what type of mom you are, you know, or you want to be, I simply ask you this: Please, pretty please with a cherry on top, do not judge another mom for doing it differently. We are not here for you to share which one is better in your opinion on the SAHM vs. working mom debate.

My path

As for my own personal experience since having children, I have been a part-time working mom, stay-at-home-mom, then a work-from-home mom.

However, I have been told time and time again, that I “don’t work”, regardless of what stage that I’ve been in.

Each time I have heard that (because I’ve absolutely heard it more than once), I would grit my teeth and smile, trying to convince myself in my head at that moment that I was valuable

That my sweet little family needed me to be doing exactly what I was doing, and that the opinions of others shouldn’t matter BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T KNOW MY PATH.  They didn’t know our financial situation.  They didn’t know the prayers said for guidance.  They just plain didn’t know.

stay at home mom vs. working mom

When I worked part-time, I was met with surprise by those who thought that I “wasn’t working” but would find me at the post office at 9 pm getting out hundreds of mailings.  When I was a stay-at-home mama, I was told “I would get so bored”, or “What do you even do all day long?”

As a work-from-home mom, it is just assumed that I don’t actually work or have any obligations, but my very own loving mama will tell me that I’m one of the busiest people that she knows because I am always doing *something*, even if I manage not to get paid for it.

Different path, same journey

Ultimately, I suppose my goal is just putting it out there that there should be no stay at home mom vs. working mom debate.  We are all figuring out our own journey of motherhood at the same time, both while failing and succeeding, and it would just be super rad if we did that all together.

Supporting one another along the journey regardless of the different paths that we are on.

There’s just so much wisdom and knowledge that we can gain from each other, and that is best displayed through our differences.

I truly look forward and take advantage of every opportunity of being inspired by my mom friends, so here’s to us, Mamas (as I raise my can of sparkling water):

May you be lifted up by your tribe, celebrated for your unique way of raising your babes that only you can pull off, and never ever feel like you’re not valued.  Cheers!

Jenelle S

Jenelle Stathes married her high-school sweetheart and they share their love with their three darling and fierce daughters. She works as the CEO of their small family business and as a group fitness instructor for a local gym. Jenelle was born and raised right here in Reno, Nevada, and is doing her best at living a non-judgy and tribe-loving mom life. She has experience with infertility, weight loss, body positivity, fitness, and most recently, a tummy tuck. You can follow Jenelle to laugh either with her or at her as she traverses through the daily adventures of motherhood.