Expectations of SAHMs

Came across this interesting perspective from a dad and what he expects from his SAHM. Of course to the red pillians this dad will be cast off as a blue pill, clueless beta. To those of us actually living the SAHM life, you have to give credit for daring to discuss realistic expectations. Here is most of his post:

So, all that being said, let’s get to the good stuff. What can a husband realistically expect from his own SAHM. I thought I’d start with a few things to NOT expect:

  1. A home-cooked meal on the table every night when you walk in the door.
  2. A wife that is dressed to the nines with a freshly ironed dressed and pearl necklace.
  3. A spotless house.
  4. A sex fiend waiting for you at the door in nothing but an apron.

In case you’ve forgotten, your SAHM is home all day with at least one child. Mine is home all day with three kids. All under the age of 4. One of them is 6 weeks old. If I come home to a Stouffer’s lasagna, cars and baby doll accessories strewn about the floor and a wife in sweat pants and one of my old t-shirts there is NO WAY I can be upset. That’s how life works out sometimes.

So what can you expect from your SAHM? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Relatively clean, fed, well-adjusted kids. The real goal of staying home with your children is to provide them a first-class upbringing. So it makes sense to expect at least some results in the child rearing department.
  2. At least some attempt to get cleaned and dressed. My thought is this: if I have to shave everyday (and I HATE shaving), you can at least comb your hair and put on something that wouldn’t double for painting clothes.
  3. An attempt to stay up on the laundry, dishes and general maintenance of the household.
  4. Finding ways to save money or make a little money on the side. Since most one-income families aren’t rolling in disposable income, every little bit helps.

The thing to remember, guys, is that none of these rules are really absolute. Notice I used the word “attempt” a lot. Some days none of this is going to happen. Some days all of this and more is going to happen. You’ve just got to learn to roll with the punches and love your SAHM even if she hasn’t showered since Tuesday and the laundry is piling up.

The part I bolded is key and touches on previous discussions on the importance of being flexible.  Every day with young children can not be a cookie cutter repeat of the last. Of course if a man wants to have the expectations he first mentions then he needs to clearly spell this out to the woman he wants to marry and make sure she is good with that. I pause though in saying that because its very easy for a woman to say “Yes, that sounds good, yes I can do that” when she hasn’t experienced the reality of being at home with young children. Everything always sounds good in theory or on paper.

Related to that, here is another good article that has some excellent points about why SAHMS struggle:

1. Being a good housekeeper and organizer is often incompatible with being a good SAHM, by today’s definition.

Today’s SAHM’s are supposed to play with their kids, a lot.  They are also supposed to feed their kids healthy food and limit screen time.  Furthermore, small kids aren’t allowed to play alone outside anymore, and toddler and babies never were.  Independent time for babies used to be an hour in a playpen and now it’s 15 minutes while mom is nearby.  If your wife is a devoted SAHM, she is playing pretend, making crafts, and preparing veggies for your kid’s snack.  She therefore doesn’t have the time that your own mom had to make three wonderful meals per day for a family of five, vacuum the house top to bottom daily, and get the laundry done.  Relatedly…

All very well said. In addition, we are made to feel guilty for leaving a crying babies for a few minutes while we tend to ourselves or other kids. I’ve seen mention often enough that not picking a baby up right away when they cry can lead to bad brain wiring.

2. SAHM’s are isolated.

It is very recent that women with small kids were left completely alone during the day.  People used to live near extended family, or with them.  Your wife is lonely and overwhelmed because it’s unnatural for one adult and one or two or three kids to be together for ten hours a day.  Your wife has nobody to help make lunch, or watch a kid for a second, or anything.  This, when you think about it, is a bizarre way to raise kids, but it’s what she’s working with here.  If she doesn’t go on Facebook, she doesn’t have any social life at all.  Yeah, she could go to a Mom’s group.  But that’s about an hour twice a week or something.  People also used to have many more kids, so a preteen could help with the baby.  Now, that’s a rare situation. Incidentally, many women have undiagnosed post-partum depression or anxiety, and this is not helped by feeling alone.

Yes, lunch for herself can easily be forgotten or at best you eat standing up or eat something cold or eat in a hurry (before baby wakes up). Nobody to even hold the baby while you go poop (since Lori mentions poop, I take it that is OK to bring up).   I once had the baby asleep in the carrier and really had to poop, but what to do? You don’t want to take baby out and wake up after you just went through so much to get to sleep. I thought for half a second, “I know, I’ll just poop with her attached to me”. Yeah, I was that desperate, but alas being a good mom I put my selfish needs of needing to go poop aside and held it in until I got some help many hours later.

Even mom’s groups are iffy. Often they are cancelled or kids are sick, so 2 hours a week of that is generous.

Yes, facebook/blogging is a social outlet for women. While men get to talk to adults all day and go out to lunches (a whole hour where you actually get to sit and have hot food) women don’t have this. I saw a comment in a mommy forum not long ago where a woman was complaining that her husband goes out twice a week to play some sports game with his buddies. She expressed to him she was lonely and he looked confused and said “how can you be lonely you are at home with our 3 and 1 year old boys all day”. SIGH!!

3. SAHM’s are often Type B, to counterbalance their Type A husbands.

Two Type A people don’t often work well together.  In a lot of couples I see with the critical-husband/hurt-SAHM-wife dynamic, the husband is high-powered and Type A, and very motivated but also kind of self-absorbed.  The reason he was drawn to his wife is that she was calm, caring, and listened to him talk about himself a lot.  She was also probably flexible, and built her schedule around his. All this flexibility and go-with-the-flow nature doesn’t lend itself to remembering to defrost something for dinner every day. But it does make you calm and patient with kids.

All of these points I had not thought of before but really ring true. With respect to #3, rightly so especially if the man is more the dominant, take charge leader who wants the submissive wife. Everything that comes along with the submissive temperament is going to be more of a flexible personality. For her to be a good follower, without putting up a fight to her husband’s leadership and his direction, she needs to be flexible. Then these same men are perplexed as to why the home isn’t managed in the same Type A way that they might manage the office. A SAHM really has to have some serious leaderships and managerial skills to be effective. However, this is at odds with what some men claim to want. The women who can do this well then struggle turning back into that submissive, meek and quiet, following personality once her husband is home. Once you are in managerial mode you have to be mindful to step out and get back into submissive mode.

Lastly, to cap this all off I can imagine some of the men saying there is no excuse to not have a meal cooked everyday, no excuse to not have a spotless home, no excuse to not be naked under you apron, BECAUSE ITS YOUR JOB. In their job they can’t just go with the flow, but rather have to meet the demands and expectations of their boss. They transpose their job role as being the same as the SAHM and to that end I will leave with this quote from the ever controversial Matt Walsh:

It’s true — being a mom isn’t a “job.” A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing. You get a paycheck. You have unions and benefits and break rooms. I’ve had many jobs; it’s nothing spectacular or mystical. I don’t quite understand why we’ve elevated “the workforce” to this hallowed status. Where do we get our idea of it? The Communist Manifesto? Having a job is necessary for some — it is for me — but it isn’t liberating or empowering. Whatever your job is — you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real.

If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. The ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations. If she quit her job as a computer analyst, she’d be replaced in four days and nobody would care. Same goes for you and me. We have freedom and power in the home, not the office. But we are zombies, so we can not see that.


8 thoughts on “Expectations of SAHMs

  1. Mothers used to say they were off the clock after supper or sometimes in the afternoon. It was partly a joke, but partly about them being discrete people who had existed before kids and would exist after kids grew up and left home.


  2. Great post! I’ve always felt sorry for women whose husbands expect them to keep a company ready home and prepare 3 homemade meals a day with young children and no help. The husband who wrote that first post almost gets it. Now he just needs to figure out that they need a housekeeper or a mommy’s helper.


  3. All this flexibility and go-with-the-flow nature doesn’t lend itself to remembering to defrost something for dinner every day. But it does make you calm and patient with kids.

    This is so true in my case. I very rarely lose my temper with my children, but I will sometimes look up from playing with them and realize that it is 4:30 and I have no idea what we’re eating for dinner. I resolve this with takeout. LOL.


  4. Nonya,
    Yes, in fact Lori loves to boast about how she was a not fun mom and did not play with her kids. Because cooking and cleaning are more important apparently. It could be a generational divide, but there is a lot more pressure to be very engaged with your kids and you kinda have to like the article mentioned kids are limited in what they can do these days on their own.


  5. TPC said:

    “Mothers used to say they were off the clock after supper or sometimes in the afternoon. It was partly a joke, but partly about them being discrete people who had existed before kids and would exist after kids grew up and left home.”

    The godfather of my oldest child (an academic) says that his wife is “on sabbatical” during the summer.

    They have 5+ kids, last I heard.


  6. I thought this was an interesting read. I am a sahm and I enjoy keeping very busy. I enjoy cleaning and cooking and organizing. I love schedules and doing activities with my baby. My husband works long hours and when he gets home he always has dinner waiting for him because I choose to do that because we are a team. I think it’s important to remember to always be a team. When he is home from work he helps clean and cook and when he’s not I do. It’s balance and it keeps us both happy. I think you have to be cut out for this lifestyle and have to especially enjoy it to be happy. Not everyone enjoys doing these things but I absolutely do.


  7. juliamakl said:

    ” I am a sahm and I enjoy keeping very busy. I enjoy cleaning and cooking and organizing. I love schedules and doing activities with my baby. My husband works long hours and when he gets home he always has dinner waiting for him because I choose to do that because we are a team.”

    With all due respect, you haven’t been doing this very long.

    I could have said almost every word of what you just said 14-15 years ago–it’s just that we’ve added a lot of balls in the air since then.


  8. Oh, I love this post, this is so true… For my part, I’m a WAHM (I remotely help support the database for an expense-management company), but I feel like my husband *still* expects, or at least wishes for, all that classic SAHM stuff like having a meal ready when he gets home and looking nice and keeping the house decent…but for Pete’s sake, I have higher priorities than maintaining good appearances – trying to fix healthy food the kids will actually eat, and maybe fixing something healthy for myself (or maybe I just get to eat the kids’ healthy leftovers, haha), trying to get the kids’ teeth brushed and get them bed at a decent hour so they get enough sleep, and just dealing with their sister-spats in a healthy way that will teach them to be better people instead of being spoiled or traumatized with no self-discipline… Things like that keep me from being able to put in more than 6 hours of work for my paid job on most days, and I’m just so thankful that my supervisor is understanding and flexible enough, and values me enough, to allow that, since it’s supposedly a full-time position! And I feel terrible about how much screen-time the kids get, but how else can I get anything done? If I had more time, keeping them off those screens *would* be my next-highest priority, so the house-cleaning and looking nice don’t have a chance. Reading this post that says those things can scarcely be expected even of SAHMs that don’t have a paid job, is highly validating to me and helps me not feel guilty that I’m not doing those things my husband unreasonably wishes for… (and I’ve always known it was unreasonable, but it still feels good to see someone else agree!)


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