What I’d Like For You To Know: Working Outside the Home

WhatidlikeToday’s guest poster in the What I’d Like For You To Know series is Shalee, of Shalee’s Diner.  I know that many of us are either stay-at-home moms or work-at-home moms, and I asked Shalee to share a little about her experience as a mom working full-time outside the home.

Ironically, Shannon requested that I tell you what I know about being a working mom as I search for new employment. I’m actually enjoying this extended vacation as a coffee-dates-with-other-women, laundry’s-all-caught-up, house-actually-looks-good, cookies-in-the-oven, home-for-the-kids-after-school SAHM.  Let’s pretend that I’m in the normal mode of working outside the home, and all this will go down easier, okay?  Thanks.

So I’m a working mom.  In addition to my 40 hours/week job, I keep house, raise my kids, am a great wife, volunteer to help others and find “Shalee” time. But what can I say that will hold any weight with you people?! 

I mean, what about ‘I’m tired!’ is all that thrilling?  That’s what I thought.  No sympathy from you on that front…

Let me give you a typical schedule for me:

4:30ish – awake, read Bible, blog, read another book, do household cleaning
6:30 – wake everyone up
8:00 – 5:00 – work, shop/read over lunch, pay bills
5:30 – 8:30 – make dinner, help kids, answer a bajillion questions, talk, play, baths
8:30 – put kids to bed, date Mr. Right (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
10:30 – fall into bed, trying to turn off my mind
11:30ish – sleep

Busy huh?  I know it can be exhausting, but I love this life of mine.  I see the results of what I accomplish.  It’s not for everyone, but it works for me/us.

I have been asked questions over the past years from SAHMs:

• Shouldn’t a woman’s first priority be to her family and staying home? 
• How on earth do you stay sane and find time to work, read, blog, cook from scratch and have dates with Mr. Right as well as family time in a single week?!

I think God intended for us to be working women, whether it’s working as a homemaker or a career woman. Look at Proverbs 31.  This passage honors the woman who bought a vineyard from her earnings, made garments to sell/trade and governed the fields that she purchased.  She worked from morning to night, inside the house and out, all for her household.  Therefore, working supports putting family first.  Not being idle for the benefit of your family is exactly what God planned.

I’m employed because my family likes to do this little thing called “eating”.  Funny how they want clothes, heat and water too…  I know!  They’re so demanding! 

I’m not putting a career before them.  I’m putting them before my desires because, if I were to be completely honest, I would much rather stay at home living the life of luxury like you do (*wink*) than spend half a day in an office and dealing with people.  What?!  You don’t eat bon bons and watch soaps all day?  Hmmm, to think that I’ve been misinformed all these years…  *grin*

Sometimes I’m glad to have an escape from the daily grind of parenting. Knowing that I can go to the bathroom without someone asking me a question outside the door sort of makes that commuting thing worthwhile.

As for staying sane, well, no comment.  I’m not sure I resemble that remark. 

I do have tips that help me manage, but I have to tell a story to help you understand how I became so wise. (*snort*)  Disclaimer: Mr. Right is a wonderfully thoughtful husband whose mama trained him right.

When my daughter was born, I worked full-time, cared for the house, paid the bills and was active in church.  One day Mr. Right politely requested that some task be done. I looked at him and just started crying, bawling really. Then I told him that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t be the one-woman-show, wowing my family, juggling everything that was being thrown at me. Mr. Right stared at me and then said the most comforting thing: “You’re right.  I’m sorry; I’ve been unfair. I just didn’t think.” He immediately shared the load.

1. I learned to ask for help.  Not even the Proverbs 31 woman did it all on her own; she had servant girls.  If I hadn’t acted like I could handle it all on my own, Mr. Right would have helped earlier.  He asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I don’t know why. I thought being the perfect wife/mother meant being able to do it all, but that’s a lie. It includes knowing when to ask for assistance. 

My kids help too.  They have daily chores: making beds, putting away things/laundry, helping clean after dinner.  They also have assigned chores.  The Boy unloads the dishwasher, and The Girl vacuums and cleans the litter box.  Not huge tasks, but they free up time for us as a family. 

2. I lowered my standards.  I quit trying to be Martha Stewart.  Not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes I say, “I’ll get to that – but not right now.”

3. I prioritized. I made a list of what is important to me. Then I lived that list. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it?  To me, spending time with my family comes before watching tv, helping on 29 committees, shopping or other activities. People call me for help on things that I don’t want to do, and I say no without guilt.  I control how I want to live my life. I don’t let things control me.

4. I keep a planner that has the main events for everyone.  No school days, meetings, dinner plans, activities, bill payments: all goes on the calendar to keep my head from spinning circles.  One glance tells me what I need to do for that week, freeing space in my overloaded noggin.

5. I quit comparing myself to any other people. One of my favorite saying is “The grass may be greener on the other side, but you don’t know how much manure they used to get it that way.”  I’ll just let that one sink in and move on to the next point.

6. This point should have been first: I pray about it. God helps me manage my time so that I can be the best servant for Him. You know what?  It’s amazing how much more I can done and feel good about it too when I give it all over to God. 

It’s not easy maintaining this life.  Just think about single working mothers!  Those women are true wonder women to me. 

The next time you see a working mom and she looks a bit frazzled, give her some grace and a hug.  She’ll appreciate having both.  Heck, throw in a dinner too.  You’ll earn her undying gratitude to boot as she crosses something off her to-do list…

To read more of Shalee’s posts, visit Shalee’s Diner.

82 thoughts on “What I’d Like For You To Know: Working Outside the Home

  1. BusyMom says:

    I love your post. I too am a mom who works outside the home. It can be very challenging and I often times find myself jealous of my friends who are able to stay home – many actually went from full-time to 3 days/week. I think that is the perfect set up. Work full-time, just not 5 days a week. When I returned from my last maternity leave, I staggered my return. Working 3 days a week, then 4, then 5. I was amazed at how much additional time I felt like I had by having 1 extra day at home. I sometimes feel like the minority in the frugal/mom blogs that I read, it seems that most are either stay at home or work at home moms. Thanks for a great post and reminding me that I am not alone.

  2. Debbie says:

    I have done both and I am busy more at home than at work. At work, I was able to go out to eat with ADULTS and downtime. There is NO down time here…Unless I get up at 4AM!
    Thanks for you post…every woman has to do what is right for her family and their needs!
    -Sandy toes

  3. Damsel says:

    Shannon, thank you so much for doing this series, and Shalee, thanks for writing this post!
    I work full-time outside the home, too. The only thing I might add if I were writing the post is that I have a job that I absolutely know I’m called to do. Does my family need my income? Yes. It “just so happens” that God has also provided me with a job that I am very, very passionate about… So, while I’m tired and very busy a lot of the time, I also have a great deal of peace and contentment, knowing I’m living the live God has called me to live. I suppose that can be true for *any* “career woman”.
    BusyMom, I agree that 3 days a week would be *perfect*. Unfortunately, teaching high school science is an all-or-nothing gig! 🙂

  4. Tiff@Three Peas says:

    Awesome post. As a mom i have been a single working momma and a married SAHM. Both are equally difficult. It’s not easy being a mom no matter if you work or not. But God has calmed my spirit and helped me take joy in what I do. Thanks so much for the post!

  5. Theresa says:

    Great post Shalee. I used to be a full-time working single parent. Fortunately my children weren’t involved in any after school activities so it worked well.
    Now I work part-time and have step-children.
    Being a Mom is the most difficult and rewarding experiences of all and we are all blessed to be called ‘Mom’.

  6. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    This excellent series continues. I worked (part-time) until kid 3 arrived. I hope I won’t forget what a nightmare for working mums when unexpected school closures happen, kids are sick etc…. and now that I don’t work (well, I do…just not paid…outside the home) I try to help my working friends as much as I can.
    Few more questions – What are your childcare arrangements? How do you manage when kids are sick, or during school holidays? It was these aspects that finally confirmed that for our family for me to leave my job was the best decision for us.

  7. Mary @ Simple Things says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I tend to gravitate towards blogs that have homemaking/Proverbs 31 themes and it seems that about 98% of them are written by SAHM’s. Sometimes I feel like I must be a bad mom for working but my family too likes to eat and have a roof over their heads so off to the office I go. I just wish I had it figured out like you do. I’m struggling hard trying to get it all done and unfortunately my hubby was born without the ‘helpful gene’ so it’s pretty much up to me. Thank you for the tips on setting priorities…food for thought.

  8. Harmony says:

    Great Post. I am also a full time working mother and I too find that a lot of mom blogs are by moms who are SAHM’s. I work out of neccessity. I used to always stay home but God has us in a place right now where I must work to pay the bills and my husband is the one who works at home. (he gets to see what it was like for me for years so that is good!) I thank God that we have the option to have one parent home but I do miss being that parent. God has really helped me as has support from other moms to be more organized and have some balance. It didn’t matter to me as much before but I’ve had to learn it now. I’m happy to have experience as a stay at home mom and a working mom. I am a pastor’s wife and it helps me to be able to relate to the women in my church. (even if some think a pastor’s wife should be home!) Being a pastors wife also means Bible study, Sunday school, Worship leader, and Kids church so organized is key! Being a mother is tough either way but if we are loving our kids and relying on God’s strength, we are doing well!

  9. Trixie says:

    Thank you for the very well written post. I visit many wonderful homemaking blogs and the writers are so often homemakers. (I work outside the home for at least 45hrs each week)
    There are so many things I would love to do, learn or try but my time is very limited and I have to keep a very tight schedule.
    I know homemakers are very busy too, particularly if they are also raising up children, but I can’t help but feel a little bad, when I read “to do” lists that include such things as
    — take vitamins
    — drink a full glass of water with the vitamins
    — get dressed to my shoes
    — write 2 thank you notes
    — take a tea break
    Usually I think, “please, please tell me your day consits of something more than this. Because I can fit all this into a 15 minute time slot and then get on with the rest of the day.
    Take Care,

  10. Gina Lane says:

    While I am a SAHM now, I worked for 4 years after my daughter was born. And I don’t regret it. It was what was right for our family at that time. I hate that there is such a battle line drawn between working moms and SAHM. There are no cookie cutter answers. Everyone must do what is right for their family.

  11. rrmama says:

    Let me just say ditto, from one working mom to another! I loved all of this post. Shannon, once again thank you for doing this. I always seem to learn something new and have another side to look at. Bless you.

  12. Life on 7th Avenue says:

    Thank you for this post. I work full time, but am currenly home on family leave with my newly adopted eleven month old son. I am struggling with going back to work in three weeks, but I must go back. Your post put many things into perspective for me. I also appreciate reading the blog of someone who is more like me. Many of the blogs I read are stay at home moms and while I gain a great deal from them it is nice to hear from someone who “gets” my situation as well.

  13. Michele says:

    I, too, am currently a work-outside-the-home mom. But. I just can’t do it anymore. I counted it up… The 8 hour work day actually translates to 11 hours away from home with lunch and commute, plus $1300/mo. childcare. I see my kids an hour a day during the week. It’s simply not enough. I am going to be a work-at-home mom in November. In my life, something had to give, so after about a year in prayer and thought – we’re shaking things up around here.

  14. Sallie says:

    Many of the comments have summed my thoughts up perfectly. So from one mom who is called to work outside of the home in what I consider my mission field, THANK YOU! No reason to draw lines – we are women who are all called in different roles. May we all respect that of each other! Thanks Shannon for the post!

  15. Beth @ A Quest for Relevance says:

    Hallelujah! Another working mom! My schedule looks eerily like your, right down to what time we get up and what we do when. Except the kids bedtime. I only WISH my kids would go to bed that early!
    I just want to say that “I understand!!!” I am very busy, and sometimes flat-out exhausted, but I love it. Thanks for sharing, so other people have some idea about us “working women!”

  16. LauraLee Shaw says:

    This is a wonderful post. You have great wisdom in here for all women, no matter if they work outside the home or not. Thank you for sharing this, and for entertaining me in the process. 😉

  17. Sarah at themommylogues says:

    I worked outside the home for 2 years after my first was born, and just about 4 months after my second. I left that job, and planned on finding another job outside of the home. Instead God kind of placed a WAHM job in my lap. I think you’re exactly right, we need to do what works for each of our families. I think as women we will fill up our time no matter what. There are never enough hours in the day, no matter the situation.
    Thanks, Shalee!

  18. Jen says:

    I so agree with so much that has been said today, and “here, here, Gina Lane!” Each of us has a unique calling; no working mom, no WAHM, no SAHM is the same as another. We are all so unique. I think all that is in order is a whole lot of grace for each person we meet (wow, that sounds spiritual; if only I could live up to it). Well done, all!

  19. Stephanie says:

    Good post. I’ve always been a work-outside-the-home mom, with DH being the stay-at-home parent after his disability, and sometimes things just don’t get done. You do what you gotta do, and try to keep your priorities in line.

  20. Janelle says:

    I went back to work when my son was a little over 2. We had a bit of a personality clash going on and I really wanted to talk to grownups again. It went pretty well for a year or so and then I felt called to come back home. Around that time I found myself preggo and sick and took it as a sign that home was where I was meant to be for now. I still have occasional thoughts of going back again, but have decided for now to stay home. I am so fortunate that my husband has a career that can support our family and he supports me in whatever I choose!

  21. rachel says:

    Great post! I work full time in a job I love. . .but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to stay home and eat bonbons sometimes. Really, who are those people? We need to track them down and figure out what they’re doing! Thanks for the insight for others and encouragement for those in the working-outside-of-the-home trenches!

  22. T with Honey says:

    This sounds so much like my life except I relegate even more to the weekends because I could not live on such a small amount of sleep. You did a fabulous job of portraying your reasons for working and how that is still in line with what God asks of us as wives and mothers.
    Plus, I too could not continue to work outside the home if I did not get so much help from Honey. We share household and child care tasks as equally as possible, unafraid to switch roles when necessary to help each other out. Compromise and communication are key in all relationships and families.

  23. Jane @ What About Mom says:

    The thing that’s making me feel best about the sometimes-stultifying nature of being a SAHM lately is The Office (which starts again tonight, btw).
    I just remind myself that most careers are not so-stimulating all the time, and then I don’t feeeeeel soooo baaaaaa–aaa–aaa–aa—ad.
    Loved all your tips — they apply to everyone, I think, and are things I know (of course I know what I SHOULD do), but are timely reminders for sure!

  24. Ashleigh (Heart and Home) says:

    From a SAHM’s perspective, this was an awesome post. Not only does this help me understand working friends and family, but gives me some great tips for my own busy world. Shalee, you have it all together more than I do and I’m juggling far less! Great suggestions on being organized, the planner, prioritizing, not comparing (ouch).
    But, girl, FOUR THIRTY AY-EM?! That is precisely the reason I could never do this. I need that extra hour. 😉

  25. lisa says:

    Thanks for injecting a dose of realism….sometimes I think I am the only one walking out this life! I work outside the home 30 hours a week, volunteer at church, school, maintain a marriage, raise 6 year old twins…and on it goes. I, too, strive to follow the Proverbs 31 path but find I am a minority as a working mom.
    Before children I was a career woman and planned to stay that way…the Lord had other plans. Because of a life threatening illness I was on disability for 2 years once my twins were born. At the time it was such a burden to be too ill to work…but looking back…what a gift the Lord provided! A family who helped when I could not care for the babies on my own, a husband who pitched in (and still does) and a chance to enjoy my babies for two whole years without working! I would have missed all these benefits had I returned to work as planned. Sometimes the hardest times turn out to be the best times. Thankfully my health is stable and I CAN work but I choose to do so at a level that supports my family and allows me to serve them at my best…without regrets…without guilt. Thanks for your encouragement!

  26. Vickie says:

    Wow! Thanks for this post! I never aspired to be a working mom but I have been one all of my adult life. It was necessary when I was suddenly single with a young child and then after my remarriage ten years later we found I would still have to work in order to make ends meet. I have struggled with guilt and worried about how I can do it all. I have participated in bible studies geared towards the SAHM’s and poured over blogs and websites of SAHM’s trying to gain information to make my life easier…only to find it caused me more guilt. I finally realized most of the things that Shalee wrote about helped me so much.
    I have four of the most amazing children. They are self sufficient, self assured, effective time managers, and able to handle most anything. I know that when they all start hitting college here in the next three years they will know much more on how to care for themselves than I ever did at that age.
    This topic is not written about much here in blogdom. I know it will bless many!

  27. Michelle- This One's for the Girls says:

    Most of us are really just trying to do what’s best for our families, huh? And we’re all tired. 🙂 I get up at 5:30am so that I can put in one or two hours at a dental clinic BEFORE my husband leaves for the office. But I do it for my family. I totally understand what you’re saying.
    Thanks, Shalee.

  28. Liza's Eyeview says:

    I have not even read the whole article yet – I saw the title and topic for your “what I want you to know”, and I am already teary eyed. I am one of those working outside the home mom who always had the desire to stay at home with the kids but we couldn’t afford it…
    I wanted to post a comment right away and thank you for choosing this topic. Now I am going back there to read.
    🙂 Liza

  29. Gwen says:

    I have just left my job after 12 years, to stay home with my 8 and 10 year old daughters. I (like so many other commenters) always wanted to stay home, but could not afford it, and I carried around the load of that guilt for — well, for the last 12 years. And yes, I avoided some of the SAHM, “Proverbs 31” blogs because I felt maligned, misunderstood and guilty. I’ve been a SAHM for 25 days, and I’m loving it. But I don’t ever want to forget the long hours and hard work that working moms put in.
    GREAT post. Thank you.

  30. chrissi says:

    funny…my kids like to eat too, whats up with that? I work full time midnights and alternate schedules with the hubster so that we don’t have daycare costs. I am beat most of the time but its OH so worth it! thanks for the post!

  31. Vikki says:

    Shannon I love this forum and Shalee thanks for sharing!
    As a consequence of my poor choices, I had to go back to work p/t and college p/t 3 weeks after my son was born and haven’t stopped working since (that’s what happens when you marry an addict). God got us through all those hard years and is now tremendously blessing us.
    God gave me (it had to be Him, I am SO not qualified!) a job that allows more flexibility and I just had the most wonderful summer working only 3 days a week!
    God has blessed us with wonderful family very nearby and our children spend a lot of time with their grandparents. We would be lost without them!
    Although my husband is now 3yrs sober and our family is happy and healthy, I believe Gods will is for me to work to allow my husband to serve in ministry.
    Please don’t be offended if I don’t invite you SAHMs over – it’s only cause my house it FILTHY!
    And yes, “I’m tired” always always always tired!

  32. Renee says:

    Great post! Thanks Shalee!!!
    I am a working mom that struggles on the hectic days and desires more time with my children every day. I work out of necessity – food, clothing, shelter. I do hope one day soon to have hours more in line with my childrens’ but until then we will cope and get through it as a family. I do know I am fortunate to have a husband who will pitch in and help with almost anything (just don’t ask him to cook).
    Thank you for posting on this topic.

  33. Faith says:

    This was an awesome post! I love the humor.
    I have been a full time working woman (teacher) with a toddler in daycare, a full time SAHM with a K kid and an infant and in the last 8 years I have been a part time teacher with both girls in school and a wonderful helpful husband. I don’t “have” to work. I choose to work because the Lord has given me a skill to work with special needs kids and I love the challenge and using my giftings from God. I think that no matter how many children you have or if you work outside the home or not, the key is are you doing what the Lord has called you to do? AND being a mom is always a tough job…no matter if you stay home or work! This was great!!

  34. Danielle says:

    I don’t believe Proverbs 31 indicates a woman should be a career woman or that God wants that for us. I do believe that He expects us to support the household in many different ways. I have great respect for working women especially moms because I know it’s hard and necessary sometimes. But I do wonder how many say they have to work, do they really or are they accustomed to the lifestyle? And that’s their choice if they like that lifestyle but something is sacrificed when a woman works full time outside the home. In certain circumstances, it is putting a career before the household. If we are putting our children in daycares and after school care, we are not taking care of our household. It’s different if a husband is able to be with the children (spouse work different schedules) but I still think something suffers. Working at home or part-time is better but again, we have to be careful not to put the job above our household. I’ll say the same thing about SAHM who volunteer all their time to church or other things and put it above the household. Our priority is the household and sometimes I think we tell ourselves that working at a job to bring money in is making the household a priority but its not in most circumstances. Something has to give when we have a career other than our household – whether it’s time with the children, time with our husband, our health, our time with God, etc. Thanks for the post and insight to your life. I do respect you greatly for juggling all of it.

  35. ElleBee says:

    Oh me, oh my! I was nearly in tears by the end of your post. This is me. I work full-time outside the home, have two boys, a husband and a dog to take care of when I am home. I am learning (being forced to learn) how to balance all of that and “me time” as well. I may have to post on this topic…

  36. Erin says:

    Thanks for the great post! I struggle daily with working outside the home and I have a very flexible job that allows me to be there to take the kids to school, pick them up etc. But something always suffers- Usually its the Mom time. I think the biggest thing here is respecting everyone’s choice and realizing that noone has it easy! Thank you shannon for this series. I’ve loved every post! Thanks Shalee for sharing with us!

  37. Amy says:

    (I’m employed because my family likes to do this little thing called “eating”. Funny how they want clothes, heat and water too… I know! They’re so demanding!)
    This is a good post, and I won’t even pretend to know Shalee’s (or any other working woman’s) financial circumstances, but in general I cringe every time I hear “I have to work.” If you’re a single mom, yes. If your husband is out of work, yes. But unless your children qualify for reduced lunch cost at school, as do mine (and I stay home) please don’t tell me you “have” to work outside the home. Unless, of course, you tell me you HAVE to work to pay for your 5 bedroom home and your new car and your Disney vacation… then I’ll “understand.”
    We all make choices. I don’t HAVE to stay home full time to raise my chilren, while scrimping and saving and giving up many luxuries to live comfortably on my husband’s teaching salary… it’s our choice.
    The choice is yours, but please own up to it.

  38. Anissa@Hope4Peyton says:

    I worked outside the home before I had to stop to care for my youngest. I’ve done both and while i choose to be a WAHM, I respect both sides of the coin, neither is without its drawbacks and benefits. I completely respect you for the choices you make for your family and the lengths you go to to make it work for you all.

  39. Shalee says:

    To those who are wondering about my finances:
    We just moved so as not to have as big of a house payment.
    We have no credit card debt.
    We don’t have cable.
    We have two cars that are 10 years old (at least), both of which we bought used.
    We shop at TJMaxx or, even better, the Junior League store or ebay. I refuse to pay retail for a label.
    We don’t eat out very often at all (not even once every two weeks). Most meals are not from pre-packed foods. I cook from scratch for reasons – not only do I enjoy it, but it costs a whole lot less too.
    The last vacation we took was for our 15th anniversary, and the only reason we could take it was because I had some Marriott gc.
    We don’t spend more than $500 altogether for Christmas gifts (that includes extended family.)
    I’m a nag about not wasting ANYTHING – electricity, gas, toilet paper, water…
    I really meant it when I said that I work because I contribute towards living expenses. By that I mean, “we get by” expenses. Mr. Right works extremely hard for our family, but unfortunately, he doesn’t make enough to cover all our bills which to date are the mortgage, two hefty school loans, and medical bills. Please don’t anyone assume that I’m not home because I don’t want to be with my children (who are both in school now) or because I want all the extras in life.
    We all work in some capacity, whether you get paid for it or not. As a SAHM, your job may be to stretch your husband’s income so that you CAN stay home. Maybe finances aren’t an issue and you choose to use your time to volunteer. Maybe keeping a really well-kept house is a sign of love for your family.
    Oh and that sleep thing? It doesn’t make me Super Mom. It just means that I don’t sleep the way that normal people do. You can blame my parents… I get it from them. 🙂

  40. Anna K says:

    Well said, and well written. I can totally relate to everything that you said. It’s nice to see so many other working mom’s commenting. We, like SAHM, are doing what is best for our family. I work for my son, so I can provide for him today, and for his future.

  41. MM says:

    I can’t tell you thank you enough for writing this. This past Sunday, I had a a petty negative interaction with a lady at my church that made judgemental comments to me about being a working mother. It took everything I could to not break down in tears. I’ve had a really hard time ever since then. Some people just have no idea how insensitive their words are. Thank you for reminding me that work out of the home moms are still great moms and still valuable in their homes and society.
    As Christian sisters, we should NEVER make judgements on another’s work/stay-at-home choices. Unless you know the details of one’s financial status, unless you’ve lived in the homes, unless you understand the woman’s calling in life outside of children and family, unless you understand that not everyone is financially savvy from the get-go, I think it very fair to say HUSH UP! Or to even re-consider your actions when you “cringe”.
    God help you when it comes to others making judgements about your life.

  42. Lyn says:

    I can respect Shalee’s or anyone’s choices whether they are home or not home, or work part-time etc. To me, that is their choice and their decision – it’s not my life.
    I’m home due to health issues and we live on a very meager income in the $20K net range. There’s so much that we live without, but we have the basics of life, and that’s all that matters to me. I live in a single-wide mobile home, have an older car. We make daily frugal choices and I work hard to stretch the paycheck, that is for sure.
    Like Amy mentioned, I do think there are some who could be home but don’t think that they can. I can say this because I’m living proof it can be done.
    It doesn’t matter what season of life you are in – we ALL work hard as women.
    No matter what your choice, I do agree with Amy who commented though. Whatever you choose – own it, don’t complain about it and don’t compare yourself to others. Certainly no one puts a gun to our head to make these choices.

  43. anonymous says:

    excellent excellent post.
    I am working part-time while my kids are in school— after working full-time until they were born.
    What I wish I know? How to let go of the bitterness toward my spouse that I can’t stay home. Things aren’t like I pictured 15 years ago. Due to certain circumstances with my spouse, he job hops and has been w/o a paycheck for over 1/2 of this year.
    I certainly don’t work because it is a luxury or an indulgence, it is because I am (and probably will always be) the breadwinner due to my career choices and educational background. I wish I weren’t bitter about it. I wish I could find peace with it.
    is it my fault? in some ways.
    Do I enjoy what I do? often.
    Did I enjoy staying home after kids were born? Most of the time.
    Does it make my very soul scream out when someone says that I am “choosing” to work? Absolutely.

  44. Christine @ Live to Learn says:

    I enjoyed reading your article today. I respect your decision to work and help support your family. I imagine it was a very difficult decision on your part. I feel like I have been given more insight into the minds of families who have a working mom. I still feel like moms belong at home tending to their family and that as soon as finances allow it that should be the goal. As a SAHM there is always so much I am doing and have to get to. I can’t imagine doing my SAHM job and being away all day with someone else setting my priorities (aka a boss). I love this season of my life but I do look forward to the next season of my life, when the kids are grown, when I can begin a career as an “older and wiser” woman. 🙂

  45. Jenn says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m going back to work in a couple months and am already worried one min that it makes me a bad mom, and looking forward to it the next minute. I think in some ways being a mom has taught me so much I can use at work and I think getting out of the house and doing something I love will make me a better mom.

  46. jpritchard says:

    oh i needed this. i’m 24 years old….and in my 3rd year of medical school. and while my husband is out-of-this-world supportive, i’m *already* feeling guilty about my incredible career {& we don’t even have kids yet!!} choice because many Christian sources & family/friends have criticized my choice of choosing such a career as healthcare. so THANK YOU for letting me know that the life of a full-time working mom DOES still focus on what is important…and CAN still include valuable family time.
    …i think you made my day 🙂

  47. Erinn says:

    talk about crazy! I just posted something to this effect on my blog the other day after my epiphany about being a working mom. Thanks for making my thoughts feel validated. Glad to know I’m not the only one that is thinking about it in this way.

  48. Sidda says:

    Shalee, excellent post. You should not feel that you have to explain why you work, in your case it is to make ends meet as is the case with so many of us. But I also know women whose husband’s make a lot of money but they still choose to work, and there is nothing wrong with their decision. I respect the women’s decision who choose to stay at home but I have always felt that many judged the Christian women who work because they have to or work because they enjoy it! It all boils down to what God has called each of us to do with our lives. Your post was absolutely awesome!

  49. kittyhox says:

    So much of what you’ve shared applies to SAH/WAH moms as well.
    It’s sad that you have to justify the fact that you work to bless your family by sharing so much of your financial situation/habits with total strangers.
    If I was in your position I would want to say, “Mind your own beeswax!”
    The biggest difference between the two of us is that I get enough sleep. 4:30 in the morning, are you kidding me?! I wish I could somehow send you some of my extra hours of sleep! 🙂

  50. Susanne says:

    Shalee what a great post! I love where you said you made a list of what was important to you and that is how you live. Awesome idea to actually write it down. Helps to keep the focus.
    I also liked the point of asking for help. I’m horrible for that. I always assume that my family should “know” and just do it, but that is really unreasonable, and then I wonder why I’m so frustrated. Great stuff, Shalee!

  51. Shaina says:

    My only concern is how many women use that as an excuse to work when they don’t actually *need* to do it. Living on one income is totally possible in many cases. I don’t believe Proverbs 31 is saying anything at all about being a Homemaker AND a Career Woman. Career women did not exist until this century.

  52. Shauna says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Shalee! I can relate to much of this post, as I worked full-time outside the home until only 2 years ago and may again one day (in this economy, perhaps sooner than I’d prefer). Since becoming a mother, I’ve been a WOHM, a WAHM, and a homeschooling SAHM. My schedule and the nature of my work responsibilities may have changed over time, but my desire to make my faith and my family my priorities has not.

  53. Amy says:

    What a great post! I am also a working mom. I have 4 kids ages almost 12 to 3.5 I work swing shift to save money on daycare. I was talking to a guest here (I’m at work now) last night about our lives and kids (she has one who is grown and 2 grandkids) and she said, you must like coming to work. And you know what? I do like coming to work. I like being able to have adult conversation and a little quiet time. I work front desk at a hotel and during the off season (which is now) theres lots of down time. Give it another week and we’ll be hopping busy!! But, I love that, too!

  54. Kim says:

    Thanks for this great post!
    I grieved and felt like I must be a terrible Christian when I had to go back to work after my first daughter was born.
    I did it again with the second. I questioned God’s goodness – how could he not provide in a way that would let me be with my children all day? Especially when I wanted it so badly? Wasn’t that best?
    I finally came to the conclusion that I am not God and I do not know what is best for me. But He does. And regardless of my personal circumstances or choices tomorrow when I wake up I will go to work. I will go to work because that is what he has laid before me to do, and by his strength I will do it, and by His grace my children will be exactly where He wants them to be. If He wants or needs us to be anywhere else come Monday I know He can take care of that, too.

  55. gillie says:

    Thanks so much for your post. I’m pretty new to the blogging community- didn’t know about ya’ll only 3-4 months ago, but I have loved getting to know so many fabulous women!
    Shalee, I am so impressed with your organization! I know that it’s not necessarily by choice, but I probably wouldn’t be able to do what you do as gracefully as you if I were in your shoes. (crappy sentence structure I know, but I hope you get my meaning).
    As for myself, I am essentially a SAHM, because my job allows me to work only two night shifts every other weekend. There are days when I know my family suffers because I’m not all there, but my son also has an amazing relationship with his daddy that he wouldn’t have if I didn’t leave to go to work. I still sometimes miss working full time. I had to quit the transport team for critically sick babies (and if I was going to rationalize, what’s more important than saving the life of an infant?). But right now I feel like my place is at home.
    I am grateful that the God I know helps me prioritize and guides me in my choices if I ask for His help. I pray that His grace will fill the inadequacies in my life as I’m sure you do, too. If we fight our battles daily, maybe we can help win this war.

  56. Chandy says:

    It’s nice to hear some representation from other working moms. I stayed at home with my kids for about 3 years before I decided to go back to work. This decision was not make lightly…it involved much prayer, discussion with my husband, and research. Ultimately, I’m completely certain that this is the path God has chosen for me. I’m very happy to be working outside the home and our kids are thriving too!
    Sadly, I’ve found that the most thoughtless and insensitive comments come from other Christian women. Why on earth should Shalee or anyone else have to disclose personal financial information to convince other people that her reasons are justified? There are bigger problems in this world to “cringe” at…

  57. Our J'Ollie Home says:

    Having been raised by a single mom of four, (and yes, she worked full-time, got us to church and managed e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g)and as a single mom myself who worked full-time plus,my viewpoint is very likely skewed. I tend to think that SAHM’s are blessed to have a choice to stay at home or work outside the home. Some of us were never granted the luxury of choice. Many married women DO have to work in order to provide for their families and do so for their family’s benefit.
    Excellent post!

  58. Rhonda says:

    Shalee- I just want you to know how much I admire you for having the courage to post about this. This is such a hot topic that OF COURSE, some are going to post a “you are selfish and going to hell” type comment.
    For the record, I have been both at SAHM and a WOHM. After my first daughter was born, I quit (my very well paying engineering job) to be at home for about 4 years. I regard that time as a gift, pure and simple.
    However, in that time, my husband lost his job, not once but twice, we ate throught the nest egg that I went into SAHM-hood on. I was raised very frugally, and trust me if I could cut the corners, I did- my kids worn hand-me downs or what I sewed, we ate from a garden, no car payments, you get the picture. But even then, toward the end of my time at home, my parents had to help us out with some expenses (old paid for cars DO break down occasionally) and my husband was about to have a nervous breakdown, working two jobs and NEVER seeing the kids.
    So I have returned to the workforce. Now, my salary as an engineer does allow for “treats” (although we still drive old cars and haven’t gone to disneyland) so some might look at my situation and say “oh, if you only cut corners you could stay at home”…um no, been there, done that- it worked short term, but wasn’t sustainable for the long haul.
    Deborah was a judge, Lydia was a seller of purple, Prisca was a tentmaker…
    Lets not let this issue divide us, as christian women-

  59. happyvalleygirl says:

    I really liked your comment about God intending us to work. Afterall, we will work in His eternal kingdom. I think we ought to stop looking at work as something negative because God has commanded us to work six days and rest on the sabbath. And the Bible also tells us that our work is “gift” from God!
    I too, can relate with your schedule except that I own my own business–it’s seasonal, about 7 months out of the year, but I add homeschooling a special needs child to the mix too.
    It’s good to be busy. It keeps us sharp!

  60. Aggie Mom says:

    Shalee (and Shannon) thanks so much for this post! I am lucky that I have a very fulfilling and well paying job, but I too do it because we like to eat and have a house to live in. However, I have to admit I am seriously resentful of SAHMs, and especially stay at home wives with no children, when they tell me how busy they are and that they work, just not outside the home. I know how hard it is to take care of a child full time, and I understand that in a way my job is a break from that, but I have to do everything a SAHM does in about 50 hours less a week.

  61. lisa says:

    Great post! I would very much like to be a stay-at-home and homeschooling Mom. I’m Christian single mom who adopted older kids. When I tried to combine work and homeschool we were too easy a target. Today I’m making peace with being a working, public schooling Mom. I had to learn most of the lessons you mentioned in your post, too, to keep my sanity! Sadly, Churches and other Christians HAVE been very judgmental. To avoid some of it, I’ve learned to add the adoption information in my intros–though I shouldn’t have too. Some of the comments mention not being judgemental. It’s very hard to do, but we must all continue to try! I too, think prayer is the most important key to success in whatever we chose. He knows the plans…..

  62. Missy says:

    Some of the comments brought tears to my eyes because I am one of those working moms that “have” to work. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t feel we are able to make it w/o my income. Last year I took a 50% pay cut so I could have more flexible hours but still my desire is to be at home with my baby and soon to be baby #2. Don’t get me wrong, my Hubby is a loving Christian man. But do I disrespect him and do what I want and what I think is best for our family? At this point the Lord has told me I need to honor his opinion and pray that soon his heart will change. Just please don’t judge me for working outside the home when you haven’t walked in my shoes.
    Thanks for your honest post Shalee. And I love this series Shannon. It’s been amazing.

  63. MM says:

    I think what bothers me is that so many women (especially Christian women) seem to think it their place to decide what God’s will is for us WOHM, of whose circumstances they have no knowledge. Why? What makes them think it’s okay to place judgement or make me feel less than when I’m doing everything I can to follow the Lord’s plan for my life?
    Has it ever crossed their minds that perhaps that it is God’s plan for us WOHM to be exactly where we are? I am one of only two Christians in my group, made up mostly of athiests, agnostics or Muslims. Even if we could financially handle me being a SAHM, I’m not sure that’d be God’s plan. I don’t like my job, I’d much rather be at home with my son, playing house. But I am convinced that the Lord has me in this middle of this group of people to be a light for them. What if they don’t ever get to see the face of Christ outside of me? Is it still better for me to be a SAHM? My answer is no, but for those that cringe or feel I’m making a bad choice…I’ll let them chew on the burden of the salvation of my coworkers.
    I refuse to feel guilty because I don’t seem to fit their bill of a good Christian mother and wife. As soon as the Lord tells me my work here is done, here I stay, whether I like it or not.

  64. Angela says:

    Thank you so much for this post!! I’ve been married a couple of years and my husband I both work. We’re just starting to think about kids and the issue of me working or staying at home is always in the back of my mind. It is so helpful and encouraging to hear your point of view.

  65. Kate says:

    Amen, Sister! I am married to a Pastor, who I put through the Seminary and I am a full-time Labor and Delivery RN. I work 3 12 hours shifts a week and have three busy girls…12, 9 and 5. I am so tired of feeling that someone or something is shortchanged because “other Pastor’s wives” don’t work! We have a beautiful marriage, well-adjusted children and our bills are paid. We have money for Lutheran school tuition, yes-I don’t homeschool, and we can afford braces and an occasional vacation. I am able to witness to others through my job and I do make a difference. Christian families want a believer for their nurse, but have you ever noticed how critical many of them are for a woman working? Who is going to be take care of them in their labor process if all women should be at home? Thanks for shedding great light on such a touchy subject. So, yes…I am a working, Pastor’s wife and Mom and I juggle it all just fine. Next?

  66. Erin says:

    What an awesome post and a great encouragement for moms that work outside the home! In reading the comments, I noticed some say that you don’t HAVE to work – unless we moved or stopped paying our bills, I HAVE to work. DH makes a great salary but it is not enough to support our family. Moving would not be an option with the housing market what it is now and unfortunately, we have some credit card debt and student loans from college. I am a teacher so working isn’t a break from children, but it is nice to be on my daughter’s school schedule. If I have to work, it’s the best job to have! I do get to be a SAHM in the summers. 🙂

  67. M L says:

    THANK YOU!!!!
    And a huge AMEN to what you said!
    As women, it seems alot of us go through similar things, but so often don’t talk to each other to compare notes and help each other through. It’s always seemed to be working women against SAHM’s, you know? I am printing this one out… keeping it in my scriptures. Awesome blog post!

  68. Beck says:

    A really wonderful post. I know MANY working mothers who manage to have rewarding careers and still have good, warm family lives and good marriages. Like you said, it’s just where you put your priorities.
    And I know women who work because otherwise, their children would be going without food. In those families, having the mother work IS a way for her to nuture and love and take care of her children.

  69. One Hot Mama says:

    I love what you said about saying NO without guilt and not comparing yourself to others!! I agree wholeheartedly and try to preach it to my girlfriends (although they mostly look at me like I’m speaking French). It’s really the easiest way to live. Why do we feel guilty when things are easy?? haha

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