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Stay at Home Mom vs. Working Mom: Are Stay at Home Moms Happier?

Are you doing stay at home mom vs. working mom research to determine which is better? It’s a huge debate in our world today, and it always seems to spark some pretty hefty competition and judgment. But in truth, there are pros and cons to each one.

So let’s examine the life of stay at home mom vs. working mom, why this debate is even a thing, and what the reality is.

Work at home mom on the computer with her daughter by her side.

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The Working Mom vs. Stay at Home Mom Debate

Stay at home mom vs. working mom: which comes out on top? Let’s examine some traits of working moms and stay at home moms, as well as why they get judged in society.

Working Moms

Why Working Moms are Proud

After centuries of being oppressed and thought of as the “lesser sex”, women finally took what was rightfully ours in the 20th century. We became working women with careers and goals and desires for life besides just groveling to a husband’s needs and caring for kids all day!

Working mom with messy house, wondering: are stay at home moms happier?

Girl power!

It feels good to pursue success and achieve it!

Working moms derive so much meaning from giving to their workforce or community and love giving back outside of the home.

In the frame of the working mom vs. stay at home mom, working moms love setting a good example for their children by pursuing their goals and contributing to something bigger than themselves.

So are working moms happier?

Some are, sure.

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Why People Criticize Working Moms

The criticism toward working moms comes from seeming lack of care for their child. It’s not true at all, but there is plenty of argument that daycare is bad for a child, and that they need the connection of their mothers.

How dare a woman leave her child in the care of another to pursue her own desires?

I’m sure some working moms absolutely put their careers above their children in their own priorities. And to many other moms, that the worst mistake you could make.

Stay At Home Moms

Why Stay-at-Home Moms are Proud

Many stay-at-home moms find pride in their job because of what the science says:

children with one parent at home grow up happier and more fulfilled.

Stay at home moms feel good that they get to give to their children and meet their needs exclusively. They can shape them and educated them into the humans that they want them to be.

Are stay at home moms happier? Some are certainly happier than working moms.

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Why People Criticize Stay-at-Home Moms

Stay-at-home moms are often seen as conservative and prudish. When we have the world of options available to us (when women in the past didn’t) why would people choose to stay at home, do housework all day, and be the sole caregivers?

Not only that, but they’re seen as, frankly, stuck up. Stay-at-home moms have the luxury to stay at home and not work while their husbands go off to slave away all day.

It becomes even greater judgment when women have children young. How dare a woman squander her 20s to caring for children?

Ever heard of #tradmoms? It’s another point of contention, and as a feminist, part of me wants to take these women by the shoulders, shake them, and scream “WHY?!”

But honestly, women have different backgrounds than mine, and perhaps they put more emphasis on caring for others because it was missing in their childhood. If a couple finds a balance of give and take that works for them, why should I criticize? (Learn more about how to support other women.)

If only everyone felt that way.

Stay at home moms may feel strongly connected to their children, and sometimes it’s easy to say that we shouldn’t coddle our children: it would serve them much better to develop a tougher skin in daycare.

Why It’s Easy to Criticize Moms in General

People are only starting to ask about a father’s role in caregiving for children in the last decade or so, whether they should be at work or have parental leave.

Girl playing on floor, mom wondering: "Are working moms happier?"

It’s easy to criticize women. It’s one thing when men do it, but ladies, we gotta stop criticizing each other.

Other moms are the primary source of criticism for moms.

There are so many expectations placed on a mother’s shoulders that we feel lacking.

Whichever we chose, we somehow feel like we’re doing ourselves or our children a disservice.

And in that confusion and feeling of lack, we justify it by criticizing others who choose the opposite of us. We hold so tightly onto our decision that it becomes so woven into who we are.

I’m lucky to have a support group of amazing women… some are working moms, some are stay-at-home moms, some are conservative, some are liberal, some are rich, and some are poor.

But lifting each other up and helping each other determine what works best for us is the greatest gift we can give each other.

We help each other find balance, health, and confidence.

Women need the support of other women.

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Which will be better for you: stay at home mom vs. working mom?

Deciding to be a working mom or a stay at home mom might be a difficult choice. You love your job and you love your children. But if you have the security and privilege to choose which one you want to be, there are a few steps you can take.

1. Examine Your Time Commitments

Time is the most important thing to consider when thinking about whether you want to work or not. I’m sure you know, but as their parents, you are the two most important people in their lives.

What kinds of things do you currently spend your time on? Do you work a 9-5 job, or is your job more demanding, with nights and weekends thrown in?

Are you in a band after work twice a week, or like to work out every day? What kinds of things will take you away from your baby? Is it something you can do with them there? Or will you need to find a sitter?

2. Examine Your Budget

I’ll be honest.

If we had had family to watch our boys during the day, I probably would still be working. My parents, who live 1200 miles away, watch my nieces twice a week for free.

Free childcare would mean that I could work without putting any money toward daycare.

That’s not the case with where we live.

I would be spending about $1,700 on childcare a month if both boys were in daycare.

That was more than half of my income as teacher, and about $500 more than our mortgage. I managed to find an online teaching job with VIPKid, and that has helped recoup the loss of income after the expense of daycare. But it was going to be financially difficult either way.

You might be spending nothing on daycare–maybe your place of employment has provided daycare. Awesome!

There are also other cost benefits to staying at home.

Read more:
9 Moms Share Their Tips to Find the Perfect Work Life Balance

3. Think About Where Your Child Will Be During the Day

Again, if my kids had been able to stay with grandparents during the day, they would have one on one attention. They would be in a familiar place, in a home rather than a place of business.

They would have someone to hold them and kiss them, and read their favorite books. After all, touch is important to a child’s brain development.

Stress let-down is a real thing for children, even of a daycare age. It can mean more tantrums when they get home.

To me, being able to support my children’s growth and development by being there to kiss their boo-boos was important. I wanted my children to have a positive role model during the day that could be a good example for patience, politeness, play, and generosity. It’s hard to control what kind of behaviors my children might be exposed to in daycare.

4. Consider Your Thoughts and Your Feelings

Theoretically, I think it takes a village to raise a child. But in my heart, I couldn’t be away from my boys every single day any more.

Both your thoughts and feelings are important to consider when making huge decisions like this.

Does your work bring you meaning and drive? Do you miss your kids so fiercely during the work day that it physically hurts to be away from them?

RELATED: 7 Reasons Stay At Home Moms Thrive with Goals

5. Talk to Your Partner

Your partner might have his or her own thoughts and feelings about whether you choose to be a working mom or a stay at home mom.

I’m not saying, of course, that he should have full say over the decision about your career. But in any healthy relationship, a couple will communicate their expectations for changes.

Besides, they might bring up points that you haven’t thought of. And if you’re going to make a major change that could impact your finances or another aspect of your household, you should be in agreement about what that major change will look like.

6. Weigh Your Priorities

After you’ve thought about these different aspects of your life, which do you find to be most important? If you desire to stay with your kids, could you cut your budget to make it happen?

If you want to be at work, but are struggling to find adequate daycare, would you be willing to make it happen and find a place no matter the time or cost?

What NOT to consider

Don’t allow the opinions of others to influence what you choose to do!

You do YOU.

That’s all I have to say about that!

Finding Happiness as a Working Mom or Stay at Home Mom

Happiness isn’t something that can be assigned to one or the other. There are, without a doubt, working moms who are overwhelmed, stressed, and even miserable trying to pursue a career while balancing the expectations placed on them as mothers.

There are also absolutely stay at home moms longing for being back in the race, chasing ambitions, and feeling the rush of success.

But remember that happiness is not situational. Happiness is a state of mind: it is something that you practice, with gratitude and positive mindset.

Motherhood is hard and it’s bound to have ups and downs regardless of being a working mom or stay at home mom.

Woman dressed as super hero with daughter on her back. Super Mom doesn't have any doubts about being a stay at home mom vs. working mom.


Both working moms and stay-at-home moms get some serious judgment and criticism. This stay at home mom vs. working mom debate shouldn’t even be a thing, because every person has their own needs, strengths, weaknesses, and life plans.

Instead of pitting moms against each other, we should be banding together and supporting one another, because being a mom is difficult either way.

But when you’re trying to determine whether you want to be a working mom or stay at home mom, follow those few simple guidelines above to help you determine which one might be best for you.

And guess what?

It’s OKAY to change your mind!

As a feminist and career woman, I always thought I would be a working mom and I was proud of it! I thought working moms were happier, more fulfilled. But after having my first child, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be with my boy all day. When I had my second, that finally became a reality!

Besides, there are many opportunities for moms to do more than just one or the other. More moms are working from home or working part time to satisfy their desire to work and to be with their kids.

Personally, I know that if my sole job was taking care of my kids and doing housework, I’d go crazy. I need something to work on, a way to make money, and a way to be creative.

I’m not cut out to be a pure stay at home mom, but many women are. On the flip side, one of my good friends is a working mom and her husband stays at home with their daughter.

Are stay at home moms happier? Are working moms happier?

That question is subjective, and only you can answer that question for yourself.

Nowadays, women have the world of options available to them. Think about the guidelines above when considering the working mom vs. stay at home mom debate.

You’ve done the research, now figure out what it means to you.

Tell me below: are you a working mom or stay at home mom?

Stay at Home Mom vs. Working mom. Are stay at home moms happier? (Pinterest Image with mother and daughter)

SAHM vs. Working Mom Debate – Which kind of mom is happier?

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