Top 10 Things You Should Never Say To a Stay at Home Mom

You never know where inspiration might strike.

I read a blog post on Tuesday that dealt with a classic example of misinterpretation: Maija read a humor blog and took it a bit too seriously.  Why?

Because it touched one of her Hot Buttons – that of the working mom.

It made me think, “What are my hot buttons?”

If you don't watch your mouth, you could find yourself facing one of these....

There are certain things you do NOT say to a stay at home mother (or father). Not if you don’t want them to dream of tossing you into a pit with a Rancor while laughing maniacally.

Top 10 Things You Should Never Say To a Stay at Home Mom*

  1. “It must be nice to relax all day.”
  2. “Why isn’t dinner ready? You’ve had plenty of time.”
  3. “I don’t understand what is so difficult about washing and putting away laundry.”
  4. “Your job is so easy.”
  5. “You should really control your children.”
  6. “Wow, your husband lets you stay at home. You’re so lucky you don’t have to work at a real job.”
  7. “Why does it look like a bomb exploded in here? You should really pick up during the day.”
  8. “You look like hell. Why didn’t you take a shower?”
  9. “How could you need a break?”
  10. “Don’t you wish you did something more important during the day?”

What are your hot buttons?

*Top 10 List items may also apply to stay at home dads and/or working parents.

“You look like hell. Why didn’t you take a shower?”

About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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42 Responses to Top 10 Things You Should Never Say To a Stay at Home Mom

  1. LindsayK says:

    Ah, yes. The classics are always a hoot when I hear them. Luckily, my husband knows the value of what we do, so he remains silent on the subject. LOL, plus my kids are in school now. I have no excuse not to get the cleaning done. Dinner is another matter completely.

    • It is only in the last 20 minutes I’ve sat down for the second time all day – the first for 23 minutes while my daughter took her too short 40 minute nap. Which is why I haven’t been able to comment until now.

      If it weren’t for my iPod, I’d never have time to read either.

      I don’t even want to look at my house right now – it never fares well when Lil Diva doesn’t nap long enough. Meanwhile the laundry is banding together in an unheard of monstrous pile and waits for the opportune moment to eat me in my sleep.

  2. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    OMG! I’m getting hot and bothered just reading that list! Another thing that drives me crazy is when you’re at a social gathering and once people find out you’re a SAHM their eyes glaze over and they make any excuse to leave your presence, as if we’re going to start spouting information about our kid’s pooping schedule or discuss the best way to clean up vomit. Argh!
    Another time, an old co-worker asked me what I did all day. I told him I was took care of my little one and baby. He said, “No, really. What do you do all day?”
    Double Argh!
    Yes, I know I have issues…

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  4. In defense of those of us that don’t have kids, most of us don’t have a clue what its like. I admit that I babysat as a kid but that doesn’t really prepare you for what it’s like day after day. Mind you, I also know better than to say these to any SAHP. Just common courtesy really.

    Also, at Trish Loye Elliot… I know that Mom. She’s the one who only has one topic to discuss… Her Kids and why I don’t have some yet. LOL Seriously, that sort of Mom does give the rest of you awesome ones a bad name.

    • I always follow the rule: Don’t share Mommy War Stories (or anything about pregnancy) unless it has been firmly established you are in the company of others who have Been There, Done That, and Are Ready to Share Their Stories Too.

      All I practically did from age 12 to 15 was baby-sit – it was a piece of cake.

      Nothing remotely close to what the day after day (don’t forget middle of the night awakenings) life is like as a parent.

      I’m pretty sure I could accomplish some things on my To Do list if I didn’t have to worry about my son torturing his sister if left alone for more than 90 seconds.

      Let me put it into perspective for the I Don’t Have Any Kids people: It’s 9:41 PM, and other than a quick 23 minute break while my Lil Diva took a too short nap today, this is the first time I’ve sat down to relax since 8 AM. That’s a 13 hour shift with a 23 minute break.

      Imagine having an employer who only gave you that for a break, no sick days, no days off, random unscheduled night shifts, and then topped it off by paying you in hugs, kisses, barf, poop, drool, giggles and lots of screaming – not necessarily in that order.

      That is what being a stay at home parent is like.

      Thanks for reading and commenting on the “no kids” perspective.

  5. Marianne says:

    This brings back memories of comments made when pregnant… I don’t understand what it is about every stage of motherhood that makes people think they can say whatever they like. “No, I am not pregnant right now; but I am bloated from menstruation, thank you for asking…”

    • Amen, Marianne. I think it was said best here:

      You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment. ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

  6. marinasleeps says:

    Dude I was a stay at home mother until a year ago. Yeah when people make those statments it makes your blood boil but when your husband does….well that should allow for one good kick in the you know where.

  7. LOVE the post and LOVE that my post inspired you. Funny how easily our hot buttons can be pushed…

    Thanks for the laugh today.


  8. mary says:

    My son’s father can still get under my skin. He doesn’t get if FULLY just yet. I told him I wanted him to make a list of things he wanted to get done in a day, then I’ll leave him with the baby ALL day and when I came back I wanted to see the list. Lol!
    But just today a gf told me I had more time to devote to my diet/meal planning because I’m a SAHM. Ok. Eye roll.

    • I’m pretty sure my father-in-law doesn’t get it either – but he’s from the “I never changed a diaper in my life and am proud of it” era.

      I’ve often been tempted to do the same thing to my husband. Of course with my luck, that’s the day my little girl takes a 3 hour instead of a 40 minute nap.

      I find a direct correlation between Things I Can Accomplish and How Long Lil Diva Napped. I really miss my son’s naps. I’m still adapting to that loss..

      I’m guessing that girlfriend does not have any children? “More time…” Yeah.. uh huh.

      Thank you for reading and sharing!

  9. Katie says:

    I will phrase my comment carefully since I fall into the “working mom” category, rather than SAHM. That said, I do have utmost respect for SAHMs and would NEVER make the comments on your list, probably because I actually HAVE a child and fully understand that they are a full-time job with crappy hours and poor benefits. In fact, what you describe is pretty much my life on weekends, “vacations,” maternity leave, after I get home in the evening, and before I leave in the morning.

    I do have a job where I sit for most of the day, so I don’t have to live the never-get-a-moment-to-sit-down days except on weekends and vacations, and my husband and mother-in-law spend the daytime hours playing with Jake and keeping him out of trouble (and I have an absolutely fabulous MIL who makes dinner most nights, thank goodness, as that is not my strong suit). But I’m usually the one doing the laundry, cleaning the dishes, and tidying the house either after Jake goes to bed at night or before he wakes up in the morning. If I need to cook or bake for the next day or week, it happens after he’s in bed or on the weekend during nap time. In fact, I probably do just as much to maintain the house and family as I did before I became a parent, but it’s now compressed into a much smaller window of time. I’ve gotten really efficient though!

    I think being a parent, especially a parent of young children, is just really hard. It would be nice if others, particularly other parents whether they work or not, could recognize that every parent works REALLY hard. It’s not fair to assume that a SAHP doesn’t “work” or doesn’t “do” anything or has tons of time, and it’s not fair to assume that a working parent doesn’t contribute to the household and raising the family.

    • Katie – Well spoken and well said.

      I am jealous of your MIL. Dinners are not my strong suit either.

      I can’t even imagine the constant juggle/balance you go through as a working parent.

      It’s not fair to assume that a SAHP does “work” or doesn’t “do” anything or has tons of time, and it’s not fair to assume that a working parent doesn’t contribute to the household and raising the family.

      You will notice my note at the bottom of the post – that many of the “things you should never say” also may apply to a working parent.

      I will continue to be in awe of you: your ease of not getting upset over the little things, your awesome baking skills, your finding the balance between family and work.

      Thank you for sharing the working parent’s point of view.

  10. Rhoni says:

    I was a SAHM for 9 months. Our kids were 7th & 6th graders and a kindegartner. I always said I had it EASY b/c I basically stayed home kidless. Then I went back to work and the biggest hurdles come from inside my home. For example – I step in the house at about 5:15. With my purse still in hand, sunglasses still perched on my nose, the door NOT EVEN CLOSED, at least one kid will tear a miniscule bit of attention away from his video game and greet me with “So what’s for dinner? I’m hungry.”

    And then my head spins around and pea soup spews from my mouth but the child in question never notices because there are bright things flashing on the screen in front of his face.

    (I should note – my children are allowed a maximum of 1 hr of screen time a day after homework/chores/etc. They don’t get that every day but that’s the upper limit. )

    Saturdays are my chance to dust/mop/vaccum (a necessity w/2 cats & a German shepherd in addition to 3 boys), clean the bathroom, do laundry, plan & prep meals for the next week, do any writing I need to do, and catch up on any volunteer responsibilities. Assuming no one has any extracurricular activities that require my services as a chauffer.

    The issue *I* have is that I hear fairly regularly how “amazing” it is that I do what I do? What? I get a break from the daily chaos by going to the office? I love my kids and husband (who helps ALOT) and pets and home. I (mostly) love the chaos but I don’t have to be immersed in it 24/7. All parents have it hard. We just have different difficulties. And quite frankly, I am not a strong enough woman to be a SAHM to young children. Props to you guys that pull that off on a daily basis.

    • Thank you for giving a working mom’s perspective!

      You’re right, it doesn’t really matter which position you’re in – parenting is hard work. The challenges just change with the kids. I imagine keeping your fridge stocked with three boys is difficult!

      A part of me dreams of a day I can accomplish things from home while kids are at school. Another part never wants that day to arrive.

      I’m just trying to enjoy my kids while I can, and laugh at the things that make me want to cry on a particularly trying day.

      And of course, educate those who think that just because you don’t have a job outside the home, doesn’t mean you aren’t busy. If only the under four ages understood Mommy Blogging Time…. just for 30 minutes.

      Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment!

  11. I hear #9 from my husband A LOT, and something along the line of the rest, but then he spends one day at home in my place, and he is kissing butt for a week afterward. Of course, I am cruel enough to point out how when I’m home, there is never coffee spilled all over the counter, or kool aid all over the floor…..

  12. Carri says:

    I love people who think they know everything! And for the record, I would never be able to stay home with two kids. Kudos to you. It’s not an easy (24 hour a day 7 day a week) job!!

  13. Stacey says:

    Those are definitely all hot buttons. I remember a few years ago when my Dad asked in all seriousness what I did all day. I was flabbergasted. My mother was a SAHM too and yet my Dad was totally clueless. Any time someone thinks I have it easy, I’m happy to invite them to peek at my calendar and come spend a day with me! Great list!

  14. I think the one that makes me the craziest is “So what do you do all day?” I want to wring the neck of anyone who asks me that. To your comment about working a 13 hour shift with a 23 minute break, I think you’ll enjoy this guest post I wrote yesterday:…-that-i-would-never-get-a-day-off-again/


  15. Visiting from TRDC linkup.

    As a SAHM, I REALLY agree with all of these things!

  16. Miri says:

    I totally agree with these. And being that I’m a work at home mom, my mess is a lot bigger and dinner a lot later. Fortunately I don’t hear too many complaints because my family really does appreciate what I do. But it’s number 10 that gets to me from other people. Don’t you realize I’m doing the most important thing ever!?

  17. Kristy says:

    Great idea for a post! One of my hot buttons would be when my family complains I am too rigid about a schedule and try to convince me to do something differently than I think is right.

  18. Leighann says:

    I’m on mat leave and seriously don’t know how stat at home moms do it!! God bless them!

  19. I hate it when I am asked what I used to do when I worked. I still work. I just work at home.

  20. Karen says:

    Oh yea. You’ve definitely hit on some of my hot buttons here! Though, now, everytime I hear one of those inane and insane comments, I will just picture them in the pit with the great Rancor! You have given me such a visual that all I’ll be able to do is maniacally laugh and do my own personal little Happy Dance in my head, thanks! :>

  21. I’m a working mom, and those are pretty much the top ten things you should never say to me, too!

  22. Wow. These piss me off and I’m not even a mom. Please tell me no one has actually said “You look like hell. Why didn’t you take a shower?”

    • I’m not sure, given the state of my extreme deprivation at the time. I know I have received several comments that are less harsh, but still simply veiled criticisms. Such as:

      “You could really use a haircut.” “A little makeup does wonders.” “You look really tired. You should try to take a nap.” “Do you know you have spit up on that shirt?”

      Thanks for reading!

  23. My hot button is when I hear “well I’m proud to contribute to my family.” As if I’m not contributing because I’m not earning any money. Ugh!

    • Ohhh.. that one would get me too.

      Listening to it (written versus auditory) it sounds like a guilt defense: a reason she told herself over and over to overcome any “working mother” syndrome. I have a lot of them, and I don’t know one that doesn’t occasionally have at least a little hiding inside.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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