More moms at home… How can that not be a promising trend?

After Decades of Decline, A Rise in Stay-at-Home Mothers.

What’s your initial reaction?

If you are like me, it was positive, followed quickly with the thought, “Hang on a minute, what’s the catch?”.

The catch is simple. There is an increase in single moms who are unemployed and in married moms who cannot find work. Move along, nothing to see here.

Except this:

Analysis of time-use diaries finds that mothers at home spend more hours per week than working mothers on child care and housework, as well as more time on leisure and sleep. Time use also varies among different groups of mothers at home: Married stay-at-home mothers put more time into child care and less into leisure than their single counterparts. [my emphasis]

A mother’s work is never done.

My work (and most men’s work) is never done. I am expected to put in a minimum number of hours chipping away at it, and to produce output that meets the expectations of my employer. There is no movable line that divides my day between leisure and work, where I can choose to chill, so to speak.

A mother’s work is never done.

I disagree. That there will always be more dirty cloths and dishes, and spaces will be re-cluttered, and children’s appointments will have to be kept with Doctors, and the house will run out of milk and bread, and dust bunnies will proliferate like real bunnies….on a hypothetical day, today for instance, if I was a stay-at-home something or other, the work would be done. When more work appears, its not that the work is never done, its that it gets undone.

A mothers work is never done

My BIL suddenly was a stay at home dad with seven kids after his prostate cancer surgery and recovery, now 15 years past, took him too long from the workforce and his wife admirably stepped up and has thrived in that role. (She also demonstrated that a woman can excel like this and yet maintain the frame she has when she was the folksy home-schooling rural wife who made things from scratch and deferred to her husband, kuddos to her for that example). he to excelled at the all things domestic. He home-schooled, did the tasks any stay at home parent must, cleaning, laundry, dishes, and continued doing the domestic chores typical for men…repairs, lawn, and bigger jobs around the place that he was qualified to do due to his prior vocation. He was also done Every. Single. Day. Unlike the women referred to in the pew study, his leisure time did not involve compromise or leveraging the fact that certain things left unfinished “until tomorrow” would not be noticed or felt.

A mother’s work is never done

BS

The increase in stay-at-home-moms is only good news to the extent that, if it is not a dysfunctional home, the children are benefiting by her steady presence. Would that it be the case that stable married women with working husbands were eschewing work outside the home. That they were choosing to be domestic managers, even if openly claiming that technology has helped enable that, it would still be a good trend. But the details show that that is not where the increase is happening. Lets face it, from appliances long in existence to more trouble free textiles and home surfaces, the work that is never done should rarely not be done.

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9 thoughts on “More moms at home… How can that not be a promising trend?

  1. I agree with the overall point, but I would say that mothers of young children are often “never done”. Littl’uns are nuts. This is the image/feeling that is conjured with the phrase; as if they are perpetually under the gun of raising infants and toddlers.

  2. I think it evolves around time management. Let be honest here. If I went to the mall, I know what I’m getting and where I’m getting it. Usually takes 30 minutes and I’m out. Some/Most women go to the mall and take an hour or two shopping to beat the price at another location. Mainly they shopping around but if most/some men has the same attitude as me. If I say I’m going to Burlington for a couple of pants, I go there, get my pants and walk out; no exploration.

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  4. I did the sort of stay at home dad thing for a year or so too. I say sort of because I was also working 6pm to midnight 6 days a week. I too had zero problems keeping up with the household things with a 2 1/2 year old and a newborn infant to care for. I completely agree that the issue with “a woman’s work is never done” is one primarily of time management if we’re talking in the context of there not being enough time in the day to do it all.

    However, there is another aspect to it that I suspect is the issue for some and that’s that there is no done with a lot of it. With “man’s work” around the house, maintenance projects and the like, you do it, and it’s stays done for a while. But when you finish cooking for the day, the same thing needs to be done again the next day. Same for the dishes and laundry. So if “a woman’s work is never done” is meant to say that there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all, I’ll agree in calling BS. And that’s the way the phrase is often used. If it’s use were to say that “woman’s work” doesn’t stay done, that you don’t get to feel like you’ve accomplished something before it needs doing again, then it’s a little different.

  5. Good comment charlie, and welcome. I see your point and appreciate you making it. Its generally a reasoned point. Let me split the hairs though.

    The lawn needs cutting weekly or more often.Trash must go to curb. Groceries carried in. Cars maintained. While the frequency varies and is not daily, the man repeats some of his work at his job daily. Almost all jobs have rote aspects. It is OFF LIMITS that he complain. Most men don’t, at least to the extent that cliches and old saws (women’s work never done) are coined and when uttered get universal nods.

    The physical difficulty and time commitment for those repeat men’s chores are also higher, generally. If we create a new concept and mathematically represent it as F x D = ND where F is frequency, D is duration of the task (how long it takes) and ND is the “never-done-ness” of the thing I’m comfortable saying that the math supports something like, “shuddup about the womens work please”

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  8. “I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist…” C.S. Lewis

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