From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping On

From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping on!

Me and Arden on my first day back to work after maternity leave in 2012. This is the working mom version of “double fisting.”

When my friend Amber of one of my favorite lifestyle and parenting blogs, Cupcakes and Coffee Grounds, approached me to collaborate with her on a post about stay at home moms and working moms, I was flattered but apprehensive.

It’s been done a million times before. Amber’s post is HERE.

The topic has been written about as much as breastfeeding versus formula, cloth versus regular diapers, organic food versus Burger King, and I didn’t know how I would meaningfully contribute to the conversation without sounding like a broken record.

Then I saw an article that really got my proverbial goat.

A couple months ago, Harvard Business School performed a study finding working moms have more successful daughters and more caring sons than stay at home moms. The findings are here. I saw it plastered all over my social media news feeds and some girlfriends encouraged me to share it on my blog’s Facebook page, as I customarily post newsworthy stories on days I’m not promoting my own blog.

No freaking way.

Firstly, I don’t know the testing Harvard used to come up with its “findings,” but the study, and publicity of the outcome, resulted in polarizing working moms and stay at home moms.

Aren’t we all in this together?

Truth be told, if one of my stay at home mom friends shared a story about how stay at home moms had more successful children than working moms, I’d think she was a jerk.

You know what, Harvard? You can trash your silly findings.

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Whether a mother works outside the home or doesn’t will not, by itself, give a child an “edge” on success. Here’s what will:

Spending Quality Time With Your Children. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they spend quality time with them. Asking about their day and actively listening to the stories that follow. Wanting to know about what they learned at school. Helping them do their homework. Telling jokes. Reading books. Watching them explore the world. Engaging in hobbies together.

Monitoring Who Their Friends Are. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they give a darn about who their friends are. It’s true that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. In my life, I’ve seen children with huge potential and abundant talents get sucked into a black vortex when their parents didn’t take the time to know who their friends were. Parents who are allowing their children to spend time with other kids who are habitually engaging in illegal activities (see: underage smoking and drinking), skipping school, or who are sexually promiscuous shouldn’t be surprised if their child is doing the same things.

Letting Them Make Mistakes. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they allow them to make mistakes so they can learn from them. You want to wait until the eleventh hour to make your science fair project? Ok, but don’t ask me to help and don’t get upset when you earn a bad grade and, as a result, can’t participate in a school-sponsored sports team.

Sometimes small mistakes lead to big opportunities for growth. Just ask Bill Gates about the failure of his first company, Traf-O-Data.

Being a Good Example. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they are good examples themselves. As people, we are imperfect. I’ve done things in my youth that I’m not proud of, and that I will likely never admit to my children until they are grown (if ever). Now that I’m a parent, I know my kids are always watching. They hear what my husband and I say. They watch what we do. They listen to what we are listening to. And while there have been times when I’ve completely lost my cool, I overall try to set a good example.

And hope they forget about the times I lost my cool.

Holding Them Accountable. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they hold them accountable for their actions. A bad report card means being grounded until the grades improve. Acting disrespectful to peers and adults will have consequences.

When I was in middle school, my math teacher called my mom at work to tell her I was more concerned about socializing in class than I was about learning algebra. Shocking. When I got home, I was immediately sent to my room. There was no “asking for my side of the story” or giving me the benefit of the doubt. Nowadays, parents are more likely to blame the authority figure than they are to question their own children. This leads to a long term loss of accountability.

Cultivating Their Authentic Passions. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they focus on what their children want to do instead of what they want them to do. My daughters don’t want to be doctors, lawyers, or accountants when they grow up? Instead, they want to be tattoo artists? That’s cool. I’ll enroll them in creative classes that will provide them the educational background essential to promote their artistic talents. Heck, maybe they can earn an MBA while they’re at it so they can own the tattoo company as well.

And you know what? A parent can do all of these things and still have the wheels come off. Go figure.

Regardless, Harvard Business School needs to lay off the mom guilt.

As a mom, the decision to stay at home or work is a choice. Why are we criticizing other women’s choices?

Absent criminal conduct, I generally don’t care how other mothers choose to raise their children.

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Hear me out. I know my emotional limitations, and I completely lack the mental stamina required to stay at home all day with two young children. I’ll likely feel differently when my girls, now ages 1 and 3, are a few years older, but that’s how I feel now. I have a friend who’s from Europe and is a Cultural Care Au Pair for a working mom in the US. She tells me how she helps the kids with their homework, cooks, cleans, etc. She is often thanked by the mom for helping her manage because she “couldn’t do it without you!” It’s au pairs, family members and pre-school that really helps us working moms. This past weekend, I flew out of state with both girls to visit longtime girlfriends. (My husband went hunting out west, and he got a Get Out of Hell Free card because he doesn’t give me trouble when he has both children and I’m away on a girls’ weekend.)

While the girls were generally good on the trip, this is how I felt when I pulled back into my driveway when the weekend was over:

From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping on!

Brit Brit… I feel for ya, girl. I really do.

Getting the girls packed, on a plane, and safely in a different city without that extra set of hands (my husband) was no joke. I don’t know how single parents do it. More than that, I don’t know how stay at home moms do it every dang day.

Stay at Home Moms: you’re doing a great job. Working Moms: so are you.

Let’s all just keep on keeping on.




    31 Comments on From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping On

    1. Emily
      November 6, 2015 at 10:55 am (7 years ago)

      Love, love, LOVE this post! I wish all moms (and dads) would get the message on accountability. I can think of one too many science projects my dad helped me with in the 11th hour. While it came with good intentions, sometimes letting a kid fall on his/her face is not a bad thing. I dread the day I have to make that decision but hope I can stand strong in that belief.

      And God bless stay-at-home moms. After a long weekend, I usually can’t wait to get back to work!

    2. Ashley
      November 6, 2015 at 8:14 am (7 years ago)

      I am not a parent yet, but your post spoke truths. I work with kids everyday. I even still watch kids whose parents are stay at home. I see success in all the kids. I like how you pointed out that parents are more likely to blame the authority anymore. I see this time and time again. I notice when the parent should be blaming the authority and when they shouldn’t. I work at a youth club and I can have no problem with a child, but when the parent walks through the door you can tell they were contacted my the classroom teacher at school. Sometimes I do believe it is the authority figure who just cannot handle certain kids, but honestly giving a kid the time and day makes a huge difference in attitude.

    3. Claire
      November 6, 2015 at 7:19 am (7 years ago)

      I love this – I think we are really all trying to do what’s best for our kids! Also I think the results of the study are skewed – like you mention a lot of things weren’t taken into account like how much time was spent with kids, how many kids are in the family, socioeconomic factors. etc.

    4. Katie @ Mom to Mom Nutrition
      November 6, 2015 at 6:18 am (7 years ago)

      I enjoyed this post so much! As a working mom turned stay at home mom turned work from home mom, I have no idea who I am some days. Thanks for the perspective and your honesty!

    5. Lauren
      November 5, 2015 at 5:30 pm (7 years ago)

      YES to all of this! As a working mom, I am so over the whole working/not working thing… good parenting is good parenting. Period.

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:22 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks sister. I’m over mom wars in general. Everyone needs to get a life.

    6. Tiffany Ullrich
      November 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm (7 years ago)

      Love it!! AMEN!!

    7. Adonna
      November 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm (7 years ago)

      GREAT post. This is so true in so many cases, I am a single working mother, and I have friends who are stay at home mother’s and I don’t know how they do it, cause I couldn’t. I give every mother out there props for being a good parent no matter working or not working, cause in the end that is all that matters.

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm (7 years ago)

        I agree, Adonna. Thanks for reaching out. As moms (and parents), we all need to stick together.

    8. Katie @ Beyond the Clothing
      November 5, 2015 at 12:33 pm (7 years ago)

      I said the exact same thing about the Harvard article. I spent 3 seconds feeling a little better about work, and a lot of time worried about my SAHM friends that just lost something. Let’s get together shall we!

      These are wonderful tips and great reminders. Kid need good examples but not to be saved from their own mistakes. My daughter is often scrambling last minute to finish homework, but she’s good at getting it done. Maybe pressure works for her…


      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks for reaching out, Katie! I also work better under pressure, like your daughter. Cheers to having all moms sticking together.

    9. Emily
      November 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm (7 years ago)

      Amen! As a teacher and parent, I am huge on letting kids make mistakes (which is super hard as a parent I know) and keeping them accountable. I can’t tell you how much more well adjusted in school the kids are whose parents see these as essential to their children’s growth.

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm (7 years ago)

        Good to know coming from someone in your arena of expertise. Cheers, Emily!

    10. Kristina Padgett
      November 5, 2015 at 11:38 am (7 years ago)

      First off, I love your blog name. I love Oasis! You have the cutest blog. I’m not a mom, yet but I’m used to a packed schedule and I enjoyed your post and insight. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:25 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks, Kristina! I’m waiting for the band to come after me for copyright infringement or something like that, LOL! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and cheers! xo

    11. kristen
      November 5, 2015 at 11:18 am (7 years ago)

      I’m not a mom, yet, but want to be. But my husband and I are already have the conversation about “do i work or stay home” what a hard questio to answer and figure out what is best for your family. thanks for your insight!

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:26 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks for sharing and stopping by, Kristen! I’ll pray and keep my fingers crossed for your parenting journey. Yes, working or staying at home is a hard question to answer!

    12. Hil
      November 5, 2015 at 11:15 am (7 years ago)

      We are all part of the same parenting team right? Stay at home or work we all love our kids!

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:26 pm (7 years ago)

        A to the freaking men!

    13. Aja
      November 5, 2015 at 11:08 am (7 years ago)

      Love, love, love. As a SAHM I appreciate your open attitude. Also love how you mention a parent can do ALL the right things and still have a kid who isn’t “successful” in typical terms. One of my favorite mantras is I will not take all the credit for my children’s successes nor all the blame for their failures. I certainly have a major responsibility as their parent to do my job well, but ultimately they are their own people and will make their own choices, good and bad.

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:27 pm (7 years ago)

        Man, Aja! Like always, you are a woman of much wisdom. Cheers and love ya!

    14. Julie
      November 5, 2015 at 10:20 am (7 years ago)

      Finally a post about being a working mom that doesn’t in any way throw out the hard work of stay-at-home moms too. There’s no right answer. We’re all doing our best!

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:27 pm (7 years ago)

        You know it! I think “doing our best” is always a struggle, whether we are staying home or working.

    15. Nicole L
      November 5, 2015 at 10:19 am (7 years ago)

      I’m not a mom, but I think you make some great points. I think any parent can be an excellent role model and caregiver, no matter if they stay at home or not. As long as they are bestowing good morals and kind hearts, who really cares if they are working or not?

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm (7 years ago)

        Totally agree, Nicole! Thanks for stopping by! xo

    16. Shann
      November 5, 2015 at 9:46 am (7 years ago)

      Love this. Us moms need to stick together, not put each other down for the choices we make. Motherhood is hard enough.

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm (7 years ago)

        Totally agreed.

    17. Tiffany
      November 5, 2015 at 9:12 am (7 years ago)

      I am in love with this post! I’m a working mom myself and this has so been on my mind lately! I completely agree with everything you said! Sharing on my page later today!

      • jenniferdaku
        November 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks so much, Tiffany! It means a lot.

    2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping On

    1. […] After reaching out and sharing my thoughts on a mommy letter exchange, Jennifer graciously agreed to partner up and promote our unity on this chaotic, imperfect, sticky-covered train, called parenthood. Check out Jennifer’s post HERE. […]

    2. […] catch our collaborative posts on stay at home moms vs working moms, you can check them out here and […]