The working stay-at-home mom

FullSizeRender-5In the usual narrative about women's life choices, you are "working" or "staying at home." These are discrete identities. They are sometimes cast as ideologically opposed, if people feel like drumming up the mommy wars (and its clicks and comments). While the broad trend over two generations has been an increase in women in the workforce, there have been occasional counter-blips. For instance, in 2014, the Pew Research Center noted that more women were staying at home (29 percent of women with children under age 18 vs. 23 percent in 1999).

But I am increasingly coming to believe that the designation of staying-at-home is close to meaningless. There is so much gray area over how people spend their time, and such changes in what it means to work, that making any declaration on how many women "stay home" with their children is going to be difficult.

A few weeks ago, Redbook and I released a survey on The Mom Gig, looking at the lives of stay-at-home moms. In my own mind, staying-at-home means not earning income and having no real plans to (economists say that people who are looking for work are in the labor force, even if they are not currently employed). But right away, that definition runs into problems with our subjects. Some 62 percent said they were contributing income to their households; 25 percent said they ran their own businesses from home. A full 34 percent did some form of work on their diary day (an average of 4.5 hours), which was the previous day from when they took the survey. Since I imagine that many people do not work 5 days per week, this suggests that a somewhat higher percentage are working in some form. A big chunk who are not currently earning income aren't completely out. Of our sample, 19 percent had children under age 2, and did not list part-time work as part of their lives. But the majority (59%) of these women planned to go back to work. As Elissa Strauss pointed out in a Slate article on our study, in other societies, someone caring for a 13-month-old might be considered on maternity leave, not having made a huge lifestyle choice.

In the mean time, on the working side of the ledger, there have been profound changes in how people work. The recently released American Time Use Survey found that 39 percent of employed college-educated Americans did some or all of their work from home on the days they worked. The ATUS reports that the share of workers (total) doing some or all of their work from home grew from 19 percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2015. High-end work is often quite flexible; I found that three-quarters of the women in my Mosaic project did something personal during work hours during their diary week. This included such things as chaperoning school field trips, being the parent-helper at a preschool, or even hitting the playground during a break on work-from-home days. The so-called “gig economy” (Uber/Lyft, WorkMarket, Task Rabbit, eLance, etc.) and marketplaces such as Etsy and Craigslist have made it possible to turn time into money without a person needing to make a long-term commitment. Self-employment remains a popular option too.

Probably a person reporting to a workplace for 40 hours/week would consider herself working — as long as those hours were 9-5 M-F (I have seen women who work overnight or weekend shifts calling themselves SAHMs because they did not use traditional childcare during conventional work hours, even though they were working full-time). Probably a person who did no paid work and was mostly caring for young children would consider herself at home with her kids. However, in between, much depends on the stories we tell ourselves and what we consider normal or what we think our communities value.

I was reminded of this while reading a guest post over at MoneySavingMom. Kristen, who blogs at Joyfully Thriving, wrote of 7 Ways To Save More On An Already Tight Budget. I followed the links over to her blog, where she'd written a post on When Your Income Is Cut In Half. She and her husband had both been private school teachers. Their first son was born in early 2014. She cut back her teaching schedule, which cut their income. Then, "In 2015, we decided it was time for me to stay home full-time," she wrote. "Our income dropped once again. We were both committed to making this work and doing whatever we needed to do so I could stay home with our children."

Note that she twice used the phrase "stay home." But it turns out that she is spending her time in various income-producing ways. Reading further into this blog post, we learn that her blog makes money. She has a part-time social media gig. She teaches piano lessons. She creates customized Biblical children's books, and babysits for other kids.

So I wrote to her and asked her why she considered herself at home with her children. She was kind enough to write back (and say that she had read my books! Wow!)

"You pose a good and valid question, one that I've pondered myself," she wrote. "I agree that the lines have become quite blurred. To me, a stay-at-home mom is one who is home a majority of the time with her children - and if she works, she works from home." She noted that "my blogging and social media work is done (mostly) during naptime and after the kids go to bed. My piano lesson teaching is during the 5 hours a week my kids spend with their grandma. So, I work but it's flexible around my kids and their schedules. I'm not locked into a specific schedule. If we have a busy week with appointments or travel, I don't teach lessons and cut back on blogging. Even right now, I'm emailing while holding a sleeping baby - something I couldn't do it if I was teaching like I used to do."

That is likely true that she could not have taught in her school while holding her sleeping baby. On the other hand, some hipper offices allow sleeping babies. And some on-line teaching gigs can be done with babes in arms. I've sent numerous emails and edited various manuscripts while nursing my four little ones. I likewise am not locked into a specific schedule, and if we have a busy week with appointments or travel, I cut back on the article writing, blogging, and whatever else it is I do. Yet I have always considered myself to be working. Indeed, the "working mom" thing is a major part of my personal brand.

So what is the difference? Is there a difference? Kristen wrote that "to me, being mom is my first and most important job (after being a wife, of course)." But I'm pretty sure that moms of all flavors consider the mom gig their biggest thing in life. Is it the use of childcare? Both of us use some, it's just a question of degree.

I think those of us in this gray area basically choose how we define ourselves based on the stories we tell ourselves of what people like us are supposed to do. "I think the lines have become blurred as women today have the opportunities to do more - especially from home," Kristen told me. "Technology has opened up a new world to us that was not available to our mothers." That said, what our mothers did — and our friends, and community members currently do — probably affects our identities. It is very important to me to have a professional identity, and so I probably emphasize that more than my time diaries on some days would justify. Kristen noted that her mother "played organ, baby-sat and accompanied at various contests. Yet, she always called herself a stay at home mom, so that is what I grew up with. The fact that I am now doing something similar just feels comfortable to me. I don't have many friends who call themselves a WAHM so it seems odd for me to call myself one. Although, as my endeavors continue to evolve, maybe I will."

Contributing to our identities: the Pew Research Center has found that 60 percent of Americans say it's best for children if a parent stays home. The nudge in the gray area is toward identifying this way. However, male incomes have declined in real terms over the last few decades. It has become increasingly difficult for moms to give kids the lives they want on one income, no matter how many pennies get pinched. So how can one square these impulses? Identify as a stay-at-home mom…and work. That's one way to get the benefits of both choices.

In other news: A different sort of entry on my time-log last night -- I spent 30 minutes throwing a football with my 6-year-old (over the head of my toddler). He is in football camp this week. The 9-year-old is in drama camp. This pretty much sums up their personality differences.

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42 Responses to The working stay-at-home mom


  1. Jennie Evans says:

    This is very interesting to me and reminds me of a situation I was in a few years ago. I consider myself a working mom. ( A misnomer, for sure, show me a mom that doesn’t work!) Maybe professional would be a better term? Anyway, I found myself at a volunteer function and was the only one there considered “working.” One mother made the comment that she couldn’t possibly leave her children for a job. Ok. I respect that, but it stung. Then started talking about how she earned mad money free lancing doing taxes during tax season. Turns out when you figure her working time against mine, I only worked about 100 hours more a year. The difference is I used childcare and she used grandma. I guess technically I could call myself a stay at home mom 2 months a year, even though during that time I am working from home. Nowadays SAHM and working mom just do not mean the same thing as they once did. Of all the moms I know, I only know 3 that do not earn an income in some fashion.

    • @Jennie- yes, income-generation does seem to be fairly common. It’s just possible now in ways that were harder to pull off before. Doing freelance taxes for instance!

  2. I found this post interesting, Laura, as I would have considered myself a stay-at-home mom while my son was little, even though I actually worked part time from home as a freelance writer and editor for pretty much his entire life. I could just as easily have called myself a WAHM, but I didn’t because “staying home with my child” was an important part of my identity. I grew up the latch key child of a single working mom who wanted to be a SAHM, and her desire and my loneliness (I’m also an only child) combined to make me want to do things differently when I had children of my own. While I’m happy that I was able to be available to my son the way my mom was unable to be there for me, I didn’t find staying home to be such a great fit, and really wish I had put more effort into my career. Now that my son is grown, I’m playing catch up trying to get back into the freelancing groove. A more helpful story for me would have involved figuring out a better balance of professional development and family life. (Apologies for this brutally long comment!)

    • @Kathy- I like long comments! I think it’s pretty close to impossible to completely separate ourselves from the stories we told ourselves growing up. It just helps to be able to recognize that they are narratives and we can shift the narrative if we wish.

  3. Emily says:

    I’d like to add my name to the list of those who found this incredibly interesting. I wholeheartedly agree that the designation and distinction can be traced to one’s preferred identity, although I’ve not heard someone phrase it that way before. It is also important to me to be considered a “professional” even though I have the option of working from home pretty much whenever I want it and usually do at least 2 days/week. A woman at church manages our Mother’s Day Out program for at least 30 hours per week yet considers herself a SAHM because that identity is important to her (she’s also frequently critical of moms who work full-time, seeming to not recognize the multiple disconnects there). I think in addition to preferred identities, many people have a sense of what are “acceptable” jobs for SAHMs. Traditionally feminine jobs, such as tutoring, piano lessons, other babysitting, etc., don’t contradict the SAHM label. But venturing too far away might make others view you as a working mom regardless of your own perception.

    • @Emily- that is a fascinating distinction there on feminine jobs fitting with the label. So if you were repairing cars in your driveway for 15 hours a week you’d technically be working from home and far less than full time, but people might see it as a job. Because it’s masculine, and men work, I suppose? More food for thought!

      • Jennie Evans says:

        I think she is on to something with this. Even within my own field I run into this. Because education is considered a “family friendly” and maybe even feminine career, I tend to receive some not so positive comments due to my lean in stance on career mobility. I have had people say, “Oh, well you’re a teacher.” As though that was an acceptable career choice for a mom. When I say, “Well, I also write, lobby for educational reform, perform several leadership roles..” The response is not always positive. Even within my own field. I self identify as a “working mom.” My professional brand is important to my identity. (This kind of stuff fascinates me!)

        • Angela says:

          oh, I love these posts, but oh boy do I love these comments! I love @Emily’s point about the feminine jobs align with the SAHM identity. @JennieEvans my original views on people who sought careers as teachers, was that most were women who wanted to ‘be there for there children’ so having a schedule that mirrored their children worked the best for them. Fast Forward and now I wish I could smack my old self for diminishing teaching as a career. If I would have focused on the people who have had the biggest impact on me as an individual, I may have seriously looked at that as a career choice earlier. I am currently looking at teaching certification programs.
          Seriously, teachers have such an impact on our children- the future generations are dependent on them!

          • Jennie Evans says:

            @Angela You would be correct that many go into teaching because it mirrors their child’s schedule. No smacking needed. I did not. I actually fell into it, but loved it and stayed. The difference I run into is that I choose to do added jobs that increase my earning potential and (hopefully) impact. I have higher degrees, added certifications, and perform leadership activities that have significantly increased my salary while also providing me with greater career satisfaction. The other side of that coin is that I work more hours and occasionally have to travel. The issue I run into in my field is often from those who chose teaching primarily from the mom friendly aspect and are not supportive of my extra efforts. If you are fulfilled in your role, fine, but don’t criticize my efforts when they don’t match your ideals.

  4. This is so fascinating to me, and I thank you for the opportunity to dialog about it, Laura. I love that you are digging into this gray area and making all of us moms think. For now, I am going to square both impulses and stay at home while I work. But you have made me realize that I am still a professional and can be a devoted work-at-home mom too. I’m honored that you included my perspective in your research, too!

    • @Kristen – thank YOU for being willing to be part of the conversation!

  5. Lisa says:

    This conversation is so fascinating. I think a major factor in how moms characterize themselves is the use of childcare, much more so than whether they earn any income. I come from a culture where mothers staying home with their children is strongly encouraged, but side hustles and Etsy businesses are seen as admiringly industrious (as long as you don’t have to outsource childcare to do it). The priority is being the primary caregiver for your children during their waking, non-school hours, or at least M-F 9-5 as you mentioned.

    I found the Redbook study fascinating but I would have really liked to see what the childcare picture looks like for self-described SAHMs, especially those doing part-time paid work. I would guess that most have only minimal childcare (e.g., the 5 hours a week with grandma that Kristen mentioned) or have children in school.

    • MK says:

      I think childcare paid into it, too. My mom worked full-time and in there job she did because my dad was self-employed and we needed the benefits. She wouldn’t have wanted to stay home, but she didn’t get to pick a career she loved either.

      Because my parents were young and didn’t make tons of money, childcare options were not stellar. Done day cares I went to we’re better than others, but once I knew that being a “stay-at+ home mom” was an option (which wasn’t until I went to college), I knew that I wanted that for my kids… Because when my first came along when my husband and I were just 22, we couldn’t have afforded a nanny or high-end care, either: it was just after the recession hit, he was in grad school and I had just a part-time job at an elementary school after months and months of searching.

      Now, I’m an esitor for

      • MK says:

        Sorry. Now, I’m an editor for a financial website with hiring and firing responsibilities…and it is because I had to find work from home because I wasn’t pleased with day care options we could afford. I work before my kids are up, work while the baby naps and the girls do a prokect, work during their TV time each afternoon. It’s not ideal, but for us, it keeps the family dynamic we had hoped for.

        Monster comment (that was more catharsis than anything helpful) over!

  6. Kimmie says:

    I loved this- the gray area between “stay at home” and “working” moms is one I’ve thought about a lot. I have a 16 month old and work part-time around 15-20 hours a week. I’ve had people (at church, relatives, etc.) ask, “So, are you working or staying at home?” And I usually say, “Both?” because it’s not really clear to me. I’m not sure how I define myself but this Redbook study has definitely got me thinking.

  7. Nicole says:

    Did you see the Quartz article on the mommy wars that was posted yesterday? Very interesting. http://qz.com/717960/the-toxic-myth-that-working-moms-fail-their-kids-is-fueled-by-decades-old-bad-science/

  8. Lily says:

    This might be your next book!
    I’m interested to hear more about the child care aspect of this – these women who identify as SAHMs but are working over 15 hours per week. It must be very challenging to do that without dedicated child care (I gather – no kids myself but I hear they tend to need attention) So where does it all fit in?
    I loved Jennie’s comment about the difference between someone identifying as ‘SAHM’ (and being judgmental about other choices) and someone identifying as ‘working’ only being around 100 hours – really puts things into perspective (and shows the value of time logging)
    From all the comments, I wish people were less judgmental. We are so lucky to have choice now – so let’s allow people to make the choices that work for them. And let’s all embrace our own choices and be happy with them, so the odd snarky comment leaves us completely unperturbed.
    As someone in the midst of a bunch of career/life decisions, I love it when people are honest about what goes on behind the scenes. Especially as so much of the career advice that seems relevant to me seems to totally skim over the ‘managing house and family’ side of things (I’m giving the side eye to you Mr Cal Newport…)

    • Mary says:

      Well said!: ‘…I wish people were less judgmental. We are so lucky to have choice now – so let’s allow people to make the choices that work for them. And let’s all embrace our own choices and be happy with them, so the odd snarky comment leaves us completely unperturbed.’

    • beth says:

      I don’t think you need to give the side eye to Cal Newport. He also has examples of integrating home and work like while still leaving blocks for deep work: http://calnewport.com/blog/2015/09/29/deep-habits-three-recent-daily-plans/
      It’s not the focus of his work, as it is the focus of Laura’s, so he spends much less time on it but I don’t think that negates his work.

    • @Lily – I don’t know what the next book will be. But I do think about this as I come up with my time management/career/productivity advice. Advice for people who have primary parenting duties for small kids is just going to be different from advice for people who don’t. Yet the former is a much smaller category — something like GTD, or much of Cal Newport’s work, is aimed at the latter. They just don’t use examples like “so you’ve scheduled a 9pm conference call after your kid is supposed to be asleep, but he’s having trouble going down, and your partner is out of town…”

      • Following up on that — I want to be clear that I really like both Allen’s and Newport’s work. I think it is profoundly useful, but reading it I realize the meaningful differences in target markets. I need to be sure on who mine is for the next book.

        • beth says:

          I think the target market difference is a key difference. Also, Cal Newport has mentioned that he is generally very private. I imagine that a lot of his work does not include family integration examples because it is not something he is interested in sharing. Laura- I appreciate that you are willing to share your personal experiences. They are very enlightening. But I also appreciate Cal Newport’s work and his decision to leave out most of his personal life doesn’t detract from that for me,

          • @beth – I think I have learned over the years to make sure I use whatever deep work blocks are available to me, and to realize that I can do deep work in shorter periods of time. You can do a lot in an hour with no distractions. If I wait for a clear morning, well, it can get taken away from me like this morning! (see the next post to come up)

          • Lily says:

            The difference in ‘target markets’ is for me, kind of the point. Perhaps it’s because I’ve only read Deep Work (not his blogs) – but even though I found the advice useful and relevant, I was distracted by how much ‘deep work’ seemed to be a male realm – there were a couple of references to women, but the great majority of his examples – whether modern day or historical – were men.
            I really think we need to talk more – men AND women – about what makes our lives possible – even if it’s just a line that says ‘because I have excellent child care’ or ‘because my wonderful wife takes care of those things’. I’m not asking for a detailed breakdown about family details – just to acknowledge that what distracts many people from ‘deep work’ is not always turning off the email ping or rescheduling meetings – it’s dealing with a sick child, or the plumber turning up, or visiting relatives. And the reality is women are more likely to be dealing with these distractions, and men are likely to be oblivious to the privilege that this gives them to focus on their deep work.

          • K says:

            @Lily – I agree that, while definitely not an absolute, the default in many families – even in two-career families – is the mother handles more of these situations. That was highlighted to me this week when I was on a quick overnight business trip and my younger son got sick enough he had to stay home from summer camp daycare. My husband said “he only gets sick when you are gone” and I thought “him getting sick only impacts you when I am gone”. I often think about what I need to do differently in my parenting so that “the mom handles it” isn’t the default if my sons have families of their own some day.

          • Carolyn says:

            I found the exact same thing about Cal Newport’s book! It was so focused on individual, and often typically male pursuits — including an actual sword polisher! I’m sure that he is excellent at his craft, but I was very distracted by the premise that a sword maker somehow is more valuable to the world than some more “shallow” jobs like a nurse or a teacher.

  9. Caitlin says:

    I also find this fascinating and in some ways troubling. I do believe that women should have the choice to do what they want and to call it what they want and what aligns with their preferred identity, and yet I think it does everyone a disservice when women who work (in any form) don’t include that in their description of themselves. In a sense it could diminish all of their hard work (both paid and unpaid) and could send the message to children and spouses that this work is not as important as the employed-outside-the-home person’s work. And I think most of those SAHMs would disagree, because they wouldn’t stay home if they didn’t think it was very important. Sometimes people and the media seem to see their job as SAHM as “lesser” and if they had a more accurate picture, that viewpoint might change.

    • @Caitlin – I do agree that I wish people could be honest about all kinds of work. It’s the same reason I wish people in general would be more open about their childcare arrangements, but that would require a little less judgement in the cultural conversation. In reality, mothers work — the vast majority for some combo of paying and not paying. It’s just a different degree.

  10. Mary says:

    This discussion causes me to reflect on my own mother. I don’t know how she would have identified herself, but I do know that she always always bristled when asked if she worked. She would respond that yes, she works, but not outside the home. For her the defining feature must have been whether revenue was generated from a job away from home. But more important is my own perspective on how she spent her time. She taught a lot of private music lessons, but I didn’t consider it her ‘work’ as much as I did her 40+ year leadership of a large and influential neighborhood organization. This took many hours a week. She was a volunteer, but I always regarded this as her profession. I guess in my eyes there was some hierarchy in terms of what sorts of work engenders more respect 🙁 Bottom line, if you had asked me then if my mom ‘worked’, I probably would have said yes, but that she doesn’t get paid for most of it.

    • @Mary- I was on a committee that did some career surveys a few years ago, and one woman made sure we included a category for significant volunteering (I think like 20+ hours week) – I was not aware how many people do that, but there certainly are some (thank goodness for everyone else that there are people who are so civic minded!)

  11. Carol says:

    I find this conversation fascinating but maybe for a different reason than the others – Im starting to think that maybe Im the only SAHM that doesnt work/generate income (however you want to phrase it)…I had no idea that such a high percentage of SAHMs were working from home/generating income! I dont blog/tutor/volunteer/freelance etc etc. It never occured to me to do it to be honest because I feel I already have a job (although its not generating income). It could be because my kids are so young (2.4 and 11mths) or because I live abroad from my own family so dont have the family support network that might free up a bit of time for me. I dont know. But as I said it honestly never occured to me to do something on the side. I worked full time in advertising until I had my first child and the agency went under while I was on maternity leave for 9months….but during my leave I decided I wasnt going back regardless.
    Im blown away to discover that all these other SAHMs are bringing in cash…
    Woops! Maybe I better get my act together!

    • @Carol – no pressure whatsoever to do it. A lot of the people with young kids were not working (for pay) for precisely the reasons you mention. It is exhausting labor on its own. If your kids were in school all day, that would be a different matter.
      Also, I don’t think I ran the correlation on household income with working in my data analysis, but a lot of the income-generation is driven by need, and not by people’s inherent entrepreneurialism. The median income was under $75k for the families we studied.

      • Lily says:

        Definitely something to be conscious of when talking about choice – people who are judgmental about someone working should possibly take a moment to be grateful for their financial circumstances. And people who are judgmental about someone staying at home should possibly take a moment to be grateful for their career situation

        • Jennie Evans says:

          I caught myself in a bad spot that I’m embarrassed by the other day. I have a friend who stays home and has no “side gig.” I made the comment that I had a really grueling few weeks and was tired and in need of a break. She commented that she was also tired from having a busy few weeks. And for a second I thought, “Really?” I’m not proud. I’m actually horrified. I who have had lots of snarky comments dared to have that thought! As I thought about it, I realized she probably is more tired. The truth is I could financially stay home. Or my husband. I work because I want to. She works hard to stay home. We can go out to eat when I’m tired and don’t want to cook. I have a house keeper. Our kids are the same age, all in school, but she has so many more household duties than I do. My husband is probably home more than I am and hers is gone weeks at a time for his work. I can’t believe I was so…judge-y.

  12. Carol says:

    @jennie – I wouldnt worry too much. I think its normal after a few of “those” weeks at work to feel like you’ve had it the worst. When I worked in advertising, at years end, the revenue collection time was brutal. Sometimes one of the creatives would say they were wrecked from working so hard and I would feel oh give me a break nothing could be worse than MY week. Its normal. I am like your friend…small kids, no housekeeper, many many household tasks, a husband who travels regularly for work and no family close by. But when my husband comes back and says he’s had a tough week and I say “ya me too” sometimes I sense a “really? But you just hang out here” look…..that is until he does a half day of child minding and quickly changes his tune.

    • Carol says:

      PS I should mention I probably do the same to him. When he says he’s wrecked from traveling, it does come into my head “really? Tired from getting a full night sleep in a fancy hotel and eating in a restaurant….poor you!”….I conveniently forget all the work he has to do while there…

  13. Tonya says:

    The article was a bit disingenuous. You claim that half of stay at home parents provide income to their family, but then don’t quantify how much time is spent on this activity, nor how much income is brought in. The series highlights someone who started a business, but then in another blog post you admit that most of the respondents were flipping ebay and craigslist purchases for a small profit. How much time did they spend doing this? Similarly, the series highlights someone with high hours volunteering in her kids school, but the majority of school volunteers may be only doing 1-2 hours per week of this activity. I was really hoping to see a breakdown of how the subgroups you identified actually spend their time on childcare vs housework vs leisure vs work/volunteering vs attending kids’ sports/therapy. Your books give the message that SAHM don’t spend any more time actively parenting their kids than working moms do. Now this article says the half the SAHM are really working/volunteering. There’s an bias here that values income-producing and externally productive work over unpaid caregiver and family maintenance work.

  14. xykademiqz says:

    I am a WOHM; my job requires an advanced degree, I love it, and I earn a good income. The job is demanding but flexible, so it enables me to be the lead parent to my three kids even though I am also the primary earner. I will say that I have never put down a SAHM for her choice to stay at home, while plenty of people in real life (not to mention online) feel free to hint (like what Jennie said above) to my face and not very subtly that I am an awful selfish mother for choosing work over kids, why have kids when you will have them raised by strangers, and other shitty, shitty things.
    Some people enjoy staying home with kids and that’s their choice; it’s one I would never make, but let’s leave it at that. However, I categorically disagree with the notion that it’s necessary for the kids to have one parent quit work and stay at home for them. Kids do absolutely fine in quality childcare. (Sorry, I don’t mean to add fuel to mommy wars, but this is a polarizing issue and somehow WOHMs are always the bad guys.)

    • @xykademiqz – I should probably write something some time about the bizarre anti-childcare prejudices that are often inherent in people’s statements. I have written some about this, but it probably deserves more. My favorite are people who tell me how good they are at time management because they’ve figured out some way to work without using (or at least minimizing) paid childcare. I do not buy this as an inherent good. And often, it’s incredibly inefficient. Like buying a cheap car that breaks down once a week on the way to work.

      • Jennie Evans says:

        My kids childcare cost as much as my house payment. It was a program that began at 8 weeks and took them all the way to Kindergarten. When they graduated they could all read, write their names and some simple words, knew the days of the week, months, could count… But more importantly knew how to wait patiently for their turn, wait in a line, raise their hand, and how to deal with other people. I’m not sure what type of horror image people have, but I don’t think it’s realistic.

        • @Jennie- I honestly think that the “baby prison” narrative is mostly one of the ways a culture enforces its rules. We still view mothers of young children working as transgressive, and so we must make childcare sound evil, so transgressive women will be appropriately punished. The reality is that children (like yours) do incredibly well in high-quality care. Most kids do fine in so-so care too.

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