When your family doesn’t support or doesn’t understand working motherhood

Working Motherhood When You're A Work-at-home Mom

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I went back to work after my son was born and it wasn’t popular. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and so was my husband’s mother. Additionally, my husband’s sister is a stay-at-home mom and she was the first on either side of our family to have children. So what business did I have being a working mom when everyone else in our family made it work as a stay-at-home mom?

Facing a lack of support from friends and family around your working decisions is hard. No one will ever know your finances the way you do. And no one will ever know your feelings and your heart’s desire.

Transitioning to being a work-from-home mom

When my son was 10-months-old, I transitioned out of corporate life into freelance digital marketing and copywriting. Corporate had been hard for me for two years due to being in companies that were doing layoffs. The culture changed from day to day and the people I worked with regularly may or may not have shared the same goals and mission for our work.

Sharing with our families that I was leaving the working world and pulling our son out of daycare went really well. But at times, our families seemed to respect my role of working motherhood less.

At a family party just a few months in, a family member told me I needed to stress less, play with my son more and not worry about work. This family member told me I would never look back on these years and wish I had worked more. While this family member was right, I responded saying that if I worked less, we wouldn’t pay the mortgage. This was not about how much I loved my son or how well I cared for him, but about making finances work for our family.

Now don’t get me wrong, at other times, my family is the only way I survive being a full-time caregiver for my son. They watch him for business meetings, multi-day certification training and times for me to get away and relax on date night with my husband.

I don’t mean to paint a picture that’s all bad, but there are certainly moments where work-at-home moms face adversity even from the ones they love most. There are ways to shift the conversation and reframe how people think about working motherhood — no matter if it’s outside the home or inside.

How to shut the naysayers down

I shared just one example of adversity in my story above. In other situations, people think that my work is a joke and that because I do it from home, it’s somehow less important or financially sustainable. In fact, when I started, one person told me it was just a hobby and to view it that way.

So how can you shut these naysayers down? A few ways.

  • Talk about your work with pride. It’s OK to share information about clients, sales, new products or other big wins in your stay-at-home working mom life. Don’t allow those who go to an office every day to somehow trump you when it comes to talking about your work.
  • Share sweet moments of your life at home with your child. People who talk poorly about work-from-home moms often think that it means they are neglecting their child. I love to share moments where I pause from my work to teach my son animal sounds. Or days when I get nothing done because he needs me. This shows the real balance in my life and can help shift the way people view stay-at-home working moms.
  • Show them the money. This one might seem socially inappropriate and in some cases, it is but sometimes talking about how much being a working mom supports your family helps. You don’t have to give specific numbers. I normally just say, it pays the mortgage because it does and then some. I share how being a working mom enables us to go on vacation, put away college savings money for my son and stay out of debt. The only debt we have is our mortgage payment and one car payment and that says something about our financial management.
  • Tell those naysayers that they have never lived a day in your shoes. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work. Really hard work. To those who have never done it, the work probably seems easy. Each child is unique though and has different needs so don’t allow people to make sweeping statements that aren’t true.

You have no responsibility to defend yourself

While you could stand up at parties and tell everyone that they have no idea what they are talking about, know that you also have no responsibility to defend yourself. Sometimes, the best way to shut down naysayers is to tell them it’s none of their business.

The reality is, some people just won’t get it. When my son went to daycare, we had family members who thought that meant he laid in a crib and cried all day. Let me tell you that it could not be farther from the truth. Our daycare was extremely caring and I cried the day we left because I knew he was losing some great caregivers. No one knows what a day in your shoes feels like, so don’t let them talk like they do.

Whether you work outside the home, are a stay-at-home mom or some combination of the two, know that you’re doing what’s right for your child. It’s not anyone else’s place to judge, no matter how well they think they know you or your finances. If you’re looking for resources and jobs to be a work-at-home mom, check out the jobs and resources page and know that no matter what you choose, you’ll never find judgment here. Here’s to the amazing job you’re doing as a mom!

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