Contest: New Name for Stay-at-Home Moms

"Stay-at-home mom" is one of the most inaccurate job descriptions on the planet. SAHMs are rarely at home, and given that 57 percent report planning to return to work one day, they're clearly not staying anywhere. And more and more, SAHMs are actually dads.

The world needs a new, accurate, respect-inspiring, gender-neutral descriptor for moms (and dads) whose full-time job is raising their children. And who better to come up with the right term than all of you?

Strap on your thinking caps and shoot off your ideas. The prize for this competition will be eternal fame, on this blog at least.

My ideas: sabbatical parent, temparent, director of child development. I'm sure you all can do better, so let's hear your ideas.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 31, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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primo? hahahahah SAHM is a lot safer than homemaker...

Posted by: btpduc748 | August 31, 2007 7:21 AM

How about MoochiMoms or LackiDads?

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 7:47 AM

What's wrong with the term "stay at home mom" or "stay at home dad"? It is much better than something like - "primary caregiver" or "full time mom".

I don't see how it is inaccurate or disrespectful. The problem with some of Leslie's suggestions is that they don't necessarily apply only to moms/dads that actually stay home. Us working parents still consider ourselves to be the "directors" of our child's development, etc.

Posted by: londonmom | August 31, 2007 7:49 AM

Houswives!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 31, 2007 7:52 AM

Full Time Junior Jockeys?

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 7:52 AM

Hillary, by adjusting a single letter, we can make it gender-nutral and call them "HouseWipes". LOL!

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 7:55 AM

At the risk of being a spoilsport, I don't see an issue with SAHM. Or, of course, SAHD or SAHP. I don't think anybody really thinks it means that the parent in question never leaves the house, and there's certainly nothing about the moniker that implies that it's a permanent condition.

I know some people who prefer the term homemaker, though I'm not one of them.

Posted by: newsahm | August 31, 2007 8:09 AM

How about just mom or dad? You know, as in that is little Irishgirl and that is her mother or father.

Except for the grand labels I give myself, I really don't like to be labled.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 31, 2007 8:11 AM

How about Master or Mistress of My Domain?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 31, 2007 8:22 AM

M'lud or M'Lady?

Posted by: btpduc748 | August 31, 2007 8:28 AM

I have to ditto Irishgirl - my initial thought was also "what's wrong with just being called mom?"

I don't really have a problem with SAHM or SAHD. I actually think it is kind of descriptive - it is the person who "stays home" with the children, i.e. doesn't leave each day to go to work.

The implication that it doesn't work because most moms "aren't at home all day" is silly. It's a general idea - at home vs. at work (meaning the workplace - obviously a SAHM is at work too!) Do you really want to split hairs over whether a SAHM is in the house at this moment or at the grocery store, or the park?!?

I'd be interested to see if anyone has any brilliant ideas for something that is more to your liking, but SAHM is actually okay with me (and worlds better than "homemaker" - gag).

Posted by: viennamom | August 31, 2007 8:29 AM

How about nurse? Oh, I forget, that is my cousin, not my stay at home spouse. Wait a minute, I never leave the house myself. I work at home all the time.

Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin'
Full time to floatin'
Under the sea

Posted by: nonamehere | August 31, 2007 8:32 AM

I'm with you, newsahm. There is nothing about the term SAHP that is demeaning in my opinion. If the point is to differentiate between parents with jobs and parents without jobs, SAHP is about as tame as you can get.

In my opinion, SAHP are ones who only take care of kids. Parents who work part time or work from home are working parents. If a mom had a part-time job doing Avon or something, I would say that she is a working mom.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2007 8:33 AM

klb - I vote for your suggestions: Mistress of My Domain anytime!

Okay, so we're full time parents regardless of whether we work out of the home or not. We're full time spouses (if married) whether we work out of the home or not. Too many people use housewife as a perjorative (and I'm sad to see this too). Stay-at-home parent seems to capture the essence, imho.

Posted by: dotted_1 | August 31, 2007 8:33 AM

Mako, how did you feel about that part in the Little Mermaid when they tricked the shark into getting stuck? Did you have to explain to your kids that, as predators, your kind is often portrayed as violent and evil? It must be hard raising an adolescent shark in this day and age.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2007 8:36 AM

CHO = Chief Home Officer

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2007 8:37 AM

Folks, I think the idea here is to get a little creative with our suggestions. Here's a few more...
"Domestic Genie" for the stay at home dads,
"Domestic Elves" for the stay at home moms, and
"Domestic Ferries" for the same sexed crowd.

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 8:41 AM

We're driving from NC to Ocean City after work today with pretty much everyone else on the East Coast. I'm dreading the drive.

Is anyone else here travelling this weekend? Any thoughts on the best time to leave (I wanted to leave late tonight, like 10, but hubby thought it would be better after work)?

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2007 8:41 AM

When I was a Fed, the term commonly used was "CinC-House" that is, "Commander in Chief of the House". Pronounced "sink-house."

(That was in the days when the various DoD commands each had a "Commander in Chief;"; e.g., Schwartzkopf was "CINC-Cent" - Commander in Chief of Central Command. I understand the term "Commander in Chief" is no longer used; it's reserved for the President and the commands now just have "Commanders".)

But I still like the term - it's gender-neutral and pretty much makes the status clear.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 8:43 AM

Meesh, what route are you taking? One hopes going up to VA Beach and then across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. If that's the case, the only thing you don't want to do is hit the Hampton Roads area during evening rush hour. Anything else should be okay.

If you're coming up I95 and crossing the William Preston Lane, Jr. Bridge (the "Chesapeake Bay Bridge" near Annapolis) then I'll tell you that (a) it doesn't matter when you leave because there is no good time; and (b) you're insane. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 8:47 AM

Mako, I'm going to have to punish you severely, because now I'm going to have that song in my head all day.

But, then again, to look on the bright side, I guess I could be stuck on "It's a Small World After All."

Posted by: laura33 | August 31, 2007 8:49 AM

Oh, Meesh, it is so hard these days raise my kids. Those damn dolphins, who think the are smarter than us, are all trying to trick us with their whistling and clicking sounds. My kids want to live in an aquarium somewhere so they can be fed by humans. They don't even want to learn to swim and hunt. And don't even get me started on their clothing colors. No matter how many times I explain that gray is the best color, they are always looking at the puffer fish and the star fish and the coral wishing they could wear different colors.

What's a parent to do?

Posted by: nonamehere | August 31, 2007 8:50 AM

"Mistress of My Domain" or "HouseSlave" for short.

I had a better one, but it kept getting eaten by the blog shark.

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 8:51 AM

ArmyBrat, because we have to stop in Eldersburg to pick up friends, we are stuck taking the Bay bridge. So we're insane :)

Are you asking yourself why the people coming from NC are picking out the people in MD? Me too. Obviously, my husband planned the trip... bless his heart.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2007 9:00 AM

Meesh,

You're doing a fine job of making me feel better about not going anywhere this weekend, LOL.

I'll drive by your house while your gone and watch your grass turn even more brown for you. Did you see the article in the N&O about the guy painting his grass green?

Posted by: MN | August 31, 2007 9:09 AM

How about King or Queen of All I Survey?

At my job, I have a document that needs to be completed during site inspections, and it needs to be signed and have the title given for the person signing. I inspect food processing plants (easy here) and farms(somewhat tougher thinking of a title). One woman did sign it with "Queen of All I Survey", and now I suggest that to others who don't know what else to put. Seems to be a handy catch all title.

Posted by: OrganicGal | August 31, 2007 9:10 AM

Meesh, my mother, brother and nieces live in Greenville, NC, so we go down there about 2-3 times a year. Because of some events, I've made the drive 3 times in the last two months, and traffic's getting worse.

My recent experiences are that I95 is always crowded between about Fredericksburg and the Washington beltway (about 40 miles). Northbound seems not to be as bad as southbound, but it seems like any time of the day or night is bad.

Leaving NC after work would probably be okay, because it would be 8 pm or later by the time you got that far north so you miss the Richmond rush-hour traffic. But just be ready for slow traffic and have an alternate route planned. Listen to WTOP (103.5 FM, 1500 AM) from as far away as you can pick it up - they have traffic and weather every 10 minutes.

And your other assignment is to go to your husband and tell him, "here, dear, this is called a 'map'. It shows you the relative location of places. Let me show you some things on this 'map'...." :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 9:11 AM

I vote that the term "working mom" - or for that matter "working parent" - should be applied to every mom/parent regardless of whether or how much income they generate. The reality is that SAHM implies a very all-or-nothing view of the world when actually there's a huge gray area of parents with part-time jobs, mothers on what could be considered an extended maternity leave, parents who tele-commute (and therefore work-at-home), fathers on sabbatical, etc. And on the other side of the coin are parents with full-time jobs who somehow juggle schedules to do the things like classroom volunteering or chaufrerring kids to after-school activities that we usually associate with the term SAHM. I don't see how categorizing parents into stay-at-home or work-outside-the-home helps anyone except researchers and writers.

Posted by: cm9887 | August 31, 2007 9:18 AM

"Queen of All I Survey" - that's hard to beat, OrganicGal, LOL.

cm9887, I understand your desire to get rid of the distinction, but it certainly is efficient when you have a committee which needs to meet if you can determine quickly whether a 10 a.m. meeting or a 7 p.m. meeting is going to work for the majority. It's called "SAHMs raise your hands - okay, looks like 10 a.m. will work for most of us. How's Tuesday look?"

Posted by: MN | August 31, 2007 9:24 AM

How about Domestic Goddess? I realize this just works for women, but in my (admittedly limited) experience men don't *need* a title that refers to them as god-like -- just some expensive electronics.

By the way, Mako, do you allow your kids to watch the Discovery Channel? Aren't you afraid the shows on Shark Week will give them ideas and influence them to ever-more outrageous predatory behavior? Has there been a rise in juvenile shark delinquency in the past decade?

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 9:28 AM

Meesh, whatever you do, plan it so you hit the Bay Bridge after @ 10 PM -- or before 7 AM. Can't tell you much about the rest of the route; done it a couple of times, but other than DC, haven't really run into anything bad. And good luck!!

Posted by: laura33 | August 31, 2007 9:29 AM

MN: I think I see your point but I disagree. At my children's school many of the so-called SAHMs have morning appointments like a book club or an aerobics class. So assuming that just because they do not have a paying job that they can meet at 10 a.m. just doesn't work. On the other hand, many of the so-called working parents have somewhat flexible schedules (I live in a college town) so 10 a.m. could actually work for many of them.

My overall point is that I wish we could stop making assumptions based on this one label. I know I'm swimming against the tide though.

Posted by: cm9887 | August 31, 2007 9:31 AM

As a Richmonder, I can confidently say that we have no horrible traffic here. Hampton Roads and NoVa have the market cornered on that. Unfortunately, NoVa seems to start around Fredericksburg/Stafford now. I laugh at people when they complain about our traffic - it's nothing compared to the other urban areas of the state.

Posted by: RiverCityVA | August 31, 2007 9:32 AM

MN, I did see that! I want it done to our yard, but I'm worried about the dogs. I'm so sick of running our irrigation every day. And with the water restictions, our hands are tied.

So please do keep an eye on our brown yard. I'm worried that it's so dry it might burst into flames any minute.

ArmyBrat and laura, thanks for all the advice. I wrote down the radio stations to take with me. I actually had to drive up to MD last weekend (and have to do it again next weekend--weddings). Last weekend, I left after work and made it to Bethesda in 4.5 hours. I took 85 to 95. I made it back in the same amount of time Sunday afternoon. So I think we'll be okay getting to Eldersburg tonight. The beach trip will be a different story. We are planning on being on the bridge before 7 am, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2007 9:33 AM

Meesh, you should have picked a nice beach in NC

Posted by: sharonw | August 31, 2007 9:33 AM

My little sharks are not yet old enough to be in that shark delinquent crowd yet. But those hammerheads are usually the leader of that crew.

Do you know how much trouble I have with backpacks? You know there are especially made backpacks with a pocket to accommodate the dorsal fin but my kids just throw the packs on and rip them all to shreds.

Once I do get them dressed and sent to off to school, they think that they should just SWIM with the school of fish rather than eat them!

I'll tell you, it ain't easy being gray!

Posted by: nonamehere | August 31, 2007 9:42 AM

(I hear a song coming along!)

Posted by: nonamehere | August 31, 2007 9:46 AM

How about FTP?
Full Time Parent.

Posted by: ejoyner | August 31, 2007 9:51 AM

OT: Portuguese Mother, I like Catlady's suggestion yesterday re: e-mailing Leslie, so if you're interested, e-mail her and see if she'd be willing to be a go-between. Thanks!

Posted by: laura33 | August 31, 2007 9:53 AM

GREAT LEADER?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 9:58 AM

It Ain't Easy Being Gray
(with apologies to Kermit and Joe Rapposo


It ain't that easy being gray
Having to look for prey day by day
When I think it could be nicer to be a ray or
dolphin or whale or something much more than that.

It ain't easy bein' grey
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.
And fish tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water- or stars in the sky.
(Oh, wait a minute, that is the good side of being gray!)

But gray's the color of ocean.
Deep down where the massive of fish are
And grey can be big like an ocean, or important like a lost ship or sea weed

When gray is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why? Wonder,
I am gray and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be.

Posted by: nonamehere | August 31, 2007 10:09 AM

How about Domestic Goddess? I realize this just works for women, but in my (admittedly limited) experience men don't *need* a title that refers to them as god-like -- just some expensive electronics.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 09:28 AM

You must know my husband.

Posted by: _Miles | August 31, 2007 10:13 AM

How about FTP?
Full Time Parent.

Posted by: ejoyner | August 31, 2007 09:51 AM

uhhh. not so much in favor of this for the reasons scarry raised. "Full Time Parent" suggests that anyone making a different choice is a part-time parent. I'm not a part-time parent because I'm employed outside the home. More explicitly, I'm a 24-7 parent who also happens to earn a living.

Posted by: MN | August 31, 2007 10:16 AM

Domestic entrepreneur?

Just like owning your own business, it is the toughest job you'll ever love.

Posted by: parentpreneur | August 31, 2007 10:20 AM

I think I'm going to be singing all day. Mako, who knew you were so musical?

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 10:48 AM

Family coordinator,

or

family manager,

or, poetically, Familiar!

Posted by: slrumph | August 31, 2007 10:49 AM

At my old job, I kept trying to convince my boss to let me have this title:

The Chick Who Does The Thing With The Stuff

It applies to everything, really. :)

Posted by: Aimily | August 31, 2007 11:03 AM

But armybrat, didn't you watch the miss teen usa pageant? Some people don't have maps. And such as the iraq and south africa we should buy people maps when they need maps such as when south africa have maps with maps and know maps. Such as.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:03 AM

How about "InHouse Parents" for the stay at homers? It rolls off the tongue much easier and conveys the exact same meaning.

The only drawback for the "inhouse" term is that "outHouse Mom" or "Outhouse dad" might be applied to working parents. Hmmm!

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 11:04 AM

Aimily: that's awesome. Cause my DH makes fun of me all the time -when is rarely say, but he does anyway:

You know the stuff by the place where the thing is?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:04 AM

i hear all the time from moms (and dads) who hate the term "stay at home mom." with good reason.

because it's inaccurate (they're never at home). because it implies they're doing nothing but hanging out at home -- when they are actively raising kids, managing the household, volunteering, etc etc etc.

because it sounds like a term for an adult who's been grounded. there is no doubt in my mind that the term has become perjorative (although there is nothing disrespectful in my mind).

i like mom and dad, personally, but i think our society cries out for a label that describes the worth of what we do raising kids.

my fave so far is WMX's idea of CHO.

lms

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 11:09 AM

Of course, SAHDs like Brian could join the triple F club, "FFF" for "Fully Feminized Fathers"

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 11:11 AM

altmom, I was cringing when I watched that video. It's so bad. "The Iraq." Yikes. I felt really bad for her. We've all been tounge tied and put on the spot. I just hope I never say anything that stupid, especially in front of a lot of people.

Posted by: Meesh | August 31, 2007 11:14 AM

Doth Lil-Husky protest too much? Methinks.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 11:14 AM

But, Leslie, I do consider myself CHO, even though I WOHM.
I'm not sure there is a good term. And it's funny, because people SO don't want to offend (but some always want to be offended).

And I was SAHM, then went back to work - and people react so interestingly, as they have their own opinions.

People want to know if you are WOHM or SAHM but don't know exactly how to ask - don't know if maybe I'll be offended by how they ask, etc, so they tread lightly. And when I was a SAHM, definitely some people seemed to think: oh, she's dumb as a post, she hooked onto some good earning husband. Um, sorry, that's so not the case.

But I get different reactions when now I'm home - as if some seem to think it's horrible that I went back to work (as if I left the kids with the dog). And then they if they know that I was SAHM, who went back to work, then find out what I do - there is typically some sort of gasp and wow - you do that?

It is very interesting. And I get the feeling that SAHMs (at least a few in my neighborhood) find it appalling that I could leave my kids (as if I betrayed them or something). It's a very weird world out there.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:15 AM

meesh: no joke, she's something like 16 or 17, so it wasn't easy. I saw the clip on the today show - and basically she admitted that she didn't really even hear the question, she was so nervous.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:16 AM

I saw that clip too and felt so bad for her. I mean what was she supposed to say? People in the US are stupid, no child left behind has failed. I think it was a dumb question to begin with.

The whole question of what to call people who stay at home leads me to ask what should we call people who work? Maybe I don't want to be defined as a working mom either. I think if we are going to examine who being called a SAHM feels we also have to look at how being called a working mom feels.

That term is also used as a derogatory label sometimes.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 31, 2007 11:24 AM

altmom - almost fell off my chair with your "as if i left the kids at home with the dog" line. you are screwed if you stay at home, because everyone ignores you (sometimes including your own husband and kids) and screwed if you go back to work, because everyone acts as if you don't REALLY love your kids. but even so i never for a second wished i were a man...

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 11:26 AM

OMG, I thought I was the only person now living in NC still addicted to the WashingtonPost. Glad I'm in such great company!

On to the topic at hand: I don't see what's wrong with the term SAHM or SAHD. This was never meant to be a description of one's trips to the grocery store or running errands: it's meant to describe the fact that you do not work outside the home. This question leads me to believe that folks are looking for validation for the choices they have made. Aside from the need for perhaps a more gender neutral term, then the Stay-at-Home terminology seems rather accurate to me. For the sake of gender neutrality, perhaps the person who submitted "Stay-at-Home-Parent" said it best? With regards to the "respect-inspiring" portion of the question, well, I won't even go there.....I don't see what's so disrespectful about such an aptly named title.

Heck, are we looking for more "respect-inspiring" terminology for "working moms" or "working dads" - who are juggling parenthood and full time employment outside the home?

Or, maybe we should seek more "respect-inspiring" terminology for "single moms" or "single dads"?

Give me a break here folks. Why isn't it enough that we are all parents!

Posted by: daphy955 | August 31, 2007 11:27 AM

and I know someone who, years before she was ever married or thinking about kids would say how she would never work after having kids - no matter what, nothing she would do is as important as *her* staying home with the kids, blahblahblah. So then she went back to work, freelance and part time, six months after number one was born. And then I was out with her one night, and she bumped into someone who was an acquaintance (either they went to college together or worked together or something, but I could tell they weren't close friends) - and she tripped over herself to show herself in the most positive light with regards to her WORK rather than mentioning her KIDS. When for many years she was telling everyone that if she had kids, nothing else would ever be more important, etc.

We all say and do so many things, that when push comes to shove, we contradict ourselves.

I do agree with you, Leslie, that people are rarely the labels that get put on them and they rarely stay in one 'group', so the reality is that we move in and out of those groups all the time - but society seems to want to place labels on people and have them stick forever.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:27 AM

one could argue that calling moms who get paid working moms implies that SAHMs don't work. When people ask me if I work, I say "yes, but I don't get paid". I think that this ties in with Brian's blog yesterday. You've got to be happy with what you are doing and not pay attention to how others view what you are doing. It doesn't matter. What matters is how you take care of your family, period. So call me what you want, just don't call me late for dinner.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 31, 2007 11:28 AM

When I lost my job and became a welfare spouse, my kids called me "Payless Papa".

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 31, 2007 11:30 AM

And the best story is that when I was pregnant, my MIL (who, by the way, when her oldest was in middle school, was working full time and going to school full time - so youngest was in elem. School, maybe first grade) was SO SURE I was going back to work (she's a teacher) that she kept quoting me stats about how maladjusted kids whose parents WOHM are, and how much better it is for the family to have a SAHspouse, blahblahblah (why she wasn't lobbying her son, I'll never know). Well, we had pretty much made the decision that I was going to stay home (then it was made for me, as I got laid off), but I didn't want to tell her that, as it wasn't really her business.

But when her DARLING DAUGHTER told everyone, pretty much from the day she was pregnant, that she was going back to work (and did so at 8-10 weeks, well before she ever HAD to), that was the best decision ever made by anyone ever.

The world is so strange.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:31 AM

yeah, lil husky, let's just call SAHP's welfare spouses. that has a good ring to it...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:33 AM

atlmom, I've seen the video, and talk about perpetuating stereotypes (of cute Southern blondes). Poor kid - it's bad enough that it was on TV; with YouTube around she'll be living with that for the rest of her life. "Hey, let's watch your Grandma again!"

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 11:35 AM

Oh, armybrat - there's a VERY FUNNY video of my dad that was on the daily show (they did a segment on him and his friend). And my 5 YO asks to watch it again and again.

He doesn't quite understand it, but one day he will. The magic of the world wide web.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:38 AM

atlmom: "The world is so strange."

Not so strange at all. Parents often seem to have visions of their children's abilities, and everything is made to fit into that vision.

DW has two brothers. They're both nice guys, and successful in their own way. But to DW's family - from parents on down - brother number two is the "successful" one. He's smart, good looking, every decision he makes is the right one. Brother number one is the poor misfit.

When brother number two makes a decision, it must have been the right one for the situation, because he always thinks everything through, he always considers all the options, and if something goes wrong, it's just unforeseeable circumstances where nobody could have done any better.

When brother number one does something, he's just going off without thinking again, and he should have known he was going to have problems, and...

You just can't overcome these stereotypes.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 11:43 AM

I agree with MN and Scarry...referring to SAHMs as full-time parents and working parents as part-time parents gets under my skin. I don't feel like half a parent because I must work. If anything, I am 2x a parent because I am doing the job of both parents. And if I didn't work, I really would be the welfare parent...

Posted by: pepperjade | August 31, 2007 11:43 AM

armybrat: so true. I know that I have been guilty of doing the same thing with some of my relatives as well, I will definitely admit, where I do have some relatives where the rest of the family is always thinking: where there he/she goes again, etc. Of course, most of us are less likely to do that with respect to friends, but it happens too.

WRT my DH - his parents definitely favor his sisters, and he is getting quite pissed about it. He is just dumbstruck - and we talk about it and discuss how he got the better end of the deal (he has a DW who is not a dolt, he is independent and can do for himself, etc, he wouldn't WANT to be like his sister, who is unable to do things), but he is still upset by the dynamics, as he definitely has a right to be. But he also knows they won't change, and he accepts it.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 11:46 AM

welfare spouses-or welfare wenches?

Not sure those would play to well though. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 11:56 AM

I'm a SAHM (and I don't mind being called that.) I'm also a homemaker (and don't mind being called that.) I actually really don't care what people call me.

On that note, I think those who get their panties in a bunch about SAHMs referring to themselves as "full time mothers" should get over themselves already. They're talking about THEMSELVES, they're not talking about YOU. Just because they call themselves one thing doesn't mean that they're automatically calling you something else (a part-time parent.) It's their label, not yours.

That being said, they are actively parenting full time. You are not. It doesn't mean that you don't care about your kids while you're at work or that you don't occasionally do things on behalf of your kids while you're at work, but you're not actively parenting them. That's FINE.

I feel the same way about "working mom" and don't get offended in any way by that term. It's implied that "working" means "paid." Just as it's implied that "full time mother" means "SAHM." Get over it.

Oh, and MN - your silly comment about "SAHMs being available at 10:00 for a meeting" was answered but the answer made the assumption that the only commitments SAHMs have is the gym or book clubs. That's just as silly as your original comment. When I've tried to schedule meetings with other SAHMs it's more difficult than a working parent meeting because there's no automatic time that works - no lunch hour or after work drink time. You have to work around nap times, various children's classes and lessons, preschool drop-off/pick-up, mom's other volunteer committments, dr. appts., vet appts., and a myriad of other things that occur when people have flexible, varied lives.

Posted by: fake99 | August 31, 2007 12:01 PM

fake99 - while you may have a point, your post irked me. Please explain to me how it is more difficult to schedule meetings with other SAHMs than working moms? You really think that us working parents have set "after work drink times"? You've got to be kidding me. And most of us eat lunch at work as well and can't just rush home during our lunch hour on demand.

"You have to work around nap times, various children's classes and lessons, preschool drop-off/pick-up, mom's other volunteer committments, dr. appts., vet appts., and a myriad of other things that occur when people have flexible, varied lives."

And since you seem oblivious, working parents have to deal with almost every single one of those things mentioned above as well. Exactly who do you think does those things in a family where both spouses work. We do all those things AND work 8, 9, 10+ hours a day and commute.

Posted by: londonmom | August 31, 2007 12:09 PM

fake99

"That being said, they are actively parenting full time. You are not. It doesn't mean that you don't care about your kids while you're at work or that you don't occasionally do things on behalf of your kids while you're at work, but you're not actively parenting them."

Gosh! How do you & your husband "actively parent" your kids when they are in school or otherwise out of your presence?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 31, 2007 12:14 PM

Is this topic really supposed to inspire 200 posts?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 12:15 PM

Posted by: fake99 | August 31, 2007 12:01 PM

I'm a single parent--do you really want to tell me that I am NOT upholding my parental responsibilities by working to support my child?

Posted by: pepperjade | August 31, 2007 12:15 PM

Oh, and MN - your silly comment about "SAHMs being available at 10:00 for a meeting" was answered but the answer made the assumption that the only commitments SAHMs have is the gym or book clubs. That's just as silly as your original comment. When I've tried to schedule meetings with other SAHMs it's more difficult than a working parent meeting because there's no automatic time that works - no lunch hour or after work drink time. You have to work around nap times, various children's classes and lessons, preschool drop-off/pick-up, mom's other volunteer committments, dr. appts., vet appts., and a myriad of other things that occur when people have flexible, varied lives.

Posted by: fake99 | August 31, 2007 12:01 PM

Wow. Dismount from the high horse, already. You look silly up there. Sorry you feel the need for personal attacks, but in my experience, knowing who is and isn't a SAHM is easy shorthand for setting meeting times. There's no automatic time that works for ANYONE, but it's more efficient to start somewhere than to try to progress to a decision by saying, "When do you want to meet? I don't know. When do you want to meet?" There's no insult or assumptions involved that disfavor any life choice or predict any other commitments. Our PTA, for example, alternates meeting times in an accommodation to the two majority choices - one month, we meet at 10 a.m. Tuesdays, the next month we meet at 7:30 Thursday. You can view that as making lots of inaccurate assumptions, or, in the alternative, you can view it as a good starting point for a conversation and those who have alternative commitments speak up.

Walking around life and a blog with a big-a chip on your shoulder must be exhausting.

Posted by: MN | August 31, 2007 12:17 PM

"That being said, they are actively parenting full time."

Right. Actively parenting while blogging.

Posted by: gcoward | August 31, 2007 12:23 PM

on an individual level, i think what you have to do to get any peace is to shrug off everyone else's labels and do what is right for you and just live with your decisions and your situation. it doesn't make it less galling when someone underestimates you or stereotypes you, but at least you are at peace with yourself. a better way to live for sure -- and also, i think your kids can sense that you are happy with yourself, and that rubs off on them too.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 12:23 PM

"When I've tried to schedule meetings with other SAHMs it's more difficult than a working parent meeting because there's no automatic time that works - no lunch hour or after work drink time."

Talk about assumptions: lunch hour, and after work drink time? Someone has been watching too many old Thin Man movies on AMC. Working mome tend to work through lunch hour (there wouldn't be enough time to go somewhere, participate in a meeting and return to work unless you have a 3 hour lunch and don't use Metro) and they are often working through whatever period you think is after work drink time. They are getting their kids to soccer practices and piano lessons and scrambling to get dinner on the table before 7:30.

Posted by: gcoward | August 31, 2007 12:30 PM

Can we please not have the whose life is harder argument today?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 31, 2007 12:41 PM

hey, blogging is part of parenting. a good part. it would be way lonelier otherwise...

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 12:47 PM

MOTHER ("Master Of The Home and External Responsibilities")

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | August 31, 2007 12:49 PM

They are getting their kids to soccer practices and piano lessons and scrambling to get dinner on the table before 7:30.

Posted by: gcoward | August 31, 2007 12:30 PM


gcoward, I agree...and if you've figured out how to do that last one, let me know! I'm currently eating the leftovers of yet another meal that didn't start until 8 because getting dinner on the table at 7:30 seems an impossibility in my house!

Posted by: OrganicGal | August 31, 2007 12:50 PM

While we continue to give awe and deference to a parent (mom or dad) who chooses to stay at home, can we give the same level of respect to those who work outside the home? This can be done by eliminating the description of Stay at home parents by saying they are "full time parents." I guarantee all responsible parents whether at home or at work, are full time. I find it interesting that its continually described in that fashion. Does a stay at home parents whose kids are in school seize to be full time parents - of course not. So lets be fair - we are all full time parents - some work at home, others outside the home.

Posted by: sepulvc | August 31, 2007 12:51 PM

"OMG, I thought I was the only person now living in NC still addicted to the WashingtonPost. Glad I'm in such great company!"

No, there are a bunch of us on here. Where in NC are you? I'm in the triangle.

As far as the "full-time parent" thing goes, I'm amused by the people who get so offended by the term. As far as I'm concerned, all it means is that the parent in question's primary responsibility during the traditional working hours is the kids, whereas a working parent's primary responsibility during those same hours is the job. Both are perfectly fine choices, and the label isn't meant to demean anyone. And it certainly isn't meant to imply that working parents are somehow not fully parents.

Posted by: newsahm | August 31, 2007 12:53 PM

Can we please not have the whose life is harder argument today?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 31, 2007 12:41 PM

That one was settled--Scarry's grandma.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 31, 2007 1:01 PM

The only term that bothers me is housewife (too June Cleaver for me).
I was a SAHM for a while; I've been a WOHM for a number of years; when STBX used to travel for work (and during lag time when making interstate moves) I was a quasi-single mom; and there were a couple of years when I worked part-time (never knew what to call myself -- but I knew who I was). Now that I'm the parent of two kids in college (and me just 29!!), I'm a "dear-God-don't-let-me-be-a-grand"mom.

While I understand Leslie's point that the labels can be offensive to some, I think they work well for most people. Like someone said earlier, some people are looking for ways to feel insulted.

Call me what you want, just don't let me miss last call...

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 1:04 PM

How about In-House Director of Home Activities?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 31, 2007 1:04 PM

I find these arguements so silly. I have done both and being a SAHM is much easier than working outside the home. SAHM's have time for things like going to the gym and yoga classes and gathering with other mom's at starbucks. Working mom's lose that "me" time because they have to do all the same doctors appointments/soccer practice/piano lessons/ homework/cook dinner/clean house tasks on top of their outside the home job. Nothing wrong with arranging your life to have that kind of flexiblity and free time if you can afford it. Lots of mothers don't have choices like that though.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 1:06 PM

motheroftwo: hey, that's your opinion - but I was definitely frantic all the time as a SAHM. My DH was bombarded by me by the end of the day cause I was so frazzled - I felt everything had to be perfect, I had been with these charming but aggravating kids all day and needed some time with DH.

Much more relaxed as WOHM. MUCH MORE. Better for family - in long run...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 1:08 PM

I grew up in DC but I now live in Charlotte, NC. and I still love reading the Washington Post.

Posted by: sharonw | August 31, 2007 1:12 PM

But atimom1234, frazzled is not a result of the work load, its a result of how you respond to the role you are in and how happy it makes you. And happier mom is a better mom so good for you, definitely better for family.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 1:14 PM

Mother of Two -- Easier for you but harder for me!

I would die inside if I didn't have some kind of work. And I would be a terrible mom. My kids would know I was unhappy and that I was unhappy because of them. An awful (and selfish) burden to place on kids.

So my vote is that staying at home fulltime is harder.

I also think working fulltime (40+ hours per week with no flexibility) can be awful too. It is really hard to find any time for yourself with that kind of schedule. But the worst part, for me, is that when I worked those kind of hours I got really out of touch with my children. That was a spiritual death.

These two realities are why I am such an advocate for part time and flexible schedules.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 1:17 PM

atlmom, once the boys started kindergarten, I was SO BORED at home! I was super-volunteer, I went to the gym every day, my dog walk was at least an hour...even now,I get so bored after about a month of summer break that I'm SO ready for August to roll around. I think that's why so many SAHMs do so much at their children's schools -- there's only so many yoga classes a girl can take!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 1:17 PM

Not that I ever took a yoga class. Nope, not relaxed, not flexible, not whatever-centered you get with yoga.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 1:19 PM

As far as I'm concerned, all it means is that the parent in question's primary responsibility during the traditional working hours is the kids, whereas a working parent's primary responsibility during those same hours is the job.

Posted by: newsahm | August 31, 2007 12:53 PM

How about the term "Primary Caregiver"? My full-time, stay-at-home dear husband would love that one. And it makes me the "Primary Wage Earner" of the family.

Posted by: sue | August 31, 2007 1:26 PM

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 01:08 PM

Atlmom, you make a good point. To me, the tradeoff is between daily frazzled and longer-term frustration. Life is definitely more hectic with me working full-time in an office, because we're trying to fit more stuff into a single day -- I had plenty of time to go to the gym before, grocery shop whenever I wanted, so I felt less rushed on a daily basis and had more time for myself. But I was also very much unsatisfied on a longer-term basis, because a big part of my life was missing, so our home life was much more up and down emotionally. Plus being with a very demanding baby all day was exhausting in a whole different way, whereas now, when I get home, I can't wait to see my kids and spend time with them. We have less time now, but we appreciate it and enjoy it more.

Posted by: laura33 | August 31, 2007 1:27 PM

These two realities are why I am such an advocate for part time and flexible schedules.

Posted by: leslie | August 31, 2007 01:17 PM

Yes! My easiest time was when I was married and working part-time. I was a SAHM for the first six months of my daughter's life, then I worked part-time for the next 18 months. I went back full time when she was two years old. My personal best balance was the part-time arrangement. I have friends who are fortunate to have such arrangements (or freelance from home), and they all agre that these are the best arrangements for their families.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 31, 2007 1:27 PM

Leslie - again this is equating "happiness with the choice you have made" (if you are lucky enough to have that choice) with "work". Its not that its harder work to stay home, its that it wasn't a good choice for you because it didn't make you happy and that wasn't good for your kids.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 1:29 PM

Ok, if this ends up posting twice, my apologies - it looks like the blog ate my first try at this.

I'm one of the people who thinks staying at home is easier (at least, it is for me). Although I always have DD with me (she's 20 months old, so not in preschool or anything yet), I have a lot of flexibility in my day. I can go to the gym, run errands, meet friends at the pool or playground, etc. Housework can (theoretically) be done during naptime, so our weekends are fairly easy. The only big challenge I have is practical "me" things like doctor's appointments and haircuts. I don't have a regular sitter, so I either have to rely on friends, wait until the weekend, or (as with my hair) go without.

I do have a question for the WOHPs out there -- do any of you have nannies? Most of the tasks that motheroftwo describes -- doctors appointments/soccer practice/piano lessons/ homework/cook dinner/clean house tasks -- were my responisiblity when I was a nanny in undergrad. In fact, the only thing I didn't do was take the kids to the doctor.

Which brings me to my Aha! moment of the day -- SAHPs could be called "self-employed nannies."

Posted by: newsahm | August 31, 2007 1:40 PM

nope no nanny - the overwhelming majority of woking moms could not afford this. I do all of the above and more myself (no cleaning service either). Also no fast food and no TV watching in my house.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 1:44 PM

And I LOVE self-employed nannies. I vote that you win!

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 1:45 PM

motheroftwo, you're making an assumption that the amount of house/family-related "work" is equivalent for WOHP and SAHP. That's not necessarily the case, for several reasons.

Often, the total amount of housework will change. With both parents working outside the house, you find that a certain level of cleanliness/messiness is acceptable, whereas if there's a SAHP it must be much cleaner - thus, much more work is done.

Alternatively, if both parents are bringing in substantial salaries, it may be preferable to hire a cleaning service, whereas with only one income that's an unaffordable luxury.

Similarly with the kids. With one SAHP, it may be feasible to put the kids in both a sports program and a music program, where with two WOHPs one or the other is sacrificed.

Or with two WOHPs you might have an au pair who can run the kids to music, softball, etc.

(And I won't even get into the issues of different divisions of labor. It's a touchy subject, but I know of families where if there's an SAHP, the WOHP is less willing to help out around the house.)

The other point is that calculating how hard "work" is includes not just the skill level required to do it and the amount of time/physical effort/mental effort needed to do it, but the stress induced by it. Thus, as both Leslie and atlmom have pointed out, the "work" of being a SAHP is definitely harder for them than it was for you.

The bottom line is that your opinion reflected your reality and your situation, and that's fine. But other people have different situations, and so what was the answer for you may not be the answer for everybody.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 1:52 PM

motheroftwo: "nope no nanny - the overwhelming majority of working moms could not afford this."

When we had 3 young children and both DW and myself working as Feds, an au pair was substantially cheaper than the Agency-supported day care center. In fact, it was less than half the cost.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 1:56 PM

Leslie,

Does this mean you are back from vacation?

Posted by: Fred | August 31, 2007 1:56 PM

armybrat: but those geniuses in DC passed that higher min wage law, so in the middle of our au pair year, the wages went up - and so thenext three years, the wages will go up.
Of course, it only spurs inflation, but the geniuses have no idea about that - and the unions like it, so who cares.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 2:01 PM

Armybrat, you are making way too many assumptions:

"With both parents working outside the house, you find that a certain level of cleanliness/messiness is acceptable, whereas if there's a SAHP it must be much cleaner - thus, much more work is done."

This is just silly. It doesn't "Have" to be cleaner. You can decide you want it cleaner, but that is a choice. I know plenty of single or stay at home parents for whom housecleaning is not a top priority and plenty of working parents who are neat freaks. To each their own.

"Alternatively, if both parents are bringing in substantial salaries, it may be preferable to hire a cleaning service, whereas with only one income that's an unaffordable luxury."

For lots of working parents its an unaffordable luxury - sure is for me

"Similarly with the kids. With one SAHP, it may be feasible to put the kids in both a sports program and a music program, where with two WOHPs one or the other is sacrificed."

I have two kids, both play soccer, both take piano, both take swim lessons and one also takes ballet. I take them to all of these myself. The children of my woking parent friends as far as Ican see are participating in as many activities as the children of my non working parent friends.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 2:03 PM

Au Pairs are not supposed to cook or do housework btw, it is against the rules.

I would hate the loss of privacy that comes with having one live with you in anycase

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 2:05 PM

definitely vote yes for Self-Employed Nanny. It's witty and entrepreneurial.

Posted by: newslinks1 | August 31, 2007 2:07 PM

"he other point is that calculating how hard "work" is includes not just the skill level required to do it and the amount of time/physical effort/mental effort needed to do it, but the stress induced by it. Thus, as both Leslie and atlmom have pointed out, the "work" of being a SAHP is definitely harder for them than it was for you."

I still totally disagree with this premise.

MAybe look at it this was: If two people were working outside the home at jobs that had roughly equivilent hours and reponsibilities, and one of those people enjoyed and was fullfilled by their job and the other wassn't happy with their job and felt frazzled by it, would you really say that the unhappier person worked harder????

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 2:09 PM

oh, I LOVE my au pair. She is like part of the family! As if I had a niece who had some time and wanted to help around the house - it is so great. Our live out nanny was also part of the family.

We have plenty of room in the house (she has almost a whole basement to herself). So no one's living on top of anyone else.

Au pair's are allowed to do ANYTHING to do with the kids - so cooking and cleaning for them is PERFECTLY FINE not against the rules (including laundry for the kids)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 2:12 PM

The label is a non-issue to me. I frankly don't care, and don't find the topic at all compelling. People can call themselves what they want. If an at home parents choose to call her/himself a full time parent, it makes no difference to me. I am not offended by it. Frankly, I don't have time to give it much thought or importance. So people, figure out what you are comfortable with, stick to it, and don't get offended by what other people think or say. Life is too short.

Posted by: Emily | August 31, 2007 2:14 PM

I join the chorus who see nothing wrong with SAHP. It's a quick and easy shorthand. People who are determined to read judgments into that label will read them into any other label you come up with too.

Although I like the more creative options for those of us feeling whippy. I knew someone who owned a business and put "The Big Cheese" as his title on his business cards.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 31, 2007 2:16 PM

off topic

My niece had her baby, named her a normal name (thanks to me and a big baby name book) and is doing well.

Although she did say that I lied about labor, which I did not. Her edidural did not work. The baby is healthy and cute.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 31, 2007 2:18 PM

"would you really say that the unhappier person worked harder"

No, but I would say that working is harder for that person in that job because it takes more of a toll on them.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 31, 2007 2:18 PM

"Maybe look at it this way: If two people were working outside the home at jobs that had roughly equivalent hours and responsibilities, and one of those people enjoyed and was fulfilled by their job and the other wasn't happy with their job and felt frazzled by it, would you really say that the unhappier person worked harder????"

Yes.

"Accomplished more work?" Almost certainly not. "Worked harder?" Yes.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 2:21 PM

Emily I agree with you to a point. Titles and words don't bother me so much as the way in which they are used.

For example, if you meet someone and they ask you if you work and you say yes, and then they say I am a full time parent.

I never ask people if they work because I don't care one way or the other. A nice person is a nice person.

By the way, there is lead in some of the off brand of crayons, so if you have them and small children beware.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 31, 2007 2:22 PM

"Au Pairs are not supposed to cook or do housework btw, it is against the rules."

Not true. Au pairs are allowed to do light housework and cooking. My au pair cleans and vaccuums the playroom and the kids' rooms, does their laundry, makes lunch for them, starts dinner for us, unloads the dishwasher.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2007 2:23 PM

Okay, it's been about 10 years since we had an au pair, but way back in the dark ages, you couldn't REQUIRE the au pair to do the family cooking, laundry etc. Although they were certainly permitted to, and two of the three we had enjoyed cooking.

(Although at that time the family routine had me fixing breakfast because I got up first and left for work first, then DW setting up something for the au pair to provide to the kids as lunch, then me getting home from work first and cooking dinner. If one of the au pairs was inspired to cook and wanted to fix dinner for the family, that was great. Nothing like bangers and mash fixed by a girl from Galway, or jaegerschnitzel cooked by a Bremen-ite. Laundry was done at nights and on weekends because of lower electricity rates; I probably did about two-thirds and DW one-third. Again, if the au pair was doing a load of laundry, she usually rounded up enough of the family's stuff to make it a full load - we have a big honkin' washing machine.)

Two of our three au pairs truly became members of our family, to the extent that we all went off to Galway in 2004 and Bremen in 2005 for their weddings.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 2:28 PM

I'm glad to see that other posters have already responded to fake99. My earlier post most certainly did not make the assumption that the only commitments SAHMs have is the gym or book clubs. Those were examples - recent, actual examples based on a daytime meeting I was trying to schedule. The exhaustive list of other things that triggered scheduling conflicts would fill up an entire guest blog.

And MN thanks for clarifying the alternating PTA schedule of 10 am and 7:30 pm. Having a starting point for coordinating schedules is great. I just can't stand it when people assume that SAHPs can meet at X time and WOHPs can meet at Y time.

Posted by: cm9887 | August 31, 2007 2:29 PM

Paravan.

A combination of "parent" and "mini-van". The para can also imply "paramount", as in primary caretaker. The avan can also imply "caravan", as in driving all around town. Since I made it up, I declare it gender neutral!

Posted by: cjbriggs | August 31, 2007 2:31 PM

I was referring more to cleaning toilets/ scrubbing floors kind of housework not picking up after the kids. When I looked into it they were allowed to cook meals for the kids but weren't supposed to cook dinner for the family etc.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 2:33 PM

LizaBean: "Although I like the more creative options for those of us feeling whippy. I knew someone who owned a business and put "The Big Cheese" as his title on his business cards."

If I haven't already, I'll go on record as saying that I don't think there's anything wrong with SAHM, SAHD or the gender-neutral SAHP. They're the best terms to me.

But off-topic with titles: Jerry Yang, the founder and now (again) CEO of Yahoo! has the title of "Chief Yahoo".

Vint Cerf, who co-invented the technology (TCP/IP) that underlies the Internet, is the "Chief Internet Evangelist" at Google.

Bill Gates used to be the "Chief Software Architect" at Microsoft. He gave that title to Ray Ozzie as Gates gets ready to retire.

If you're high enough up in the company, you can call yourself anything you darned well want to!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 2:34 PM

oh, we have someone come every other week, yet my au pair scrubs everything she can. We're very grateful for the extra help! No, she's not required, but it's definitely wonderful.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 2:43 PM

"Au Pairs are not supposed to cook or do housework btw, it is against the rules."

Not true. Au pairs are allowed to do light housework and cooking. My au pair cleans and vaccuums the playroom and the kids' rooms, does their laundry, makes lunch for them, starts dinner for us, unloads the dishwasher.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2007 02:23 PM

I hate to be such a lawyer, LOL, and I know many of you know this, but what an au pair is permitted to do, and/or what you are permitted to require, is governed by the agency agreement you sign. Read it carefully, or ask alot of questions before you start working with an agency, if it is important to you to have your au pair do any specific tasks that don't relate directly to childcare. Please don't make assumptions based on what your ex-neighbor's au pair was able to do 3 states away last year, with a different agency.

Posted by: gcoward | August 31, 2007 2:45 PM

atlmom1234, How's your au pair's English progress coming along?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 2:45 PM


Give it any name you want -- so long as we men can pay competitive market rates for it.

The American "Women's Union" keeps the prices for "household services" way above the global norm.

More imports from Eastern Europe would normalize it.

Posted by: jabailo | August 31, 2007 2:45 PM

Bill Gates used to be the "Chief Software Architect" at Microsoft. He gave that title to Ray Ozzie as Gates gets ready to retire.

I fyou won the company you can be chief tallywhacker if you want. Titles are things designed to make people feel good or powerful.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 2:46 PM

newsahm -- No nanny here. I would LOVE one -- partly for the frazzle factor, partly because you've just rattled off a list of my LEAST favorite chores. :-) But to afford one, I'd need to go back to work full-time (ie, 8-6 as a "regular" day, with more as necessary). So basically, I wouldn't be eliminating any stress, I'd just be trading one source for another. And if I'm going to lose my mind anyway, I'd rather it be my family that pushes me over the edge -- isn't that what they're for? :-)

Posted by: laura33 | August 31, 2007 2:46 PM

Or in english "if you own the company"

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 2:48 PM

mehitabel: thanks for asking -it's great. She took one english class over the summer and will be taking another one soon. She really understands the frustration of our 2 YO who knows what he wants to communicate but doesn't have the words.
But, many friends (other au pairs) are all from different places, so they are all forced to speak English - AND I know she is really wanting to learn more english - so it's coming along.

Unfortunately, I don't think she's teaching portuguese to the kids, but what can ya do. We'll all be speaking chinese one of these days anyway...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 2:49 PM

"No, but I would say that working is harder for that person in that job because it takes more of a toll on them."

Agreed. And by extrapolation, a non-woking parent that is stressed and frazzled by how they spend their day is not working harder, or as hard as, a parent who also works outside the home. Rather, what they do is harder for them personally because it doesn't make them happy and thus may not be the right choice for them or their kids.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 2:50 PM

gcoward -- We were given standards developed by the State Department as to what our au pair can and cannot do. She can only work a certain number of hours a week (45), must have at least 1.5 consecutive days off each week, there's an educational component which must be met, etc. We cannot withhold pay for any reason, if she gets in an accident with our car during work/non-work hours things are handled differently in terms of responsibility, etc. I think some people don't follow the rules, but I do.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2007 2:54 PM

Also, there are only 6 agencies that are actually approved by the DOS to match au pairs with host families. (I think it's 6, might be a few more but not many.) There are plenty of fakes out there, though, bringing girls over illegally. I would never work with them.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2007 2:56 PM

On a different topic, is anyone doing anything interesting this weekend? We are going to stay at home and do NOTHING! I can't wait, no birthday parties, no sports,no parties, no nothing!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 2:58 PM

motheroftwo, I think we agree. I thought that's what the other person meant two.

"My au pair cleans and vaccuums the playroom and the kids' rooms, does their laundry, makes lunch for them, starts dinner for us, unloads the dishwasher."

That sounds soooo nice. Good for you guys!

Posted by: LizaBean | August 31, 2007 2:59 PM

pATRICK, I'm going to the zoo, two cookouts, and ballet and soccer. I hope you truly enjoy your peace and quiet.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 31, 2007 3:00 PM

Didn't know that workingmomX - good to know - we used the agency our former nanny used - so she coached us thru the process.

No plans this weekend either, maybe hit IKEA for a desk for DS. Maybe mom will be able to go shopping. Maybe try the pool if it stops raining. Otherwise, NOT GOING ANYWHERE. We'll spend time together as a happy family. :)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 3:07 PM

well, i actually hope the au pair would help with unloading/loading the dishwasher - she/he lives in your house too - so some of the housework she should be helping with. As a part of the household. Just sayin'

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 31, 2007 3:08 PM

Warning: geek alert. Physics discussued.

motheroftwo, how do you measure how "hard" work is?

Suppose that Joe and Jane both do a job that requires them to pick up and move heavy boxes for eight hours a day. If Jane is physically stronger than Joe (e.g., she benchpresses more; she can lift heavy weight more easily), does Joe have to work "harder" than Jane to do the job, or do they work equally hard because they accomplish the same thing?

To me, Joe has to work harder, even though they accomplished the same thing, because of his lower natural strength.

In physics (don't say I didn't warn you), work is defined as the product of the force applied to an object; times the distance the object was moved; times the cosine of the angle between the direction in which you applied the force and the direction in which the object moved.

(Actually - you've been warned - this is the definition from Newtonian mechanics, which while not perfect is still a good approximation for a our workaday world.)

In life, the "force" you put into something is the sum of the physical, mental and emotional efforts you have to put into it. If all else is equal, but Joe has to put in more physical force than Jane to do the same thing, then Joe has worked harder.

Similarly, if all else is equal, and Sue has to put in more emotional energy than Bob because she hates her job and it frazzles and frustrates her, then Sue has worked harder than Bob.

(The "displacement of the object" in this analogy is how much you got accomplished; and the "angle" is between what you want to accomplish and what you actually have to do.)

End of geek alert - hey, I warned you.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 3:10 PM

pATRICK, could you stop off en route from work to buy a whole flan to bring home for the pATRICK family this weekend? I hope your dad is still able to enjoy flan, too.

We won't be doing much this weekend either, besides enjoy the seasonal produce from our garden -- sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, salad greens, chard -- and other goodies from the farmers' market (including ripe peaches and cantaloupes). And watch football on TV.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 3:12 PM

I work full time, go to school part time, and have no kids. My life is pretty insane. I usually get to work before 6am and often get home after 6pm (go to class on lunch time, usually 3 hours including commute to class and back from class). I am lucky if we eat before 7 and I need to start winding down for bed at about 8:30. Even when I was *merely* working full time with no school, it was exhausting. Most of us are not blessed with nice commutes, and most workplaces aren't THAT flexible in what they'll allow for you to do for your own personal errands during work days.

I can't comprehend adding kids to this mixture. I found when I was going to school full time and working part time (20+ hours) life was a breeze. Sure I had a full course load, but that was usually maybe 16 hours of class a week and my part time work was flexible enough I could still buy groceries, leave a little early here and there, or work weekends instead when I needed. The reason I go into this is because I think full-time work plus kids is more daunting than not working plus kids. True you are spending your whole day with kids (if under school age) or often coordinating school activities or volunteering or whatever while they are in school, but your time is still your own. You are volunteering your time on your schedule and when your kid demands you do something with them during the day, you can still say no. You can't tell your boss no. When your boss asks you to stay late it's a choice between your preference or your sustenance. I think stay at home non-working outside of the home parents have more choices.

If I could choose, I'd be like Leslie and write/blog all day and have the opportunity to "work from home" if I wanted. The ability to be measured on ouput of work rather than hours put in as well as some flexibility in scheduling your breaks/lunch would be pretty awesome.

Posted by: _Miles | August 31, 2007 3:12 PM

Off topic Alert!!!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

Ahem! This is the Spirit of Father of 4 typing here from the morgue. My purpose is to offer Fo4's friends that he has made on the Onbalance blog in the past year a final and sincere farewell. As some of you know, Father of 4 was once a regular here who offered stories of his work experiences, homelife, and childhood memories. He began posting to Onbalance from the very beginning merely as a training excersize to test out his voice software. He began sharing his thoughts with people on a regular basis, then he got sucked in by the conversations, and the people. He so enjoyed his virtual friends and felt so comfortable chatting with them that he offered a guest blog and exposed his challanging life story for everyone to read.

And he chatted along and made a few good friends (and a few light enemies), accepted ridicule, and mostly portrayed a positive attitude for many months to follow.

But somehow, somewhere, something happened that disturbed Father of 4 as he continued to post to the blog. Slowly, but surely, his mood soured, his thoughts grew colder, and he began to wunder if the effortk he put in to share his life with others was doing any good.

Then one day, he read his posts from the day before and thought "Yikes, what was I doing? Why was I like that? That's not me." But the proof was there, something had gone seriously wrong, and Father of 4 determined at that point there was nothing good that the blog was contributing to others, let alone himself.

So Father of 4 perished on his own accord, leaving his mascot, Lil Husky to linger until the final day.

So, without further ado, let me express the personal farewells Father of 4 has for his fondest friends on the Onbalance blog.

Goodbye Megan, the peacemaker, may your wisdom continue to settle the troubled.
Goodbye Laura, you sweetheart, I've always considered you as the blog's most thoughtful darleng.
Fred and Proud Papa, OB's most respectable dads, I'll miss your classy posts.
Emily, Jen S, Londonmom, I'm wishing you the best for your babies to come. Much joy to you and your families!
Educmom, God bless all the teachers of this world!
Goodbye Single Western Mom, you green-eyed angel, you continue to astound me with your dedication and your ability to forgive.
And Mona, may your courage always bring you good fortune
And mehitabel, may your cats live their full 9 lives, and longer!
pATRICK, may God always give you flan to eat through the hands of those whose ideals you challange.
and Megan's Neighbor, voice of reason, may you always excersize prudence, understanding and justice with your cave assignments
VegasMom, may you always have the strength to help those in need
CMAC, Maryland_mom, thanks for the close company, if you know what I mean!
KLB, smiles and laughter, and more smiles, and of course, an adult beverage.
Moxiemom, thanks for lowering the bar for us tired weary parents,we all could use the break,
And Meesh, my favorite liberal, It's been fun, hasn't it?
Leslie, may you never run out of Onbalance ideas, and I hope your blog continues its success.
And Irishgirl, my favorite from the very beginning, your passion towards life has captured my spirit. Father of 4 must go from this blog, but you know where his spirit lurks. Congratulations on your new family member!

Father of 4 has found his balance and mission in life. he sends a virtual thankyou to all those who have helped him through this blog and wishes happiness to all parents, singles, and married couples who dedicate their lives to making this a better world in which to live.

And with one last click on the Submit button, there will be no more Father of 4, no more Lil Husky... Goodbye! Woof!

Posted by: SpiritOfFo4 | August 31, 2007 3:16 PM

Senior Vice President of Finance and Household Operations. I was just discussing this with my husband a few days ago. I have been debating on going back to work and was trying to figure out a creative way to put "Stay at Home Mom" on my resume.

Posted by: megflack | August 31, 2007 3:21 PM

Ahhhh, Father of 4, it just won't be the same without you. Bon voyage, wherever life takes you.

Posted by: laura33 | August 31, 2007 3:25 PM

Goodbye F04, we will miss you!

Posted by: LizaBean | August 31, 2007 3:27 PM

From a father of 4 to THE "Father of 4", farewell!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 3:27 PM

Love Self Employed Nanny.

Also agree that Stay-at-Home Parent is innocuous in just the right way.

Good work!

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 3:27 PM

F04, you're the cat's meow!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 3:31 PM


Hi Fred. I am officially back on Tuesday. I've just been checking in occasionally these days. Good work on Monday. Say hi to Frieda. Hope NO is doing okay around the anniversary.

Deeply, tragically saddened by your departure, Fo4. I still have your voicemail on my cell phone and I will treasure it forever. (May never erase it.)

Thank you for your good spirit and thoughtful, opinionated commentary. There is no one like you. You represent, to me, the best of this blog. Rest in peace, and continue to enjoy the good life that always made you irresistible.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 31, 2007 3:33 PM

"The reason I go into this is because I think full-time work plus kids is more daunting than not working plus kids."

Miles, I understand why you would say this and appreciate your efforts to base it in your own experience.

My feeling is that it just really depends on the parent, the kid, the community, and the job. I've been in school with the baby, home full time with the baby, and working full time with a toddler over the last two, almost three now, years. For me, honestly, the best situation was when I was working but in a job that was very easy - no long nights, always took a full lunch break, etc. Other situations, including being home full time, have been more challenging to me for very different reasons. In the end, I think we all have to just find the best situation we can for ourselves, and not worry about whether someone else's is harder or easier for them or would be for us.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 31, 2007 3:34 PM

Fof4, congratulations on your blog-graduation. Come back and visit us sometime...and I do hope you LEARNED something during your time here!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 31, 2007 3:40 PM

no worries Armybrat, I was an engineering major in another life. Geek away.

"motheroftwo, how do you measure how "hard" work is?

Suppose that Joe and Jane both do a job that requires them to pick up and move heavy boxes for eight hours a day. If Jane is physically stronger than Joe (e.g., she benchpresses more; she can lift heavy weight more easily), does Joe have to work "harder" than Jane to do the job, or do they work equally hard because they accomplish the same thing?"

In that scenario I might grant you that Joe worked harder since we are measuring the same work task and it requires more physical effort from him.

By contrast, I would not be willing to say that Jane worked harder if you told me that she was unhappy with her job because box lifting was boring and repetetive. In that case Joe might enjoy his work more than Jane does, but that doesn't mean Jane works harder.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 3:42 PM

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 03:12 PM


peace and flan be with you

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 3:43 PM

Leslie, please see post at 9:53 AM re your being a go-between for Laura and Portuguese Mother, in anticipation of Laura's upcoming trip to Portugal.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 3:44 PM

To Army Brat: One consideration in measuring the hardness of work is the amount of input (exertion) rather than the output (production). If the achieving the same output fatigues me more than it does someone else, then it could be argued that I've worked harder, because I have less energy left over.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 3:48 PM

bye Father of 4 from another father of 4. Hope that the pit bull of life never bites you! (too hard, at any rate!)

Posted by: Fred | August 31, 2007 3:53 PM

motherof two:

"In that scenario I might grant you that Joe worked harder since we are measuring the same work task and it requires more physical effort from him.

By contrast, I would not be willing to say that Jane worked harder if you told me that she was unhappy with her job because box lifting was boring and repetetive. In that case Joe might enjoy his work more than Jane does, but that doesn't mean Jane works harder."

I would disagree. In this case Jane has put more emotional effort in, just as in the previous case Joe put more physical effort in. Two different aspects of the effort required, and thus I'd argue that one person had to work harder even though they accomplished equivalent outputs.

mehitabel:

"One consideration in measuring the hardness of work is the amount of input (exertion) rather than the output (production). If the achieving the same output fatigues me more than it does someone else, then it could be argued that I've worked harder, because I have less energy left over."

Exactly! I'm in complete agreement with you, and that's why I argue that it's possible for someone to have to work "harder" - physically, emotionally, intellectually - while doing the same job as someone else.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 3:54 PM

what if I lift boxes part time and it makes me very unhappy and takes an emotional toll on me. Does that mean that I have worked harder than the person who lifts boxes full time but has a happier nature?

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 3:54 PM

So maybe the hardness of work should be measured in terms of how much energy is left over?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 3:56 PM

And with one last click on the Submit button, there will be no more Father of 4, no more Lil Husky... Goodbye! Woof!

Posted by: SpiritOfFo4 | August 31, 2007 03:16 PM

We will see him again, the name will change but he will be back. The sound of the guns will draw him back in.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 31, 2007 3:57 PM

pATRICK, I suspect you may be correct. (I already know you're "right" -- LOL!).

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 3:59 PM

Fo4 - you will be missed! It won't be nearly as groovy here without you! big big kisses

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 31, 2007 4:01 PM

"So maybe the hardness of work should be measured in terms of how much energy is left over?"

Can't be. Two equivalent machines (lets say weed wackers, since thats what I have to do this weekend) one has its battery full charged but the other I forgot to plug in again so it is only partially charged. If I use them each for one hour, has one does more work than the other?

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 4:01 PM

motheroftwo: "what if I lift boxes part time and it makes me very unhappy and takes an emotional toll on me. Does that mean that I have worked harder than the person who lifts boxes full time but has a happier nature?"

Now stop that! :-)

If you keep that up I'll be forced to write up some simulation software and spend the whole weekend determining the right parameters that best relate happiness and work accomplished to how "hard" someone's life is.

And that would make DW very unhappy, which in turn would make me very unhappy because she would give me, in the vernacular, "a hard row to hoe."

Which would mean I'd really, really have to work hard in order to start enjoying life again.

Sounds to me like it's time for an alcoholic beverage! :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 4:06 PM

"Sounds to me like it's time for an alcoholic beverage! :-)"

..and flan! Can't forget the flan!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 4:07 PM

Because humans self-recharge.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 4:07 PM

"Sounds to me like it's time for an alcoholic beverage! :-)


I'll drink to that! (maybe thats how humans self recharge...)

Hey when you are writing the simulation software Armybrat,make it model which boxlifter does more work if one has been drinking - maybe we are on to something here 8-)

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 4:12 PM

human self recharge = sleep

Posted by: mehitabel | August 31, 2007 4:13 PM

"human self recharge = sleep"

was a joke, the drink=recharge....well sort of.


But I capitulate. Unhappy people and insomniacs always work harder no matter what job they do and whether or not they have time to go to the gym, the bookclub or starbucks.

Posted by: motheroftwo | August 31, 2007 4:19 PM

Meesh,

I know this is kinda late, but it is in reference to your comment about your husband, "bless his heart". Have you read the book "Bless your heart, Tramp. And other Southern Endearments"? It's by Celia Rivenbark, author of "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier", "Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: And Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom", and "Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm a Size 6".

Posted by: WorkingDad | August 31, 2007 4:21 PM

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 31, 2007 04:06 PM

You're the one who brought in the physics. If we went by physics, an object requires a certain amount of "work" to move it from one point to another, regardless of the path taken or whether it was a small child pushing the box or a large robust weightlifter. So long as the beginning point and end point of the the object are the same, and the mass of the object is the same, the work is the same. How hard or how fast you did it does not matter. By that logic we're all equal since we all started in the womb and will end in the grave.

Posted by: _Miles | August 31, 2007 4:26 PM

Or maybe those who moved further away from where they started win out...*boggle* where's that guest writer and all her moving about, maybe she really does know a thing about balance, perhaps she's done the most work of any of us...

Posted by: _Miles | August 31, 2007 4:32 PM

father of 4. Email me, my phone number has changed.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 31, 2007 6:43 PM

I'm sorry, but I don't get what's wrong with "Mom" or Dad"

Posted by: kayce | August 31, 2007 7:05 PM

I just read this, so forgive if this has been repeated - only so many posts I could get through...

What on earth is wrong with "Stay at Home ____"? Just because some people aren't quite bright enough to grasp that being a full-time parent can be just as time consuming and rewarding as "real" work (and I'm childless!), doesn't mean you have to turn around and try and apply a job label to try and make these people agree with you (when they never will...until they have a child of their own).

All I could think of was George Carlin's riff on how American English is filled with euphemisms. Just say what you are, own it/be proud of it, and everyone else can mind their own !@#$%^&* business.

Or, perhaps, Leslie, are you looking to write a book or a column to make it look like you're contributing more to the current parental zeitgeist?

Everyone knows what "Stay at Home ____" means. Don't make it more complicated than it already is!

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | August 31, 2007 7:06 PM

Aren't all moms working moms? Whether or not you're at home with your kids, working part-time, working from home or working out of the home, you're still a mom and you're always working!

Posted by: jtyi | August 31, 2007 8:57 PM

some celeb in vanity fair was quoted as describing her job as Certified Child Life Specialist. loved that one too.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 2, 2007 6:05 AM

take gender out of the equation....stay at home parent

Posted by: teach1 | September 2, 2007 6:25 PM

As a Career Counselor and a work at home Dad, I see the importance of a useable title for parents who stay at home, particularly if or when the individual decides to apply for a new job outside the home. I have had clients use SAHM, SAHD, SAHP etc. on their resume, but never really liked those options as they seem incomplete. Recently, I have been using Director of Family Services in conjunction with SAHP, i.e. Director of Family Serices, SAHP, The Smith Family, 2000-2006. It's not ideal, but I've found it works as a title on a resume.

I also like the CHO option suggested earlier.

Posted by: Indyssent | September 4, 2007 8:05 AM

parent

Posted by: Hunsinger2000 | September 5, 2007 7:58 AM

You know what...? We are ALL parents. No title is necessary once you are a parent. That is a title enough to cover a myraid of jobs. For those that work outside or inside the home - I can tell you I have worked outside of the home but at home it is harder because you feel guilt in wanting to work but also to be at home to watch the firsts of everything. I know many can vouch for the whole "being there to watch my baby smile/first steps, etc...is everything I need..." that is GREAT...but the bottom line is...kids do not appreciate us....now. They love us regardless....but appreciate us...? That is seriously questionable. Every one of us wishes to have someone appreciate our efforts, the "ol' pat on back" to hint to us that yes, we did (are doing) a great job. I am a "SAHM" or whatever title means mom who does not leave everyday for a 40 hr. work week. The point is I have seen the "other" side, I was a latch key kid and as a kid I just wanted to spend more time with my single mom (I had 2 more siblings and she worked two jobs to put us through private school with no paternal help) and the little time my mom got to spend with us was so special. No fillers, just pure time. When we were with her we did not spend the time crying over the littlest thing or throwing tantrums at Target because I did not get a "small" toy for good behavior. We did our weekly chores, everyone had a contributing job, we had to make good grades, I am not exactly scarred from being a latchkey kid, what I did gain from it was a deep understanding (later in life) of my mom's sacrifices. I think we new parents have been unfairly given the brunt of responsibility for our current social ills and how bad children's behavior have become. But media and society as a whole also has to share the blame. We do not save, we are a kleenex throw away society. We changed how our parents raised us, because we were told to do so by "so-called" specialists, now we are trying to revert to the old ways, i.e. staying at home or trying to find more ways to work from home, all while being totally stressed, guilt stricken, and just purely trying to find what is best for our family. One thing I have to say, I chose to stay with my children because I wanted a little more memory for them of me being there. But really, I am trying to pacify me. Because, my children are so used to seeing me and have the security that they will always have me there that I think they are not appreciative of our time spent or "special" outtings - because to them it is almost a given. I see or speak to some working mothers and their kids are excited, like real excited, when she took a hour early from work to go catch a movie with them. IT made their whole week and it is a huge deal and surprise. I get jeolous - my children - excited, yep, but not overly surprised. I love my time with them, still. The closest thing I get every now and then is a Mom you are the best! Makes me melt - they love me yes - appreciative - well, we will wait 25 years and see. Bottom line, anyway you look at it....grass may seem greener on the otherside, but you simply just have look up at the sun and see which way the light is facing. On cloudy days they are the same shade of green.

Posted by: johannecaglianone | December 4, 2007 6:15 AM

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