Friday, May 1, 2009

A Husband's Realistic Expectations For a SAHM

For this week's Fatherhood Friday post on Dad Blogs I thought I would talk about what a husband/father can realistically expect from the SAHM in his life.

Now, I write this post with a great deal of trepidation. I realize that I could say something in here that could piss a lot of SAHMs off in a hurry. And believe me, I recognize that there are very few groups of people I want to piss more less than SAHMs. More importantly, I risk infuriating the SAHM in my life. And as much as I love and respect the SAHMs of the blogosphere, my SAHM is the only one that truly scares me. After all, I would like to have sex again sometime in this calendar year.

Having said that, it was actually a comment by my SAHM that even got me thinking about expectations in the first place (so it's her fault). She gave me what she considered to be a compliment one night. And I eventually took it as a compliment. her comment was simple, "Thanks for having such low expectations for me as a stay-at-home mom."

I don't think I have low expectations, though. I think I'm just realistic. I didn't marry June Cleaver because I didn't want to marry June Cleaver (plus, I'm pretty sure Barbara Billingsley is dead).

So, all that being said, let's get to the good stuff. What can a husband realistically expect from his own SAHM. I thought I'd start with a few things to NOT expect:

  1. A home-cooked meal on the table every night when you walk in the door.
  2. A wife that is dressed to the nines with a freshly ironed dressed and pearl necklace.
  3. A spotless house.
  4. A sex fiend waiting for you at the door in nothing but an apron.

In case you've forgotten, your SAHM is home all day with at least one child. Mine is home all day with three kids. All under the age of 4. One of them is 6 weeks old. If I come home to a Stouffer's lasagna, cars and baby doll accessories strewn about the floor and a wife in sweat pants and one of my old t-shirts there is NO WAY I can be upset. That's how life works out sometimes.

So what can you expect from your SAHM? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Relatively clean, fed, well-adjusted kids. The real goal of staying home with your children is to provide them a first-class upbringing. So it makes sense to expect at least some results in the child rearing department.
  2. At least some attempt to get cleaned and dressed. My thought is this: if I have to shave everyday (and I HATE shaving), you can at least comb your hair and put on something that wouldn't double for painting clothes.
  3. An attempt to stay up on the laundry, dishes and general maintenance of the household.
  4. Finding ways to save money or make a little money on the side. Since most one-income families aren't rolling in disposable income, every little bit helps.

The thing to remember, guys, is that none of these rules are really absolute. Notice I used the word "attempt" a lot. Some days none of this is going to happen. Some days all of this and more is going to happen. You've just got to learn to roll with the punches and love your SAHM even if she hasn't showered since Tuesday and the laundry is piling up.

And by the way ladies, the whole "coming home to you in nothing but an apron" thing should happen at least once while you're a SAHM. I'm just sayin'.


  1. I think what's saving your butt here is the use of the word "attempt" As a SAHM myself, there are days where I'm lucky if I even get to pee by myself let alone attempt to get clean - sometimes that may include dunking my head in the shower after my 5yo is done with hers before Pre-K just to get my hair wet so it's not standing up all over the place. Oh, and deodorant is a big thing too.

    Laundry? Yeah, it piles up on the back porch. If I try to put it away in the kids' room, it gets played with or used to clean up poop because they can't keep their pull-ups on during nap - nevermind that the cabinet we put their clothes in is latched with a child-proof latch.

    Dishes I'm getting better at.

    Trash? Hubby's department and it's piled up.

    Baking & Cooking? Love it. It's actually my "escape."

    FYI, finding a way to make money on the side is a little difficult when you've got three kids 5 and under. But I do look - each and every day. Plus, not sending them to daycare saves like 20k+ a year (and that's just daycare and not lost wages or medical bills for child-related illness) so even if I don't find something, I comfort myself with that.

    And the whole naked in just an apron thing? Don't own one. And frankly, unless the boob area is on the small side, they wouldn't stay in but I guess that's the point now, isn't it. LOL.

    But seriously. Most nights after I've gotten the kids in bed I'd love nothing more than for hubby to pop out a coupla beers, sit down with me, and watch some TV. I'm just sayin'!

  2. Good post. I think the things you've laid out are completely realistic, but I can see how you'd catch shit. Stay at home moms are a touchy bunch if they feel they've even been slightly disrespected.

    But yeah, after I've worked all day it would irritate me a little if the house was in complete disarray and she wasn't even dressed or showered. When you choose to be a stay at home parent (could be a dad staying home too!) I think it's implied that you'll get the majority of the housework. Not all of it, the other parent still needs to pitch in. But definitely most of it.

  3. LOL, As an SAHM I am lucky that hubby only expects me to care for the kids and their needs. Everything else is a bonus (although it usually happens) because you can't always predict what the day will bring. He has done my job on occasion and when looking at the aftermath in his wake just shakes his head and says "your job is harder than mine".

    1. That's where the problem lies. My husband has not yet attempted to do what he thinks I should get done in order to experience the shit show that magically re-appears directly behind the path of "cleaning" - (picking up random crap that came from who-knows-where over and over again in an attempt to get the floor hiding underneath cleaned!!) I have 3 under the age of 6 and homeschool and a little understanding and unconditional love despite the naturally occurring chaos, I combat daily, would make my heart so happy!

  4. Great post. And at least I can check the apron thing off my list. Check. ;)

  5. As a SAHD I have higher expectations of myself than my wife. I don't know why but I feel I have more to prove. I strive for the clean house, dinner when she walks through the door and healthy well mannered chikdren. Most weeks I hit the nail on the head, other weeks not so much, but on those weeks I usually have another project going that I place to the front of most everything else.

  6. My wife and I have discussed our expectations of each other. As a SAHM, she is required to do certain thing and I have certain responsibilites as the work outside the home partner. We sometimes disappoint each other, but for the most part, we meet our expectations.

  7. Great post. My wife and I both agree that staying at home full time is not for us. She's a principal and has summers off and that's enough. Also, a couple of years ago I was staying home with just my daughter (we now have a son too) and it kicked my ass! Much respect to all stay at home parents! It's a TOUGH job.

    ps. The apron thing would still be cool though. :D

  8. You are brave to touch on this subject. Your ideas seem realistic to me. Really the only thing I expect is for my wife to take care of our son. Anything else she does is a bonus.

    Now that I have read other comments I see that I stole WeaselMommas answer. Oh well. I am sticking with it.

  9. You bring up good points. You can't expect perfection from anyone.

    On the other hand we were watching "Super Nanny" and it seems like these rotten kids all have SAHMs! I told my wife "If our kids are like I will fire you from being a SAHM and send you out to get a job and send them to daycare"

    Just because you are a SAHM doesn't mean you don't have to be held accountable.

  10. This SAHM was not offended in the fact, I appreciated your post. There may be days where I don't get out of my pajama pants or forget to eat breakfast, but my little one is always dressed and well fed. I make sure I at least have that part covered. :)

    Happy FF!

  11. I have a lot of respect for SAHMs. My wife is going to be one in the next couple of right now i have no expectations for her. I do want her to be there for the kids and do whatever she can to make the experience great for the kids and herself.

    Ans the apron does one propose such a thing to their SAHM??? (Any suggestions are appreciated) :)

  12. I highly respect mom's that are SAHM's. It's hard work. There are a few days a week that I work from home and have the kids around with me and it's a pain in the BEHIND. Nothing pisses me off more than when I've had a long day, super busy, and the wife comes home wondering why the house that I just cleaned up is such a mess and why dinner is "only" hotdogs.

  13. I tried to be a SAHD for one day. Tried was the keyword. Sure I work hard, but it's work and I'm focused, and I know what to expect each day. Definitely can't say the same for my SAHM. I'm gonna throw the "come home to an apron" thing out there...once I find my protective gear.

  14. I'd do the apron thing every day if hubby only expected the 4 things you

  15. I love your blog. I had to laugh on your comment about June Cleaver, though, because at the time you wrote this, she most assuredly was NOT dead, lol. But thank you so much for this blog- it is now my favorite, and I find so much encouragement in the fact that you actually "get" it. I need to forward alot of this to my husband!!

  16. Ok, wow this post is old, but hoping my comment makes it to you.

    I have stayed home with my twin girls, now 21 months, since they were born. I keep the kids in line and the house maintained (including groceries, cleaning, taking trash out, mowing the lawn, you name it). Food is always on the table, albeit my cooking is not great and it's usually cold since I have no idea what time hubby will be home as it differs.

    My question is this...what are the realistic expectations of a SAHM of working dad? I give hubby space and make sure Kids do the same. No diaper changes, no feeding them, no up during the night with them for him. So, what's fair to ask of him?

  17. Great post... I too want to know the answer to Tiffany's question what is reasonable to expect of my Hubby... I actually expected more of a SAHM until I became one, I now know that this is way more tiring than my 6 day/week up to 10 hrs a day job but I feel like I still need a lil spousal support when he gets home even if it's just letting the kids crawl around in the same room as him while I finish up dinner or dishes.

  18. I am a SAHM to seven. (And no, I don't homeschool because hey, I happen to like sending my kids off to school for a mental break.) I still have two littles, so I do transcription from home and contribute. That means when I'm not working, I clean like crazy... well, I'll admit I clean like crazy only when the mess is bad enough to drive me bonkers... the apron... well, maybe that'll happen. But dads, even if you work outside the home, we still need your help. We're not superwomen, you know.

  19. I used to work with my husband when my daughter was born. We split shifts and worked identical hours, he at night, and I in the morning. I ended up doing most of the baby rearing and household cleaning, groceries, etc. I never thought it would be like this. I always thought, and still do, that housework and childcare should be split up evenly. I now have a second child, and have stayed home since he was born. He is now 9 months, and my husband only STARTED to play with him or spend any kind of quality time with him at 6 or 7 months. He stopped lifting a finger at home COMPLETELY and says he needs to relax. He plays with my daughter in the morning for 2 hours and THATS IT. No more duties for him. I could be cooking and he resents the time I spend in the kitchen while he is in the livingroom, aparently bothered that they dont leave him alone. I feel like this stay at home thing did us in, or me. I dont like my husband any longer because I cant respect a man who does not WANT to take responsability for his kids or his home. He just wants to watch TV, because he works all day...

  20. I wish I was a stay at home dad. I do it in the weekends while my wife sleeps in and goes out by herself to get away. I never have an issue. I clean. Cook and look after twin girls. But when I come home from work during the week. She acts like its the worst thing ever. So exhausted and tired. Couldn't get anything done. She says I never see what she goes thru. But. I do. And I manage it all without issue. I even get a nap in. But she can't. Yet when I come home she's just sitting on the couch. Babies quiet. So I don't think she's very truthful with the whole I'm dying inside thing. I think she's lazy af. I pay the bills. Clean the kitchen. Vacuum clean bathrooms take care of the dog. All around my work schedule. And when I bring it up. She gets mad at me and says she does it all day while I'm gone. U see my point is she's full of poo. And I'm gonna have to do the true thing and put my foot down before it's too late. Life is stressful enough I wish I had help.

  21. 3 quick tips For partners of Stay at home parents:
    The employed partner doesn't complain about doing a few things errands around the house after work
    The partner let's the Stay at home partner take a break without complaining that they've just "worked all day". So have we. But we don't get lunch breaks.
    The working partner doesn't hold money over the stay at home partners head. Without us you'd be paying for daycare.