Any person who waxes on about how SAHMs should just get a job when their kid turns 5 doesn’t understand kids, the way jobs work or both.
As someone who writes about parenting for a living, I’m privy to a lot of people’s opinions on the subject, especially if a little alcohol is involved. Most of the time these conversations are useful — they net me some content ideas I hadn’t thought of before or offer opposite viewpoints I hadn’t considered. Other times, the conversation goes like this:
Fellow human: “Hey, I read your article about Christmas shopping. It was OK, but why don’t you write about how stay-at-home moms should go back to work once their kids are in school? What’s the deal with that?”
Fellow human: “Yeah. I mean, it’s not like they have anything to do. Might as well get a job, right?”
Me: “I see your point. I’ll get right on that.”
So here goes. Officially addressing the end of the free ride that is SAHM-dom after your kids go to school. Deep breaths, Theresa.
First of all, some moms go back to work when their kids turn 5 and finally move out of the house. I’m one of them. So, there’s that. But as for the moms that don’t, and while this is mostly speculation, here’s why.
1. Jobs do not work that way
Let’s say you left the workplace in your early 20s. Or your late 20s. Or your 30s. Or you graduated college in 2008, like I did, when the economy was imploding and you never got to the workplace to begin with. Or whenever. You stay out of the workplace for five years, at a minimum.
Fortunately for you, the economy is super healthy now and every company is just overflowing with jobs for which you are still perfectly qualified for and there is no competition. Also, luckily enough, employers love résumés with big gaping holes in them because that’s so refreshing in today’s pool of potential employees who can work for way less money than you can 80 hours a week.
Unfortunately for you, if any of the above rings true, it’s possible that you are either “robotripping” or literally asleep and dreaming, which may impair your ability to land that imaginary job up there.
2. Kids do not work that way
Like all children, my daughter goes to school from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., which matches up perfectly with your standard jobbity-job. She never gets sick at all, and school is never ever cancelled. They don’t celebrate weird, obscure holidays like “Christmas” that call for an extended break, and there is never any reason for me or her father to leave work in the middle of the day to attend a function. I also live in a magical fairy realm where summer break does not exist and child care is free.
Whoops, I mistyped. My finger slipped and I meant to write the exact opposite of that. Silly.
3. They don’t want to
Staying at home doesn’t mean unlimited naps and a ham and bonbon buffet from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. I won’t argue that staying at home is just as jam-packed and busy when kids are in school, because I’ve never found that to be true, but there’s still plenty to do, and some moms use that time to get those things done. Other moms want to be at home when their kids get off the bus, and still others find fulfillment and value in volunteering at school or volunteering in the community. Some find value in naps, ham and bonbons. Whatever.
4. Reasons that don’t concern you
What every mom has in common except yours and perhaps your children’s is that they are not related to you, your finances or your family dynamic, and therefore could be spending the school day hosting séances for grieving porpoises, trying their hand at learning to play the theremin or crafting fine, artisanal wooden dildos from reclaimed Malaysian teak and it would still be none of your damn business.
And that’s why some stay-at-home moms don’t go back to work when their kids go to school.