The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The stay-at-home parent

Maggie Mein
While often disregarded as easy work, stay-at-home parents often have just as much responsibility to balance.

Those who work as stay-at-home parents are often not recognized for their hard work. While they work to make their children and spouses’ lives easier, in return, they are frequently disregarded as someone who does not work a “real” job. This relates to a larger picture of the stigma against stay-at-home parents. When a mother explains that her job is to stay at home and care for her kids, she is often looked down upon because it is not seen as a legitimate, nine-to-five job.

 “I think the job itself is very under appreciated because you’re on all the time,” stay-at-home mom, (my mom) Nancy Mein said. “You don’t get to clock out, you don’t get a review, and you don’t get a formal avenue to receive feedback from.” 

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, only 7% of dads work at home full-time versus 28% of moms. However, this small portion of stay-at-home dads is not disregarded within this marginalized community. 

“When I decided to stay at home with the kids, it was definitely unusual to meet someone like me in my age range,” stay-at-home dad KJ Smith said. “I used to say a third of the stay-at-home moms loved the fact that I was there because I wouldn’t complain about my husband, a third didn’t know what to make of me, and the other third just ignored me. In general, it wasn’t what you wanted to hear after tough days.” 

A spouse coming home from work might toss their keys into the bowl, take off their jacket, and sit down for dinner. This action is done unconsciously. Who made that dinner?

“To me, the responsibilities of staying at home seem very overwhelming,” working dad (my dad) Twain Mein said. “Things that seem simple are actually very difficult- things like meal preparation or even just planning your time to be available for your kids can be very stressful. Stay-at-home parenting can be less predictable, whereas a job is more structured.” 

On the other end, working parents also have responsibilities they must fulfill. 

“I feel very heavy responsibility,” Mr. Mein continued. “My income has to pay for bills to provide food, clothing, and shelter for the family.”

Unlike a typical office job, there are few guidelines as to what must be done and not done when parenting.

“The way you grow and develop as a parent, as a stay-at-home mom, is really through trial and error,” Nancy Mein continued. “I didn’t have any structured system for getting feedback or for getting a bonus if I were to do really well. I get the same pay, which is just life… in return for what I do.”

While a teenager with two working parents may yearn for a larger parent presence or a home cooked meal, living as a teenager with a stay-at-home parent can create a unique perspective on the career world. 

“I am grateful for my mom and her job,” sophomore Alex Matsakis said. “Especially with caring for a teenager, there are challenges as a stay-at-home parent for when they get older and you have to care and provide for them. There’s a lot of work that goes into it- it’s like a full time job but a lot more important to society.”

Although stay-at-home parents don’t necessarily get a lunch break or a holiday off, there is the benefit of staying within the walls of your home to work. Hobbies that a working mother once enjoyed can be appreciated again: now staying at home, she can pick up that paint she’s been dying to use since she stopped working in the office. 

“I used to play guitar when I was younger,” Smith continued. “And when [the kids] would go to bed, I learned some songs that were softer and gentler and I would turn the lights off, play the guitar in the dark, and sing to them. So actually, it was great because when the time was limited it would force me to play. I got an hour of practice every day on a hobby that I liked.”

While the work of a stay-at-home parent can be both physically and mentally grueling, there are moments that make the hard work worthwhile. 

“As a stay-at-home parent, I worked a full-time job 24/7 that never seemed to get much of a break.” Smith continued. “But I would say every day that I was a, there would be a moment- either a look or a smile, an ‘I love you’ or something that would make it all worth it.”

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About the Contributor
Maggie Mein
Maggie Mein, Staff Writer
Maggie Mein is a sophomore and a first-year journalist. She enjoys writing about local news, the arts, and entertainment. She hopes to both inform and entertain readers, and encourage spirit among the Woodside community. In her free time, she enjoys creating art, spending time with family and friends, and playing water polo.

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