Let me start this post with a caveat.  If you are looking for a mum war about stay at home mums verses working mums, then please go elsewhere.  This is not what this post is about. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

I was a stay at home mum, and I am now a work from home mum.  I am not going to justify my choices, because they are personal and what was right for my family.  And that applies to anyone else and the choice they make.

There is a general assumption that mums return to work because they can’t afford not to, and mums stay at home because they can afford not to work. Whilst that may be the case for some, it is rarely that black and white.  Some mums return to work because they want a career too.  Some mums stay at home because they cannot afford the child care if they returned to work.  Those reasons and a million others in between are all valid.  Like I said this post isn’t about one being better than the other.

But what does offend me, and makes me angry, and makes me need to vent in a post like this, is when I hear people say that being a stay at home mum is a luxury.

Stay at home mum

A luxury?  Really?

Because when I think of luxuries, I think of holidays, spa days, and getting my nails done.  I think about designer handbags, eating out at restaurants, theatre tickets and weekend breaks. Luxuries are silk sheets,  boutiques and getting my hair coloured (by a professional and not a DIY kit I bought in a half price deal).  Luxury is glamour and opulence and finery.  All the things that I gave up so that I could be a stay at home mum.

Would you call mopping up the glass of spilt milk a luxury?  What about wiping someone else’s butt?  Catching vomit with your own hands? Cleaning the kitchen knowing in an hour it will need doing again?  Spending more time doing laundry than you do with you husband?  Fishing Duplo pieces out of the toilet? Wiping snotty noses?  Picking up dirty clothes off the kids bedroom floor?

I know these things are not exclusive to stay at home mums, or indeed mums.  They are daily tasks carried out by parents, guardians and carers everywhere.  And whilst I make no complaint about doing this tasks (well maybe the vomit one) I would hardly class it as living the life of luxury.   Please don’t think I am saying parenting is all doom and gloom.  It’s by far the best job I’ve ever had.  Because for every bodily fluid I have to deal with, there are 10 times more giggles and hugs and kisses.  But I cannot think of one thing that makes the job of a stay at home parent a luxury.

And don’t say the time I get to spend with my children is a luxury.  It is a benefit, a perk of the job.  But with that perk also comes the times that I am explaining yet again why it’s not nice to call someone a poo poo head.  The flip side of that is to say that being a working mum is a luxury because they get to talk to adults all day long.  They might well do, but being they are at work I’m sure they are not all riveting and insightful conversations.  Stay at home or working, we all have moments of ‘the grass is greener.’  It still doesn’t make the job a luxury.

If you still think it is a luxury, then may I direct you to the actual Oxford Dictionary definition of luxury…

“A state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense”

Comfort?  Kneeling on the floor playing cars, scrubbing floors, or being a human climbing frame is far from comfortable.  Elegance?  I’m not sure dry shampoo classifies, and I don’t remember the last time my feet saw a pair of heels.  And as for Great Expense?  Does an M&S dine in for £10 count?

So please can we stop saying it.  It’s a choice, a decision, a circumstance, or a necessity that leads us to staying at home or going to work.  Both are tough, both are rewarding.  Both have good days and bad days.  Neither of them are a luxury.

So now I’ve had my little rant, lets finish on a lighter note with things I do consider a luxury now that I am a mum…

Parental Luxuries

1 Having a lie in.  Like a proper one, without a small person tying to prize open your eyes, or bounce on the bed shouting “look what I can do Mummy.”

2 Having a pee without an audience.  Or without world war two erupting before you’ve had a chance to pull down your pants.

3 Having a shower that lasts more than 2 minutes and without inquisitive visitors.

4 Browsing in shops.  As opposed to grabbing three things quickly and getting the hell out of dodge before there is a public meltdown.

5 Painting my nails and not having to wipe any orifices before they have dried.

6 Leaving the house with one small bag.  That doesn’t contain raisins.  Or rice cakes.

7 Not sharing chocolate.  And not having to eat it with your head in the cupboard because you are not sharing it.

8 Drinking a cup of tea whilst it’s still hot.  On the first attempt and not after it’s been microwaved.

9 Having a conversation without being interrupted.  And finishing that conversation without having to rescue any small people from potential accident and emergency visits.

10 M&S dine in for £10.  Especially when the husband cooks it.

Parenting humour

What do you consider a luxury as a parent?

This post was featured on Mumsnet & Huffpost.


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Claire Kirby

60 Comments on The Luxury of Being a Stay at Home Mum

  1. Whoever thinks that being a stay-at-home mum is a luxury obviously don’t have kids themselves..Or their idea of a stay-at-home mum is entirely wrong for whatever reason.I for once have never been busier and have never had less time for myself than since i became a stay-at-home mum looking after my daughter,pets and household!And it’s by far the best and most important thing i could ever do

  2. LOL eating chocolate in the cupboard, or bathroom or even as I run down the hall… Being home with my kids is a blessing for me but I am by far living in luxury . I can relate <3

  3. A friend of mine once said, when she was about to take a career break, that she deserved the time off, because she’d “never taken any time off, not even to have a child”. I tried my best to explain that having a child is not the same as taking time off, and that I’ve been more ‘on’ emotionally, physically, mentally, than I was at work, but to no avail…. I think she thinks my life is filled with luxuries. I think it would be nice to have a lie in and leave the house with just one fabulous handbag again! Great post! And you’re right: it’s not a mum war – none of it is. x

  4. Thank you SOOO Much for writing this and stating it out there for all judgemental people to read. I get this ALL the time and I am a SAHM as well as working fulltime at home and a mix of it all and neither or one of them are luxury you are correct they are a job and have ups downs and even sideways days involved. Great POST! Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  5. Soo many parental luxuries – aren’t we lucky? I can relate to every one especially the part about hiding and stuffing your face with chocolate! #BloggerClubUK

  6. I laughed so hard when I read number 7 – my husband and I do that ALL THE TIME! I think my fav was number 9 – that’s probably one of my favorite parts about a night out is uninterrupted conversation. That and getting to eat a meal right when it comes out and not having to wait because I’m focused on feeding my children.

  7. The person that thinks being a stay at home mum or parent is obviously not a parent full stop! lol I work 4 days a week so I get an extra day with Monkey. My Hubby does the same. This is our decision and works for our little family. We are due another arrival soon and I am not sure if this going to change or not but it works for us at the moment. Love your little list of luxuries I love getting the M&S Dine in as well and as for hot tea…. 🙂 Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you again next week xx

    • I think you meant to say that the person who thinks that being a stay-at-home mum is a luxury is not a parent themselves,right?Because i really think this must be it,otherwise where do some people get such a false idea of what being a stay-at-home mum is?Some people just love to judge(or even hate)i guess..

  8. Blimey. If being a stay-at-home parent was a luxury, we would all be doing it! My wife took a year off to stay at home after each of our three kids and each time she returned to work three days a week afterwards. It’s not that she didn’t want to spend time at home but working part-time gave her the best of both worlds. She got to spend time with the kids while also maintaining her career and keeping her skills used.

    As you say, the choices mums (and dads) make are purely personal ones. For people to say that the choices you have made for yourself are wrong or to judge you based on those choices is the height of arrogance. #swm

  9. I couldn’t agree more! So many people really don’t understand what the reality of being a SAHM is all about, it is most definitely a full-time job where you don’t get one minute to yourself and there are certainly no luxuries in sight. It’s a shame that people still have this view but unfortunately I think anyone who has never done it always will. Oh being able to paint my nails and having time to let them dry before a poo explosion – those were the days!! #sharewithme x

  10. Completely agree. But I’m going to be honest before I had my son, I did not realise how hard being a stay at home Mom could be (I’m currently on maternity leave so fully understanding what it’s like). It is very hard! You don’t have a moment to yourself..ever! As you said, taking a shower that is longer than 2 minutes and without interruptions is a huge luxury! : ) Love this post, thanks for linking up with #stayclassy!!

  11. I agree. I wrote a post a few months back that was a similar issue – the annoyance with people suggesting that anyone who gets to stay at home is ‘lucky’ and ‘privileged’. That bothers me, as it ignores all the people for whom someone staying at home is the only affordable option, and all the people who have chosen it but have made sacrifices to their lifestyle to do so. I don’t think that there is a right or wrong – it’s what works for you – but I think it needs to be recognised that some people have no choice either way, and for most others it is about priorities and what you are willing to sacrifice. It really annoys me how often you see an attitude of working parents have to make so many sacrifices, while stay at home mums are dismissed as being so ‘lucky’ and ‘fortunate’ and are therefore acceptable targets for jealousy. Of course, having written the post, I really bottled doing much promotion of it as I was afraid of backlash! 😀 #fridayfrolics

  12. Why do all mums have raisins at the bottom of their bags?! Me included! Im currently on maternity leave with second child and I still have my 3 year old in nursery 3 days per week! I would find it hard to stimulate her as well as nursery could with having baby too so goodness knows how I would cope with both at home full time forever! Hats off to sahms I’m going back to work for a break! X

  13. It sure is a luxury. I mean, if the dictionary altered their meaning of the word. Your post did make me laugh, people do assume it’s the easier option, but there is no easier option just whatever works for your family. I sometimes think I take for granted my time with my children because I’m with them all day, enduring tantrums, bum wiping, hugs n all. If I were to have a luxury while I was with my children it’d be that I could nap with them. That would be amazing.

  14. I’m a work from home mum too and luxury for me is when everyone is at work, school and nursery and peace descends on the house and I can get on with things! #fridayfrolics

  15. Ultimately everyone wants what they don’t have, don’t they? ‘The grass is always greener’ Right now, with the whole family suffering from a flu bug, rocking backwards and forwards alone in the kitchen before someone needs something .. feels like a luxury. Throw in a meal for two and we are talking serious pampering. Great post xx

  16. I agree, it’s not a luxury and we shouldn’t see stay/work at home mums vs working mums like we so frequently do. Both have ups and downs, there are certainly times I would like to work out of the house and have people around me but then I love that I can work around Toby (and soon his sister) and have the flexibility xx #TheList

  17. I agree with you here completely! I am a stay at home mom & definitely don’t consider it to be a luxury. I think there is a bit of grass is greener on the other side with this debate. I don’t think staying home with the kids all day is an easier option than working outside the home. Both has advantages & disadvantages to them. Thanks so much for hosting x

  18. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who scoffs chocolate with my head in the cupboard! It remains to be seen whether anyone else drinks wine from a teacup to avoid the fun-police grassing you up to Daddy the second he gets in!* #FridayFrolics

    *disclaimer – this has only happened a few times. Please don’t dob me to the social.

  19. Brilliant – I am a work from home mum to four and people tell me that’s a luxury lol! I don’t remember when my ass last touched a seat or when I drank a hot drink from start to finish. I last pee’d on my own about a month a go but by the time I was at the the pulling my jeans up stage the loo was full of little people hahaha! #fridayfrolics

  20. Fab post. And I *do* agree with you; but….

    I still feel insanely lucky that being at home is an option for me. I think I’d have had a breakdown if I was forced back to the office by circumstance when Pixie was still tiny.

    As it is, my schedule is hard, same as for all other parents. There are days I’d love a break. But I never lose sight of the fact I was able to make this choice. And it IS my choice. Not everyone is so fortunate. X


  21. Claire you’re wonderful.
    Everything you’ve said is spot on.
    I have had the whole, aren’t you lucky to be able to stay at home thing. Fact of the matter is, for us, it made no economical sense with 3 boys at home, for me to go back to work and also for someone else to enjoy the moments I wanted to enjoy myself as a mum (which you’ll never get back – even if most of those moments are gross ones like butt wiping and sick catching )
    I loved the fact you put the dictionary definition of ‘Luxury’ in the post – totally summed it up. It’s not a luxury. I feel lucky some days, and I feel resentful others. Like you said, it’s often we have a ‘grass is greener’ look on things, but at the end of the day, we are only doing what’s best for our families and that’s all that matters.
    Fab post.xxx

  22. Haha I read this the other day and meant to come back and comment. Loved the nails on especially – that gets me everytime so end up with hands that look like they have Tippex on. Brill post #Fridayfrolics

  23. I totally agree with you on this. I was a SAHM for 10 months and it was the hardest 10 months of my life without a shadow of a doubt!!! SAHM’s have my utmost respect. In terms of luxuries right now it’s not having to share my bed with my 2 and a half year old (otherwise referred to as Twoligan at present). #themumproject

  24. Oh Claire – I have whiplash from nodding furiously along. So very true and beautifully put. Here’s to eating chocolate in cupboards (meh HuffPost commenter – MEH!!!) and weeing alone at least once a week. Which reminds me: supermarket toilet yesterday, daughter one on ‘Church Volume’: “HAVE YOU DONE A WEE, OR A POO? LET’S SEE… OH, JUST A WEE. NEVER MIND, GOOD TRY MUM.” #FridayFrolics

  25. Haha I agree with everything that you say! Being a Stay at Home Mum is not like a day at the spa, if it is supposed to be then I want my money back. Like you an m & s dine in for £10 is the height of luxury for us nowdays 🙂 #fridayfrolics

  26. Totally agree and it leaves me in two minds whether I could actually be a SAHM or whether I’d end up rocking in a corner. I think part time might be the answer! Great post and thanks for hosting x

  27. So true! I really really want to be a SAHM after my maternity leave finishes but even then il have to be a WAHM if I can get my blog to take off. Can’t face going back to the office and leaving my baby. I’m under no illusions that it’s a walk in the park though! Your list of luxuries really made me laugh especially points 7! x

  28. Luxury is that you ate with the kids early, and grabbed a bath with them, so when they are asleep you have the whole two hours to yourself…before collapsing in an exhausted heap in bed at 9pm.
    Brilliant post Claire! xxx
    Thanks for linking up with #coolmumclub

  29. You’ve hit the nail on the head as always! Love your list of luxuries, they made me laugh – a small bag! What is that?! #StayClassy

  30. I really enjoyed reading that. I’ve been a stay at home parent, a work at home and work outside the home and totally agree with what you say. I’m currently a part time working out of the home-er: luxury for me would be not having to cram a full time job into part time hours, not race across a city for school pick up and then do the ‘second shift’ of cooking/homework/activities. I’d like to leave work in a leisurely fashion and pop to the cinema!

  31. I’m in the process of making the decision not to go back to work. I know it’ll be the best decision I make but I’m nervous!

  32. Love it!
    What would I consider a luxury as a parent? Having 1 whole day where I don’t have to say “no”, whether that’s to more game playing, or more chocolate, or anything else. I spend so much of my time saying no. Great post.

  33. Yup, being a stay at home mum is definitely not a luxury in my book. That would be a spa day. Slave labour more possibly? Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

  34. Take a bow lovely lady. Very well said!

    I love your list of parenting luxuries and I’m with you on all counts. My own personal list would possibly include “Eating dinner, hot, with a fork in one hand and a knife in the other”. (As opposed to “cold, with a fork in one hand and an infant spoon, 6 baby wipes, half a carrot and possibly some sort of offspring in the other”).

    Fantastic post x

  35. A refreshing read for this new SAHM after 16 years of working! If I were honest (The Honest Mom Blog) I would say that I have never worked so hard in my life! So thank you for keeping it real! #StayClassy

  36. Couldn’t agree more with your list of luxuries, any or all would be a great treat! I do feel like it’s a bit of a luxury to be at home with my son, I was planning to go back to work after 4 months, but 16 months on here I am still off work (which I don’t miss one bit!) It’s a real stretch financially so there are no material luxuries for us these days, but that won’t be forever 🙂

  37. I had never thought about it like that. I always tell people that I am lucky to have the luxury of being able to stay at home and raise my daughter. I certainly don’t think it’s an easier choice, sometimes I actually think that it would be easier to go to work haha! But I do still consider myself lucky to have had the choice as a lot of women have the choice made for them due to their situation #Sharewithme

  38. oo saw this on Huffpost Parents this week – great post. I think being able to stay at home is a wonderful thing in the sense of being with the children though but very definitely not a luxury in the true sense of the word as you so brilliantly define! #BloggerClubUK

  39. I have a very similar blog sitting in my draft folder as we speak. Its a real bug bear of mine that people tell me that we are lucky that I have the luxury of being a SAHM!! To be honest, I think a lot more mums could be stay at home mums if they were willing to change their lifestyle and rein in the purse strings a little. It was a choice that we made, however hard it is to survive on one wage with four children, but a choice that was the right thing for US. #sharewithme

  40. I so agree with this, I am now a stay at home mum for the simply fact having three children meant childcare would cost hell of a lot of money and also because we could afford for me not to go back. Plus I just didn’t want to go to work and someone else to look after my children when they are young. People often say I am lucky and make out I have an easy life and sit at home watching tv and going for coffee all day – I wish. xx #sharewithme

  41. I’m afraid I used to refer to my time as a stay at home mum as a luxury, not because it involved any elegance but to remind myself that I was lucky to have the choice. In the end I made the decision to put the boy in nursery and go back to work part time and yesterday I snuck off for a massage. What was I thinking? Now THAT was luxury 🙂 #sharewithme

  42. Love this post. I’m a stay at home mum and I definitely wouldn’t describe it as a luxury. I can remember the last time I had a shower without my toddler opening the door and letting all the cold in. I think you are right and the grass always looks greener on the other side.xx #BloggerClubUK

  43. Spot on Claire!
    I’m joining your team at the moment. I’ve sort of taken a break from work having worked from when my kids were one week old ( the music business doesn’t care if you’ve had a baby. If you don’t work you get forgotten). I’ve now moved house to be near my family and left alot of my work behind and now I’m not working at all at the moment. And I’ve never been so knackered! It’s CONSTANT and I’m having a lush time with my boys but man alive it was easier when I was working. Neither option is perfect and rosy but for now I’m embracing staying at home and wiping goo and lifting giant turds off my new carpets.
    Whichever way you swing it there is no luxury ti be had….unless.of course you have a live-in Nanny.
    Lush post and I too loves a dine in for 2. Delish! Xxx

  44. I love this. I’m one of those who’s had to go back to work but would mich rather be at home.
    number 7 made me chuckle. Not chocolate for me, but many other things.
    A big luxury for me is when my little boy goes to sleep quickly at night and I get to go downstairs and have an actual conversation with my husband. It doesn’t happen very often x

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