What Are the Expectations of Stay at Home Moms?

Expectations for Stay At Home Moms
Expectations for Stay At Home Moms

What are the expectations for a stay at home parent?

I’ve seen this question pop up in online mom groups over and over.

It’s interesting to see that it usually gets a wide array of responses, everything from just keeping the kids alive to maintaining a spotless house, doing all of the child care, and cooking a gourmet meal all while wearing pearls and high heels.

Expectations for Stay At Home Moms


So, what is a realistic expectation for a SAHM?

If these responses have told me anything, it’s that every family is different. Whichever end of the spectrum you fall on is fine as long as both partners are cool with it.

But I can see how this becomes an issue. It can be hard to see what we did all day sometimes.

Some days go like this: I fed the baby, then the toddler, then cleaned a diaper explosion, then took the toddler potty, then tried to get the baby to sleep while simultaneously trying to keep the toddler from destroying the house, and then I repeat that whole sequence until my husband gets home.

Related Article: 5 Myths about SAHMs

Expectations for Stay At Home Moms


Should stay at home parents be responsible for all of the household tasks?

I, personally, don’t think so.

My priority is taking care of our kids, so sometimes chores end up on the back burner. Also, so much of what we do is invisible and is only noticed when it isn’t done.

No one thinks much about the clean clothes in their drawers, but they likely notice when they have no more clean underwear. It is unlikely that the working parent comes home and sees all of the effort that you put into keeping the place semi presentable that day, however, they notice if its a wreck.

Some days are great and I feel like a rockstar – laundry folded, dishes washed, dinner in oven, and whoa, check out that vacuumed carpet.

But more often, I pick one thing and that’s really all that gets done that day. If my husband didn’t help out around the house, it would be a disaster.

Related Post: 10 Tricks for Keeping a Spotless House for Moms Who Have No Time

Expectations for Stay At Home Moms


Are stay at home parents responsible for all of the child care tasks?

Not in our house.

While my husband works a crazy schedule, when he’s home, it’s all hands on deck. They’re his children too and spending time with them is not a chore.

Recently, I was asked if my husband could “babysit” so I could go out. While, yes, he’s fine keeping the kids alone, it’s not babysitting when you’re the parent.

With the house and kids we subscribe to a “team work makes the dream work” mentality. We both do as much as we’re able. This doesn’t mean that we split things equally, but rather that we both put in equal effort.

Expectations for Stay At Home Moms


It’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you

It seems like this question comes up because someone is unhappy with the current roles.

Perhaps the working parent thinks the stay at home parent should get more done all day or maybe the stay at home parent thinks the working parent should pitch in more when they’re home.

Honestly, family division of labor is not just a problem with stay at home parents. Surveys have repeatedly shown that moms often shoulder more of the household responsibilities even when they work full time.

Related Post: How I Thrive as a Working Mom

I feel lucky that my hubby is so chill. He doesn’t “expect” much from me (that makes it sound kind of bad, but whatevs).

There’s days he’s arrived to a messy house, us still in PJs, and a big question mark about dinner since it just didn’t happen that day. He rolls with it because, well, he’s awesome. If I’m truly honest, I doubt I’d be as laid back if our roles were reversed.

He knows I’m doing the best I can for our family, even when it may not look like it.

But we haven’t always been in a such a good place. After our first baby was born, we had to really shift around the household responsibilities. To do this, we had to focus on our communication. As much as we’ve improved, we’re far from perfect and continue to work at it.

Related Article: My Journey from Career to Stay at Home Mom

Expectations for Stay At Home Moms


Communication is key

I know, we’ve all heard about the importance of communication in relationships before, but it is so crucial that it bears repeating.

Ideally, we would hash out all of the expectations for both the working parent and stay at home parent before baby ever arrived.

Realistically, we need to be flexible, because it’s impossible to know all of the issues that may come up and how we’d truly deal with them. Also, things will change over time and we’ll have to change too.

If you are just considering becoming a SAHM, this is an important conversation to have. You may realize that you both have totally different expectations already. Bridging these differences sooner than later can only make the transition easier.

Who will do the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry?

Who will do bathtime, bedtime, night wakings, doctor’s appointments?

Who will do the car and lawn maintenance?

This conversation is definitely harder when you’re already in it. Someone is already unhappy and emotions may run high, especially if this is an issue that’s been argued repeatedly.

But letting the resentment build up is toxic for relationships.

The best advice I ever received about having tough talks is to wait until you’re both calm. Try listen to understand and strive to see from their perspective. Give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes it is hard to find common ground so look for creative solutions.

If the working parent is upset about the messy house, maybe compromise by trying to make sure one specific task is done or hiring a cleaning service or getting a roomba?

Remember, you are both taking care of your family, just in different ways.

What works for your family might look totally different than what works for mine.

How do you divide the household and child care tasks in your house? Share this on Facebook to start a great discussion on what’s working for other families. While you’re there, be sure to follow us!

About Author


Hey, I’m Rachel.

I have three awesome sons and an amazing husband. I left my professional career to be a stay-at-home-mom and love it. Since then I spend most of my time chasing my wild boys and trying to keep the house from looking like a complete disaster.

Occasionally, I get to read a cheesy romance novel, attempt crafty things, or binge Netflix. But when I’m not doing that, you can find me here trying to help you figure out the easiest ways to feed your family, live on one income, or make some of the millions of decisions moms tackle every day.


  1. This is such a fantastic, well-balanced, and respectful post! It’s a lot of pressure staying at home and having a tough day but also feeling the pressure to ‘get off of your butt’ (once you’ve finally sat down for a second) to clean the house and make sure everyone is happy and smiling when your husband gets home. My husband is really chill about a messy home as well. Thanks for sharing. I agree that there’s no perfect solution. Communication is key.

    1. Rachel says:

      Thank you so much! Love how you phrase that – “no perfect solution.” It’s so dependent on the needs and preferences of each couple. Thanks for sharing your experience and feedback!

  2. Struggling says:

    As a stay at home mom of 6, it is tough to get everything done. My husband calls home periodically through the day while he’s working and asks what I’m doing and I usually say nothing, but to list the tasks I’m actually doing is just dumb in my opinion. When he gets home from work all I ever hear is how I forgot to do this or that. He doesn’t recognize what I did remember to do. Since October, after near-perfect health my entire life until I turned 35 and I fell apart. I have neurological disorders, seizures and several other issues. For about 2 months I was unable to walk or speak and had mini-strokes and seizures. , and physical handicaps after being in near-perfect health my entire life until I turned 35 and I fell apart. For about 2 months I was unable to walk or speak and had mini-strokes and seizures. I am unable to drive now because of my health issues but luckily my parents live next door and are always willing to drive me and/or the kids where we need to go while my husband works. I take medications for my nerve damage and seizures and have recently been having constant kidney issues among other things. I am unable to do everything I could do before but my husband sees that I can walk (near normal gait now) and talk (I do get confused and stutter or stammer and I often say things wrong or repeat and when my brain pauses I dont register so I stare blankly) so he thinksS. hould just do everything I once could. I also had a home based business making custom painted signs and home decor and embroidery and applique Childrens items and I can norlonger do that (for the time being) so I’m not bringing in money any longer. I do still clean a local church and make money from that and I’m expected to spend it all on angroceries x household supplies. We have never shared a bank account in our marriage so our money is separate and I have to ask him for everything I or for the kids and then he lectures me on how he isn’t made of money. With my health issues it is becoming overwhelming for me to deal with his expectations, my financial struggle and not get angry with him. He says my job is taking care of the household and kids and it isn’t hard so I shouldn’t ask got help or get overwhelmed and I don’t need any time to myself because that is what sleeping is for. Reading this article makes me feel like a little help from him isn’t too much to ask but it just starts fights. I am at a loss. Maybe I just need to try harder and push through my pain and maybe he’s it right might help me to just get over my difficulties. I struggle because I was a very intelligent person before all of this and now I babble, can’t speak or pronounce things and spell right. It sucks for lack of a better word.

    1. Rachel says:

      Thanks for reading my post! And I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to share your story. It really sounds like you’ve had a rough year. I am so sorry about your struggles and hope that your health continues to improve!
      From my perspective, the division of labor in the family works best when both partners are happy with it, and it sounds like your current setup isn’t making you both happy. Maybe some open, honest, and loving communication could help. If you aren’t feeling confident in your communication abilities, you could write your thoughts down (and even have a trusted friend proofread if you’re worried about spelling). If you’re still struggling to have these conversations, consider getting a neutral third party involved to help keep things on track and constructive. I sincerely hope that you can find a balance that works for you both.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.