Why Stay At Home Moms Should Get Unemployment Benefits, Really, Hear Me Out

November 22, 2010 · 23 comments

Stay at home moms should get unemployment benefits. Whew!  Gosh, it feels so good to say that.  I know the idea is a bit “out there,” but recently I’ve been feeling more and more strongly about it and I think it might just catch on.

Here’s the thing.  When you become a stay at home mom, it’s supposed to be a “gift,” “a blessing,” a “privilege.”  Thanks so much, Society!  What no one ever tells us and what we never want to admit for fear of losing our “maternal rights” is that being a stay home mom is a job!  That’s right, a job.  If there is any question of that, I ask you, if you don’t take care of your babies, do you have to PAY someone else to do it?  You bet your butt you do, ergo job!

Now then, as the years pass and your little ones get bigger and you swim further and further away from any “real” work experience, a funny thing happens.  Your offspring begin to grow.  Finally, when your last kid reaches first grade a strange phenomena begins to occur. We like to call it, “The When Are You Going Back To Work? Syndrome.”  “But I have been working,” you want to scream.

Nevertheless what was once hailed as “the hardest job in the world,” now seems to be “the not so hardest job in the world.”  It’s at about this time that another phenomena creeps into daily life, we like to call this one the “What Do You Do All Day? Syndrome”

The “What Do You Do All Day? Syndrome” leads inevitably back to the “When Are You Going to Back to Work? Syndrome.”  Round and round we go.   It only seems fair for stay at home moms to go back to work now that the kids don’t really need them anymore unless of course, your kids: get sick, have a dentist appoint, have a dermatologist appt, have an eye doctor appt, have a half day off school, have a full day off school, need help with homework, need them to attend a teacher conference, back to school night, or award ceremony, need to be taken to a sport, activity, or other social engagement, have an issue at school, need art supplies for a project, need to purchase a present for a party, need to donate a can of fruit, or if they need supervision… for the entire summer! Nope, they don’t need us at all anymore.  But I digress.

The truth is,  most stay at homes moms are more than willing to get back into the workforce.  There’s only one problem:  Employers don’t want us...  There is one place where employers equate the work of a stay-at-home mom to those who work in the workforce. That place is Fantasy Land.  (This point is WAY more effective if you stretch it out, like this: FAAAANTAAAASY LAAAND) In summary, it may be fashionable and PC to term the stay at home mom as the “CFO of the household,” but the truth is, it doesn’t hold water outside in the real world.

I know of what I speak.  I tried to get a full-time job.  Although I explained to my interviewer that during my time as a stay at home mom, I also managed to create my own publishing company, write, publish and promote my first book, It Gets Easier! and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers (shameless plug!), sell said book to another publisher, work part-time as accountant specializing in Quick Books and Peachtree and maintain a CPA, it didn’t matter.  All he heard were the words, “been out of the full-time workforce for 12 years.”  “I just don’t think you’ll be able to handle it,” he said.  “Not handle it,” I thought, “I could do it with my eyes closed compared to the schedule I’ve been keeping for the last 12 years.”  In the end, you guessed it, I didn’t get the job!  You now see the stay-at-home mom dilemma.  Some have termed it, The Feminine Mistake, but I’m not willing to go that far…yet!

I do have a solution though! Unemployment benefits for the stay at home mom! Where there is money there is power, right?  A check in the mail with our name on it would be the perfect solution.  It’s a win-win.  We get a check to contribute to the family coffers and the question of what we do all day is no longer relevant. Problem solved.  Until this idea really takes root, we will just have to continue doing what we have been doing all this time since we first became at-home moms, that’s right, we’ll continue WORKING!

Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions?  Could my idea take off?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa December 30, 2010

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this article. I have stayed home with my kids for 10 years and now they are ages 10 and 4. I have been searching for a “real” (haha) job for about 6 months now and cannot find anything. I have a legit college education in the medical office field (think transcription, document processing, 2 courses in terminology, anatomy and physiology, coding,etc).I had also worked 3 retail jobs and attained Asst. Mgr. positions in the past, so I have customer service skills. I ran my own housecleaning business for 2 years and worked at a preschool (since I have been “at home”).

It’s not like I want to be a rocket scientist or CEO of a major company. No, I am looking for basic office work !! Receptionst, teller, file clerk, scheduling, switchboard, whatever. Basically a job anybody could do with a day or two of “training”. I have had 3 interviews and at each one I get the condescending questions “so you haven’t worked in 10 years ?” or “so you don’t work now, right?” or “you have no experience so I will skip these questions”. Each time I have been labeled as “no experience”.

I am SO SICK of it. I am an able-bodied 32 year old who has been shunned from society. I have put in around 50 applications (including the surrounding areas where I live) and had 4 (sad) interviews in 6 months–each one leading to being turned down. How can stay-at-home moms compete ? I refuse to look at the past 10 years as a mistake.I have enjoyed each smile,coo, step, and giggle with my kids. I have WORKED and worked hard. Too bad society doesn’t see it that way. People would rather pay over 500.00 a month (going rate here) to have someone else raise their kids full-time so they could have a career. Am I not worth the same ? I did the same tasks and much,much more than any daycare provider. I don’t qualify for unemployment or tax incentives, even though there is a child care tax credit. I guess I will pat myself on the back, that’s MY credit.

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admin January 13, 2011

Hey Melissa, sorry I’m just commenting back to you, I was buried under spam and just read your comment! Ha Ha!
Listen sister, I hear ya, which is why I wrote the post in the first place. All I can tell you is that, with the economy being what it is and jobs being so scarce, it’s going to be even tougher for SAHM’s to get back in the game. It can be done though. I have a few suggestions:

1. Spread the word that you are looking for a job – tell your neighbors, relatives, school moms, doctor, dentist, mailman, strangers in grocery lines – everyone – that you are in the market for a job. Word of mouth is a very powerful thing and sometimes the best jobs are the ones that never make it to an ad.

2. Be proactive. If there is a job that you think you want or an industry that you are interested in being a part of, give human resources a call or simply stop by resume in hand. Unfortunately for us, we sometimes have to create our own situation, they are not going to come to us.

3. Take what you can get. If you want part-time and they only have full-time – take it. You can always create a situation where you are so desirable that an employer will change your status to part-time once you prove your value.

4. Don’t feel bad about leaving a job that is not a good fit. Hey, we’re already undesirable because we’ve been out of the workforce, right? Use it to YOUR advantage. If you are in a job for a few months that you simply hate, leave it, on good terms of course. No one ever has to know you were there and left. The one thing we have a SAHM’s is the flexibility to turn down jobs that don’t work for us.

5. Forget about the rules. We didn’t make the rules, so why do we have to follow them? If there is a full-time job that you feel you would be perfect for but you simply can’t work full-time, find a friend or colleague who would like to job-share. Go to the employer with a workable solution that helps you and the employer and makes hiring you a no-brainer!

6. Consider being a contractor. As a second earner in the family you may not need benefits, this can be very attractive to a potential employer. Speak up and tell them that 1099 might be an option for you.

Most of all, don’t give up. As you’ve said, you’ll never regret the time you spent at home!

PS. Thanks for the idea for a new blog post. I think I’ll re-post this information as a separate blog! What else is on your mind?

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Cindy March 14, 2011

I’m so glad I read this blog. I’m also a dedicated STAY AT HOME MOM….been home for 11 years now and am so proud of it!! I have two kids- a 13 year old and 10 year old. For the last 6 months I have been trying so hard to find a part time job.
I thought I’d give retail a try. Little did I know how difficult this task would become. After sending my resumes (most in person-even spoke to managers of the store) to so many different retail stores I only got a couple of call backs for an interview. In one of the interviews the store manager told me that I would be a “perfect fit” and how impressed they were with how knowledgeable I was with their products. She even praised me for being a Stay At Home Mom and acknowledged how much work it is. After leaving the interview, I felt so good about my self and actually thought she was going to hire me. Sure enough, I never did get the job! I was so upset .
I’ve also tried getting back into office work agian but the same thing is happening. I’ve gone to a few interviews but once they see that I’ve been home for so long , they figure I won’t be able to keep up or I’m not capable. What in the world is wrong with these people. HELLO!! IS ANYONE OUT THERE WILLING TO GIVE US STAY AT HOME MOM’S A CHANCE!!? Like the idea of Stay At Home Mom’s being compensated though!!!

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Claudine March 15, 2011

Your story is a common one among stay at home moms – you’re not alone – doesn’t make it any less frustrating though. I heard from a friend that on a recent interview that some “young chippy” suggested that her work experience wasn’t recent enough to count in answering his questions. Are you freakin kidding me? Imagine a corporate executive going for a job and not being able to use ANY piece of experience on his resume to answer a question. Of course it would all be relevant. What do these goofballs think, that years of being a stay at home mom magically washes away work experience? It makes no sense!!!! ARRRGGGHHH!

Ok, I’ll calm down now. There’s hope, I promise. The truth is, it is particularly hard to find a job in this economy no matter what you’ve been doing for the last 15 years, so there’s that. Also, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves, Stay at Home Moms. Try this old trick:

Find the coveted “recent customer service” anywhere and then move on. Try looking in the yellow pages and focus on local businesses – (Old Dogs have Old tricks!) Give one of these local businesses a call, ask for an owner and ask if they need any help. Local businesses like local employees – they are conveniently close by, they care about the community and the image the store has in the community, they are less likely to miss work due to a snowstorm because they are close by and they are more often on time due to their close proximity. Even if a job is not available right away, leave your resume in case one pops up at a later time. Check back in now and again. I have gotten several jobs this way by calling local CPA’s and asking if they or any of their client’s had per diem work. It not only worked in my hometown of PA but when I moved to Los Altos, CA and moved back again.

When you are feeling down about finding a job remember to highlight the benefits you bring to a job vs the young chippies: (at least in your own mind)

1. You’ve had your kids – No chance of dropping out for a pregnancy (ok, a very little chance!)
2. To you a “Hangover” is a movie not an every day occurrence.
3. You don’t have “boyfriend” issues.
4. You don’t even know how to text non-stop.
5. Twitter is something your grandmother did over the fence with her neighbor, not something that’s going to take you away from your job.
6. You really need to get home so you will spend every second at work actually working productively so that you can get home to your other responsibilities.
7. You don’t feel like you’ve given your employer something to pay you for simply because you have shown up.
8. You’re desperate for the review you’ve been craving for the last 15 years and you’ll do everything in your power to get it.
9. Your a multi-tasking queen who does more by 8:00 than most youngin’s do all day.
10. No one has to worry about a customer seeing your tattoo, your butt crack, your cleavage, or your thong strap.

See, win-win!

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Janyt April 6, 2011

Can I get an AMEN! I hung your top ten list on my fridge!

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Claudine April 6, 2011

You got it! Amen!

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Cindy March 16, 2011

Hi Claudine,
Thanks so much for that. You’ve brightened my day and gave me some hope. I will definitely consider your ideas. Also, thanks for the wonderful “TOP TEN”! LOL!!

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Claudine March 17, 2011

You are so welcome. Hope it helps!

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Lukki5b May 31, 2011

I have just recently decided to be a stay at home mom, with my first baby!!! Now let me tell all those people out there who dont realize what a job it is to be a mom, and this is from someone who was constantly wondering what the big deal was! So you took care of a baby all day, youre at home, you can do whatever you want ect ect ect… Boy was I ever WRONG!!! I am more tired and tied up then ever before. I was a Respiratory Therapist workin 12 hr shifts constantly on my feet, runnin this was and that to codes or whatever. I would come home so beat it I wouldnt be able to eat I was so tired. Now imagine that 24hr 7!!!! Moms dont get breaks!!! Our job never stops, EVER!!! I dont care if your kids are in school or not as the article states there are appts of various degrees, taking kids to school, sports, events….the list goes on, and dont leave out the husbands!!!! We take care of them too!!! Stay at home moms deserve some kind of paycheck. We are damned if we go to work or damned if we stay home. Society is going nuts at the way kids are raised with basically no parents or supervision because both parents have to work. Yet when a mom chooses to stay home to raise and be with her kids, she get flack for it. Especially if we feel like we deserve a paycheck. People say it was our decision to A.have kids B. quit work. Yeah youre right I did choose to have kids and stay at home to raise my OWN kids. How many kids are thrown into daycare? How many kids are raised by their parents now a days? Not many. I say we start a movement!!!! Bring back the times where woman are encouraged to raise their kids if they so choose. And get a little paycheck for it. Perfect point stated above “we have to pay someone to watch our kids, why shouldnt we get paid?!?!??!!? Its time to start up good American family values!!!! Women should be encouraged to be moms or have careers outside of their homes. But please remember being a MOM is an endless job and a stellar Career.

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Claudine May 31, 2011

Wow! You are fired up! I love it. Good for you for not buying into the societal mandate that motherhood is it’s own reward and moms should keep their mouths shut at the hardness of motherhood. In regard to your point about Moms at home being paid for their hard work, I fear it will never be a reality. The best we can hope for is to keep telling our spouses that what we do is indeed a job, for as I’ve said, in our absence we would have to pay someone to do what we do, and demand time for ourselves and respect for what we do, even from our children when they get old enough. As far as the working moms out there – they have it tough too – for they must cope with the infamous, “Second Shift.” If their Stay at Home Mom counterparts can recognize their hardships, they should also acknowledge the difficulty for their stay at home mom sisters, for sahm’s get no pension, no translatable job experience, no respect, and no raises or promotions. If our spouses decide to leave us, we’re screwed. For more great insight into the foibles of motherhood check out two of my favorite books on the subject, The Price of Motherhood, by Ann Crittenden and “The Mask of Motherhood” by Susan Maushart. I suggest not reading them at night if you plan to be romantic with your husband – you’ll be too mad to get frisky!

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Amber August 22, 2011

This site is like a casslorom, except I don’t hate it. lol

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Claudine August 23, 2011

Hmmm.. I never thought of it as a classroom, but as long as you like it, I’ll take it!

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Margaret December 20, 2011

If society wants a better society, then they need to value the job of raising humans as more difficult AND more important than, say ….. raising cattle or pigs or horses. Farming is 7 days a week, but it’s not pre sun-up to post-sundown, m’am. The farmer comes inside, showers, and plops his feet up on the hassock to watch TV after eating a dinner cooked FOR him.

Women are STILL not equal. I was in one of those marriages where I was still running around after dinner until bedtime and he was totally clueless that there were chores to do. He’d go for a beer and TV and think I was crazy for doing all that stuff. (I called it being ‘responsible’, but I’m just a woman. What do I know?).

I am 48 years old, an old-style women’s libber, and believe that a woman should have the choice to work or not. If staying at home with babies is best left to a nanny for someone’s personality, great. If they can’t stand the idea of someone else watching the kids, then that should be equally honored. Unfortunately, our economy is so skewed, at this point, to a 2-income family that it has made the most important job in the world seem devoid of value.

I worked a corporate job and had my own very successful consulting business before finally settling down. I worked P/T with child #1 and worked back up to full-time and it almost killed me (2 children — husband was one of them). Hubbie wanted a 2nd child and I agreed under the condition that I could quit my career. The verbal contract was that I would return to work when the youngest turned 7 or 8.

As much as I loved my career, I’m a big detail person, very “into” doing an excellent job at whatever I do, high-powered jobs. So, I either do it right or not at all. Straddling my energies thinly across the board? That sucked big time for me. So, he agreed to the 1-income scenario.

Then, all was well until he had an affair and wouldn’t quit the affair and then he decided it was best to divorce since I’d found out about it. I disagreed and wanted to keep the family together, but under the idea of him quitting the girlfriend. (And, p.s., we were very active and frequent in the bedroom and he never complained, not even after the divorce, so he was just being selfish — very harmful to the children to have done this).

My youngest was diagnosed with a very rare congenital brain condition a month after he moved out. I decided that she needed me too much and that going back to work would be wrong. My oldest also was “special” in a diff way. Two brain surgeries for the youngest over 4 years and lots of detailed online medical study turned me into a mom-researcher and I made THE best decisions for her — so glad I listened to my instincts to stay home! And, glad that I had saved $$ while working to cover the time.

So, I’m just living off of my savings from being a career woman and those are dwindling. I need to go back to work after I finish my MBA in May. But, I have years with no job on the books. Can I get unemployment while looking? My youngest gets another MRI in June and she might have to go in for a 3rd surgery. Recovery can be very, very rough and no guarantees.

Should the ex pay me to be the watcher of his kids? Sure, but we had pre-nups because I was (at the time of the marriage) the breadwinner. Never thought to re-do them when he was the one begging for child#2! So, no alimony and child support is only $427/month because he decided to go back to school and be a lawyer to minimize his payments and to up his income (after — I should write a book! — after —- you’re going to LAUGH —– after he got fired from his CHURCH JOB because he was boofing the PAID singer in his choir!!! LOL!!!!!!). Yep, that was sorta against church policy. Sexual harassment, blah blah blah …. and I had a crappy lawyer, too, for the divorce. Hey, I was too busy trying to find the right neurosurgeon, ya know? My priorities were in the right place.

So, not to get TOO wordy (oh, too late!) here, but maybe it would make sense if I got some unemployment if I’m actually job-hunting and can prove it and NO JOB YET. Pretty please, dear government?

fyi, I think Ireland actually puts the whole MOTHER thing in their constitution as PRIMO and, don’t quote me, but the verbiage looked like they would pay her for staying home. Note that most women in Ireland do NOT work. It’s the only country in the world where women still choose to stay home more often than not. (Microsoft of Ireland has a huge campaign to try to attract them to work there!). Please check into this — I am unsure about the ‘pay’ part, but sure about the sanctity of motherhood being penned into their constitution.

Anyone who wants to interview me and write the book — come at me. I’m all for extra income these days. The story is real and it’s fantastical and there were some medical miracles in there, too.

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Claudine December 21, 2011

Wow! Being a woman can really stink sometimes. I feel your pain, Margaret. It is absolutely crazy that women give up sooooo much when they decide to raise their own children and if the marriage doesn’t work out the courts seem to say, “Well, girlie, you have been lucky to have had all this time alone with your children, now it’s time for you to get back to work, giddie-up!” Why can’t the husband be required to stay home with the kids for as long as we had stayed home with the kids so we can get back out there and establish our careers with unencumbered travel, late hours, and meetings? I am all for it. Unemployment for moms would certainly help us get our footing. If you are seriously interested in writing a book, check out one called, It Happens Every Day by Isabelle Gillis and let me know what you think of it. It may give you a good idea of what is out there right now on the divorce / memoir subject and what you might be able to offer that is different. I can tell you that as I reach 45, the tale is more and more common, which really stinks. I don’t get the lawyers, either. Even the female lawyers seem to be on the side of the courts on this…especially if the lawyer was NOT a stay at home mom! Thanks so much for taking the time to write and good luck!

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Margaret December 22, 2011

Claudine: I will check into that book, thanks for sending me to it!

I also do not “get” that the female lawyers aren’t trying to change things so that stay-at-home mothers can be better protected. Perhaps they don’t have the personal need to be the one who raises their own children since, clearly, they are working when you go to meet them. Maybe they have more flexible schedules and can work schedules with clients around their children, i.e. take off mid-afternoon and do “stuff” with the kids, then work at the home office in the evening to make up the time while Dad gets them all ready for bed and then goes to clean up the kitchen.

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Bonne April 27, 2012

I loved this article..shared it on FB with my other SAH parents..I’m not trying to go back to work yet…but I did have the idea of maybe a part time job, but my schedule would be so strict no one would want me any ways. Oh well..I’ll get back out there one day..until then I will just enjoy the JOB I have now..it’s the best there is any ways!!

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Claudine May 21, 2012

…but…you get my point, don’t you?

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Tammi Spivey July 11, 2012

I LOVED this article! I agree 100% that stay at home moms should get unemployment or some type of compensation as we do “work” in the home taking care of the cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, caring for the husband – it all gets very tiring but most people (including myself) wouldn’t change it for a thing. Has any of this caught on to the people in the ‘real world’? I have friends who, after having their kids, went back to work immediately after. I still can’t understand why one, a mom at that, would want to go back to work and leave their precious baby with a stranger at a daycare or even with a loving relative. Nobody can replace ‘mom’ and a baby knows that. I would love to be able to contribute to our household and get some compensation for what I (and other stay at home moms) go through every day. We do it out of love – why can’t other people see it that way and give us a little ‘break’. Please send me an email with any information regarding this article and if they will allow stay at home moms unemployment (without having us feel guilty for getting paid to stay home). Thanks again! Great article!!

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Tammy July 19, 2012

I Love this article!!! Finally someone understands what I go through everyday. I don’t know how many times a week I get asked the same question “Are you working anywhere”? Yeah people I take care of 3 kids everyday!!! So frustrating!!! GRRRR!!!!! I couldn’t even afford to go back to work if I wanted to. The daycare rate for 3 kids around here is over 350.00 a week!!! If I had the extra 350.00 to spend on daycare a week, I wouldn’t need a job. Then I read these ads online about how a stay at home can get a job, all you need is 5 years experience. Really people what about the experience that really counts? Taking care of my babies and managing a household. I think stay at home moms should get unemployment!!! I jobs are the most important and the hardest.

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Claudine July 19, 2012

Yes…It seems so crazy to me that some moms must work because they cant afford to stay home and other moms can’t work because they can’t afford the daycare. How can it be both?

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Anonymous May 8, 2013

I am sure this will be deleted but why exactly should the government send checks to those that don’t work with children?

Are you then suggesting the government pay for all child care? As that is really what is sounds like.

The argument that it is hard to maintain your home and family so the government should support it is a stretch. That is really not the responsibility of the government. In addition, unemployment benefits are provided to those who are looking for work and are meant to assist them during that search.

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Claudine June 18, 2013

Hi there. The blogpost was really meant to be provocative. I do not believe that Government should pay unemployment to Stay at Home mom’s whose children leave. I was simply making the point that being a stay at home mom is a job that needs to be better respected by society and spouses and that once the job is over, give us a bit of time to find our way back into the workforce as the service we just performed took us out of the workforce for years. I would also like to suggest that our laws, particularly in the state of PA be more favorable to a SAHM when divorce enters the picture. She simply can not jump right back into the workforce and make the kind of money her husband was able to make because she stayed home and took care of all the home and child raising tasks. A SAHM should not be punished monetarily for her service, while her spouse’s financial life continues on its merry way.

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