The typical employee in the United States enjoys 10 days of paid vacation and six paid holidays every year. We work hard. We deserve time off. But what about stay-at-home parents? Why are stay-at-home mom vacation days not a thing yet?
A few years ago, Forbes magazine reported that the average stay-at-home mom works almost 97 hours a week:
- 15.4 hours – housekeeper
- 14.1 hours – chef
- 13.2 hours – daycare teacher
- 10.7 hours – facilities manager
- 9.5 hours – computer operator
- 7.8 hours – janitor
- 7.8 hours – chauffeur
- 7.6 hours – psychologist
- 6.6 hours – laundry
- 3.9 hours – household CEO
Sure, some stay-at-home moms don’t clean. And some of us spend more time at Chick-fil-A than we do in our own kitchens. My kitchen doesn’t have an indoor playground or bottomless sweet tea. But even if we subtract 15 hours of cleaning or 14 hours of cooking, that still leaves over 80 hours a week.
Because despite my relentless efforts to train her, my two-year-old doesn’t stop defaulting to me for all. the. things. at 5:00. So while Dad relaxes after a hard day’s work, I’m still busy refilling sippy cups, peeling open string cheeses, and explaining why we can’t eat ketchup for dinner.
It’s not that my husband isn’t helpful, but that my daughter is a creature of habit. Which is why that creature is put to bed promptly at 7:30. Mama needs to watch The Walking Dead and enjoy a snack without someone combing her hair with a plastic fork.
Sure, it’s taking care of our own families. Some might argue that’s what we “signed up for” when we had children. I’m going to assume those people don’t spend nearly 100 hours every week “eating” plastic food and singing Trolls songs on demand like a personal jukebox. But I digress. Without us contributing over 80 hours of work every week, our families would have to pay for the services of a chef, daycare teacher, and more. So it seems to me that the role of stay-at-home mom is a pretty legit full-time job.
And what happens when you work too many days at your job without getting some time off? You burn out. You’re exhausted, your attitude tanks, and you just can’t muster the energy to care anymore. Is that what we want for our stay-at-home moms? For our kids?
Stay-at-home mom vacation days need to happen just as often as vacation days in a more traditional job. I’ve seen several posts online that argue stay-at-home parents deserve a vacation all to themselves, plane ticket and all. That would be divine, I can’t lie. But I don’t think it’s practical for most people, or even necessary.
One day every month or two, I schedule a stay-at-home mom vacation day – a day where I only think of and care for myself. I might wander Target or Hobby Lobby – just me, my caramel frappe, and my weakness for home goods. Maybe I’ll finally cash in on those massage and pedicure gift cards from Mother’s Day.
Or I might just spend the day at home doing whatever I want to do, while my husband takes care of our daughter. This option may or may not require hiding.
It’s easier to take a true break if I’m away for at least part of the day. But you can be “away” by leaving the house yourself, or by having your spouse and kids leave the house for a while. They could visit grandparents, find a park, catch a movie, or (bonus points!) run some errands. It’s so not even about you, really. You just want your spouse to enjoy making special memories with the kids! You’re so thoughtful!
Stay-at-home mom vacation days need to be a thing. Stay-at-home parents are working 80+ hours a week, often without any evening or weekend downtime. They need and deserve regular full days off from their job duties, just like everyone else. If there was ever a way to get mad bonus points from your stay-at-home spouse, this is it! Give it a whirl.