Kids Motherhood

Why I Still Stay Home

Written by Elizabeth Spencer

“So, what do you do all day?”

Stay-at-home-moms have been fielding this question for decades, and articles answering it have been put out by writers a lot craftier than I.

But things get really tricky when you are a non-homeschooling SAHM of older children. 

Your PTA days are over. Your kids dress themselves and direct themselves and possibly even drive themselves. Supposedly, they don’t “need you” much anymore.


I spend my days getting my little family (husband, tween daughter, and teen daughter) out the door and then welcoming them back when they get home. I cook and clean. I manage our family’s schedule, including my girls’ 12 dance classes a week and their heavy involvement in the school band program. I do a little legal document prep for my attorney husband. I serve on the worship team at church and facilitate a weekly women’s Bible study. I’m a band mom. I volunteer at school. I sometimes work as a catering assistant to fund dance costumes. 

And I am beyond grateful to have even the option of spending my time like this. 

I know so many moms would love to have this choice. I know most two-income families are not buying “extras” with those incomes. I also know many moms do important away-from-home work they love and cannot imagine being happy without.

And to all the homeschooling and employed moms out there: I truly don’t know how you do it.

But given the choice, why do I “stay home” in the first place? I do it—still—because for us, I believe this is the most important time for me to be available for my daughters. They don’t need their diapers changed anymore. Which is fabulous. But they often need their hearts healed or their minds redirected. Which is hard and important. 

My brother, who is many years behind me in the parenting game, recently asked, “Now that you’re this far along, if you had to choose when you would be home for your girls, what age would you choose?”

“Now,” I told him. “Absolutely now.” 

I’ve seen the truth of a very wise thing my mother-in-law told me when I was a young bride. She worked in the family business, but her office was in the garage attached to their house, so she was available at any time for my husband all through his growing-up years. She told me how thankful she was for that option and that it was nonnegotiable for her, even when— especially when—her only child was an adolescent. “People say your kids don’t need you as much when they’re bigger. But their problems are bigger, too.” 

I want my husband and daughters to be able to do well in work and school and at their passions. I want them to be able to love well. I want them to be able to serve well. I want them to be able to pursue God well. I want them to pour out well onto other people and onto the things that matter to them. But in order for them to pour out anything good, they have to be filled up with something good. And that filling up takes time and work and attention. 

My daughters have told me, “I’m so glad I have a mom I can count on to make me feel better when I’m upset.” I’m grateful they can say that, because this didn’t just happen all at once. It happened over the course of hundred moments spread out over what’s now more than a decade of on-the-job training as a mother.

And that’s why I still stay home.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are 200 middle- and high-school band students who need measuring for uniforms, and if ever there was ever a job only a volunteer band mom with time to donate during the school day can do, this is it. 

If anyone needs me, I’ll be strapping a tape measure around the waist of a 6-foot-tall tuba player. Because that, sometimes, is what I do all day while I’m still staying home.

You may also like:

When Your Little Boys Aren’t Little Anymore, This is What You Can Look Forward To

This Simple Strategy Changed My Relationship With My Teens

My Kids Are Growing Up, But I’m Still a New Mom

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About the author

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.


  • I love this food for thought as my children get older. I don’t feel called to automatically get a “real” job the minute my last child hits kindergarten, either.

  • I am finding this to be very true. The older the get, the more they need you… Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

    • So sorry for the delayed reply…but thank you for taking time to read and comment! And I have to say: just in the relatively brief time since I wrote this, I, too, have found your words–“the older they get, the more they need you”–to be true. Thank you for hosting the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

  • I really enjoyed this, Elizabeth. My kids are young yet, but I still get asked when I think I’ll go back to work. Being home to take care of my family is the hardest and best work I’ve ever done, and I don’t plan on quitting this job any time soon 😉 Thanks for the affirmation!

    • Thank you, Stacy! I love how you put it: “being home to take care of my family is the hardest and best work I’ve ever done.” Oh, yes, mama! Bless you as you do this work that matters so much. Thank you for taking time to read and to leave me your thoughts!

  • An interesting perspective … I enjoyed reading this. I often joke to my husband that he will have a hard time getting me to go back to work when the kids are both in school full time. Maybe I should stop joking about it … I can definitely see the benefits of staying home.

    • My husband is counting down days until I can “go back to work.” I keep telling him that until they are older (I’m talking high school) I will want to be here. And that’s if we are lucky enough for me to find something part-time. My mom was always home with me until a series of events made it that she wasn’t (up to and including her death when I was 17 and my sister was 14)…it’s important for me because I know what it’s like to NOT have a mom available. Not to knock working moms – it’s just what is important to me.

      • Oh, Kathleen, I’m so sorry for your loss of your mom when you still needed her so much. (I’m 46, and I’m still waiting not to “need” my mom.) I am completely with you: I never want to come across as being critical of moms who are employed outside the home…I just don’t think I could do what they do and still be the mom my girls need me to be. And yet, I know the financial challenge of getting by on one income. Here, as in the rest of motherhood, it’s the struggle of balance. But I can only tell the story I know: mine and my family’s, and being present and available for my girls, especially as they’ve gotten older, is a decision I’m thankful I had the choice to make for so long. Thank you so much for your feedback!

    • Thank you so much, Sarah! As I said in another comment, I never want to come across as saying I think there is only one “right” way to do motherhood. But the further along I go on the mom journey, the more I’m seeing confirmation that the way we’ve chosen truly is best for us and that what we have gained has far outweighed what we might have lost. Bless you in your season with little ones and, down, the road, as you make decisions about what will be best for new seasons!

  • LOVE this! I get asked that question often too, and I 100% agree with what you shared here. I am SO blessed to be completely present in my kids lives as they get older! I am grateful I have the honor and privilege to be the anchor and coordinator and director and organizer of our family. <3

    • Yes, yes, yes, Chris! Thank you for encouraging me with your words here, which echo my own feelings. Just the other day, I was feeling that “am I the only one?” doubt. And there is surely no one “right” way to do motherhood. But this is the way that has worked for us, and I’m so grateful to be able to do what you so beautifully expressed: “be the anchor and coordinator and director and organizer of our family.” Bless you as you fill all those honorable roles!

  • When my third kid started kindergarten I was immediately inundated with questions about what I was going to do now. Having more kids shut them up for awhile, but my youngest is now twelve. She is currently homeschooled but that won’t always be the case. Luckily for me, I now work at home as my husband’s legal assistant, so I have an “excuse” not to go looking for outside employment. Because I completely agree with you that being there and being available is important at any age.

    • Oh, Leslie…thank you for this comment for so many reasons! In my snarkier moments, I respond (or want to, anyway) to the “what do you do with all that free time?” question with, “I don’t know. When I find an extra two minutes, I’ll make a list.” 😉 And amen, sister, to the lovely “excuse” of being our husbands’ legal assistants. Very handy! 🙂 And amen again to being available at any age–because I’m 47 (wow…really?) and I still need my mama. Thanks so much for taking time to encourage me with your words and perspective today!

  • You also encourage other mommas onlinr, in your free time.
    Thanks for this great perspective. I’m so thankful that my mom was able to stay home the whole time I was growing up!

    • Aw, thank you so much, sweet Rebekah! Bless you for that! And I share your gratitude about your mom being home with you. My own mom did, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve wanted to give this gift to my girls if at all possible. I remember when I was a senior in high school, and there was a terrible tragedy involving a student from my school who’d graduated a year ahead of me. It was shocking and horrible and disturbing, even though she had not been my particular friend. It was so unsettling, and I didn’t know how to process it. I remember sitting on my mom’s lap–at 18 years old–in the rocking chair of our living room one day after school. She just held me…there was nothing really to say. But it made such a difference. I’m so grateful she was there to do that. Of course, it would have comforted me if she’d done it later in the day, if I’d had to wait until she came home from work. But that moment somehow capsulizes why my husband and I made this long-term SAHM plan before we had children for me to “stay home” with. Again, it’s not the only way. But it’s the way that seemed best for our future family all those years ago, and it’s still the way that seems best for our family right this minute. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving your kind, encouraging words!