Difference between Stay-at-Home and Working Mom

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Parenting is one of the most important parts of life for every mother. Some moms choose to stay with their children at home, thus, being an involved parent. Others do not want to quit their job, so they are ready to pay caregivers to be able to realize their potential at work. Women with financial problems have to work, even if they would like to stay at home. Regardless of the reasons, it is an individual choice, which has both benefits and drawbacks for women, children, and their family. The research collected scientific evidence to examine each of the views and find out, what is the main difference between stay-at-home and working mothers. This study uses statistical data concerning social, psychological, financial, emotional, physiological, educational and behavioral factors that have an impact on both a mother and a child in one ant the other scenarios: when a woman works at least part-time or stays at home permanently.

Key words: stay-at-home mothers, working mother, motherhood, parenting.

Difference between Stay-at-Home and Working Mom

Even though the gender roles change, the parents’ desire to raise healthy, educated children with a bright future remains solid. In order to reach this dream, some families choose to leave one of the parents at home to take care of children. Others work full time but pay for services of high-quality care centers. Meanwhile, single mothers often lack support, therefore must work regardless of their desire. The choice of being a stay-at-home mom or working one always puzzles modern women, since each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages. While, some women find self-fulfillment in the motherhood, others are happier working. The latter the physical and mental health of their children more, even contributing to their successful adulthood.

Stay-at-Home Mother

Reasons to Become a Stay-at-Home Mother

The status of a stay-at-home mom is a result of financial, social, and family circumstances. According to Cohn, Livingston and Wang (2014a), the number of mothers, who prefer to stay at home, while having children younger than 18 years old, has raised. The share of such moms accounted for 23% of the total in 1999, and increased to 29% in 2012 (Cohn et al., 2014a). Not only a desire to focus on their family values made women stay at home, but a galore of different reasons. Thus, disability, a lack of vacancies, single motherhood, expensive care centers influence the decision to stay at home. On the other hand, there are some global reasons like increased immigration and a downturn in women’s labor force participation. Economic ups and downs influenced the surged number of stay-at-home mothers in early 2000s, which stopped in 2005, just before the Great Recession (Cohn et al., 2014a). Speaking of social factors, the marital status of moms influences a perception of work. Married stay-at-home mothers explain, that it was their choice not to work, but care about family. Statistically, 85% of married mothers support this opinion, while only 41% of single and 64% of cohabiting ones have chosen the mentioned lifestyle (Cohn et al., 2014a). To conclude, being a stay-at-home mother is not always a choice of a woman, since rather often the circumstances do not leave any options.


If a woman has chosen to quit a job in order to take care of family, children benefit the most. Being under mother’s control, they are less likely to be injured. Moreover, mom prevents accidents and dangerous acts, creates a safe environment at home and outside. She helps kids to develop and to improve skills in communicating, walking, painting etc. Mother looks after children’s diet, health, and behavior. When a child goes to school, she observes a learning process, participates in preparing homework. As a result, the research shows that children, who stayed with a mother at least during first three years of their lives, are more confident in their social structure comparing to children, who were raised by caregivers (Bowen, 2018). Therefore, the tight connection, that has formed between a parent and a kid during the early period of a lifetime, cannot be replaced. It develops a personality, family values, emotions, cognitive growth and psychological health of babies. Likewise, if affects physical health and development (Bowen, 2018). Moreover, when a baby has a loving and caring mother on his/her side most of the time, he/she has a sense of love and security that have an impact on the future. The child is better prepared for social interaction and is less likely to suffer from negative self-thoughts (Bowen, 2018). Parental presence positively influences the school performance of middle and elementary school pupils. Thus, their marks improved by 0,02 points in 10th grade (Andrews, 2014). A parent has time to arrange additional classes for children, such as sports, dancing, painting, language courses, science clubs and so on. It means that not only toddlers benefit from a stay-at-home parent, but elder siblings as well.

At the same time, there are many advantages for women too. Firstly, a mother witnesses the first words and steps, watches the process of children’s development and growing (Hamilton, 2018). This experience is priceless and makes her mother’s feelings fulfilled, since she focuses on children’s well-being. Mom is never alone, she is always busy with household routine, caring about a child or children, organizing a timetable for entire family. What is more, a woman is free of working stress, related to bosses, deadlines, failures to meet customer’s needs. If a mother enjoys different aspects of parenting, she will not experience stress at all. While staying at home, women become friends with other stay-at-home ones, since they share interests. Society prizes a woman’s choice to be a stay-home mother. According to Pew Research Centre survey, 60% of Americans agreed that “children are better off when a parent stays home to focus on the family” (Cohn, Livingston, & Wang, 2014b). It means this kind of mothers experiences less societal pressure, comparing to working ones.


On the other hand, women, who have chosen to be stay-at-home mothers, often do not have time for themselves. They lose interactions with friends from the previous work, a satisfactory feeling of doing a good job. Wives miss getting dressed for work, since they, as a rule, do not have time to wear make-up and do haircut in time. Even physically taking care of children is exhausting because of lack of sleep and inappropriate diet (Hamilton, 2018). Moreover, rather often mothers feel isolated from the rest of the world, because they fo not have time to read the news or something of their interest, to speak with friends and relatives on a different topic other than raising a child, to do what they used to practice in their spare time. In addition, if the mother performs a lot of housework, and her spouse does not appreciate it fully or does not help at all, she may be stressed. A woman feels like all duties lie on her, not letting live a life the way she wanted. As a result, it may cause the depression.

According to the Gallup analysis, conducted among 60 thousand women between 18 and 64 years old, stay-at-home mothers report about depression status more often, than working ones (Valleskey, 2018). When researchers asked how they had filled the day before, 28% of the present at home moms replied “depressed most of the day”, while only 17% of working mothers gave this answer. Another question was: “Do you experience depression?”. In this case 26% of staying at home mothers and 16% of working moms provided a positive response. Then the survey asked: “Do you feel worried?”, and 41% of stay-at-home women and 34% of working one replied “yes” (Valleskey, 2018).

Another disadvantage is that stay-at-home mother becomes financially dependent on a husband, and in case of his death or illness she is not able to pay checks. Even when everything is fine, the family income decreases in half, which may lead to financial insecurity and cutting costs. One more interesting fact says that 57% of stay-at-home mothers consider returning to work one day (Duncan, 2018). Though, they have to be ready to compete for a vacant position with younger job seekers, who have relevant experience in the industry. All in all, the mentioned drawbacks influence stay-at-home mother’s psychological and physical health, family finances and future job opportunities.

Working Mother


The most obvious advantage of having a mother working is financial, as a family benefits when both parents are employed at full-time or at least part-time jobs. As a result, the quality of life, food, and education is higher. Children are provided with necessary resources, gadgets, toys and so on. Furthermore, parents do not feel either financial pressure or stress. Even in case of a divorce, illness or death, a woman is independent and has her own money, thus does not rely on a husband. Working mothers, as it has been mentioned above, experience less stress, since they have an opportunity to take a break from work at home and from children at a workplace. Another benefit is that a working mom is always in a society, realizes her potential at work, becomes a valued employee for a company. Moreover, she shows an example of a successful working woman to her children, so they know from the early age, that woman’s role is not limited to being a servant for the family. Oppositely, it shows that women have an equal right to work and succeed. One of the latest research has revealed that not only do such mothers display positive role models, but they also influence the adulthood of their children. The survey covered 13,326 women and 18,152 men from 24 countries (Nobel, 2015). The results testify that women raised by working mothers had 23% higher income comparing to those females, whose mothers stayed at home (Nobel, 2015). Interestingly, there was no such tendency among men, however, men raised by working mothers spent more time with their family, since they had experienced non-traditional role models in their own families.

Children of working mother use her life lessons to deal with society, work and responsibilities. Another meta-analysis showed that children with a working mother had no problems at school, related to studying process, behavior and communication (Miller, 2015). Kids had less level of depression and anxiety in low-income families and ones with a single parent. According to Lenehan (n.d.), girls benefit more than boys from having working mothers. Thus, they had a positive impact on their inspiration, work ethic, and independence. To begin with, 53% of daughters, who participated in the survey, created by Lenehan, claimed they were proud of their working mothers (n.d.). One of them said: “It was an inspiration to me that my mother worked. I have huge respect for her” (Lenehan, n.d.). Also, 47% of girls stated that their employed mothers had taught them resilience and in 56% of cases - independence. To summarize, working moms do not harm children. What is more, they contribute to their successful future. These women show on their own example what qualities and skills are helpful to achieve high living standards.


Working mothers spend long hours at the office and are subjected to stress. Since at home they should care about children and the rest of the family, they usually feel tired. In a long-term perspective a continuous tiredness, a lack of sleep and stresses can result in diseases and other health issues. Besides, a woman may feel frustration and unhappiness, if she has to work to pay bills, but does not like her work. These feelings may affect her relationship in a family, with a husband and children. In case of a single motherhood, this chance is higher, since often a mother has no one to split expenses on household and a child. According to BBC, 68% of all families with a single employed parent live in poverty (2018). Statistically, 9 out of 10 families are headed be a woman. Therefore, it is no surprise that a single working mother is depressed, has a poor mental health and has to work, even if she does not want to. A busy with work mom spends little time with her children, so often a kid does not share feelings with her. The woman misses first steps, words, school competitions and meetings, which are important for a child. As a result, a son or a daughter may become introverted and would never share emotions with people. In addition, the lack of control over children’s lives, especially teens’, may bring them to a bad company and to develop harmful habits, such as smoking.

The lack of attention from a working mother causes possible future difficulties in children’s lives. Thus, the research conducted by Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that children from 1 to 5 years old with mothers, who were working full-time over a long period of time, were more likely to face unemployment, psychological distress and lower marks at school (Doughty, n.d.). Middle and higher-income families often have their children in childcare centers. At the same time, kids, who spend long hours in these institytions, have a risk to become aggressive, develop disruptive behavior, have weak social skills and negative mood (Magher, 2017). Another disadvantage of such establishments is fast-spreading illnesses, since children actively interact with each other (Roland, 2017). As a result, kids with working mothers have weaker health and a higher chance to catch a disease.

Comparison of Benefits and Drawbacks for Stay-at-Home and Working Mothers

AspectStay-at-home mothersWorking mothers
Financial stability Less financial stability due to dependence on spouse More financial stability due to employment
Time with children More time with children Less time with children
Child development More involvement in child's development Less involvement in child's development
Work-related stress Less work-related stress More work-related stress
Societal pressure Less societal pressure to work More societal pressure to work


Even though mothers try to do their best for children, sometimes adds are overwhelming. Working moms spend a little time with children, rarely discuss fears and doubts kids have. Caregivers often replace mothers, when the latter earn money. This results in aggression, disruptive behavior and frequent illnesses, due to their quick spread in children centers.. On the other side, seeing a fulfillment and hard work of the mothers, these kids learn how to be independent and follow work ethic, since their mothers inspire them. In addition, children of working mothers are more likely to have a wealthy life in the future. In contrast, stay-at-home mothers watch the children’s health and diet more effectively but contribute less to the development of skills needed at work. The main difference is a living approach: each mother regardless of a chosen lifestyle teaches her children how to live and adapt to the life she lives.


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BBC News. (2018, February 21). Working single parents ‘struggling to feed children’. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43140285

Bowen, C. (2018). How being a stay-at-home mom changes your baby’s brain, according to science. Romper. Retrieved from https://www.romper.com/p/how-being-a-stay-at-home-mom-changes-your-babys-brain-according-to-science-9814448

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Hamilton, A. (2018, May 10). Why I don’t regret quitting my job and becoming a stay-at-home mom. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/5272577/stay-at-home-mom-choice/

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Magher, M. (2017). The negative effects of day care on children. Livestrong. Retrieved rom https://www.livestrong.com/article/96488-effects-child-care-infants/

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