I have a horrible habit that I really need to drop. I’ve noticed other mothers have this bad habit too. The problem is rampant really, especially among stay at home moms: it’s the need to justify what we do all day.

stay at home mom lifting her baby

What do stay at home moms do all day?

When my hard-working husband comes home from work, almost immediately, I rattle off a list of all the tasks I completed in his absence.

This is what our house sounds like, daily, around 5:30 pm:

(Husband opens the front door.)

Me: “Hi babe! How was your day? I know you probably can’t tell, but I really did clean the entire downstairs, I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, I took the boys to the playground. Oh and I changed the sheets because the baby peed our bed last night.”

My husband: “Ummm, great . . . Hi, honey. How are you?”

Why do I feel the need to give an account of my work for the day? My husband is neither my boss nor my taskmaster. I know for a fact that he doesn’t look at the chaos in our house (because, with three young boys, it’s always chaos) and think, “What did she do all day?” He’s told me as much, many times.

It’s even more ridiculous when I try to imagine this scenario in reverse, expecting my husband to report to me, for my approval, every activity in his work day: how many emails he returned, which spreadsheets he created, what presentations he gave. Yet, I can’t help myself. I feel compelled to justify my work.

Or perhaps, I feel compelled to justify my worth.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering why I feel this way and I think it’s because I have always been an achiever. I’m wired in all the stereotypical, Type-A, people-pleasing ways a person can be wired. Academically and professionally, there’s never really been something that I’ve put my mind to that I haven’t been able to accomplish.

Then I became a stay at home mom.

Now, I experience failure daily. I get cranky. I lose my temper. I miss countless opportunities to give grace and show patience. Some mornings, I come face-to-face with my own shortcomings before my feet have even hit the floor. Never have I been more aware of my inadequacies than I am now, as a stay at home mom.

I pour into my kids constantly, but at the end of the day, there is often very little tangible proof of my efforts. I might clean non-stop, but it’s like shoveling with a spoon in a snowstorm. I might prepare food all day, but there’s few leftovers when you’re feeding a pack of hungry wolves. I might lovingly encourage and correct behavior, but the tantrums still come, again and again.

Whether I do a “good job” at home or not, the appearance to an outsider could be the same on any given day.

But mamas, it’s not the same.

The important work we do as mothers will bear fruit.

The time frame may not be what we’d like (in fact, I can almost guarantee that it won’t), but weeks, months, or years later, there will be proof of our efforts. One of my favorite Bible verses is Galatians 6:9, and it is such a perfect mantra for motherhood in general (and I’m relying on it even more now that I’m a full-time stay at home mom). It says,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

In this intensive phase of mothering, when the house regularly looks like a tornado blew through it, when much of what we do is barely visible, don’t become weary (at least not in spirit; some physical weariness in this phase is probably unavoidable). Keep doing the good, hard work, so that we can reap the harvest at the proper time.

In the meantime, let’s stop trying to validate our worth to others.

Let’s just know it, confidently, for ourselves.

Stay at home mom holding her baby all day
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This post originally appeared on Her View From Home.


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  1. Thanks for this post, linked on my Pinterest feed. I hated being a stay-at-home the first time and with third baby on the way I’m being thrown back into it. I never realized I was doing the justifying my existence thing before, but now that I’ve read this I realized that I did and need to stop. I’m feeling way more optimistic this go around. I really appreciate moms like you writing down the hard or embarrassing parts of SAHMhood. It really isn’t a walk in the park. Nice to feel less alone. Thanks.

  2. Great.That you have an understanding Husband.Some really think we dont do anything productive in compared to their Jobs ..We have more leisure time to spend As compared to them when they are at work

    1. Yes, it really does help to have an understanding spouse. I think it’s tough for both sides to fully appreciate what the other one does–the grass is always greener and all that.

      Having been both a working and a stay at home mom, there are times I envy my husband’s day with adults, ability to pee alone, relative quiet, etc. And of course, there’s plenty of times that I know he envies my ability to be there for school events, extra snuggles, baby’s firsts, etc.

      Both jobs are hard and both jobs are a lot of work, that’s for sure!

      Thanks for reading & commenting!

    1. Hi Stacy,

      You make a great point. Whether you’re a SAHM or a working mom, it’s so hard to get anything accomplished with little kids around. We’re all doing the best we can and I agree — embracing that would be a GREAT resolution to have for this new year!

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I’m not a stay at home mom but I can definitely relate to where you are coming from. When I’m on the weekends with my baby, the time just seems to fly. I have all these lofty goals and for the most part never find the time to get them accomplished. Being a mom is a full time job but I don’t want to miss out on the fun stuff being concerned about what other people will say about the state of my home. All of that can wait until my baby grows up.

    1. Hi Keyona,

      I’m so glad you could relate to this post. You’re so right — whether you’re a SAHM or a working mom, it can be hard to get much of anything accomplished with tiny tornadoes running around and undoing all of your efforts. I agree — a clean house, accomplished tasks, all of that is great, but sometimes it just needs to wait because, as the saying goes, “Babies don’t keep.” Thanks for reading!

  4. Reading this was like reading my own mind!!. I too am a SAHM & feel as though I am constantly justifying to my husband what I do all day. It’s hard to adjust to working your backside off around the house & then having kids destroy my efforts in 30 seconds!!. Great read, glad I’m not the only one who feels like this 😀

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I’m so glad you connected with this post. I agree — transitioning from the working world, where you have (at least some) control over your day, your time, and your tasks, to being a SAHM is a huge adjustment. When everything you “accomplish” seems invisible or to be immediately undone, it’s hard not to want to justify what you do all day. Thanks for reading!

    1. You’re so right…I need to quit justifying myself. I do this every single day. My husband asks “what did you do today” just to have something to talk about, not trying to see if I did enough or to know I dont just sit on my butt all day. But that’s how I normally answer to it..I try to think of everything I did that day so he knows how much work I’m putting in on a daily basis as a stay at home mom. He doesnt even care if I worked as hard as he did. As long as the kids are taken care of, so why justify yourself?….such a great post. Thank you! Something to think about, definitely.

  5. Oh, how I am constantly telling myself the same things when it comes to my justification of what I do all day. It is interesting to read your thoughts on why we do this, even though it isn’t necessary.

    1. Hi Angela,

      I’m so glad you could relate. It’s so hard NOT to feel like you need to justify what you do all day as a SAHM, but it’s definitely worth trying to remember: it all matters, even if it’s all unseen, even if it’s all undone 1,000 times per day.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. I could not even get through the article without having to rush to the comment section to say, “OMG me too!!” I’m also a SAHM and feel like I too have to explain what I did. Or my favorite is, at around the time my husband is close to walking through the door, I jump up and start clearing toys off the floor hurriedly. It’s like I’m 15 again and I hear my mom’s keys in the door and realize I “forgot” to do my chore. It’s ridiculous. For me it’s because of my mother’s expectations of what a SAHM does. She’s a baby boomer so that old school housewife holds very true. Sorry for the spill I’m just happy it’s not only me!

      Angel | Mommy-ing Differently

      1. Hi Angel,

        Oh my gosh, the 15-again clean-up: YESSSS!! That is a perfect description! I think for me, it’s that even if I know I busted my tail all day long, when I look around and the house looks like Apocalypse Now, I start to feel like maybe I actually didn’t do anything (even though we all know that isn’t true).

        I’m so glad you could relate to this. Thanks so much for reading!

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