What is a SAHM?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
An SAHM cares for her child and home rather than paying someone else to do so.
An SAHM cares for her child and home rather than paying someone else to do so.

The acronym SAHM stands for “stay at home mom,” referring to a mother who stays home to raise her children, rather than entering the workforce and making other arrangements for childcare. There are a number of reasons for women to be SAHMs. Women who opt to stay at home with their children are a topic of debate in many circles, ranging from the feminist community to economics classrooms.

Some stay-at-home mothers earn money doing freelance or other part-time work.
Some stay-at-home mothers earn money doing freelance or other part-time work.

Historically, many women stayed home to raise children while men worked to support the household. The rise of the feminist movement led some women to pursue work outside the home, making stay at home mothering less common and less popular. One of the interesting unexpected consequences of the flood of women entering the workforce is that the cost of living began to rise as dual income households became more common, and as a result, it became much more difficult for women to choose to stay at home and rely on a single salary for support.

There are a variety of reasons for a woman to opt to be a SAHM. Mothers who care for their own children can experience more fulfilling relationships and tighter bonds with their kids, and they can also participate in things like homeschooling. Being a SAHM can be less expensive than paying for childcare, and it can also allow women to work on projects around the home, potentially eliminating the need to pay for other types of service providers. Women may also feel that being a SAHM is an important part of their personal, cultural, or religious values.

Being a SAHM is a full time job, which sometimes comes as a surprise to professional women transitioning from a career in the office to staying at home with children. Caring for children and a household requires a great deal of work, along with patience, and not all women are suited to it. Women can also feel intense social pressure, ranging from pressure to be the ideal stay at home mother to criticism from people who think that staying at home to care for a household is somehow demeaning or degrading.

Some cultures and communities provide more support for stay at home mothering than others. In some countries, for example, parents receive stipends when one parent opts to stay out of the workforce to care for children. Community networks provided by family members, religious organizations, and mom's groups can also provide support to stay at home mothers. Some SAHMs also take advantage of careers which allow them to work from home, thereby spending time with their children while also contributing to the economic upkeep of the household.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • An SAHM cares for her child and home rather than paying someone else to do so.
      An SAHM cares for her child and home rather than paying someone else to do so.
    • Some stay-at-home mothers earn money doing freelance or other part-time work.
      Some stay-at-home mothers earn money doing freelance or other part-time work.