Not even a century ago, men went to work and women stayed home to care for the children, cook, and clean. As time passed, this is no longer the status quo. Many factors contributed to this, from women joining the workforce to an economy that practically requires a two-person income. However, because of these recent shifts, the choice for women to stay home or work depends on each case. For instance, whether a second income is needed, whether she’d enjoy being home all day, whether she wants to pursue a career, etc.
However, what exactly are the duties of a stay-at-home mom? That answer causes friction for many households, and often the answer depends on each couple.
“Husband Expects Me to Cook and Clean Because I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom: Advice?”
Here’s an example from a mom forum where a stay-at-home mom’s husband expects her to do all the housework and childcare. Give or take a few details, this case is extremely common.
The anonymous mother begins her post explaining that her husband goes to work and handles the bills and finances, while she stays at home with their three children and handles the food shopping. “I’m the mom that literally does everything from laundry, cooking, all cleaning, bath, and bedtime, etc.”
However, her husband doesn’t help out when he’s home in the evenings. “It’s a lot for just me to do because he says his job is done for the day after work. I get he’s tired, but so am I, dude.”
Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to understand her side. And when he does help, he has a poor attitude. “He is one of the firm ‘believers’ that women have been doing everything for hundreds of years, and there’s no reason why we can’t continue to do it. We’ve gotten into a couple of good fights without it, and now he’s starting to help me more, which I have been noticing and has been helping me a little bit with my anxiety and stress, but I think he is becoming depressed because he has to help me.”
The mom asks the forum if she should just “suck it up and do everything”. She notes that if he becomes depressed that could cause more issues because he has to work. However, she adds that her own mental health is not great. “I’m really not that healthy due to high anxiety and not eating or sleeping.”
The Job Never Ends
From the consensus of the comments, many people agreed that to cook and clean is part of the stay-at-home mom job description. However, “doing everything” is not. Here are the two key points to keep in mind: One, the husband’s job is 9–5. The mother’s job is 24/7.  It doesn’t end, which means she has little to no time for relaxing, socializing with peers, and pursuing hobbies. And by the sounds of it, she doesn’t have the time for proper sleep or a healthy diet. It’s no wonder her physical and mental health is declining!
The second thing is: The house and children belong to the husband too. In the comments, many people related their own routines. They refer to themselves and their spouses as a team. Meaning, in the evening, they spend time with the kids and get them ready for bed together. After all, they are both parents and parenting is a full-time job.
“It’s crazy that some people think it’s okay for a stay-at-home mom/dad’s job to never end, but theirs should,” said one commenter who worked while her husband stayed home. “This is also coming from someone who works with kids all day, and I still can’t wait to go home and spend time with mine!”
Other comments add that there seems to be more going on in that situation. Many recommended marriage counseling to work through their issues. It’s one thing to have different expectations and disagree on things. It’s quite another when there’s little communication and mental health issues are worsening.
What Do The Experts Say?
First of all, there are no set rules of what a SAHM does and doesn’t do, let it be to cook, clean, shopping, etc. It’s all individual, and communication and teamwork are vital for this setup to work. There’s a lot of misconceptions about being a parent, let alone a stay-at-home one. For instance, many people assume that because the parent is home all day, that means they are “doing nothing” which is hardly the case. Keep in mind that SAHM is prone to depression, according to an analysis of over 60,000 women. 
“Children thrive when a healthy stay-at-home parent is there, but it can be lonely and isolating,” says Tina Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in Southern California and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together. “So stay-at-home parents should make a point of getting together with other parents.”
Despite all of the friction a stay-at-home parent could cause, it doesn’t have to be that way. Listening to each other’s needs and managing expectations could make all the difference. “Staying at home with children does not have to negatively impact the relationship at all, especially when it’s what both parties want,” says Devon Jorge, MSW, a psychotherapist. “Where marriages can go wrong is when the decision is not explored deeply enough and there are assumptions and expectations made on both ends on what this will look like for their family.”
In short, there’s no “who works harder” or “who deserves a rest more” debate when a couple is a team. “If they feel like a team that’s working together to give their family the best life possible, they’ll probably do well,” Tessina says. “But if the working parent doesn’t respect the stay-at-home parent or isn’t willing to cooperate, there will be problems.”