Working Mom Admits She's Secretly Jealous of Her Husband's Stay-at-Home Dad Schedule


Dad lays in bed with baby

Even though we still have a long way to go when it comes to equality in the workforce, we've definitely made great strides in supporting new moms who want to keep their careers. As more and more women are heading back to work after their maternity leave is up, more and more men are deciding to stay at home with their kids. This shift has been a powerful one for women everywhere, and has helped slowly helped loosen gender roles we've held onto for decades. Still, there are stressful aspects to both staying home and going to work, regardless of your gender -- and that's precisely what one mom has been experiencing since heading back to work. Now, she's wondering if her feelings of jealousy over her husband's stay-at-home dad schedule are warranted or not.

  • The arrangement came about after a bout with depression caused her husband to quit his job.

    Depression can hit anyone at any time, so it's understandable that the woman's husband needed a break. But as she explained in a letter to Slate's Care and Feeding advice column, his lack of income has seriously impacted their family, and 10 months after leaving the workplace, she's starting to get jealous that he spends all his time with their 1-year-old daughter.

    "I’m also frustrated because he has difficulty with balancing watching our daughter and keeping the house clean," the mom wrote. "I have to pick up more slack when I get off work, since he needs a break."

    And that's not all. She's also annoyed by his seemingly lax sleep schedule

    "He doesn’t get up until about noon, and stays up late playing video games," she continued. "I want him to have free time, but if you can’t get housework or job hunting done while the baby is awake, get up earlier and do it while she’s asleep!"

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  • But what bothers the mom even more is that she feels forced to keep on working even though she'd rather be at home with the baby.

    "I also can’t shake the feeling that I want to stay home," she explained. "I’ve always loved my job, but now going to work is miserable for me. My husband says that his working isn’t going to make me happier with my job, but I think the end of financial stress will end my jealousy."

    The letter writer shared that she's spoken to other working moms who also expressed they wished they had more time with their kids, but "none of them have stopped feeling fulfilled by their jobs like I have."

  • Making matters even worse is the fact that her mother passed away unexpectedly just a month ago.

    "After losing her I feel like I’m about to go off the deep end," she continued. "I don’t feel like I can handle anything anymore and all I can think about is being with my daughter."

    "I have started grief counseling (as well as for depression) but how can I make this jealousy go away?" she asked columnist Rumaan Alam. "How can I balance my husband’s wants with my own? We just bought a house, so we’re stuck where we are. I can’t blow up our lives and quit just because I’m unhappy."

  • In the comments, some people felt like the letter writer's husband was taking advantage of the situation and needed to head back to work.

    He isn't acting like a stay-at-home parent, they argued -- he's getting an extended vacation.

    "The job description of a SAHP includes actively watching and engaging with the children during regular work hours and doing the vast majority of necessary housework," one commenter wrote. "If your husband isn't doing all that, he's not a SAHP, he's just a guy hanging around the house all day while you work. He needs to either start doing his job, find a different job, or get out."

    Someone else added that feelings aside, the situation wasn't working for anyone. 

    "If the situation is eating into their savings, then it's clear that the LW's income can't support their lifestyle," the person wrote. "This isn't a situation that can continue."

    "Wait, did I read this correctly?" commented another person. "He sleeps until noon, and then gets up and plays video games? He's not a stay at home dad, he's a teenager."

  • However, other people thought this mom needed to back off, and that she was just going through the pains of being a working parent.

    "A male that stays home and parents his child is being a man," one person wrote. "He is placing his child first in his life. He creates a bond with his child that will be a strong foundation all his child's life."

    "Begin a stay-at-home parent is NOT all it's cracked up to be," a second person added. "I can't explain it, but it can somehow be both stressful and boring at the same time. When I was in that stage for a short period, I was a bit resentful that my spouse got to leave the house and go to work while I was stuck at home with the kids!"

    Yet another person chimed in:

    "She doesn't sound like she really understands what being a stay at home parent is all about. Assuming she is leaving at 8 am, her husband is not sleeping until noon with a baby in the house. He is, probably, sleeping until noon on the weekends because he is absolutely exhausted. He needs some time off of the baby when you get home because he is absolutely exhausted. The house isn't clean to your specifications because, again, he is absolutely exhausted. This is exactly how women who are stay at home parents feel. Absolutely exhausted."

  • Meanwhile, the columnist told the mom that her situation has to come to an end.

    Alum surmised that the mom is going through more than just jealousy and applauded her for seeking counseling right away. He advised her, however, that fixating on staying home was only going to make things harder for her, not easier. 

    "I can’t help but think this is because of how alluring your husband makes staying home look," he wrote. "Sleeping late and playing video games and having someone else to worry about money and handle the housework -- that’s adolescence, not adulthood.

    "Your current situation is untenable," he added. "You need to talk to your partner and determine whether he’s truly ready to get back to work. If he is, he’s got to get serious."

    That means no more sleeping in and no more leaving all the housework to her. The couple also needs to "agree on some real benchmarks and dates," Alum advised. "Make concessions that benefit you both: Alternative child care arrangements (favors from friends or family, occasional day care) will give him liberty to job hunt, and he can take part-time work that will allow him to contribute immediately."

  • The columnist also was willing to admit that perhaps her husband wasn't being totally immature but might still be depressed.

    If so, he needs to be in treatment. But if he's healthy, "he ought to be able to meet his responsibilities," Alam wrote. "There are times in a marriage when one person will need to shoulder more. You did that while he healed and now it’s time for him to do more. It’s your turn to heal."


gender bias stay at home moms