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What is it really like being the breadwinner dad with a SAHM?

I told my BF (25M) that if I become a parent I would prefer to be a SAHM while the kid is young. He and I were both raised by SAHM and it is something I prefer as I did not have a stable parent figure during my younger years, which definitely messed me up. I want to make sure if I have a kid that I am there for them, especially when they are young.

I think my BF does not really understand what it is like to even be around kids, especially babies/toddlers. He was raised in a way where even though he was the oldest of 3, he was never responsible for his siblings, ever, so he was raised more closer to the way an only child was raised, imo. I am the oldest of 3, the youngest being 10 years younger than me. I remember very clearly having to change baby diapers, feedings, watching them closely when they learned to walk as they would literally touch everything. BF thinks being a SAHM will be so easy that he would not be expected to come home and do any cleaning at all or do any “chores.” I don’t think he realizes how stressful it is when kids are just babies. He thinks you can just plop them in front of a TV and they’ll just stay there. I tried to explain to him that is not the case and that he should be helping out no matter what. I think he just wants to be the cool parent who is never the bad guy because he wouldn’t want to say No to them, only having fun. I think he is going to be in for a rude awakening if he ever becomes a parent. But he makes a really high salary so he can easily afford to hire help if needed, so he won’t ever have to lift a finger if he doesn’t want to.

What is it really like being a parent, being the breadwinner? How do you split “chore”/housework/parenting? Do you help out around the house after you come back from work? What about on your days off, do you do any housework then?

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29 Comments

  1. I’m the main “bread-winner,” but I appreciate every single thing my wife does around the house just as much as if she had a paying job. She does so much with the kids, chores, bills, finances, etc. And yes, I help when I get home. Even though she’s home almost all day, it shouldn’t be 100% her taking care of the house. I’ll do dishes, cook, clean, whatever. We find a balance that works for us and we go with it. No resentment, no competing over who does more, just two adults taking care of crap that needs to be taken care of.

  2. Me and my wife planned for her to be a SAHM when we had our first kid (we are now about to have our second)

    We did both agree that a lot of the house chores will be hers, but I still won’t be opposed to helping out.

    My wife is an absolute rock star. She does the laundry, takes care of the kid, tried to make sure the house is orderly, and make sure we are fed. She even goes above and beyond and makes my lunch.

    Now I do help out where I can if it’s needed and when it’s needed.

    Also, if I come home from work and the house is a wreck, I’m not even going to mention it and assume it must have been a rough day and I’m going to make sure she is good.

    Now this may be different than what a lot of people do, but I have to commute an hour each way to a different city, so it tends to make my days longer.

    Moms are absolute super stars and I know you’re going to kill it. If you have a rough day and your bf comes home hounding you, let me know! 👊🏼

    On days off, I really try to focus on spending time with the family. It’s so important to be around each other and spend time together.

    Ps, I think my wife works harder than I do. While she may not “earn money” her role is just as, if not more important than mine and probably more demanding too. Good moms are super stars in my book! I know you’ll crush it!

  3. It’s much more of a struggle than I thought it would be for both of us. I work a job that has very long hours and is extremely stressful. By the time I come home I’m usually pretty spent and I have trouble helping much which leads to either one or both of us being strained. I do significantly less than she does, but I try to do what I can here and there, ideally we would both have time off on weekends, but I get about a day and a half off every week so by the time we each take about a half day for ourselves that’s it and it doesn’t always work out that cleanly.

    From my perspective it is very easy to not see the struggle at home and not understand why it is so draining, or why I need to help as much as I do. There’s no way for me to know if it’s actually that bad or if she isn’t handling it as well as I need her to without switching roles, which isn’t a possibility for us.

    From her perspective she sees my job as a break and thinks I should be ready to help when I get home (she’s tired of being home all the time) and doesn’t realize that my job is sometimes very rewarding but more often very draining.

    I should probably help more than I do but I feel like between my own sanity, work and helping at home I can only pick two and one has to be sanity or the other two will collapse anyway.

    To put it lightly things are not going well, and I just realized I think I’m venting more than giving advice but there it is anyway.

  4. I don’t personally know, but I hope to some day find out. Going from my own parents (mom was a SAHM), my mom did all the indoor chores while watching over us. When we got older (she has a picture of me, about 3, mopping the floor), she made us do the indoor and outdoor chores. Speaking as someone who did chores basically his whole life, it’s really not that difficult, especially if you do it consistently. If you only do chores once a month then yeah, it builds up and it sucks. If you keep at it, most chores take less than 15mins.

    It seemed to workout. My parents rarely fought, my dad did all the outdoor stuff and any jobs that fell outside “chore” and my mom actually did have a lot of free time, which she used to volunteer A LOT.

  5. The common ones, she handles laundry, I handle dishes, mainly clean the bathrooms and 2nd floor, she mainly cleans the first floor. It’s a mixed bag on big clean days where we just tear through the house and get everything spotless.

    Because I have limited time at home (when I’m not remote) doing things like dishes, trash, etc. are easier because they’re tasks that can be “quickly done.” Some of the thing that take longer, like laundry, she does because she can do it throughout the day.

    But no, I don’t hold some complex that because I’m the one who brings in the money, that I don’t have responsibilities to my kids / home.

  6. I earn most of our income and my wife is a SAHM. The amount of work to be done at home, though, between cleaning, caring, laundry, dishes, etc… Definitely has me feeling like I’ve got the easier gig. Granted, I had a decent amount of time home after both kids were born and experienced that daily. Even now I usually cook dinner and get breakfast ready, and wash most of the dishes, and still feel like I’m coming up short. It’s both mentally and physically exhausting. Rewarding, but exhausting.

  7. My wife is a SAHM. My son is now 14. Having her stay home has been beneficial in every way for all of us. My son is well adjusted, well behaved, knows he is loved unconditionally and is a confident and secure person. All of that I attribute to my wife being consistently present for him – especially in his younger years when it is so beneficial to their development. And it is definitely a lot more work for the mother in the beginning. Breastfeeding, soothing him in the middle of the night, etc. I helped by doing all the cooking, shopping, and of course taking my turn at the night feedings (although not nearly as much as her). When I wasn’t at work, I was always doing something related to helping her. It’s very much a team effort. Don’t let anyone talk you out of being a SAHM, it is absolutely a good choice for your children if you are able to financially do it.

  8. I feel like if someone is staying at home to care for the kid then that is their main priority during the day. Everyone who is living in the home needs to split up housework, chores, everything else in an equitable way. Having a SAHM at home doesn’t mean he gets out of doing his share at home

  9. I (31M) work, my wife (29F) is a SAHM for our 16 month old daughter. We both decided that her going back to work would not pay for the needed childcare, so why bother. Honestly, it’s a relief having previously been a dual income house.Before, our days off would be filled with the myriad of chores that needed to be done, couldn’t actually get any any time to relax and do nothing.

    Now, because a lot of the household chores are managed on a daily basis, we both have a lot more free time, which we spend on family trips, baby time, hobbies, or just flopped out watching YouTube. Work doesn’t seem like such a soul-sucking drag because I have proper recovery days, and I’m not scrambling to get shit done. The wife has time to see her doctors for once in her life so her anxiety and depression are damn near a non-factor for once. Baby gets to spend lots of time with both parents and is progressing well. My wife loves being a SAHM and as long as I can make enough money to keep this arrangement going, we’ll continue to do so, at least until our daughter is old enough.

    When I’m home, I always help with chores. Most of my list is focused outside, or fixing broken things, cooking, traditional “man chores”; but I also do my own laundry, change/play with/bathe/feed the baby, feed and water the pets, pick up and take out trash, that kind of thing. Were the situation be reversed, and I had to be a SAHD, I’d still go for it. Doesn’t matter who the bacon-bringer is, someone holding down the homefront is mega valuable, and something that I think younger generations are rediscovering.

  10. > What is it really like being a parent, being the breadwinner? How do you split “chore”/housework/parenting? Do you help out around the house after you come back from work? What about on your days off, do you do any housework then?

    Oh, I’m definitely the ‘on’ parent when I come home. When my kids were little my wife used to cook dinner via the crockpot. She would also do a load or two of laundry every day, so I would often be folding laundry either by myself or with her after dinner to ‘reset’ for the next day. Plus she did all the bill payments and mail opening. That’s really all the housework she would do, the rest is kid wrangling. During the weekend I do all the cooking, grocery shopping and kid wrangling while she lies in.

    > BF thinks being a SAHM will be so easy that he would not be expected to come home and do any cleaning at all or do any “chores.”

    Nah, being the mum is a full time job. If he gets to be ‘off the clock’ after 5pm, then you should be able to as well. Cleaning the house is another part time job on top of that. We eventually got a cleaner to come during the week do do a bunch of stuff like vacuuming, cleaning toilets, changing beds etc.

    Being a stay at home parent isn’t intellectually demanding, and it’s not very physically demanding. But it’s emotionally exhausting.

  11. I think most SAHM make it harder on themselves then they need to be. Sure if it’s a brand new baby you need to attend to it. But nobody 20+ years ago was watching their kids like parents do today. You literally do not need to be with a child all day. Put them in their play pen. Let them nap. Let them lay there and just cry. Whatever. You don’t have to have the babies attn for 15 hours a day.

    That’s the main thing that modern parents need to realize. Your parents never did that and you turned out fine. If your baby is crying in the playpen then let them cry. Eventually they will realize there ain’t no help and they will shutup.

  12. Both my wife and I work. However we both try and take days off during the week to spend time with our kids. Me being self employed helped a lot in that regard because I was able to attend almost all my kid’s preschool activities ie back to school night, Father’s Day lunch, field trip to the book store.

    I knew early on that parenting is a full time job. I suspect your BF will quickly realize when the child comes how much work kids are for many years. You and he need to have a serious discussion before planning for kids about this. He needs to get rid of the mentality (if he has any) that kids are raised by one parent and that if he ever needed to watch the kids that he’s “babysitting”. No! It means he is being a father. It takes a village to raise the child. In many ways SAH parents have it worse because they never get to be off duty. I think your BF like other new parents will actually look forward to the reprieve from a new born by escaping to the office. Hopefully with that comes a new appreciation that SAH parents work just as hard as the outside employed parent.

    *edit for spelling

  13. Parenting one kid is at least a 60 hour a week job. Now add more.

    You don’t have time or energy to clean while they are around much at all. Your bf doesn’t get it

  14. Started off great: she’d do stuff while I was at work, and then I’d pitch in when I got home to finish whatever was unfinished. But little by little, she started to get less done during the day, and an increasing number of things became “my jobs.” Honestly, being a working dad is like being a single dad with 3 teenagers instead of a married dad with 2 teenagers and a SAHM.

  15. There was a study about who does more work, sahm ir bread winner father.

    His hours include getring ready for work, commuting to work and back. It was found he put more hours in than her. When she’s ironing and watching Oprah, its not classed as full-time work. Was only recognised as half the amount it took to iron.

    His numbers include the chores he does at home.

    They concluded bread winner works harder and longer.

  16. Being the sole bread winner dad isn’t a fun experience. It’s huge amount of pressure because the family has no safety net. You’ll spend all your time working the “safe” jobs that you hate because you can’t afford to take any risks. If you had any dreams, they die the day you agree to this.

    The wife won’t understand or appreciate how much you’ve given up for her. Because of the marriage laws, you can’t leave with your money or your future earnings (alimony happens when she hasn’t worked for years). You’re basically some woman’s slave and she’ll tell you your a privileged oppressor because you’re male. Being a slave to a slave owner who accuses you of oppression and privileged isn’t a great way to spend 25 years.

  17. Honestly, stay at home mom *is* easier and more fun. Every relationship is different and chores split up differently. However, as a stay at home mom you get to go on play dates, take the kid shopping, etc., then hand off to the husband when he gets home.

    My wife was a stay at home mom for 4 years. She ran a stay at home moms meet-up group and was constantly out on play dates. A couple times a year she went on a girl’s only weekend trip. She had a blast, and I’m happy for her. That’s what we wanted (her job before having a kid was just awful). Make sure to show your husband appreciation for making it possible for you to be a stay at home mom

  18. I work, and help my wife take care of our kids. It barely gives me time to myself, but on those rare occasions when I’m alone, I find myself at peace. Of course I love my family and would do anything for them, but sometimes a man needs time to himself!

  19. It’s a lot of stress because the survival of the whole family rides on your shoulders and you might get stuck in a job you hate because any gap or significant drop in income could be catastrophic.

  20. My wife isn’t a sahm but she would be if I didn’t need her health insurance. She works 20 hours a week and I pay the majority of things from bills to food to family outings. I’d like it if she worked full time and brought in more money and contributed more financially but when we were doing that the house was a mess and neither of us ever wanted to cook. When COVID hit we had too much trouble with child care so she dropped her hours and now I think we will keep it like this. The house is cleaner and we are eating better

  21. you don’t really think about it until your job is threatened. most days it’s just you le daily duty. I think sometimes I get in my head that my job is more demanding but that is a lie the work my wife does is way more draining. in terms of chores, I would not think of the chores as 50-50. just split the chores in the way that works well for your family structure and make the other person feel loved and appreciated for the work they do. so it’s less about proportional work and more about gratitude.

  22. There are 2 arguments:
    1. Does this make financial sense – ie how much does child care cost compared to your salary. Does it make sense for you to be the SAHP vs the father figure.
    2. Does this make relationship sense – you’re not just a SAHP you will also assume most of the domestic responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and errands. What sacrifices will you be making vs your partner.

  23. I know I will be considered an outlier-fucktard, but I’m sorry, what fucking chores?
    Maybe cut all the unnecessary crap you accumulate around you?
    I live alone and I spend a couple hours a week for ALL the stuff that is not work or reading/having fun.
    I mostly cook for myself too.

  24. SAHM that cares about her child or children is truly a more than a full-time job, 24/7/365, no breaks no weekends off and no vacations unless you’re lucky to have grandparents nearby or lucky to be able to afford daycare.

    That said, SAHM’s duties absolutely spill over into the breadwinner’s duties. Wife is cooking – you’re changing diapers or cleaning the mess or doing laundry or all of the above, etc etc.

    It’s actually bad for the baby’s development to be sitting in front of a TV all the time, assuming they’ll even stay there, which they absolutely won’t.

  25. My wife is a SAHM, it wasn’t really the plan to be a permanent thing but our son is special needs and as such needs a lot of attention.

    This kind of worked out though because my wife also *really* doesn’t have an interest in a career, so she doesn’t have much resentment in that regard.

    That being said, whilst she does 90% of the housework I do pitch in and help where I can. It’s not like I come home and then just sit down and do nothing. But she also gets that to make up the difference I need to work longer hours to earn more money to keep things stable and comfortable.

    Both of us keep in mind that the other is busy and that if the other has a bad day, it happens, and neither of us have it any harder than the other.

  26. We have no rules I am the bread winner, if I’m to tired to help then I don’t, if not I give help where she asks for it, or I ask what she needs done, could be anything and it works

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