What Does a Stay-at-Home Do All Day?

Quite honestly, I don’t like the term “stay-at-home mom.” It testifies to the fact that there are moms who don’t stay at home, and I wish it didn’t have to be so.

But there’s an enormous gulf now between “have to work” and “want to work.” The gulf was a complicated build, and now we can’t even remember the “norm”, when women stayed at home because, well, there was a household to run and important lives who depended on her, and it didn’t matter that they couldn’t afford new socks–it was her job to darn them so they didn’t have to.

No, our generation doesn’t remember because they were told another story. They were told that women were home because they *had* to be, (not because it best served their families) and that one little word touches a rebellious chord in us and we jump on the band wagon to “save women from oppression.” We think “stay” is a derogatory word and though all good sense said that a healthy family needs someone devoted to nurturing it, we passed up the job.

That’s not really what the post is about, but I can never just start in the middle 😉

So now women, some of whom are entertaining the thoughts of coming back home (more and more exhausted working women are getting tired of the “have-it-all” lie and realize home comes closer to anything that offers “all”), don’t know about the art and profession of making a home and are asking, “but what do I do?”

Which strikes a veteran SAHM as comical, because she knows that tasks and opportunities alike present themselves faster than she can ever keep up.

And because readership of this blog makes up a widely-varied audience, I thought it timely to go back-to-basics for a moment and visit the question, “What does a stay-at-home mom do all day?” That is, what does a woman wishing to follow a Proverbs 31 model do?

Remember though...a list of what she “could” do is not the same as what she “should” do. Each woman is in a different season of life, some seasons allowing for greater opportunities than others. Some are merely surviving with the basics during a busy season; others are finding time to flourish in their gifts and abilities. But we could all study to be more efficient and become better home-builders.

  • She studies to provide at least somewhat healthy, somewhat economical meals for her family. This can be a time-consuming job, but there are books written solely on the art of cooking and the incredible ministry found in entertaining your family and friends through the hospitality of the kitchen. Study it! (Another word about the ministry of hospitality soon!) Just in the area of health alone, America is experiencing an epidemic of illness, largely from consuming so much pre-packaged food, a choice usually necessary to maintain the over-booked lives we live.
  • If the Lord has given her children, she pours herself into their training, nurturing and developing. Another full time job almost by itself. If not, there are a myriad of “mothering” and ministering opportunities sorely in need of a servant-minded woman.
  • She helps her husband. This varies widely from home to home. But much like an administrative assistant, she can be a “crown to her husband” instead of forcing him to hire another woman for that role. This is where “the heart of her husband safely trusts her,” as she runs a household and “he has no lack of gain.”
  • She studies to keep her marriage happy. The dearth of happy marriages–of marriages at all–is staggering. Good marriages don’t just happen. If they aren’t tended, they’ll wilt.
  • She studies to save money, to make her home a warm, inviting place, to treat minor illnesses, to repair things, to make things, to plant things, to be busy with her hands. Books are written–there is no end to this art.
  • She engages in meaningful conversation with her children. An often underrated, but vitally important job in their education–homeschooled or not.
  • She “reaches.” (“She reaches her hand to the needy.” Proverbs 31) Whether this be the meeting of a physical need for the poor, or a need of a fellow believer, needs abound. Many needs could be met in the form of an encouraging card, phone call or visit. It’s just a suggestion, but maybe Prozac has largely filled our lack of availability to hurting women.
  • She earns money. Home industries are easier than ever to begin. Saving money and making money are doable activities for the SAHM.
  • She mentors other moms.
  • She takes care of extended family members. Nursing homes are new.

And I shall close for now, because I have lots of things to do today 😉 Help me, each one of you, where you are, resurrect the art of homemaking. We need homes…they’re actually pretty rare.

6 thoughts on “What Does a Stay-at-Home Do All Day?

  1. Thanks for writing this post!

    Being at home is more then eating bon-bons and reading novel, and let’s be real here–a lot of people thinks that’s what we do. I know for some that might be their daily routine, but it’s not the norm.

    From making our husband happy and helping him in any way we can take time, and when you add children to the picture you have less and less “me time,” and that is good:-) We have to learn to serve with a happy willing heart and God does blesses us when we do.

    I do agree with all the points that you have written about Prov 31, except this
    “( … instead of forcing him to hire another woman for that role…)”

    Proverb 31 is a great helpmate but we sometimes confuse her for a superwomen!!!! She got all figured out, she wakes up early works all day and does not sweat, her house is perfect etc… But we often overlook that she as maidservant, so she had help to do her task.

    Now we could look at a maidservant as someone that you hire for extra help around the house let say cleaning or entertaining children while you are still home making it a home you can take advantage of a extra hand.

    Proverb 31 had to give food to her maidservant and shelter, now if we pay a hired help so she could feed herself pay rent and by clothes, it’s comes to the same. She is the manager of her home, so if we are able to delegate some chore to our helpers so we could help our husband better, I’m all for it!

    PS hire help or maidservants are not to replace you but to be the extra hand that we all wish we had some days.

    We do not need to beat our self up for not having all perfect and doing it all by ourself, sometimes we need to humble ourself and accept that we need help.


  2. I really enjoyed this post too. I sometimes wish I had done some of the ‘recipe studying’ and stuff like that in my younger years (instead of being so busy with myself and work) so it would come ‘automatically’ now…but I also know there is time to catch up.
    Have to agree with Renee about the helper thing. Some women do really need help to get even the basics done, maybe due to a large family or an aweful pregnancy or health reasons. I don’t think it is bad to humbly ask for help when you need it, as long as you not off doing your own thing while everyone else does the work/looking after the kids!

    Thanks so much for these helpful articles, you’re doing a great job.


    1. Ladies, I know for certain that Kelly isn’t negating hiring help a la’ the Proverbs 31 woman. Rest assured! 🙂 Her point is that, when women go off to work full-time for another boss, their husbands have to pay for their “replacements” (day care, more meals out, expensive convenience foods, more dry cleaning, accounting, etc.). When a wife isn’t available to handle the jobs of homekeeping, someone else has to fill her place or those tasks won’t be accomplished. It is perfectly kosher for a family to hire “maidservants,” as Proverbs 31 shows, but not because the wife wants to be off working for someone else instead of her own family. And it’s also important to remember that we have “maidservants” our foremothers never dreamed of (dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, blenders, beaters, you-name-it!). Having those tools to hand helps us do our jobs better and more efficiently, and we definitely don’t reject those wonderful “servants!” 😉 Hope that helps!


  3. Thank you for your encouraging articles on being a Godly wife and mother. I am one of the older ladies (50 years old) and I enjoy reading other ladie’s opinions and posts. I can from a home where my mom was home every day. In my teenage years she started an in-home day care because my father had become very selfish with “his” money. My sister and I were told by him that once we became teenagers, we were to buy all of our own clothing and female necessities. (When he was a teenager, number 13 of 14 children, he was forced to work to support his mother and younger sister after his father died.) It was impossible for a young lady to make enough money at 13, so my mother did what she had to for us. My sister and I worked for her all summer babysitting the children so we could have money for school clothes and a pair of shoes. My mother encouraged us to develop talents for an outside career due to my father’s harsh treatment of us. I still struggle with the money issues, even after all these years. I do work part-time outside the home, due to my husband’s insistence. I did have a period when the children were toddlers that I was able to be home full-time. I now have two teen-age sons at home that I home school, and I really don’t like leaving them home alone for several hours on end. My dear husband tells me that his father would leave him and his sister to milk 100+ cows when he was the age of our sons. Sadly, he doesn’t realize that he didn’t have the temptation of the internet to lure him as our sons have now. I police it as much as possible, but you cannot be everywhere at once. Even at this stage in my life and marriage, I still must trust God with my husband and his decisions. Bless you all for this encouraging website.


  4. Loved this post!

    I was going to chime in as Jennie did, that we modern women do have servants – dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves, refrigerators, etc!

    We try to create a warm and welcoming home not just for ourselves but in order to practice hospitality. Can’t wait to read your post about that subject which is near and dear to my heart!


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