Why Are There So Few Stay Home Moms?

You have a lifetime to work but your children are only young once.

-Polish Proverb

It seems the days of being a stay at home mom are vanishing.  Why?  And more importantly, at what cost?

I am a strong believer in early childhood education and that being said, moms play an vital role here.  Who can understand and follow a child’s cues better than mom?  And yet for whatever reasons, parents seem to be looking for more and more hours of child care outside the home. Perhaps life has become more expensive than it used to be.

Here in British Columbia, we’ve had full day kindergarten for about 5 years now.  And it seems the trickle down effect is that parents feel their preschoolers ought to attend for more hours as well.  When my children were young it was common practice for 3 year olds to attend preschool twice a week for 2  hours and 4 year olds to attend preschool three times a week for 2 and a half hours.  And now many preschools have extended their hours to a four hour day and more often parents are not choosing to enrol their children in those preschools because they need or want more hours of care.  This means group child care or family child care centres are growing and preschools are also vanishing, just like stay at home moms.


I know many excellent Early Childhood Educators who provide a very high standard of care for children under 5 years of age and yet I still fell that no matter how wonderful they are, it is difficult to replace a loving parent.  Although it is valuable for young children to have social experiences, do they really need to be with 15 other children the same age all day long?  It can be overstimulating.  It is so much busier and noisier than a home environment; even in a home with 5 or 6 children in the family.  Most often, siblings are varied ages and so they are not all competing for the same toy or crayon or tricycle.  It can be stressful for young children to be in this environment for so many hours and the stress shows up in many ways.  Schools seem to be focusing more and more on strategies to help with reducing anxiety.

I realize there are a lot of people who will not agree.  That’s okay.  Here’s my opinion whether you like it or not.  Keep children with their mothers.  In Canada we are lucky.  Many other countries have a very short maternity leave.  It needs to be extended.  Let the moms get more time to be with their young children.  Build communities so that we help our neighbours more.  This way, mothers on maternity leave with young children could provide care for slightly older children who are not in school yet and then the mothers who need to return to work could be supported by those who are at home. Look for creative solutions.  Moms, maybe you don’t have to go back to work full time.  Part time options or different work days for each parent or working from home are some creative solutions. There are probably as many solutions as there are families.  The amount people get paid does not always reflect their value.  Mothers deserve more.  Children deserve more.

Yes, it is difficult to put a career on hold but when you choose to become a mother you have more than just yourself to think about.  Support the mothers in your life. The children in this world deserve a loving environment that no one other than a mom can possibly provide.