A Stay At Home Parent Is Not Your Backup Plan

by Melissa Charles
Originally Published: 
A stay-at-home mom caring for her baby in a baby carrier as she washes dishes.
Image via Shutterstock

I’ve been a single mom, working two and three jobs at a time. Since I’ve been married, I’ve worked full time, part time, worked from home, homeschooled, and done pretty much everything in between.

Every now and then, over the years, I’ve run into some folks that seem to think that if you’re a stay at home parent (SAHP), you should be willing to be their back up plan. Don’t get me wrong: in a genuine emergency, I’ll do anything I can to help. Need to run to the ER in the middle of the night? If you can wake me up, you can drop your kidlet off, no problem. Car breaks down, and you can’t get home in time to get the kids from school? Sure, they can head here.

The times I’m talking about, though, aren’t emergencies.

1. Your kid is too sick for school, or the sitter: If your kid is sick, nobody else wants them either. Keep them at home. While it’s understood that you have work, a meeting, or whatever else on the schedule, it’s not worth someone else’s entire household coming down with whatever your kid has. Nobody wants your kid’s cooties, thanks.

2. School vacations: Barring a teacher’s strike, these aren’t surprise events. Schools don’t announce on Friday that Spring Break is happening on Monday, with no warning. Same goes for the summer vacation. Please don’t call, or show up at your neighbor’s door on Sunday, all in a panic, because you don’t have daycare arranged for your children. Many folks choose not to run a daycare. Know why? Because they don’t want to. Poor planning on your part doesn’t equal an emergency on theirs.

3. Ambush babysitting: Don’t send your kid over to play, and then take off. This also fits under the, “Don’t run a daycare” heading. There’s nothing like having a kid over to play, and needing to send them home, only to hear, “My Mom went out, there’s nobody home. She said I could play here until she gets back.” Now, I’m not a lawyer or anything, but does the term, “Child Abandonment” mean anything to you?

4. Don’t promise your kid things: Don’t tell your kid that they can come over for a meal, will be provided snacks, or be brought along on family outings, when no such thing has ever even been hinted at by the other parent. Cause then, they have to tell your kid nobody asked them, and sorry, that doesn’t work for us.

5. Don’t volunteer a SAHP at all: If someone wanted to bake 30 dozen cookies for a bake sale, for a school their kid may not even attend, or a church they don’t go to, they could volunteer themselves. Same goes with manning a booth, selling raffle tickets, or whatever it is that you don’t have time to do yourself.

6. Special one for the homeschoolers: No, being an unpaid tutor for your child doesn’t sound like a wonderful idea. Nor does homeschooling your kid for you. First off, other people homeschooling your kid may not even be legal (depends on where you live). Second, it’s a lot of work. Just because someone is willing to put that work in for their kids doesn’t mean that they’re either able, or willing, to do so for yours.

I may not work outside the home, but I sure as heck work in it. Be it homeschooling, housework, raising my kids, or working from home, I have stuff to do. I don’t sit around all day, eating cheesecake and napping. Don’t assume that just because someone doesn’t leave the house for work, they’re just waiting for someone else to come along and give them something to do with their time.

Related post: 25 Ways You Know You’re a Stay at Home Mom

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