(And what you should ask instead)

I’m a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids — a 2-month-old and a 2-year-old. I’m 27 years old this year and I live in the sunny state of Singapore.

I quit my job in social services in 2019 when I was about to give birth to my eldest and decided to stay at home full-time to raise him.

Ever since other people found out I was a housewife, most were visibly surprised because, in my country, our career is what defines us. That’s the mindset of the majority of people here. So naturally, they value working mothers more than stay-at-home mothers.

No matter young or old, every time people are talking about me being a stay-at-home mom, I can judge by their expressions that they are totally judging me for it, that they look down on me for choosing to stay home and not work — especially since I have a university degree. Even if it’s my family, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, or distant relatives, most of them don’t support my decision.

So over the past 2 years, I’ve gotten my fair share of condescending looks and annoying questions. I get that most of them are well-meaning and not intended to be offensive, but when you’re already biased with your own preconceived notions of someone, sometimes questions you ask may come off more as accusations and judgements.

However, if you’re genuinely interested in what stay-at-home parents do, there are better questions you can ask.

Here are some commonly asked questions that are pretty annoying to all stay-at-home moms (and what to ask instead):

#1 What do you do all day?

Why it’s annoying:

You are assuming that we don’t have much to do and implying that we laze around all day.

To be honest, that’s what I used to think too. I thought stay-at-home parents have all the time in the world to do all the household chores and more.

But what I didn’t realise was just how much time taking care of kids would take. What with the feedings (especially if you’re breastfeeding), diaper changes, putting to sleep, tantrums, and having to entertain them 24/7, some days I barely even have time to eat or bathe. Don’t get me started to trying to do chores.

What you can ask instead:

  • What’s your typical day like?


#2 Aren’t you bored?

Why it’s annoying:

Similar to the first question, this question implies stay-at-home parents have no life, aren’t being challenged enough or don’t do much.

Sure, we don’t have to stress over important meetings or tight deadlines but we do face different challenges.

I’m not bored because I don’t have the time to be. I’m on high alert the whole day to make sure my toddler isn’t sticking foreign objects into his mouth. I need to be alert to decipher what my baby’s cries are signalling.

I’m not bored because there’s something filling up my time and my mind every minute of the day.

What you can ask instead:

  • Do you have much free time?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • Are you able to engage in any hobbies or interests?
  • Do you face any challenges dealing with the kids?


#3 Don’t you feel that you’re wasting your education?

Why it’s annoying:

This is pretty self-explanatory. You’re implying that we’re wasting our education by staying at home. That our brains are not being worked and are just turning into mush.

This is the question I get asked the most because I graduated from university with a Bachelor’s degree.

Then you’re missing the point of education. Yes, for the most part studying hard helps you get a good job and earn money. But that’s not the sole purpose of education, is it?

What about the skills you acquire in critical thinking, problem-solving, research, time management etc.? These skills I apply in real-life — into managing my household and into raising my children the best way possible.

I feel my education also puts me in a better position to teach my kids.

What you can ask instead:

  • How has your education helped you in any way?


#4 Don’t you want to contribute to society?

Why it’s annoying:

This is the ultimate misconception our society has. Just because stay-at-home moms are not paid, does not mean the things they do are not economically valuable.

According to a study conducted by surveying 19,000 mothers, the market value of a work a stay-at-home mom does is $184,000 annually. This is by calculating the different roles mothers play such as nanny, cook, housekeeper, organiser, chauffeur, teacher etc.

They also found that stay-at-home mothers work an average of 106 hours per week.

Money aside, I’m sure raising children to become responsible adults who later on contribute to society is worth something.

What you can ask instead:

  • How do you think you contribute to society?

That being said, I’m not in any way implying stay-at-home mothers are better than working mothers. Both groups are doing their best to raise their children and both groups have their own challenges.

I am simply asking that everyone treat all mothers with the same amount of respect because we’re all just doing the best we can.