Most Popular Careers Articles

Military Life 101

  • job fair
    Military Spouse Employment 101
    Military.com
    While the military will always throw a monkey wrench in any best-laid plans, your career doesn't have to be one of them.
  • (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)
    Military Spouse Education Help 101
    Military.com
    Good news for you: Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier.
  • (Photo: U.S. Navy)
    Military Life 101
    Military.com
    Military life has a lot of nuts and bolts. You know, the little things that make up just an ordinary day.
  • stack of one dollar bills
    Military Spouse and Family Benefits 101
    Military.com
    Don't know exactly how to get your military spouse and family benefits or want to know more about what they are? Read on.
  • Movers at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, load up a truck with household goods. Jose Ramirez/Air Force
    Military Spouse and Family Moves 101
    Military.com
    Whether you're an old pro or new to the military moving game, there's stuff to learn about PCSing. Here's our easy PCS 101 guide.
  • (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)
    Military Family Deployment 101
    Military.com
    Preparing for deployment can seem like an uphill battle. But we've been there. Here's what you need to know.
  • Military family
    Military Family Life 101
    Military.com
    Military life is not easy, but we've got your back. From marriage to kids and parenting, we have the resources you need.

The After SAHM Party

mom daughter read 428x285

There ought to be an After SAHM party for military spouses. After all, there is an after prom party to let you know the prom is over, but you don’t have to go home just yet. 

So why can’t there be an After SAHM party that lets you know the Stay At Home Mom (or Dad) party is ending, but you don’t have to get another job just yet?

Because one of the keys to making the jump from SAHM to dream job is being aware that your gig as a Stay At Home parent will end. 

When you are in the middle of it -- when you are trying to read the teeny tiny letters on a bottle of liquid Tylenol while a baby screams, or when you are convincing a sobbing preschooler that you will, indeed, return to pick him up, or when your servicemember’s unit extends the deployment again -- the job seems like it will never be over.

But it will, even for military spouses. Perhaps especially for military spouses. Because more than 40 percent of all military spouses are currently working as at-home parents. This is nearly double the rate of SAHMs in the civilian population.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 23 percent of married couple families with children under 15 years old had a Stay At Home parent.

Why is that? You could argue that some military spouses are SAHMs or SAHDs by default. They live overseas and are bound by SOFA agreements. Or they can’t find a job in their area. Or maybe they have a giant barrel of bonbons to work through. Whatever.

But I would bet that the majority of SAHMs choose that gig because it works with the demands of military life. Between PCS moves and constant trainings, work-ups and deployments, having an at-home parent is a strategy that compensates for the absence of the servicemember.

Still, the SAHM job does end. And when it comes to figuring out spouse employment, knowing when and how to make the transition back into the work force is key for military spouses.

One of the problems is that the After SAHM party -- that moment when you know your days as a SAHM are over -- comes at different times for different people.

When I asked our readers about when they knew their job as a SAHM was ending, they offered all kinds of answers. 

For many, getting the kids in school at least part of the day opened up hours that felt empty. These moms said they yearned for an intellectual challenge, especially one that they could do during school hours.

Some parents felt a loosening of the load when their kids started driving. They said they felt like they weren’t needed as much and that they could see a time when the kids would all be gone.

Others found that they were needed more at home during the teen years than every before. These parents worked full-time when their kids were young, but once multiple kids were involved in multiple afterschool activities, they felt like their time was needed more at home than at work.

Finances, military separation and military retirement pulled some SAHMs back into the workforce.

Finally, there were those last lingerers at the After SAHM party who didn’t feel their job was done until the baby of the family went off to college.

I think the mixed timing of the After SAHM party is one of the reasons that military spouse employment is so hard for other people to understand.

They think that spouse employment is strictly about the 26 percent unemployment rate among military spouses. They read that stat that says 81 percent of all spouses would like to work (given that you could get your dream job and your childcare situation was perfect) and they think all people want to do is get a job.

Some of them do. And some of them really want to work as Stay At Home parents. This is a job they want to do while they feel that job needs to be done.

If the military is going to help military spouses navigate their way back into the workforce, spouses have to be considered in terms more broad than current paid employment.

Instead, we need to think about how the SAHM or SAHD period works for a military family and what to do when that work is finished.

Related Topics

Spouse Jobs Family and Spouse Jacey Eckhart

Military News App by Military.com

Download the new Military.com News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!

Contributor

Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs at Military.com and a military sociologist.  Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan??

Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times.  Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.  

Featured VA Loan Articles

  • VA Loan Closing Costs: An Added Benefit
    Besides the advantage of requiring no down payment for qualified VA borrowers, there's also a distinct advantage for the borrow...
  • White suburban home.
    IRRRL Facts for Veterans
    Military.com
    IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan,also known as a "Streamline" or a "VA to VA" loan.
  • US Map Showing High Cost Counties
    VA Loan Limits for High-Cost Counties 2017
    Military.com
    The VA loan limit for 2017 is $424,100. But it could actually be substantially more if you buy a home in a high-cost county. Se...
  • Get the FAQs on VA Home Loans
    We've answered 16 of the most frequently asked VA Loan Benefit questions. View them now to get a quick understanding of your be...
  • Top 3 VA Home Loan Tips
    There are numerous advantages to having a VA mortgage. A VA mortgage loan can be guaranteed with no money down, in some cases u...
© 2016 Military Advantage