SAHMs in sweats

Adrienne has noticed something about the SAHM she encounters during the day. She thinks we look like crap. She wonders: what it is about SAHMs that make us think we can let ourselves go? The ponytails and sweats, no make-up. Apparantly, there was something about this on Oprah, where lots of SAHMs said that they had let themselves go, and it has made them depressed and sad. Do we all have to shuffle around, looking so frumpy? Can't we make it a priority to make ourselves look nice? If we have time to blog, we have time to fix ourselves up a little bit. We would all feel better if we looked better. (Adrienne, I think this is the crux of the issue--looking better so we all feel better. Am I headed in the right direction here?) Ok. Let's talk about that. First, let's start with some basic issues that a non-mom doesn't get: 1) Sleep deprivation. It's constant. You can't possibly understand how tired one human being could possibly get and still be required to function unless you are a mother, or one of those soldiers in Vietnam tortured and brainwashed with no sleep. Getting up 45 minutes earlier to look good for people you don't care about (because the people you do care about, your children, could care less what you look like, and you've got at least 8 hours before your husband gets home!) is really not that appealing. Ever. 2) The messiness factor. My loving sister gave me a beautiful leather jacket for Christmas when I was pregnant, and it sat for 2 years in my closet before I wore it. Why? Because I didn't want to get baby body juice all over it. We wear sweats because kids are messy, and thus moms are always messy. We don't want to ruin nice clothes, so sweats it is for those oh so fancy trips to Target. 3) Ever tried putting on make-up with a little kid around? Jacob ruined 3 lipsticks, a blush, and an expensive eyeliner before I finally figured out I couldn't put make-up on anywhere except for in the car while I was driving when he was safely strapped in, far, far away from those magical and permanent staining items. Luckily, the day he ruined my lipstick, I was wearing sweats. 4) Showering with a small child around is not as easy as you might think. And leaving any child unattended for 45 minutes while you do anything with your hair is a recipe for disaster. You may ask, why not shower while your child naps and make yourself look all lovely when he's asleep? Well, that's a good point, unless you want to sleep when your child sleeps (see #1 above), or unless your child naps in the afternoon (which accounts for like, 99% of all toddlers), which leaves you the morning to go to Target stinky and ponytailed, providing more fuel for non-mothers to say, "Wow, she's really let herself go." I don't think that motherhood automatically gives us license to eat bon-bons, get fat and groty and never take care of ourselves. But I think it's hard to realize when you are not a mom how little time we have to do just that--take care of ourselves. So the next time you see a tired, bedraggled woman pushing a cart through the grocery store in a ponytail and sweats, please don't wonder why she doesn't have any make-up on. Just be proud that she's trying to actually buy real food and not ordering pizza all the time to feed her kids. And remember that the grocery store is not the Ritz Carlton. There are no dresscodes there, after all. At least not the last time I checked. This is, of course, just one woman's opinion. Adrienne feels strongly that this is an important issue, so please, ladies, I want everybody's 2 cents. You could even toss in a dime if you're feeling particularly perky. And FYI, I wrote this entire post while wearing sweats. Dirty ones.


Blogger the special one said...

Heather, I read your post wearing sweats, feeling very sweaty and gruby, but hey I'm okay with that, I just finished walking 2 miles on my treadmill! Anyway, I was slightly offended by Adrienne's post about SAHMs letting themselves go. I would love to have the time to do my hair and makeup and make sure that my clothes aren't just clean but match and look some what fashionable. But if I do that then something else won't get done around my house, say like my kids eating. I wish I had the time to go work out at the gym in peace, but then I'd have to pay extra for my kids to be in childcare. Oh, and the whole, get up a little early to ake care of yourself, who is she kidding, I NEED MY SLEEP, I have 2 energy balls to chase all day. The only time I find that I have to myself is when they are down for nap/quiet time and thats when I get to walk on my treadmill and hopefully get a shower in when I finish, but a good chunk of the time they wake up before the shower part happens. Oh, yeah after they go to bed I have time for the hair and make-up, but by that time of the day, why bother.

11/02/2005 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

First of all I would like to mention I worked as a full time nanny of 2 year old twins. So I know where you are coming from.

I personally don't care how anyone else does their hair and make up. I am not that superficial, but I think that the not taking 45 minutes-1 hour a day to make you and your body a priority is dangerous to your marriage and your children. If moms want to do anything for their babies they will TAKE care of their bodies and themselves! I know a lot of moms who blog, watch daytime tv/talk shows, and do other activities for an hour here and there when they have it, so I can't believe they are totally lost for 20 minutes to do their hair and spray some purfume. As a nanny I am fully aware of the following "naps, playpens, bouncey chairs". I think women and mothers have been told a lie, that they must sacrifice so much of themselves for their babies. I think that mentality is dangerous. I might have not have kids but nannying taught me a lot. If you have time to blog, why dont you have time to your body and yourself? I read that 80% of woman who have let themselves go have either stopped having sex or have sex rarely. Again the marriage is failing, and children want to have happy, loving parents who feel happy in their marriage

11/02/2005 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Nate Oman said...

Adrianne: Do you positively like to get online abuse? You are certainly inviting it here.

For the record, my wife looks fabulous in sweats and pony tails...

11/02/2005 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger the special one said...

So what exactly are the 45 min to an hour used to do if not your hair and makeup, I can shower and dress in 15 min max if I need too. And yes I do find time to blog and talk on the phone and even watch a talk show, but while I'm doing something else as well. Our computer is in the playroom, I have a head set for the phone so I can clean, cook, etc while I talk and I watch tv while I walk on the treadmill. And as to playpens, boucey seats, etc., they don't work for my 4yr and almost 2 yr. But when I only had one child they worked great some of the time. And while looking great for the grocery store isn't my first prority being there for my children and husband are. Just becasue I don't take as great of care for myself as I did while I dated my husband doesn't mean that I've let our relationship, in any way, suffer! He is a very happy man, and so are my children and that's what matters the most to me.

11/02/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

I guess I am curious because my mom always managed to and still looks great. There is a definite correlation between taking pride in how you look, and your self esteem. You self esteem affects everything around you, and all your relationships. I am not trying to be nasty, I was genuinely curious as to why so many SAHMS have slipped through, and forgotten about their bodies and hair and make up. Of course I don't think that is all there is to life! I am superficial, I have a very full life, spiritualy, and in my marriage and in my education...but if we don't take care of our bodies who will?

11/02/2005 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

I meant I am *not* superficial. But I mean if being a SAHM is a "job" you would never go to work looking like you just got out of bed? Right?

11/02/2005 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


It would be interesting to know if your mom looked great even when you were a toddler, or a baby pooping and vomiting all over her. (Was she a SAHM?) She probably started looking good when you starting noticing it, which means you were old enough to take care of yourself, which means she had time to take of HERself.

And no, sacrificng yourself for your children is not a lie. It's the truth. And we do it gladly (well, most of the time :)!) because we love our children and they deserve everything we've got.

11/02/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous heather h said...

Being a SAHM is a job. Let's talk about some of the things a SAHM does all day- for me, constant cleaning, diaper changing, playing on the floor, in the dirt, grass and sand. Feeding an infant (who swallows very little), messy food prep for a preschooler etc.
Now, once upon a time while in college we had a cleaning service come to our home. I NEVER saw the cleaning ladies look "nice". They wore faded, old and stained clothes. Which seemed appropriate and expected for their profession. How many landscapers or gardeners do you know that dress nice? Of course not, they are in the grass and dirt all day. I think you see where I am going with this...that sweats or jeans/t's are very appropriate attire for a SAHM.
For the record though, regardless of your profession I think there are certain places that one should always dress nice for. Church being one of them, no matter how many kids you have something about a faded logo t-shirt just doesn't seem like the right choice for church.
About Make-up, some women never wore make-up to begin with, and SHAME on anyone who tells women that make-up is the only way to truely look nice.

As for ruining your marriage buy dressing down, hey my DH has gained more weight since we've been married that I have, and I still think he is sexy as hell, I love HIM, not his clothes or girth.

I think I'll finally go buy that lounge pants set I have been lusting after!

11/02/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

I think it is important to wear clothes that I look and feel good in. I think it is important to shower and put on as much makeup as I think looks good.
When I saw my SAHM friend turn into a working, single mom, I realized that now that she cared more about her appearance. Now that my kids go to school, I make sure I'm up and showered and, hopefully, with hair done and make up done.
Working moms often get less sleep that SAHMs. Yet, because they are "forced" to go into the office at 8:00 am every day, they set the alarm and get up before the baby gets up.
I like it better. I like to set the alarm and get up and shower in piece, and look like I want to look like when I am going about my day.
I look good in jeans so I wear jeans and flattering shirts. I look bad in sweats. I don't own any.

11/02/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

I wonder...

I know someone whose mother ALWAYS looked perfect all while she was growing up, and always wanted her daughters looking perfect, too. The daughter ended up with an eating disorder. She's recovering now, but she's going to battle it the rest of her life. Her mom still looks great everywhere she goes.

I want my kids to know it's important to get up and get ready, to face the day clean, healthy, and ready to go. (after all, health is the main reason to bathe)

But I also want them to know that it's OK to get messed up during the day, and that being "fancy" isn't the same as being "beautiful." My daughters are always beautiful, whether their hair is curled or not, whether they have a dress on or not. When it comes to that, so am I.

11/02/2005 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mabel Maybe said...

I used to put the carseat in the bathroom, and put the baby in it so I could take a shower.

When I had two children, then I had to worry about the older one poking the baby in the eyes in her eagerness to name all the parts of the face. Thus, T.V. for the toddler, carseat for the baby.

So, I've stayed clean, and wore jeans and girl-style t-shirts. Sometimes I think the main purpose of meet-together-oft has been that once a week I had to remember how make-up was applied.

11/02/2005 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

I started blogging because of "Poco" aka Andrianne's original post on how SAHM's are slaves. I wrote her a very well thought out and well composed letter that is actually my first post on my blog. So I guess I owe her thanks for that.

I found my hackles going up again when I read her latest, but after comtemplating writing her again, I decided it was futile. The portraits she paints of us are so one-dementional they verge on characatures- much like "black-face" in the 1920's or other flat stereotypes. When she did respond to my (articulate and non-threatening)letter, she took off on a tangent not from my letter, but a fabrication from her own point of view. One cannot debate reasonably or rationally with someone like that. I tried.

I feel that she is just so naive that it doesn't bear discussion. She does not have the vantage of seeing from our point of view, while many, many of us have been where she is. While there are grains of truth sprinkled in her opinions, the flatness and inflexibility of her position makes real discourse impossible.

Only life is going to teach this woman her lessons, and heaven help her when that time comes.

11/02/2005 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Tracy -
Amen, sister!

11/02/2005 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

Right, like I said I don't care what SAHMs actually do, I was just saying that many of them do let their appearances lag and then their self esteem drops with it. Maybe I an "naive", but I think I have a pretty good ideal as I said I was a nanny for twins. Look I really don't care what anyone looks like but you can't tell me you feel as good about yourself when you get dolled up and when you don't, and I do think it's important to take time for youself.

11/02/2005 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

How many of you would have actually taken what I said more seriously had I been a mom? It's as if you refuse to give what I say any credit or merit because I have not had children. I think being an Au Pair/Nanny and living in a home with twins I was fully responsible for, gives me a pretty good clue. And I don't believe for a second that there is not 40 minutes to youself through out the day while they are either napping or playing safely within sight in a play pen, but whatever, I really don't have the energy to debate this topic, you either take the time or you don't, I am sorry but I don't believe you can either have happy children, and completely neglect yourself or the other way around, why so many extemes. I think I have said everything I am going to say on this topic, since obviously a lot of people have reacted defensively to it. Tracy- don't tell me I have a lot to learn I raised twins from the time they were 2 weeks old to just over their 25th month birthday. And I lived with the family, I was part of the family, you can doubt me all you like but I have a lot of text book and hands on child experience, and might as well have been their mother.

11/02/2005 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

One of the things I do a couple times a week is clean the dining room and kitchen floor on my hands and knees. Seriously, I'm not a total clean freak, this is just one chore I'm extra sensitive about, probably because my 15 month old likes to throw things off his high chair at *every* meal and *every* snack. And probably because it's dirt you can actually see very well on the Pergo (I prefer dirt that hides). When I mop the floor on my hands and knees, I take my sweats off (!) because I got sick of the knees getting grungy and gross and then having to change my clothes after cleaning. So, hey - for me, a sahm mom in sweats is definately an improvement over the alternative, right?

11/03/2005 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


I lived with a family, too, taking care of their kids. Their kids had special needs, and were not twins, although they were 1 year apart. I learned a ton, a ton, a ton, and feel like that helped me prepare so much for motherhood. I regularly fall back on things I learned then, ranging from making meals for a big family to trying to keep my patience while exhausted. In some ways, doing what I did was harder than motherhood.

But there were some major differences: I got paid for what I did, and I got days off. And I knew that I could quit at any time. These are perks that are not available to mothers.

..."and might as well have been their mother."

Might as well is very different than actually being a mother.

Nobody is saying that you don't have good experience from being a nanny. You probaby had excellend experience that has prepared you well for motherhood, should you choose that route. But being prepared is just the beginning, and you are talking to women who have gone far beyond that.

It is very difficult for mothers to take advice, period, and particularly difficult to hear from somebody who is telling us that we are doing it wrong when she hasn't been where we are, and that putting on make-up will make us better mothers. You are absolutely right--you would be less attacked if you were actually a mother because we would feel like you were speaking to us as a fellow sister, another warrior in the trenches, helping us be better with you. Instead, we feel like soldiers in a war with you as a news commentator or pundit who is talking about how we should plan our strategy without ever having picked up a weapon.

To us, you are sounding like a politician to a bunch of soldiers. And from your blog, I already know how you feel about the politicians in our country.

11/03/2005 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

And, I have to ask you, what kind of response did you expect?

11/03/2005 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

And Tracy, I am heading to your blog RIGHT NOW to read your letter!

11/03/2005 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Carrie-Anne said...

I think it is important to take care of yourself as a SAHM but on different days that means different things. Some days I would rather read a book than do my hair when I have spare time, or talk on the phone or even clean and organize. It's a matter of priority. Also, right now I have a 2 year old and a 4 month old and I am still adjusting to 2 kids. I am pleased if I get a shower every day- even if it's not until bedtime, I am also pleased if I am out of my PJ's by noon. My biggest priority now is making sure my kids eat. There is no instruction manual to being a mom and while some things get easier with time I think it's helpful to remember not to judge those of us running around in dirty sweats and pony-tails because someday it could be you! Also, with my first child I suffered from PPD, I wondered why I couldn't look great and feel great all the time and be a perfect mom, all the while living on a collective 2 hours of sleep a day. It was difficult to find the energy to shower at all, so I had to start slow and just do my best every day, you never know what some moms might be going through and it may not be their choice. I am very grateful this time around I haven't had to deal with those emotions and that I've learned not to worry about what people like Adrianne might be thinking of me, or of motherhood for that matter. (Come to think of it I am also grateful my second baby loves to sleep! That helps a lot.) Life is difficult enough for new moms and even old moms, without worrying about what other people think of you and your family. My kids at least are happy and healthy.

11/03/2005 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Blu Dragonfly said...

First off.... here it comes, I am a mother of an angel in heaven and that is all. No other children as of yet. I had a still birth. So no real hands on experience right?!? I was a nanny to 3 wonderful but very hands on children. I worked in Daycare while I went to school. And I now run my own business.....I am 24 years old. Now some of you will look at these, shall we call them credentials, and blow me off like you do Adrianne. So be it, more power too you. But hear me out first and for most. I completely understand how some days even getting into sweats is a challenge. But I always think of my sister on those days. She is 26 years old (reason I mention ages is the spin-off of this blog post seems to be about educating youngsters) She has 4 boys ages 3 and younger the last 2 will be 1 in January. She always manages to dress classy, even in her t-shirts. She showers daily, does more with her hair then a ponytail, and from time to time puts on a touch of makeup (at her husband encouragement) Her boys love their mother and know with all their heart that she loves them too. They never feel neglected. I figure if she can manage to pull herself together daily then I, not being a mother, should be able to as well. I honestly don’t think she owns one pair of sweats, yoga pants, or anything else of that sort. If she feels rushed in a day she puts on jeans. The only time she really wears regular old t-shirts is when she is cleaning house twice a week or canning. I honestly can’t think of a more dedicated mother in my life, then my sister.
Not trying to start a battle here or increase the fighting on either side of the "battle" currently raging. Just wanted to state that it is possible to look good and be a GREAT stay at home mother. And that, once again, completely understand the staying in sweats thing too.
There is my piece.


11/03/2005 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

I agree with Carrie Ann. Taking care of yourself means different things to different people at different times. I try to do something every day to make myself feel like my own person. I personally make it a priority to feel presentable whether I go anywhere or not, because I feel more confident and energetic when I do. I have friends who feel differently, and they do other things that are necessary for them to feel good.

Adrianne, I think the biggest reason you're getting slammed by the SAHMs is that it's unsolicited advice (never popular, BTW) by someone who doesn't seem to have a stake in the matter. Of course there are things we each struggle with. But if you really don't care what SAHMs look like, why do you blog about it? Would you be grateful if I (or someone else here who doesn't know you at all) decided to post a lengthy screed on what stay-at-home non-moms need to do with their lives, criticizing you for not doing something that is a priority for me? I doubt it. I'd be out of bounds because I don't know have your life or your challenges. I have no right to judge you.

That's where I think most of us are coming from.

11/03/2005 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...


Hats off to your sister. She clearly has it together. But each of us has different priorities and struggles, and I don't think it's constructive to judge each other by what others can do.

11/03/2005 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Sue said...

She's a troll - don't let her get you riled up.

11/03/2005 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous blu dragonfly said...

I am no troll.

I believe I posted on what the topic of discussion was about. I sided with neither Adrainne or those who think differently. I just stated about my sister, since I have no experience in the matter. Nor did I mean to pass judgement upon anyone. So if you took offense by my praise to my sister I am sorry.
I agree it all comes down to priorities. I dont think I would have much power to do all that my sister does either. That is why I think the world of her.

So if Praise and stating all that one knows is a troll, than I suppose I am and I am sorry. I will no longer post.

Cheers to all you mothers out there who are just doing the best that you can to raise these children of our Father in Heaven.


11/03/2005 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Blu Dragonfly-

I think Sue's troll reference was meant to be directed towards Adrianne. Your original comment was, I think, actually quite inoffensive and pleasant, proving that it is possible to express differing opinons without being offensive. Some people (well, actually MOST people!) haven't quite figured out how to do that. Hats off to you.

11/03/2005 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Kim, I really do admire women like your sister who manage to do everything motherhood requires and look good at the same time. Your comment was a good one. FWIW, I suspected I was the one being called a troll.

11/03/2005 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Blu Dragonfly said...

YIPPY!! Then we can all be trolls! We can have a troll party in our sweats and I will bring the Apple Pie! :)

11/03/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

And I'll wear sweats and eat too much of it. :)

11/03/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous heather h said...

While you are no longer posting I am sure you are still watching this thread....
Have you ever read the following book? I think it would be a good resource for you, to allow you to see things from a different (not better, just different) perspective.
" What our Mother's Didn't Tell Us; why happiness eludes the modern woman" by Danielle Crittenden

11/03/2005 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

One thing I do want to clear up is the discussion of me coming on here to "troll" "fight" or "get more traffic on my own blog". Pardon me?? I think it was the other way around.

I did not even know this blog exsisted until one day I googled my name and found a post on here bashing my blog and my posts. I could care less what anyone blogs about but did think it was rude that people here had all out attack on my blog and thoughts. Still I accepted the attack. I never once invited anyone to find my blog, they found it and teared it apart. So no I was not looking for traffic but since there were posts on this blog pretaining to me I felt the need to defend myself. I do not any longer.
As per your wishes I will not post here again.

11/03/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger ubercyl said...

My husband fell in love with me because I *wasn't* wearing makeup when we met--he is from the South and also spent time in Utah, and feels women in both regions wear far too much makeup. So the makeup is an academic point in my family.

I put on sweats to work out, and hopefully get to shower and get out of them and into jeans and a tailored T-shirt. I cut off all of my hair so it's easier to style (5 minutes with a Chi). I have 3 kids--5, 2, and 5 weeks old. It's a juggling act, and my nanny experience gave me some prep, but no real understanding. For one thing, I got to go off duty as a nanny.

Choose your priorities, and go with it. And that stat about 80% of "slovenly SAHMs" having no sex and failing marriages? Well, we all know how accurate stats are.

11/03/2005 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do the best I can everday with who I am and what I have to work with and I try to assume that everyone else out there is doing the best they can. My faults and shortcomings might be more obvious than those of others but I guarantee we all have them. I guess I just always hoped/assumed that others were overlooking my shortcomings just as I was overlooking theirs.

11/07/2005 12:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that one should take pride in one's appearance for the simple reason that as a woman, you represent your family, which includes your husband. I think a woman should be neat and modest in appearance. I know I feel better when I look better. If I feel good about myself, I believe that helps me to be a better wife and mother.

11/07/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you post the address to adrianne's web site?

11/13/2005 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Adrainne's website is http://stayathomenonmom.blogspot.com/. The title is Ramblings of a Stay at Home Non-mom. Here's a link.

11/14/2005 12:46:00 PM  

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