Self-publishing SAHMs are pretty practical and sensible.

I have been stumbling across a lot of SAHMs who have seized upon self-publishing as a way to make money while having the flexibility to be at home with their children for homeschooling, special needs or infant/toddlerness.  One of the astonishing things about them is how they blow a lot of work-at-home mothers out of the water on the support network front.

Self-publishing SAHMs have childcare so they can write.  Either they pay for it, get a relative to watch the kids a few times a week or they talk to their husbands about taking the kids so they can write 2 or 3 hours a night.  This is a baffling thing full-time work-at-home people rarely do.  They seem to think if you’re at home working the kid(s) will just realize this and let you work, even if they’re infants or toddlers.

This means they reliably write 10-20 hours per week, a true part-time job that can be integrated into their general household management and not cause friction.  And they also pace themselves, they never plan more work than they can reasonably produce on a set, consistent, frequent schedule.  They just work to market whatever length of writing that schedule produces.  And it works.  Because this self-selecting, wonderfully sensible pool of women does not bite off more than they can chew, they sell thousands of copies a month of short stories, novellas and novels apiece and make anywhere from a couple thousand dollars a month for their time to ten thousand or more per month.

At first I thought it was just one or two women, but as I’ve looked at the people who admit to self-publishing and discuss their background, I’ve found it’s a common theme with the SAHMs who are making a go of it.

What a wonderful discovery.

Real Talk for SAHMs: Solutions for Sleep Deprivation like Solid Core Doors and White Noise Generators

Title says it all, but what does the title mean?

It means major factors in sleep deprivation for mothers, particularly SAHMs are not infants and toddlers screaming for milk or comfort frequently through the night, but rather the stray babbling and what I like to call Rebel Yells (one cry lasting one or two seconds).  As well as random noises in the night from other members of the household getting up occasionally.

So the solution is devices that filter out the minor non-emergency sounds of nighttime while allowing the real cries lasting more than a moment to penetrate.  And that is where solid core doors and white noise generators come in.

What are the benefits of a solid core door?

  • Reduces sound entering the room by ~50%.  Rebel yells sound like babble and babble is muted below a level that would wake a lightly sleeping mother.
  • Due to sound reduction, once you fall asleep, it’s harder for micro-waking to be triggered, so you get more quality sleep as well.  Micro-waking happens to a lot of people who believe that “just tune it out and roll over” doesn’t come with sleep cycle interruption.
  • Helps during the daytime when all the kids are up and about and you need a block of focused time.  If the kids are happy and just rambunctious, the solid core mutes that enough that you can concentrate easily.  It’s like a hum or a mild rumble compared to the hollow core doors that are standard.
  • Cheap for the effectiveness.  Most models are only $100-200 per door, and even with installation costs of $50-100 will last even longer than the hollow cores that are standard.
  • Not sleep related, directly, but heavy and thus more child-proof.  An angry two year old with a hammer isn’t going to get very far.  Also harder for kids to take off the hinges.

So what about that white noise generator?

Well, that’s the second piece of the puzzle.  White noise generators are often used on the baby/toddler in hopes of keeping them from waking.  But sometimes the more effective approach is to give one each to the nursery room or mom’s room.

This tends to be more helpful once you’re actually asleep, with the white noise reducing the tendency to micro-wake.  Depending on the type of white noise generator, it can also help you get to sleep and relax you.  There’s mechanical ones, usually not very loud, and digital ones, sometimes very loud.  I’d get the digital one, since it’s easier to play a range of sounds.  Either mechanical or digital runs $25 to $100, so they’re also cheap.

Combined with a solid core door, nearly all the intermittent and random noise is muted enough to tune out, but any emergency yelling will still come through.

Why yes, I do know what wedding gifts I’m giving my daughters, in law and natural!

About IT workers and their huge share of married with kids population

Ok not really, it’s a Census news release about some of the demographics of IT work though.  Relevant parts to my title are bolded.

Number of IT Workers Has Increased Tenfold Since 1970, Census Bureau Reports
IT Occupations
NEWS RELEASE: CB16-139

Workers Earn Almost Twice As Much As Other Occupations

AUG. 16, 2016 — The number of information technology (IT) workers now stands at 4.6 million, compared with just 450,000 in 1970 according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. This upsurge means that IT workers now represent 2.9 percent of the U.S. labor force.

“The Census Bureau first identified IT occupations in the 1970 Census,” Julia Beckhusen said, a senior economist in the Census Bureau’s Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch. “At that time, there were only three IT occupation categories. That number grew to 12 by 2010 as the variety of work continued to increase.”

IT workers are more likely to be men, and on average, they earn more than their female counterparts do ($82,370 median earnings compared with $72,035). The proportion of women in IT occupations peaked at 31 percent in 1990 and declined to 25 percent in 2014. In comparison, the proportion of women in all occupations has increased over time, from 38 percent in 1970 to 47 percent in 2014.

Median annual earnings of IT occupation workers were $80,665 in 2014, or almost twice as much as the median earnings of the total workforce in 2014.

The median earnings, adjusted for inflation, for both men and women in IT occupations rose between 1970 and 2014. In contrast, male workers in the overall workforce experienced earnings declines, while median earnings for women rose.

The highest earning IT occupations were computer and information research scientists, software developers, applications and system software, computer and information systems managers, and computer network architects, each with median earnings of $90,000 or more. A higher share of workers in these occupations also had advanced degrees. For instance, 52 percent of computer and information research scientists had at least a master’s degree. Additionally, 22 percent of IT workers had a master’s degree or higher compared with 12 percent for all workers.

IT workers were twice as likely to work at home as all workers (10 percent compared with 4 percent). Web developers had the highest rate (20 percent) of working at home, compared with other IT occupations. Moreover, web developers had among the highest rates of self-employment (21 percent).

IT workers also tend to be younger. More than half (55 percent) were between the ages of 25 and 44 compared with 43 percent of all workers. Within the IT occupations, web developers were among the youngest with 38 percent between the ages of 25 and 34 and 11 percent between the ages of 16 and 24.

These statistics come from the Occupations in Information Technology report that uses statistics from decennial censuses and the American Community Survey to explore trends and characteristics of IT workers and describes the growth and increasing complexity of the IT workforce in the United States during the past half century.

Other highlights:

· In 2014, 18 percent of IT workers were Asian compared with 6 percent of all workers.

· Software developers, applications and systems software is the largest IT occupation, accounting for 25 percent of all IT workers.

· Database administrators had among the highest percentage of women (38 percent) but also had among the largest wage gap between men and women where men’s median earnings were $86,855 compared with $56,890 for women.

· IT workers had a higher percentage of full-time, year-round workers at 87 percent versus 69 percent of the total employed.

· IT occupations had a higher rate of foreign-born workers, 24 percent compared with 17 percent of total employed. Looking at the largest IT occupation, software developers, applications and systems software, 39 percent were foreign-born.

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey is the only source of small area estimates for social and demographic characteristics of the U.S. population. It gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results. Visit the ACS helps communities page to see some examples.

These statistics would not be possible without the participation of the randomly selected households in the survey.

 

This one industry disproportionately contains married households with 3 or more children and disproportionately contains SAHMs in those households.

The implications of that plus the bolded stuff left as an exercise.

 

 

Real Talk for SAHMs: Why Christian mommybloggers need to put down the shot glasses

It’s practically a trope among popular Christian mommybloggers like Simcha Fischer to promote liquor drinking among SAHMs as a coping mechanism.  It’s increasingly hard to tell how much of it is is haha only serious or just serious.  And it’s got to stop.  It’s incredibly alienating to the average SAHM because most people don’t drink, much less drink at the bingey rates implied by some of those ostensibly Christian mommybloggers.

And it’s especially the case that most women don’t drink.  Alcohol tastes gross or smells gross to most women during the time in their lives when they get pregnant and nurse (ask me how I know!), so the kind of conservative Christian housewife reading these bloggers for commiseration is going to feel weird that she doesn’t want to turn to drink when things are overwhelming and wearying.  She’ll wonder what’s wrong with herself for not being able to consider such a cheap and easy means of short term respite.  Or she’ll wonder if all the other SAHMs do that and she’s just the puritan weirdo who’s too uptight.

Or she’ll take a chance and try it, and end up like this dame.  Before she broke up her marriage, she was big on posting pictures of her drinking and doing “Girl’s Nights Out” as a SAHM.

That’s the other poisonous aspect.  It positions having a few drinks as the only respite housewives are allowed that’s socially acceptable, so support among friends and family shifts to providing “Girl’s Nights Out” rather than actual help when they need it during the day.

It’s insidious even though it looks like joking, but it’s way too frequently thrown about to feel very funny.

Dear conservatives, men should desire to be the sole breadwinner

Even non-conservative Penelope Trunk says so, and explains why in simple, obvious terms.

While I disagree with her about mothers providing sole childcare at young ages, she is correct that it’s Just Better for one person to focus on income and the other to focus on home and children.  We live in a society molded around working outside the home, and if both husband and wife are doing that, it’s way harder to have kids and raise them in a way that conservatives claim to want.

“There are two jobs for adults in a family. Kids or money. Grow up and take one of those jobs. Because while yes, it is a lot of pressure to be an adult and earn the money, it’s a lot harder to be a kid who doesn’t have a parent around when they need one.”

The comments are also enlightening (when they aren’t horrifying).  Women with rare and expensively compensated STEM skills, along with women who are CEOs or CTOs of companies pop up to argue that working outside the home part-time without losing career opportunity is easily doable, after all, they do!  Other women also pop up to talk about the shame of a husband berating a pregnant wife about her desire to stay home with her baby when he could be taking college classes and continuing to live off her instead, doesn’t she understand how UNFAIR she is being?

A lot of young men are being encouraged to use cheat codes even in marriage rather than accept tradeoffs and responsibility.  Women can’t do it all, and men can’t either.

 

Why Melania Trump would make an amazing New American First Lady

She not only admitted to having household help as a SAHM, but she was completely matter of fact about it, as if it was just obvious she’d need support to run her household.  This is not at all American, but it could be if she were First Lady and women could have the model of a housewife who was unashamed of having domestic help and considered it part of her essential toolkit in managing the household.

Contrast her openness about household help with Michelle Obama, who has called herself “Mom in Chief” in her new role as SAHM, but utterly downplayed moving her mother into the White House to provide childcare gratis (so, for the last eight years).  One can find this information in the Wikipedia article on Mrs. Obama, but from the horse’s lips, not so much.  No, from the horse’s lips there is dissembling about having one of Obama’s female relatives provide live in help when the two Obama children were infant and toddler aged.   That female relation was the “babysitter we lost”  Michelle Obama has alluded to in the past. They lost her due to her wanting to receive, well, money for babysitting.  Michelle Obama is very clear on that point at least, that they didn’t want to pay for childcare while both of them worked.  All of this is much more sadly and typically American, downplaying free help from relatives, not wanting to pay normal wages for “watching babies”, and  simultaneously flapping hands in the air about “the high cost of childcare for hard working women”.

Modelling matters, and I know what kind of SAHM model I’d prefer to see normalized.  I’d love to witness the seeds of a new American ideal of housewife, one who really is a domestic administrator whose role warrants both status and the right to delegate tasks to support people (which would mean working for such housewives would be seen as legitimate work).  That would be lovely and we could have that in Melania Trump as First Lady.  A housewife can dream.

Dear Tim Challies, your wife’s homemaking is neither rare nor counter cultural

A while ago, one Mr. Challies wrote an article extolling the glories of homemaking alone, and then cheerfully noted that all the comments he received were positive ones.  Well, here is a not-positive one.  I tend to disagree with glowing portrayals of the choice to stay home with kids presented as a choice where mom will never need or want a break or help and further of presentations of staying home as some sort of radical choice.  Challies talks of “nannies and babysitters” only being in the homes of two working parents.  Gosh, what the man would think of me, staying home with my children and also *gasp* having babysitters and even people to clean the house!    It’s also not a rare choice, as even in Canada (where Mr. Challies hails from) nearly 1 in 5 married couples with children under 16 have a stay at home parent (nearly always the mother). In America the numbers are about twice as high when the kids are little.  Depending on if you want to include women who work outside the home for one hour a year or more, it’s a plurality of married women with children under 15, something like 40%.   One in five or six isn’t rare and every second or third is pretty definitely not rare.

It’s also telling that he and Mrs. Challies made the decision to have no more than three children and that those children are all in public school.  Mr. Challies’ audience is mostly the kind of evangelicals who identify their faith as “Calvinistic” or “Reformed”.  These people are not being presented those other pieces of the SAHM puzzle as acceptable Christian choices.  In America they’re being told to homeschool, to live agrarian or “prepper”, and to work at home earning money, sometimes concurrently with the default-assumption SAHM life of cooking, cleaning and childcare.  Private school is tolerated due to the fascinating resurgence in Christian private schools.

His wife gets some degree of respite from being able to public school the kids.  She gets some degree of respite from a small family size.  The people reading his site, not so much.  They’re significantly more likely to be under vast amounts of performance pressure to avoid both of those things.  And to his credit, he does relate the anecdote so that we have this information at all, which is also not something you typically see among American Christian upbeat portrayals of the SAHM life.

Staying home is not that uncommon if you’re married and the kids aren’t all teenagers.  It’s just not.  There are millions of us. What’s uncommon in America is the socially-present SAHM who has lots of casual and random social interactions with adults throughout her day of staying home with small children.  What’s uncommon is the SAHM of school-aged children who isn’t strongly encouraged to do a raft of “self-sufficiency” stuff if she does have the kids in public school.  Even pastor’s wives like Mrs. Challies.  By presenting something that a vast number of married women do for at least a few years in their married lives as “counter-cultural”, the ones currently making the choice are led to believe they are uncommon and that nobody else is out there.  So you have the spectacle of multiple SAHMs living relatively close to each other (because married-couple families with children tend to live near same) and not knowing the others are there for months or even years at a time.  And as the hippies came to learn (sort of), when you tell someone basic life stuff is counter-cultural, you cut them off from all the social capital they could have used to make the basic life stuff easier and force them to reinvent the wheel over and over.  And there’s no female solidarity when we’re all on different treadmills because nobody realizes there are other women around to carpool with or send the kids over to play in the yard with.

I hope the homemaking of Mrs. Challies is likely to be providing a positive example for her children and it obviously gives her husband social status, which is why he brags about it at great length and writes multiple posts about it.  But I also think this kind of thing, portraying it as one lone woman against a cruel world of hard charging career dames just makes it harder.  There is suffering to an end and there is suffering that is not needful.  It’s not always the case that the suffering we endure is necessary.  Sometimes it’s just pointless and thoughtless and therefore a little cruel.  I know it makes my own life harder because in both articles I’ve linked to Challies doesn’t present his wife’s life as particularly challenging despite talking up the hugeness of the sacrifice, which means the actual challenges she and other SAHMs might face and the fact that improvements are often incremental rather than logarithmic are considered selfishness and petty carping about an easy ride from people who aren’t part of his sympathetic audience.

And they’re not uncommon or rare either.