SAHM? What’s in a name?

This guest post from Katie had me laughing, but also nodding in solemn agreement because I hated the term SAHM when I was one. I vote for Domestic Engineer. It just sounds better.

This guest post from Katie had me laughing, but also nodding in solemn agreement because I hated the term SAHM when I was one. I vote for Domestic Engineer. It just sounds better.


What’s up with this “SAHM” business? Raise your hand if you really think that is a nice title. How do you even read that? Do you mentally pronounce “Saw-mm”? Do you mentally un-abbreviate it every single time to the lengthy “Stay at Home Mom”? That nonsense will add 10 minutes to each mom blog post or chat thread you try to read!

Let’s scrap “SAHM” for something that brightens our day and doesn’t make us feel like financial baggage in our households — because Stay at Home Mom is a phrase only uttered when someone asks us about our careers. And then they give you that look when you respond.

Forgoing a career to spend time with our children is a luxury for some and a necessity for others once the cost of child care is factored in; the estimated value of a parent staying home to care for kids and (theoretically) doing some housework while at it is in the neighborhood of $45k-$65k, depending on the source. pins the value at a generous $115k, but says working moms are worth $70k around the house on top of their salary, so let’s call it $45k based on the difference. We all know there are things that need to get done by mom regardless of whether she was at an office or the house all day!

Given that the value of our work at home and with our children would put our salary at or above the average wage in the US (and right around the salary of a CPA, a “respectable” career), I think we owe it to ourselves a rebrand in the form of a new name. Here are some ideas:

“I am a full-time Governess.” 

Get a load of that. Who cares that it means “nanny” when it sounds that good? Imagine the look on someone’s face when your response to “What do you do?” becomes 

“I am a Matriarch.” 

I’ve actually started telling people that I am a Sexy Housewife (only ones who already knew me, just for the record).

“Domestic Engineer.”

My favorite option to date is Domestic Engineer, especially because I live in a manufacturing town overflowing with all sorts of engineers (including my husband). Mothers are responsible for many of the same functions as engineers, just with a different technical expertise – raising the future of human kind. Here is an (abbreviated) job description of a manufacturing engineer, brought to you by – except I have replaced “manufacturing” with “child raising” and “product” with “children”.

Manufacturing Engineer Job Responsibilities:

  • Develops and improves [child raising] processes by studying [children] and [child raising] methods.
  • Manufacturing Engineer Job Duties:
  • Develops [child raising] processes by studying [children’s] requirements; researching, designing, modifying, and testing [child raising] methods and equipment; conferring with [pediatricians and other mothers].
  • Improves [child raising] efficiency by analyzing and planning work flow, space requirements, and equipment layout.
  • Keeps [household] operational by coordinating [cleaning, teaching, feeding, and bathing] services; following [pediatrician’s] instructions and established procedures; requesting special service.
  • Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing [child raising] publications; establishing personal networks; participating in [mom] societies.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.

We might not know “CAD/CAM circuit design,” which lists as a manufacturing engineer qualification, but we are improving our understanding of much more complex systems – children – on a daily basis. There is a reason that Forbes calls moms “the most valuable workers in the country,” so how about we start giving ourselves credit for this?

I am a firm believer in the power of choice in our lives, and the power of choice tells me that I can choose to empower myself daily by defining myself as I please, regardless of what I am wearing, when I last showered, or how many used burp rags are laying around my house. And as of today, I will no longer be a “SAHM.” In fact, I don’t even need a title.

Katie runs a freelance design and marketing company, loves being a new mom, and can’t wait for Michigan’s summer to arrive so she can get outdoors! She gets very little cleaning done now that she spends her days with her little girl Sophia, and instead she has opted to write a blog, which can be found at Her husband welcomes you to come sweep up the dog hair that Katie won’t.

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  • I agree that you should get a better name because you are more than a mom who stays in the home (and apparently never leaves).
    However, domestic engineer does not cover it, mainly because domestic is an adjective that relates solely to the home, not to raising children. A person can be a domestic engineer without any children involved. It would be the alternate name to housemaid (vs. hotel/motel housekeeper). You are a domestic engineer on the side. The profession you are trying to rename is (as you noted) nanny.
    So a term that encompasses a housemaid and nanny.
    domestic homo sapien engineer… maybe?

    And yes, even a nanny deserves a better title than that because they are producing society’s greatest resource: citizens. And working moms are also nannies. They just don’t do it 24/7; but neither does a daycare. So they are part-time nannies.
    None of us would be here today without someone doing this job. We would be dead from exposure.

  • Haha! I love it. And I am an engineer too with an Masters in engineering and I think it’s funny 🙂 Like Governess and like to think of Mary Poppins…or Sound of Music dancing the the hills dressed in drapes 🙂

  • As an actual engineer with a MS degree who currently works in high-volume manufacturing in Silicon Valley, I roll my eyes at your comparison of mother to engineer…

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