How to Transition to Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom
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If you’ve read any of my mom related posts, you know I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been a homemaker since the end of January 2016 and I have finally learned to love it. That’s not to say that it is without challenges, and that is why I say I’ve learned to love it.
Too often I hear (or read) moms say that they’re lonely staying at home, they’re going crazy, or, “I could never do that.” This is really sad to me. Now, I’m not here to debate whether a mother should stay at home with her children or not. Every family is so different and we all have unique financial, social and family needs. My husband and I are confident it’s what’s right for us, and if you feel the same, I’d like to share with you how you can enjoy it too.
First of all, I want to let you know how I personally transitioned into staying at home and how I overcame a lot of the issues I think many mothers are facing.
Aaron and I had only been married 5 short months when we decided I would leave my job and begin staying at home. I wasn’t pregnant (although that followed shortly after) and we really weren’t sure how everything was going to work out. We were thankful for my job, but I had arrived at a point where I couldn’t grow there anymore. All the opportunities for promotion didn’t suit me so we knew my time there was done. You could certainly call our decision a leap of faith.
By the start of February 2016, I was unemployed and trying to figure out exactly what I should be doing with myself. We found out I was pregnant on March 3rd, so that cleared up any questions we had as to whether or not I would return to work anytime soon. We knew we wanted me to stay home with our children so we figured I might as well take advantage of the pregnancy to prepare for the baby. Plus, this is when we began looking for a home to buy. Our crazy awesome house hunting story is for another time but this search kept me quite busy.
To be completely honest, I struggled immensely when I first quit working with feeling worthless. I had no idea how much of my worth and identity I had placed in my job unintentionally. I began feeling like a failure for not contributing financially to our home and as if I didn’t have a reason to exist. Obviously these are all incorrect thoughts. Aaron was helpful in reminding me that my worth was not connected to a job and I didn’t exist to fulfill a role at someone else’s company. It took some time to get through those thoughts and emotions, but I’m thankful I had this time to transition by myself before we had a baby. I think so many women go straight from working to staying at home with their baby and its such a shock to their system.
One moment you’re dressing presentably and contributing to a goal each day, then all of a sudden you wear spit up and can’t remember if you’ve brushed your teeth. It’s understandable why so many mothers give up on staying home. They miss the schedule they had at work and the predictability of their tasks and people depending on them. I’m someone who loves to have a schedule and plan things out. Read Plan to Plan: Make 2018 Your Year to learn more about this aspect of me. So when I started staying home it was vital that I created my own routine.
Fast forward nine months and we had our beautiful daughter, Evelyn. She rocked our world in ways we didn’t know were possible. If you think you’ve been tired before, you have no idea how awake you actually were until you have a newborn. Read How I Got My Strong-Willed Baby to Sleep Through the Night. It will help you if you’re expecting a baby soon!
Her arrival brought on many other challenges for me that I had to work through as well. Today, I still have challenges I face as we go through different seasons, but I can honestly say that I love staying at home with Evelyn and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Below are some things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me arrive to where I am today.
Create a Schedule
If you’re going to stay home and accomplish anything on a regular basis, you need to have a schedule you follow. You don’t have to have the same schedule as someone else, but you need to find what works for you. What worked for me while I was pregnant wasn’t what worked once Evelyn arrived, and what worked when she was a month old doesn’t work now that she’s almost a year old.
This is also going to be one of the main things that keeps you from feeling purposeless. I am not saying that the things you accomplish each day will give you purpose! I believe your purpose is found in Christ, but knowing that you are staying on track with a schedule will keep you accountable to yourself and help you make progress.
Your schedule should reflect the errands you need to run, the household chores you wish to accomplish, the meals you will cook, any appointments you need to attend, and everything else in between. It might seem silly, but put everything on your schedule. Every day I have “walk/mail” on my to do list because Evelyn and I will take our walk and get the mail while we’re out. This is a given, but I factor it into my schedule so that on any given day, I can look at my list and assess if I can add anything to that day or not. If you only have “grocery store” on your schedule but you really plan to work out, shower, clean the bathroom and cook once you get home, you have a lot less time than you may think by looking at your day.
Write Things Down
When you write something down you’re less likely to forget about it and much more likely to accomplish it. Although, I wouldn’t recommend writing your to-do list on post it notes. Invest in a planner or calendar for yourself so that you can stay organized. That’s the whole purpose of the schedule. It allows you to track your progress each day, week, month, and so on. If you have nothing written down, your mind is also more likely to try to keep track of everything you’re responsible for which will result in feeling overwhelmed. I know I function this way so if I want to have any chance of sleeping at night I’ve got to write things down. It gets them out of my head so that I can focus. If you’re interested in seeing what I use, you can check out my planner here. I have the white marble one and I really like it.
Be prepared to change the schedule you’ve created. Each season of your life will alter your schedule to some degree. When your kids start school you’ll have to factor in dropping them off and picking them up. If your baby drops a nap during the day, you’ll have to account for more time looking after them and less time to yourself. The best part about staying at home is you are your own boss. You determine what is a priority each day. If things come up and you can’t get something done, don’t beat yourself up about it. When your ultimate goal is to tend to your family (after all, this is your job), you’ve not failed if something didn’t get cleaned or dinner didn’t get cooked at the expense of what your family needed that day.
I have had days where I wanted to accomplish so much and it all went out the window when Evelyn had trouble napping or another family member needed me. It can be very frustrating at times, but I can always pick everything back up tomorrow. If you lose sight of this, you may find yourself frustrated with the very people you’ve set out to help.
It is imperative that you set goals for yourself or you will look back in a month, or a year, or 8 years and feel like you have done a million things for everyone else while you sat on the back burner. Your goal may be something as simple as reading a book every few months, joining a mom’s group, cooking more, or learning a new skill. It doesn’t have to be something outrageous that you have to spend a lot of money on or that requires your family to be neglected. Come up with something that matters to you, that sows into you and allows you to grow as an individual.
Something I have wanted to do for a while now is learn how I can earn an income while staying home. I’ve been researching my options and pursuing the ones I know are reasonable. Read How I Get Paid to Spend My Own Money. Another goal of mine is to read through the chronological bible in a year (or less) so I dedicate time every day to work toward that goal. Whatever it is that you want to work towards, write it down and give yourself a deadline and steps to arrive there (this is what makes it a goal), factor it into your schedule and start chipping away at it.
Don’t set goals that will stress you out. Start with super small goals and as you achieve them, work towards bigger ones. If you want to start working out, don’t just demand it of yourself to work out 5 days a week when you are hardly finding the time to shower each day. Get the basics under control and then start implementing things that will help you progress to your ultimate goal.
Don’t Stay at Home
Don’t literally fulfill the role “stay-at-home mom.” The majority of my time is spent at home, but I take Evelyn out with me for all my errands, we have church every week, and other activities that take us out of the house. It’s good to have a change of scenery every once in a while, and even better when it’s predictable. I mentioned how we take our daily walks. They’re an easy way to get us out of the house each day for some fresh air. We both enjoy them but I honestly feel like I need them!
Ask For Help
This is something I’m still working on. I often find myself thinking I have to have everything under control on my own or I’ve failed. This is not true. Tending to my daughter is a 24/7 job, so it’s unrealistic to think I could manage her, clean our entire home, run all the errands, cook all the meals, and remember to feed our cat. I do usually have most things under control on my own, but my husband is so helpful when I need him to step in.
If your husband can take on a couple of regular chores, let him. You’re working all day just like he is, so there’s no reason for him to come home and relax while you keep working. Aaron and I are a team and neither of us makes the other feel bad for needing each other’s help. I help him by cooking his meals and preparing his breakfasts and lunches for work every day. He helps me by playing with Evelyn while I do the dinner dishes in the evening. I tackle the majority of the housework on my own but when I have a busier week he is always happy to step in and take something off my plate.
If you have children old enough to help around the house, I think it goes without saying to at least utilize them to maintain their own rooms.
This final point I want to make is probably the most important.
Being a stay-at-home mom is not glamorous and it can feel thankless at times, but remember why you do it. Your why is your own, but you need to know it and remind yourself of it often.
My why is my family. I don’t take it lightly to be the one setting the tone for our home each day. I have full control over how I will respond to every situation that arises and I get to teach Evelyn to do the same. While some parents may not be able to have one of them stay at home, I get the honor of raising my daughter. That alone is enough reason for me to set aside all the challenges I face and be thankful that I get to stay home another day. I’m not capable of feeling lonely when I get to watch her grow up and welcome my husband home each day. I get to create a home that my husband enjoys returning to after work. I couldn’t very easily do that if I was off at work myself.
There are so many things more important in this life than money. We can always get more money, but I can’t rewind time and be there for Evelyn like I get to now, had I chosen to work. If you’re planning to begin staying at home or you do so now, I encourage you to stay with it! You may enjoy reading Tips to Live on One Income, but work on the things I just discussed and find your why. When you know why you’re doing something, it’s a lot easier to keep doing it.
I’m no expert but I know what has worked for me. If any stay-at-home moms have a question or just need to talk, I’m here and I’d be happy to help however I can.
How do you like being a stay-at-home mom?
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