I was a working mom for two years, and am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom since I had my second child. I had no close friends nor family who were SAHMs and I went into this new job without a clue. It’s been beautiful, stressful, and the best year of my life! My hope is to make your journey into motherhood as seamless as possible. Here are my tips for what to expect, and what to do, so that you and your littles are as happy as can be.
I think the main thing you’ll need to realize is that you must have a routine. Kids thrive on predictability and don’t do well with surprises and the unexpected. Newborns through school-aged children should have an idea of what’s next, whether that mean a snack, nap, quiet play, whatever. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the daily schedule of a daycare or preschool. And watch your kids’ cues for when they’re usually tired, hungry, and most active.
A long with the previous tip, you will find that you really need to be consistent. I know that it will be tempting to sometimes push naptime back, or change up the routine, but it is more trouble than it is worth.
We also like finding various activities to do the same day every week: Monday is usually the day we take it easy after the weekend, Tuesday morning we go to the grocery store, etc. Hopefully you are seeing a trend here in regards to predictability for your kids.
Now let’s talk about you, Mama. You are giving up your career, at least temporarily, as well as your plans for higher education. I do want to stress the fact that you can feel isolated when you stay at home all day with your kids, unless you battle that. Here’s what I have found that I need to do… for myself.
You absolutely must get out of the house sometimes! Even if it is with the kids – trust me, it will do everybody good to have some fresh air and a change of scenery. I know that it can be a pain in the ass to pack diaper bags and loading the kids into the car, but it will be worth it. If nothing else, just take a walk around the block.
I am a little embarrassed to admit that I just last month found a local moms group. They are legit: they have bylaws, board members, and you have to sign a ton of forms to even join! But I really want my child to have the same group of friends, whom he can see every week and really get to know. And let’s be honest – I need some real life mom friends too, damnit. Now all I need to do is practice my top secret handshake.
There will also be “Mother’s Day out” programs in your area for sure, although I found that none of mine were free and they were all at churches we were not members of. I may actually start one in my neighborhood, and just do it in my house.
All this talk about going out in public… You deserve to feel pretty, too. Take a few minutes in the morning to put on earrings, do something with your hair other than just the messy mom bun, or something else that makes you feel confident. And honestly, it does not matter if nobody else sees it. Do it just for you. (Plus, you really do need to wash those yoga pants).
I had a really hard time with money once I quit my job. I honestly used to make when my husband, and I am also the person in the house who does all of the finances. I think I felt really guilty spending any money on myself, since technically I was not earning an income. It seems very silly for me to explain it to you now, but it felt like “this money is not mine, so I do not deserve to spend any of it on myself.” My husband is never made me feel this way, and of course I have value in our family, but it was an unexpected side effect of becoming a stay-at-home mom. Some honest, open conversations with my husband put me at ease.
As a sidenote, I do try to do some usability testing, private lessons, and freelancing at home. I keep a separate PayPal account with my earnings, and I spend that money on myself. Guilt free. If you were interested in learning more about what I do, find my “SAHM cash” board on Pinterest, or just get a hold of me.
Finally, continue to do things that you enjoy, only for you, which give you an identity outside of just being a mom. I still have a guilty sometimes over doing something for myself, but I feel so refreshed and happy afterwards that I know it makes me a better mother and spouse. I like to color, watch a guilty episode of “Archer” or two, or take a ridiculously hot bath. Even using my neck massager helps me to relax, and I am rejuvenated when I return to my children.
I wrote an article just about this mom guilt and what I’m doing for myself, called “Five Things Every Mom Needs to Promise Herself.” You can find it here if you like.
I am so proud of you for considering putting your professional life on hold in order to raise your children. Being a stay at home mom is truly a huge sacrifice, and it is not appreciated nearly enough! I am the happiest I have ever been, and I’m so grateful that I have had the chance to stay at home with my babies. But, unlike me, you now have lots of advice to help you stay balanced as you transition.
If you have other words of wisdom for stay at home moms, please let me know in the comments below! We are stronger together, and I love when us moms help each other!