The decision to be a stay-at-home mom is almost as big as the decision to become a mom in the first place. You’ll be starting a new lifestyle that won’t be anything like the one you’ve known in the past but that is deeply rewarding and challenging in many ways.
The experience of being a SAHM is different for everyone, but here are a few things to expect.
Expect the Unexpected
People often ask what a SAHM does during the day. The answer? Everything. There’s the expected cleaning up after kids, cooking, errands, and obviously the daily care of the children.
However, then there’s the more unexpected duties you don’t often hear about: home repairs (no idea how that doll got stuck down the toilet), refereeing kid fights, emergency boo-boo kissing, and spending so much time in the car that you’ll consider becoming an Uber driver. No two days will ever be the same. It’s exhausting, but it’s never boring.
Make Plans to See Adults
Since each day is unique and you are mostly at the mercy of your child’s sleeping and activity schedules, you may find you will go many days without speaking to another grown-up (other than your spouse).
For your own sanity as a stay-at-home mom, you must make intentional plans centered on your own interests to see other people. Meeting up with other moms during the day is a great way to socialize your kids while developing new friendships for you. Take advantage of any time your child is at school, attending a sport or other activity, or with a sitter to engage in grown-up interests such as gym classes, brunches, or hobby clubs with other adults.
Anticipate Changes to Your Body
If you are transitioning from a working mother to a stay-at-home mom, you are no stranger to leading a busy life and not getting enough sleep. Being a mom in and of itself brings about many physical changes to your body, but as a stay-at-home mom, you may discover new changes.
Throughout the day, you will be lifting, carrying, crawling, and doing all kinds of activities with your kids you may not be used to doing. You may discover soreness in muscles you never knew existed before!
You will also be exposed to snacking all day long. You will have food all around you all the time, and let’s face it—some of your kids’ snacks are downright delicious. Be intentional with your meal planning to ensure that you make time for yourself to eat healthy foods and limit your grazing on kid foods.
When looking after little people, always remember to look after yourself. Have a sensible breakfast, stay hydrated during the day, and get as much sleep as you can. If you need more rest, don’t be afraid to ask someone for a little help.
Discuss Financial Dependence
One of the main reasons people resist the idea of becoming a SAHM is because they don’t like the idea of financial dependence on their partner. Stay-at-home moms don’t get paid for their work (even though the market value of their labor is around $140K), which means they are likely dependent on their spouse for financial support.
As with most things in a relationship, open communication is key with regards to this matter of financial dependence. It is imperative to discuss financial plans and budgets, the emotions that will likely arise throughout this transition, as well as the designation of earned monies. Both parties must feel respected and valued as contributors to the household.
For additional spending money or to help with some bills, many direct marketing companies are well-suited for stay-at-home moms in order to work with flexible schedules and appeal to the social networks of mothers.
Do It Your Own Way
Lots of people will try to convince you that there’s a right way and a wrong way of being a stay-at-home mom. This is especially true in the digital age when your feed is full of amazing pictures of supermoms doing everything right while looking great as well as other critics mom-shaming any moms who shatter the stereotypes.
Ignore all of them. Trust your intuition and ignore the negative thoughts in your head or criticism from others, and you’ll find your own way of making a wonderful life for your family.
If you do decide to go through with transitioning to a stay-at-home mom, know that your job is valued and irreplaceable. If you don’t, though, and continue on as a working mom after considering your options, know that your role is just as respected, too. You are setting a great example to your kids of just how valuable the time you do get to spend with them is. To all the supermoms out there—great job! You are seen and you are appreciated!