Let me first begin by saying that being a stay at home mom is probably one of the hardest jobs to ever exist! I am dog tired at the end of the day, BUT I love it!
In my previous life (just a few short weeks ago), I was a business analyst for a software company until I was laid off. I saw it as an opportunity. I’m probably like most moms who wish they didn’t have to work so much or have to sit in traffic so long and could just be at home enjoying their family. Life can pass you by in a blink of an eye! So immediately, I started to run numbers in my head (once an accountant, always and accountant. I always think in terms of numbers) to see if this stay at home mom stuff could be a reality. But whether it could work or not, I was out of a job and it was about to be the new reality.
Coincidentally, just hours before I was informed that I lost my job, I had prepaid childcare for our one year old for the next two weeks. So I spent those two weeks getting some things done around the house that I have been wanting to do for a while. I never knew how dirty window seals could get!
But after those two weeks were up, it was just me and my little munchkin all day. And let me tell you….being a stay at home mom is HARD WORK. By the end of the second day at home, I was wore down. My back hurt, I was tired and I was rethinking this as a long term plan. But I knew plenty of mamas out there were doing this everyday so I figured that I could make a change in order to make this life work.
So here’s what I did:
- Go to bed on time. I used to be up hours after my kids went to sleep (mostly browsing Pinterest). But that had to stop because I needed my energy for the next day. When I was working, I used to stay up late preparing for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next day or putting a load of clothes in the laundry but now that I’m home, I’m not in a rush for breakfast, lunch is also made in the morning and I had plenty of time to get dinner going before we starve to death. So no excuses there.
- Put on real clothes in the morning. I was throwing on anything just to say I had on something decent to drop my 8 year off at school in the morning. So basically I was a bum. I looked the part and felt the part. I was ashamed of what my husband had to look at when he came home. I also wore no make-up. Now I’m not a big make up person but I usually do my eyebrows, lashes and lips (even if it just Chapstick). So I started putting on clothes. Nothing fancy, something I felt comfortable playing on the floor in but still look presentable enough to go out in public (decent athletic war was perfect). I combed my hair. And I put on a touch of make-up. It made me feel better about myself. When you take care of yourself, you’re able to take care of others.
- Go outside. The first couple of days at home with my son, we were true couch potatoes. But we had such better days after making it a point to go outside for at least an hour per day. I would strive to put him to sleep by pushing him in the stroller at least once per day (he usually takes two naps). I was also back to making my 10,000 steps per day. Don’t you just love FitBit?
- Invest in myself. I understand that this may sound odd, considering you are (or will be shortly) now experiencing a decrease in household income, but you are your greatest asset. If you plan to return to the workforce then consider a certification or some continued education to make yourself more marketable to employers. If you plan to stay home, then consider a small investment in something that could help make you some extra money on the side. About two weeks after being laid off, my husband and I decided to use some of my severance pay to start our own small business. That was a scary step for us, me especially. In my accounting mind, I was struggling with whether it was wise to be spending a whole mortgage payment on starting a business. But it’s like they say, no risk, no reward!
- Get over boredom at home. About two weeks in, I was left with nothing to do but to stare at each other. So I did a little research and looked into things that would get us out the house and FREE (or discounted). A great start is your local library. Our library has a baby and a toddler story time every week around 10am. Check your local museums for discounted or free admission. Our Children’s Museum here in Atlanta has a free admission day after 1pm once per month sponsored by Target. There are also reduced admission days if you go in the evening.
- Play with my kids. It seemed like I never had time to play when I was working. My youngest son would usually tell us he was ready for bed around 6:30-7, which left me with about an hour and a half of time at home before this happened. So that meant I had to come home, cook dinner, eat, and give baths before the first bed time hits. But now, as a stay at home mom, I have plenty of time for that and I just love seeing my sons personality grow. It’s very fulfilling.
- Find a stay at home mommy friend. I think it’s very important to have someone that can relate to you. You may already have friends that are stay at home moms but I really don’t have very many married friends with kids so this was a challenge.
- Don’t try to be super mom. I think I made this mistake my first few day. I tried to get so much done and have everything super clean by 3pm while taking care of a one year old. It’s exhausting. And most importantly, my husband understands the challenges of taking care of our son full time and he isn’t expecting the world from me. Although, I do think he likes that I wash more dishes these days.
I think the most valuable thing that I’ve learned this far is to appreciate the simple things and enjoys each day at a time. Before, I felt like I was always preparing for the next day instead of enjoying the current day. Because one day, the kids will be grown and gone and we’ll be left with the memories. So go make some memories.