The original design was I would become a stay-at-home mom. Turns out life is what happens when you are busy making plans. While it took over a decade to get here, it has now been over a year since I hung up my title of a full-time worker.
I left the traditional working world for this unknown realm. Being the busy body I am, this switch took some getting used to. Here are my 10 steps on adjusting to the first year of being a stay-at-home mom after a highly-stressful career life.
Step 1: Chill in your own way.
For you, this may be browsing the internet, rereading your forgotten Pinterest boards, or scrapbooking. For me, chilling consisted of binge-watching the entire Netflix catalog of Shameless for two weeks. Do not apologize for this time. You need it to reset your mind.
Step 2: Visit with girlfriends and family who have been ignored.
No one blames you. Anyone who has had kids and works knows it’s everything you can do to not cause the little humans in your life to feel like they are being brushed aside. Now is the time you can text your mom and meet her for coffee, play tennis with your dad, or have a pool date with a girlfriend. These people loved you through the insanity of work-mom-life balance. Go love on them.
Step 3: Sleep.
Catch up on shut-eye. It’s probably been a while and is well-deserved. Take naps. Go back to bed when the kids get on the school bus. Juggling work demands, kids, sports, husbands, family, friends all at one time really does take a lot out of you. If you were in a high-stress job while going through the sleepless baby nights, teething, toddler years, and sports/school functions, then you are likely wiped out. Sleep. It’s okay.
Step 4: Take inventory of your life.
What do you need and what can you do without? Chat with your kiddos about the fact that you will be not buying a gaggle of toys anymore to make up for time not spent at home. Trade-off: they will have their mom there. For them. Whenever they need you.
Do you really need a membership to the zoo, nature center, art museum, history museum, Coney Island, Kings Island, and your neighborhood pool? Which do you actually go to? Where do you feel a sense of community? What place would you regret not visiting? Keep that and put the rest on hold.
Step 5: Create your budget.
Yea, it sucks, but it’s necessary. For years, you have operated on buy and pay off because of two incomes. Now getting everyone a t-shirt from Kidz Bop may not be in the cards. How about a three-pack of buttons for $15 instead? Instead of the Bubble Run, Color Run, Inflatable Run, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudder, pick one.
Step 6: Pay attention to your subscriptions.
Evaluate your mailbox. Does your family actually need those magazines or were they a masked attempt to fill a void that isn’t needed anymore? If you use it still, sweet, but be honest. Are the kids really reading that National Geographic Kids, or does it just look nice in the bathroom when company comes over? Eliminate what isn’t used anymore.
Step 7: Cut back on electronics.
Without your family glued to a tablet, Xbox, or TV, you probably can cut out unnecessary bills like three Netflix accounts, cable, and in-app purchases. Take that time to distract them by going to the park, signing up for “kids skate free” or “kids bowl free.” Check out the local elementary playgrounds. Also, be a wee-bit amazed at how their attitudes change.
Step 8: Spend time in the library.
Read a book or two. This was the very last thing I had time to do when hustling between work and busy kids. Now you can, not to mention it is a good example for your children. Take note of the programs offered and start attending them. Build new connections outside of work.
Step 9: Pull out a cookbook.
Be honest. Do you cook? By the time I came home and prepared the kids for sports and activities, it was 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. Often I still had work to finish. There was no cooking, but there was an array of fast foods I begrudgingly fed my kids.
Being a stay-at-home momma allows you time to cook. Have the kid help. Teach them what sifting is and how to boil water. Dehydrate fruit leathers and make homemade ice cream. Make cookies from scratch and not the pre-made dough you slice.
Our family uses e-meals to help come up with grocery lists. We are on a year of subscribing to Raddish. The kids get their own specified recipes on par with adult cooking. Bonus: if you homeschool, Raddish has a homeschool plan for each month.
Step 10: Find a hobby that isn’t your kids or spouse.
Once upon a time, you focused on the things you loved. Likely the last few years you have put off anything for yourself except maybe hiding the greys and an occasional workout.
Test out some new interests. It won’t be long until you are no longer a stay-at-home mom. It will be important you have a thing for yourself. Besides this long-term vision, it also helps navigate unforeseen changes and obstacles. Cough, COVID-19, cough.