I have been a stay-at-home Mom for 6 years as of April 1st. When I first became a stay-at-home Mom I was just really excited about the fact that I would have more time to spend with my children. But no one warned me about all of the emotional, mental and physical struggles that would enter my life after making such a big decision. So here I am, 6 years later, ready to share some of that knowledge and insight with those of you that are about to become stay-at-home parents.
1. Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Means Sacrificing…A Lot
Being a stay-at-home parent is a coveted position for many parents. It allows you to save money on childcare, it gives you flexibility on sick days, and it allows you to spend more time with your kids. But it is also position that ultimately forces you to make many sacrifices. Lunch breaks? What’s that? Quiet time during the drive to work…yeah, that doesn’t exist anymore. Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll now always have company when using the bathroom. Those are some of the first sacrifices that you might think of, but there’s so much more.
Being a stay-at-home parent basically means you sacrifice your entire being. Your personal space becomes a thing of the past. Your body becomes a vessel for cleaning, snuggles, and carrying everything all at once. The snuggles are the best part about losing your own personal space. Nothing is greater than kid snuggles. But there are days where you’ll feel touched-out and you’ll want to be left alone. I know I feel this way sometimes, and I’ve heard of other stay-at-home Moms saying the exact same thing. And it’s not just the touching. You’ll absorb the emotional outbursts from your children. You really will sacrifice every part of your being.
Unfortunately, being a stay-at-home parent also means that you sacrifice part of who you are. Your relationships outside of the home may be harder to maintain. The hobbies that you once loved will often take the backseat to extracurriculars and spur-of-the-moment struggles. I know, this sounds kind of depressing. And it can be. But fear not, while you sacrifice these things, at some point you get them back, too.
2. You Become the Household Manager
Even though you may be giving up one career to stay at home with your kids, you’re essentially taking on the role of another career. Becoming a stay-at-home parent also means that you become the household manager. Multitasking will suddenly become essential to survival. You will need to be able to coordinate and schedule things for more than one person, and you’ll need to be able to drive them there as well. Grocery shopping will become a responsibility. If you’re not good at cooking, you’ll need to figure out a way to feed the people that you are now in charge of taking care of.
Becoming the household manager, while hectic, will allow you to grow in certain areas. As our household manager, I’ve put my stint as a stay-at-home parent on my resume. While I don’t get paid for my time at home, I still continue to practice and use valuable skills that can be transferred over into the workplace. Some people will argue that this isn’t viable for a resume, but it totally is. If you Google “how to put stay at home parent on resume” you will find hundreds of results. When I was building my resume last year I looked at articles, such as this one from Indeed. There are many resources out there for stay-at-home parents to use once they do return to work.
3. You Will Not Want to Go Back to Work
Speaking of resumes, when it is time to go back to work there’s a strong chance that you won’t want to go back to work. Even though being a stay-at-home parent is one of the most demanding, challenging and draining jobs on the planet, it is also one of the most rewarding. There is nothing greater than being able to spend extra time at home with your children, watching them grow and being there with them every step of the way. It will be very hard to leave this position once you’ve been in it.
But if you’re like me, then you will still feel the desire for a life and job outside of the home. It will potentially tear you apart inside as you struggle with the “Should I or shouldn’t I?” question of going back to work. For me, I am pushing really hard and am super determined to find a way to work at home so that I can still be in the house if my kids need me. As a stay-at-home parent I’m not alone, either. Every day I see mothers in my local mommy group asking for leads on potential work-at-home positions because they still want to be available for their children 24/7. It’s a tough spot to be in.
4. You HAVE to Make Time for Yourself as a Stay-at-Home Mom
You HAVE to make time for yourself when you become a stay-at-home Mom. Your partner and your kids are not responsible for this. Let’s be honest, they probably won’t even think to make sure that you get time for yourself. With that being said, don’t be afraid to speak up. Let your partner know that you need some time to be by yourself and unwind.
It is so important that you make time for yourself once you’re a stay-at-home parent. Like I mentioned in section 1, you will lose parts of yourself. But when you make sure to take time for yourself, you’ll be able to connect with those parts of yourself that don’t normally come out during Mommy mode. Whether you’re laying down to take a nap, slipping out to take a drive and grab a cup of coffee, or taking thirty minutes to work on a hobby you love, it is so important that you do this for yourself.
For me personally, I love the days that I’m at home alone. I know this might sound horrible to some, but it’s great to have quiet time in your own space. When I’m at home alone, I can focus better. It is easier to accomplish things that I wouldn’t normally be able to accomplish with a child pulling at my leg. Because both of my kids are currently in school and my husband works outside of the home, this is easier for me than it is for some other moms. If you can’t find time to be at home alone, make it a priority to get out of the house by yourself from time to time. Even if it’s just taking a ten minute walk down the street by yourself, every little bit of alone time helps.
5. You Need to Surround Yourself with Other Stay-at-Home Moms
Once you’ve made the decision to become a stay-at-home Mom, you also need to make sure that you surround yourself with other stay-at-home Moms. I’m not saying that you have to go out and become besties with every stay-at-home parent you meet. But there are ways that you can find support and meet other parents like you.
When I first became a stay-at-home Mom I was living in my small hometown in Maryland. I would take the girls to the story time at the local library, or I would sign them up for toddler gym at our local parks and rec. In both of these environments I was able to meet several stay-at-home Moms with kids of the same age. The hard part for me in these situations is the fact that I’m somewhat shy and introverted. But I did ultimately end up making friends for both myself and my kids.
Now that we’re living in a very big city, there are so many opportunities to meet other stay-at-home Moms. If you’re new to the stay-at-home Mom gig, make sure you check your local Mommy Facebook groups and other local Mommy websites (shout out to Charlotte Mom!). Also check in with your local libraries, elementary schools and parks and rec centers. Chances are there is some way that you can meet other Moms like you in your area.
Bonus: Communication is Key
Cliché, right? It might sound cliché, but when you become a stay-at-home Mom you need to know how to communicate. And if you don’t know how to already, then you need to learn. You can’t spend all day at home, with kids or without them, and not know how to communicate. There are several reasons why. For one, you’re raising tiny humans. They will learn how to communicate through your examples. If you are constantly bottling up feelings and then exploding because of those feeling, your kids will learn to do the same thing. You are their example of how to communicate in both good and bad moments, so you definitely need to reflect on your own communication skills.
You also need to be able to communicate with your partner. Being a stay-at-home Mom can be one of the loneliest gigs on the planet. Without healthy communication you can become depressed and agitated very quickly, among other things. I personally struggled with this part of Mom life for a long time. I felt like it was my sole responsibility to take care of EVERYTHING in our house since my husband was the one working. But that’s not the way it should be. I needed to learn to ask for help, and eventually I did. If you can’t communicate with your partner, becoming a stay-at-home Mom will be very, very, very hard.
You CAN Be a Stay-At-Home Mom, and You Will Love It!
Sometimes women think that they just can’t do the stay-at-home Mom thing. I will be honest…it was not something that I wanted for myself at first. I am very much so an independent, ambitious individual. Being a stay-at-home Mom was something that I said, time and time again, that I did not want to do. And yet here I am, six years later, and I’m finding it hard to get out of it.
If being a stay-at-home is something you can do, I highly recommend you give it a try. You don’t have to do it forever. But you will love getting that extra time at home with your kids and your family. You will get angry, you will get frustrated, you will want to “run away” at times…but at the end of the day you won’t want to leave it. It is truly one of the greatest gigs in the world.
Are you a stay-at-home parent? If so, what advice would you give to those who are considering doing the same? Let me know in the comments below!
Being a parent of any kind, stay-at-home or not, can be a very hard responsibility. Please remember that if you are feeling sad, angry, depressed, or worse, you are not alone. There are resources out there available to those that need help. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help! You can reach out to local support groups, your doctor, find a therapist, or even call a help line.