I have always known that I wanted to be a mom. And I hoped that, when the time came, I would be able to stay at home with my little ones. So you can only imagine how happy I was when, five years after we got married, I found out I was finally pregnant! And how happy I was when we decided our budget would still balance (even if we didn't have money for as many "extras") if I transitioned from working full-time to being a full-time stay-at-home mom. I was so glad! And nervous! And happy! And anxious! And excited!
Even though I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, it was still definitely a transition for me. And it was actually more difficult than I expected it to be. When I started working after I graduated from college, I actually didn't plan to work very long before we started our family. But life didn't go exactly as planned, and my post-college job quickly became a career. And I realized I actually loved
working. And that I loved the amazing people I worked with, many of whom would even become life-long friends. And that having measurable goals and achieving quantifiable results was very satisfying. Even though there's nowhere else I'd rather be than home with my little boy, I still (four years after "retirement") sometimes miss my work family and being part of the work we did together. So here are a few of my tips for a smooth transition from working full-time to becoming a stay-at-home mom full-time:
Have Realistic Expectations
I think people often think their life would be so much easier and carefree if they didn't have a full-time job. And while that might be true if you were trading in your full-time job for a permanent vacation on your favorite beach, it definitely isn't the case when you're trading in your full-time job to become a 24/7 stay-at-home mom. I thought I'd have tons of extra time to exercise, catch up on my favorite tv shows, keep our house perfectly clean and organized, and plan and prepare yummy, and
healthy, meals. Okay, maybe I wasn't so naive to think I'd be able to do ALL of these things ALL of the time. But I definitely didn't realize that it would actually be an accomplishment if I went to the bathroom without my little boy knocking on the door and asking "are you done?" the entire time. I'm definitely not complaining because I love that I have a busy, full life. But I think I'm much happier when I have realistic expectations for how my day will go and don't expect perfection from myself when it's impossible to achieve.
Get Out of the House...But Not TOO Often
I think every
stay-at-home mom will agree that this is one of the MOST important things you can do to be happy and successful as a stay-at-home mom. If I spend too many days at home, I start feeling lazy, unhappy, and just plain bored. And I know my little boy does, too! We're always happiest when we get outside, even if it's just for a short walk or to run a couple of errands. I think going outside is one of the most important parts of this, because we're both so much happier when we get outside for some sunshine and fresh air. On the other hand, I've also noticed that we also need to take a day off from errands and general busy-ness to rest and catch up at home. If we have plans outside of the house all day, every day, we both get worn out and exhausted. So when my son starts asking for a pajama day, I know it's time for us to take a little break.
Stick to a Schedule
This is similar to my last point, and equally important. Except for the occasional rest day where we stay in pajamas
all day long, spend extra time cuddling, and watch more than the recommended amount of cartoons, I find that we're both happier when we (loosely) stick to a schedule. While I don't really love having every second of every day planned for me, I do like to have an idea of what we'll be doing each day. And I know my little boy does, too, because he asks me almost every morning while we're still cuddling in bed, "Mom, what are we doing today?" So I try to stick to a flexible routine of waking up before my little boy wakes up for a few quiet minutes of reading or writing in my journal
, exercising, then showering and getting ready for the day while my little boy watches a cartoon then takes a bath
. Then I know we're ready for whatever might come up that day! I also like to use my few minutes of alone time each morning to plan our day and decide what we have
to cross off the to-do list, and what we can put off until another day.
Practice Sticking to a One-Income Budget
When my husband and I were both working full-time, our budget was obviously much more comfortable than those first few months after I quit working and we were living on one income. While we definitely had an adjustment period, I think it helped us a lot to practice living on one budget (even if we didn't stick to it perfectly) in the months before I quit working. Even though we're not the best at budgeting and saving, we started by using his income for all of the necessary expenses (mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, fuel), and my income for more of the extras, then slowly weaning ourselves from spending as much on things we didn't actually need.
I definitely wouldn't trade anything for the opportunity to be at home with my little boy every day, but I'd be lying if I said that the transition was perfectly smooth or easy. But I CAN say that it has definitely been worth it!