When I was training to become a teacher, I had a lot of experienced teachers warn me about the difficulties I would face.
One teacher told me that she once had a 7th grader put a pencil down his throat to induce vomiting so he could get out of a pre-algebra test. I listened and took notes because they had been doing the job.
I prepared myself for the challenges.
When a sixth grader wet himself and laughed saying, “I told you I wasn’t gonna take that test, Miss,” I was ready.
Yet, when I heard stay at home moms complain about the stresses of their situation, I scoffed. I thought to myself, “I am working and mothering. If my only job was mothering, life would be sweet.”
Well, I am one year in, and I realize that I should have taken notes.
Despite desiring to stay home for seven years, when it finally happened I had an extremely hard time! In part one of this two part series, I talked about the struggles of going from working mom to stay at home mom.
After talking to several other stay at home moms and struggling mightily, I’ve come up with five things to make the transition easier.
1. Make a Mission Statement
You need something to remind you why you’ve chosen to do this.
Spending all day at home with your kids is hard.
Some days its downright overwhelming.
On those days, you need a reminder of why you are in yoga pants and a spit up covered t-shirt picking poop up off the floor instead of using that degree you worked so hard to get. Or whatever else you could be doing that would be more glamourous.
Because most days, literally anything would be more glamourous.
My awesome sister in law, Dana, is the one who told me about this. I basically just tweaked hers to fit my needs because I’m a cheater like that. Here is hers:
“My life’s goal is to be a Godly example for my children in the way I love my husband, live daily, and serve God. It is my desire for my children to find their identity in God and realize the purpose He created them for. I want to teach them to be diligent, responsible, hard working, respectful, and loving. I want to provide for my family a home that is clean and organized that is filled with love and laughter and a place where my family wants to be.”
So take a few
minutes hours days and think, pray, write about what is important to you.
Why did you decide to be a stay at home mom?
What outcome do you want to see in your family?
What do you need to do each day so that you can sit back in the evening and know that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do?
2. Start each day with quiet time
It’s hard to redeem a bad day.
Not impossible, but much harder than starting it right and riding that momentum to the end. On the days that I force myself to sit down, read my devotional and Bible, and write out my prayers, I have an exponentially better day.
And it is still a struggle every day.
I wake up and want to get started with all 37 things I’ve put on my to do list. I want to quickly get something measurable accomplished. But when I sit down and read God’s word first and talk to him, things fall into place so much better.
I’m able to focus on my true purpose – raising Godly children.
I want to be the kind of mom that gets up at 5:30, but with this newborn I haven’t quite gotten enough sleep by 5:30 to be good for anything. So, I often do my quiet time while the kids are up. Their presence sometimes removes the quiet from the quiet time, but on the plus side I’ve gotten the opportunity to model for them what it means to put God first in my day.
And their responses have been so awesome.
Both Brinley and Dax have started prayer journals for themselves, and they want me to read to them from the Bible all the time now. If I’d tried to force them to do that, it wouldn’t have gone over nearly so well as them simply trying to emulate me.
3. Take Time Away from Momming
This may seem oppositional to being a better stay at home mom. How can you become better at something by not doing it?
But hear me out.
Moms have a tendency to give and give until they don’t have any more to give and then they snap.
The snap is sometimes just a cold where your body forces you to take some time to yourself, or you find yourself yelling and crying simultaneously at your whole family because someone tracked mud on the freshly mopped floor.
Why not anticipate the burn out and do something to refresh yourself before it happens?
The activity that you find rejuvenating is based totally on your personality. Maybe it’s time alone to get a pedicure, iced coffee, or stroll leisurely through the library without shushing your kids 7 billion times. Maybe you enjoy spending time with a friend and you can meet them for a kids free lunch or catch a late movie while your husband keeps the kids.
Yes, it takes effort to coordinate and make these things happen.
It is much easier to stay home and slowly inch your way towards a melt down.
But we both know that’s not the best thing for anyone in your family.
And if your family is like the average single income family, money is a factor in most decisions, but re-centering yourself doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – if any.
If alone time is what you need, offer to swap sitting services with a mom friend.
You keep her kids for a few hours one day so she can enjoy a leisurely stroll through Target sipping an orange mocha frappachino, and then she reciprocates. That will cost you zero dollars and you will also be able to help a friend out.
If adult time is what you need, meet a friend at Chickfila after breakfast.
The kids can play in the safe, air conditioned play area and you can chat while still watching your children. When they get hungry, leave. Or give them an Uncrustable out of your diaper bag. Or order some nuggets. Whatever.
4. Replicate the Good
After years of despising work, it was weird to me when I started to miss it.
When I told Chip this at dinner one night, I felt like I was confessing to a heinous crime.
I missed the place that I’d complained about for seven years.
Surely this was the result of some sort of brainwashing or was indicative of a serious mental disease I was developing.
But then he kindly pointed out that I didn’t miss work, I missed the adult interaction.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how right he was. I missed having idle chit chat in the hallway between classes and lunch filled with conversation instead of the sound of my kids crying.
There are going to be things that you miss from your days of working. Figure out what those are and replicate them within your new context.
To replace the adult interaction in my life, I started going to my Sunday School class more regularly, and I joined the women’s Bible study group. There is free child care provided for both of these things so it didn’t cost me anything.
If adult interaction is what you’re missing, I highly recommend finding a church home. Not only will it provide you with needed support, church will also provide a positive environment for your whole family.
5. Get Help
When I first started staying home, I felt like it was my job to do everything by myself.
I took to my career change with gusto.
I was a homemaker and by golly I was going to make the home all by myself. Never mind that I was pregnant, taking care of 3 kids, unpacking our entire house, and throwing up on the regular. This was my job now and I was going to be successful at it (can you tell I’m a first born?).
Fast forward 11 months
Last night we had 4 loads of clean laundry sitting in the living room. While I nursed Dutch, Brinley (7) and Dax (5) folded 2 loads of laundry. We listened to Kidz Bop radio on Pandora, and a couple of impromptu dance sessions broke out, but the laundry got folded.
Was the laundry perfectly folded? Absolutely not.
Does that actually matter? Absolutely not.
When I finished nursing, I started folding the last 2 loads of laundry while Dax gathered the dirty clothes from the rest of the house, and Brinley started a load of towels to wash. Once they were all folded, I would give each kid, including Baylor (2), a pile of folded clothes and start counting to see how fast they could run and put them up.
“Baylor, here are your socks. Go put them in your bottom drawer. On your mark, get set, go! One….Two….Three….”
Are their drawers as neat as they would have been if I’d done it myself? Nope.
Does it matter? Nope
Here’s the best thing about last night though – the kids were so proud of themselves.
As they were getting ready for bed, both Brinley and Dax commented on how much they’d accomplished and how much cleaner the living room was. They definitely don’t normally notice whether the living room is clean or not.
And in case you missed it – my seven year old can use the washing machine.
I’ve simplified the process by drawing lines on the washer and dryer for which settings need to be chosen. We use a powder detergent with a line drawn on the measuring cup. I tell her what types of things to put in the washer (towels, blue jeans, baby clothes, etc), but she does it all.
It’s not always perfect, but it often is! I had friends in college that couldn’t do their own laundry, and my seven year old can!
Now, please don’t misunderstand.
My children don’t like chores. There is often complaining. But, I remind them that they are part of a family, and families work together.
Whether you are about to begin staying home, are already deeply embedded in the trenches of stay at home motherhood, or are dreaming of a day when you won’t have to watch 6th graders relieve themselves in your classroom, I hope you will understand that the transition is hard. These tips can help to ease the transition.
It still won’t be easy, but it will be absolutely worth it.
What are some ways you’ve found to ease the transition from working mom to stay at home mom?