Transitioning To Becoming a Stay At Home Mom or Parent

Own It

This is perhaps one of the most important important steps, but one I didn't get around to until two years into this gig.

When people asked "What do you do?", my automatic response was "I stay at home with my daughter, and I'm also a CPA" even though I didn't even consider myself a CPA since I wasn't actively working. Although I wouldn't admit it at the time, I needed to let people know that I was still useful - that I was no bimbo who went to college simply to obtain an Mrs. degree.

To be clear, leaving my career once I had children was something I had always planned on, and not a decision I ever wavered on. I'm not sure why I felt the need to justify staying at home.

Realize that you are lucky. There are very many women who wish they could stay at home with their children but aren't able to. If this is something you want, accept it as a blessing and be thankful for it.

Realize that your new role is important. Quite possibly the most important one you'll ever have, and that you are shaping little people - who will soon be adults (!!!) and hopefully productive members of society. And that's definitely something to be proud of.

Seek Out A Support System of Other Stay At Home Moms

Definitely keep your work friends and working-mom friends. But keep in mind that you'll want to have friends in a situation similar to yours. It's a bonus if you can find friends with little ones the same age as yours.

While my career was more pressuring than mothering and running a house, the stresses now are different. It is very nice and comforting to have friends who face the same issues and who can offer support and advice.

I was lucky to meet one of my closest friends through a mutual acquaintance right when I moved to my suburb. I met the other through a group called MOPS, which I highly recommend for connecting with other moms of kids who aren't yet in kindergarten.

There are plenty of playgroups and meetups. You can find them on Facebook and Meetup. It may take awhile to find your niche (it did for me) but attending a few bum get togethers is so worth it when you finally find moms you truly connect with.

Realize That Some Friendships Will Naturally Diminish

After having a baby, I realized the things I thought I would care so much about really didn't make a difference at all. I had a couple of friends with kids who were obsessed over the right clothes, the right activities, the right image...for their kids

Yes, maybe I am a bit spendier on Georgia's clothes and activities than some mothers. But if she wants to leave the house in a Lily Pulitzer shift dress and her cowboy boots, I'm  not going to be a control freak because it might possibly, somehow in a minuscule way to a random person, reflect on me. If she wants me to buy a glittery, sequined outfit I'd prefer she didn't wear, I'm not going to kill her little spirit by not letting her wear it. If she wants to switch from ballet to tae kwan do, while I might secretly cry, I'm going to let her follow her dreams.

As a personal example, I had a close friend who was a bit superficial, but I loved her anyway. One day she called me crying because her frenemy was coming up with more creative ideas for her Elf on A Shelf. I wish I were kidding, but unfortunately I'm not. After a few similar dramatic episodes over non-issues I knew I had to cut ties and slowly let that friendship fade.

Evaluate your priorities and values, a mommy mission statement if you will, and align yourself with those in mind. Then align how and who you spend time with, keeping the same priorities in mind.

Get Involved Outside Your Home

This is truly my sanity saver. I have to stay involved in personal and social activities or I feel like I become only a mom, with no roles other than those of a parent, wife and homemaker.

Get involved in activities just for you. Find things that don't involve your kids such as volunteering or an adult-only Bible study. Again, MOPS is a great resource even though some of the discussion revolves around children. 

I'm involved in Junior League and I work almost year round on two fundraisers for Child Advocates. I get to spend time with other adults, some who work or aren't parents or married, which is great for keeping my own identity. 

I pay for childcare if I have to. If that's not in your budget, trade babysitting with your stay at home mom friends, as I try to do with mine. My daughter really enjoys having friends over, too.

Develop A System That Works For You

Good grief, this one took me a long time, too! I ran around forever, and still do some days, like a chicken with my head cut off. I was used to a structure of waking up, dressing up, meetings all day, gym during lunch and happy hour after work.

I spent more days than I care to admit on the couch in PJs with a sink full of dishes and a huge pile of laundry before I figured this one out.

The key for me now is getting up, getting dressed, a tad of makeup, a little hair teasing (hey, we're in Texas) and looking like I have real plans. We don't leave the house every day, but we would leave looking good if something fun came up.

I also do what I call a daily Power Hour, just like I did at my office job. It consists of going over my to do list, making a flexible plan for the day, and looking at the rest of the week's calendar to fill empty days with something to do. It really doesn't take an hour, usually just ten minutes or so, but Power Quarter Hour doesn't sound quite as catchy.

A Note on Financials

I honestly wish I had better advice in this area since I think this is what most families worry most about. Quite frankly, my husband and I have always been blessed financially with very good jobs. We knew even before we were married that I would stay at home so we planned for it during the five years we were married before having Georgia. Waiting a few years into your marriage and until your careers are at a high-paying point definitely helps out financially.

Between retirement, investments and savings accounts, we have always saved my entire salary. By the time I quit working, David's career was at a point where we knew we could live comfortably and still save on just one salary.

Although we did cut back on frivolous spending such as dining, expensive gifts for one another, and my designer accessory collecting hobby, our lifestyle didn't suffer too much. If I have one piece of advice, it is to make sure you fit fully funding your retirement plans into your budget. Give up a few wants to make sure you don't suffer later.

I know that everyone isn't in this situation - ever - and I'm sorry that I don't have a better answer. I wish every mom who truly wanted to stay at home could. But since I am a CPA, I am happy to give thoughts on budgeting, saving and finances if you'd like to contact me.

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