This month marks my two-year anniversary as a stay at home mom. I never imagined life this way. When my son Preston was born I was working full-time outside of the home. My job was demanding and involved lots of out-of-state travel. Juggling family and career demands wasn't easy but I established a decent routine and found a rhythm. Life was hectic, but I was happy.
Fourteen months later my daughter was born and the sensitive equilibrium we'd established as a family was rocked but we managed well. I returned to work, my son was in daycare, and my daughter was home with my mother-in-law. Everyone was happy but life was crazy. It was difficult for us to manage family responsibilities and the stress associated with two working parents with demanding careers. We decided it would be best for me to stay home with the kids.
I enjoyed my career but I was pretty happy to leave the workforce for a bit. I was excited about the new chapter in my life. The transition was not easiest. Although being home with my babies was wonderful, I had no idea what to expect. It was lonely and stressful at times. Two years in and I'm happier than ever. Here are my tips to help make the transition from work outside the home mom to stay at home mom easier.
Establish a routine
Do this. Leaving the structure of the workplace behind left me disoriented. Spending eight to twelve hours at home alone with your child without a plan will make you crazy. Don't go overboard and set a strict schedule. Use your children's schedule as a guide and create a routine around it. Try to prepare and eat meals at the same time. Put the kids down for naps at the same time everyday. The transition might be a challenge for your kids too so try not to veer too far from their already established routine that they had with their child care provider.
Get out of the house
I'm a homebody. Pre kids I could spend days alone in my house without leaving. As a mother this isn't close to possible. Fresh air, playing outside, and socializing with other parents and kids is essential. Get involved in your community. Check out baby wearing groups, play groups, museums, libraries, or parks. Anything to get yourself out of the house.
I won't lie. At first I had to force myself because the prospect of exploring a new city with a 1 and 2-year-old (at the time) was daunting. Get over it. Take baby steps. Start with walks and visits to the playground. Once you're comfortable branch out. You'll make new friends and so will your kids.
Be kind to yourself
Although many women dream of someday becoming a stay at home mother, it's not easy. Taking care of young children alone is sometimes lonely and often challenging. Don't stress yourself out while you're transitioning. Depending on the age of your kids it might take months before you feel comfortable in your new role. The floor might not get mopped as much as you want it to. You may forget the last time you showered. It happens and it's not a big deal.
It takes time to adjust don't rush it. Don't beat yourself up for falling short of perfection. Enjoy the time at home with your family. It goes by too quickly.
Did you make the transition from working outside the home to stay at home mom? How do you manage it?
Words: Veronica Armstrong