I have the unique position that I have perspective as a stay-at-home mom as well as a working mom. I stayed at home with my daughter and a handful of foster babies for the first 15 months of my daughter's life, and went back to working full time a few months ago. I loved being a stay-at-home mom and I actually love being a working mom. But holy moly, both of those jobs are much, much harder than I ever anticipated either would be. There are some seriously tough decisions you'll make as a stay-at-home mom, and some of them are so surprising.
There's obviously a stereotype of a stay-at-home mom that always involves leggings or yoga pants, a minivan, and constant sanity-saving trips to Target. Sure, Target was a lifesaver more than once, but I think stay-at-home moms don't get nearly enough credit for the tough decisions they make on a daily basis as the primary caregiver for their children.
As a testament to how tough those decisions are, I have to admit I opted out of the stay-at-home mom role when my daughter was 15 months old because I had to make the excruciating decision that I had reached my limit as my daughter's primary teacher and caregiver. Yes, financial and career reasons played a big roll, too, I was just, well, tired. Ironically, I took a part-time job as an English tutor for high school kids, so teaching is now my daily role. Still, I maintain that my daughter's new teachers have a much harder job than I do. Being a stay-at-home mom takes a level of dedication that's truly incredible, and I commend the stay-at-home moms who are dominating that role while simultaneously making these following decisions:
What Kind Of Stay-At-Home Mom You'll Be
When I became a mom, I didn't anticipate that I would be a stay-at-home mom. My husband is a guidance counselor, so living on that one income alone was never going to be an easy decision, and I really enjoyed my work as a writer. However, when my daughter arrived into our family by adoption, there was no way I was leaving my daughter's side for the foreseeable future.
Before my daughter's arrival, the only thing I knew about being a stay-at-home mom was whatever the stereotype told me. I actually think one of the hardest decisions a stay-at-home mom has to make is what kind of stay-at-home mom she's going to be. Is she going to be super organized and read all the education books and figure out lots of activities for her child to develop with each day? Or is she going to be the kind who relies on cuddles and the occasional recommendation from a friend on what they should fill their day with? No surprise, I was the latter, and it took me a good six months before I realized that was even a decision I should probably make.
What Your Schedule Will Look Like
When your schedule isn't dictated by working hours or daycare drop-offs, making your schedule is actually pretty important as a stay-at-home mom. You are the captain of the ship for the bulk of the day and that schedule (or lack thereof, depending on what kind of stay-at-home mom you decide to be) can make or break your days.
One of my good mom friends came up with a system when her daughter was a few months old and she was starting to lose her mind a tiny bit. She decided she would do errands and classes or story hour at the library every morning, and afternoons would be for chilling at home, dealing with the mess in the house, and walking to the park.
How You'll Make Time For Yourself
Admitting I needed time to myself was a really hard part of being a stay-at-home mom. For the first six months, I believed that asking for a break meant I wasn't doing a good enough job taking care of my daughter, or that I wasn't enjoying being home with my daughter enough. In the end, one epic meltdown was all it took to make me realize that being a good stay-at-home mom means you ask for (and take) help as much as you can. Just because you're the primary caretaker doesn't mean you have to be the sole caretaker.
Whether Or Not To Join Moms' Groups
Join a mom group? Don't join a mom group?
Whether it's for your kids to have more socialization or for you to get a brain break, deciding if you're going to join a mom's group is something you might be faced with as a stay-at-home mom. I was so intimidated for months by other moms, and there was some self-preservation in deciding not to join a mom's group. Once I did, though, I was so glad I sucked it up and tried to be brave, for my own sake and my daughter's.
Whether Or Not To Deal With A Mess Immediately
I would venture to guess most stay-at-home moms are all for cleaning up a mess as soon as possible. I, however, am not one of those moms. In a tiny apartment, the mess of a baby and toddler takes over fast and can drive you nutty, but I realized I was more worried about keeping a clean house than spending time with my daughter, so I just had to let it go. Cheerio crumbs!
Whether Or Not You'll Enroll Your Kid In Class
We shied away from enrolling our daughter in baby classes, like music or gymnastics, mostly because she was so darn young and it seemed ridiculous. Plus, our family's decision to have me stay at home meant we were relying on one income. Instead, we opted for park outings and free library story hour. Still, that doesn't mean I didn't have repeated anxiety about whether I was depriving my infant daughter of learning experiences. Classes for your kids is a curiously hard decision for a stay-at-home mom trying to get through the day.
What You're Going TO Wear
Every day, it was a tough decision to get dressed into jeans and a shirt instead of staying in my nightgown. It's every stay-at-home mom's decision to make for herself, but it made all the difference to my mindset as the capable adult in the home.
How Long You'll Stay A Stay-At-Home Mom
If or when to stop being a stay-at-home mom still falls in the category of difficult choices you'll have to make as a stay-at-home mom. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom until your children are 18 and all off to college, or whether you can only stay home just over a year like me, it's a tough decision. Bottom line: you and your family and your child come first, before any outside influences.