I’m kind of late to the stay-at-home mom thing. About eight years late in my opinion.

That’s how long it’s been since my first baby was born. 18 months later I had my daughter. The years after were filled with sadness, guilt, exhaustion, and lots of conversations about whether we could be a one salary family.

Finally last year the opportunity presented itself and we took the leap. I quit my high-stress, 24-7 career and we moved six hundred miles away where I became a stay-at-home mom.

But the irony is that when I could finally raise my babies full-time, they were no longer babies. In fact, I was working to teach them to be more independent and self-sufficient.

Without infants to feed and care for constantly, I was hit with a much different life than I had been dreaming of for so long. But it was a blessing nonetheless. I’m thrilled that I can always see them before and after school, I can take them to any extra-curricular activity they want to try (which is a lot), and I can control what they’re eating and kiss them goodnight every night.

But you don’t stop being you. Your mind doesn’t stop going 90 miles an hour. And old habits die hard. These are the reasons why I learned a lot of things not to do as a new stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately I learned them after I’d already done them.

1- Don’t rush into anything.. or everything

I was used to managing a team of 30 people at a major news network. I’m a type-A personality. You better believe that when the kids went back to school there was a little toe tapping and restlessness. So I took on projects. A lot of them. I started this blog, I started running five days a week, I volunteered for every job on PTO and joined my neighborhood’s social committee.

And I learned the hard way that those organizations are not run like a network news team. And they don’t need to be. And I don’t have to control everything. (Wait, what?) Yep, that’s a hard one to get a handle on.

If I could go back and do it over again I would take a beat. Several. I would try to allow myself a few months to get acclimated to my new life and new surroundings and decide what few endeavors I wanted to devote my time and energy to.

2- Don’t keep spending money like you have two salaries

New state, new town, new house. That means you need new clothes, new furniture, new adventures, right? No. When you take away half the money you’ve become accustomed to, you need to drastically cut your spending.

Again, these are things I learned from doing them wrong. I let us go from a surplus bank account with good savings to minimal savings and debt. Truth be told, part of the reason I started a frugal living blog is because I needed my own advice.

I think part of the reason for my over-spending was to convince myself I could create the perfect life immediately, so I wouldn’t miss my old city and my old life. But you know what? You’re going to miss it. And you can allow yourself to have those feelings.

It doesn’t make you ungrateful and it doesn’t make you a bad mother. It makes you human.

3- Don’t let guilt get you down

I left a rewarding.. yet stressful.. job and pay to be a full-time mom. And guess what? I’m not the perfect mom.. or homemaker. My kids can still drive me to the brink of insanity (no matter their age). And despite having 50+ hours more free time each week, the laundry still piles up, and the sink still holds only so many dirty dishes.

It can get you down.

But remember why you made this giant leap. It wasn’t to win some prize for momming or cleaning. It was to be there for your children more.

And I am. Imperfectly yet perfectly.

4- Don’t let anxiety take over

All of the above leads to anxiety and stress. I thought I left all the stress behind me. Nope. Stress about money and failing at the perfect life, still haunts me.

The best thing I can say for advice, is what I didn’t do. It’s brand new. Give it time. Give yourself a break. A lot of the things making you anxious will work themselves out. You’ll settle into a routine. You’ll figure out a budget.

Know that you will hit some speed bumps and that the road will get smoother ahead.

5- Don’t take it out on the kids

You know this is a major life change. Your world is turning upside down, hopefully for the better. But it’s a big adjustment.

Depending on the age of your kids, they don’t get that. And for them, few things might be changing. So try not to turn your inner turmoil into their problem.

For us everything changed. I quit my job, my husband’s job changed dramatically and we moved to another state, a much different sized town, different climate and different schools. That’s a lot for young kids.

But the thing with kids is that they don’t come out and tell you something is bothering them. They may not even realize it’s bothering them. Some behavioral issues emerged in our house gradually and I was caught off guard.

If I could go back and do it again, I would hope to be more attentive and check in often on what they’re thinking and feeling to try to make the transition smoother.

Now one year after our big move I’m so happy we did what we did and we are where we are. And the kids are happy, with new adventures and new friends. Yes, I made mistakes and I would change some things if I was given a time machine. But I’m with my precious people in a beautiful place.

I wouldn’t change that for anything.

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15 Comments on What NOT To Do As A New Stay-At-Home Mom

  1. I really needed to read this.

    I’m in the middle of doing everything you’ve said NOT TO DO, and I’ve been stressed about trying to change. This post reminded me that, yet again, I’m not reinventing the wheel. Other people have left the rat race and survived (and thrived!), and I can, too, if I give myself time to adjust.

    Thanks so much for this 🙂

  2. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost three years now and I still needed to read this. I feel guilty all the time about the house being a mess that I spend more time cleaning than with my kids. I’ve tried to slow down and really enjoy being with them.

    • That is a big struggle for me too. For multi-tasking, perfectionist moms it’s the worst. I force myself to really be present when they get home from school and I end up enjoying that time with them so much. Good luck mama! We’re always a work in progress.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I have never read a post that hit home as hard as this!! We just moved 800 miles from home, I left my job and my husbands changed a lot and I am feeling everything you mentioned. We are 6 months in and finally I’ve accepted that the dishes never get done! I wish you all the luck and please don’t stop writing I so enjoyed this!

    • It means so much to me that you liked this post and that it may have helped you a little bit. It is such an emotional path we’ve taken, but if it’s for the right reasons, it will all be worth it in the end. Hang in there. I wish you all the luck in the world.

  4. I’ve recently quit my job to become a stay at home Grandma. It’s a tough transition at 51. So much of what you said applied to me. The spending, adjusting all of it. I am finding it hard because so much of my perceived worth came from my career. Thank you for your great blog.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. It is a tough transition. But what I learned after all of this, is that it will get better and you will grow to love the good aspects of it and cherish the opportunity. Good luck to you. -Tracy

  5. Currently staying at home, but don’t have any kids yet. We are expecting our first mid April. I know that just because I’m at home, I shouldn’t expect everything to still get done, etc. The thing that is really getting me now though is that my husband feels like he can’t go hang out with his friends. I’m home all day so he feels bad leaving me in the evenings. I don’t know how to help or what to change. We live in his home town so he has a bunch of single guys’ as friends (who he also works with all week) and I have a couple mom friends that I get coffee with every once in awhile. I just don’t know how to help him, or what to do to make it better. Got any advice? lol

    • Those are good problems to have. 🙂 Such a sweet hubby! Just keep trying to push him out the door. Kidding, but not kidding. 🙂 But don’t stress about it too much. When the baby comes your whole family dynamic will change anyway. You’ll both want to send all your time with your precious baby. And on the other hand, there will be times when both of you will definitely want some time out of the house. Congratulations! And good luck!

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