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.