Every year, many women make a decision to face the challenges of being a stay at home mom. For some, this decision lasts the rest of their lives. For others, it is only a brief hiatus until they return to work or their children are in school. In either circumstance, choosing to stay at home is a personal matter that affects the whole family. Despite the many differences for making the decision, most stay at home moms encounter new challenges during the transition. Understanding and preparing for these challenges can help you and your family make a successful transition. If you prepare in advance, the journey of becoming a stay at home mom can be a wonderful and memorable opportunity.
Get Ahead of Potential Feelings of Loneliness
Be prepared for the possibility of long quiet days that may trigger a feeling of isolation. If you don’t know other parents who stay at home or your newborn has an unpredictable schedule, it’s difficult to make plans for even the simplest tasks such as grocery shopping. We understand this.
While there is no magic cure for loneliness, it can be easier if you are able to plan ahead. Reach out to community resources to make connections with other local parents that have similar schedules and interests. You may find, for example, support groups that provide babysitting while mothers network and socialize with each other. We recommend trying to find these local resources prior to becoming a stay at home mom. You want to get ahead of any feelings of loneliness, which can sap the motivation to socialize. The YMCA and other fitness centers often provide childcare while you work out, shower, or enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend. Libraries are also good venues for parent meet ups while children enjoy fun activities such as story times and playgroups.
Manage Finances to Help Avoid Stress
Research by the Pew Foundation shows that stay at home moms tend to have less discretionary income compared with parents who return to work. Many families find that finances become much tighter after they choose to stay home.
Review your finances in advance of making the final decision to stay at home. This is important so you have a good sense for any changes that should be made to your lifestyle. While it may seem daunting, do not procrastinate. Preparing a budget can save your family from having to deal with financial stress later. Also, there are ways to help smooth the transition. For example, make a list of free activities and events, such as community fairs, libraries, and parks. You can pull from that list and enjoy your days without relying on routines you engaged in with a more robust budget.
Perceived Judgment from Others
Another challenge many stay at home moms face is a sense of being judged. Comments such as “What do you do all day?” or “It must be nice to be home all day,” can lead a person to feel disrespected or insignificant. This can bring about a sense of frustration or discouragement about the decision to be a stay at home mom. It’s important to remember that the work you do all day is for you and your family, not for the judgment of others. It is not your responsibility to help others understand your personal decisions, dedication to your family, or the amount of work involved. Likewise, we recommend trying to separate any emotional reactions from the intent of such comments, which may simply be light conversation.
Loss of Identity
Another personal issue many stay at home moms encounter is managing their sense of identity. This may be particularly challenging for those of you who previously developed a strong sense of self through careers or hobbies. While being a stay at home mom may sacrifice other aspects of your lifestyle, there are specific reasons you made the decision. Be honest with yourself. Those decisions to become a stay at home mom have to be powerful enough to overcome any sacrifices. Revisit the reasons you became a stay at home mom. And remember, life changes. Those reasons may have been more important when you made the transition. Embrace any new changes, whether you’re interests have changed or your kids are more developed and independent. It may be time to revisit the list and the decision. You may realize your family continues to enjoy a lot of value from your dedication to be a stay at home mom. Or, you may realize there it’s time to explore other opportunities.
The challenges listed above might make it sound like being a stay at home mom is a tough decision. The truth, however, is that motherhood has its challenges and the goal is to find the best path that allows you to enjoy all the rewarding moments of raising a family. Weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that works best for your family. Then, prepare for the upcoming changes and find support to manage any challenges of being a stay at home mom. And along the way, embrace the journey and enjoy your role as a mother. You are a lucky woman!