You’ve always been the achieving type since high school. You looked forward to the day you could one day work and earn a living. And you didn’t waste any time snagging your dream job a few short months post-college graduation. But now, as you hold another positive pregnancy test in hand with your 18-month-old on your hip, you can’t help but wonder if the cost of paying for two children in daycare is no longer worth the cost of being a working mom.
If this is you, today I am here to offer some tips for helping your transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom go as smoothly as possible!
1. Remember Your New Job IS a JOB
The first step in transitioning well is to validate the fact that your new role is, in fact, an important and powerful job! One of the hardest parts of transitioning to working in the home for some women is losing their professional identity. And while you may no longer be in a corporate setting, your job is no less important because you now get to influence and lead tiny humans. So never negate the power of your choice to take on this powerful role with not just daily but the lifelong impact for generations—which is pretty darn amazing when you think about it.
2. Create a Schedule
For me, one of the biggest shocks of going from working mom to stay-at-home mom was the lack of a pre-determined schedule. Corporate work seems to always keep an employee on schedule and on task. Staying at home is very different. While some things do HAVE to happen (like feeding and dressing the kids), other things like laundry, cleaning, and errands are all variable. And while some women love this freedom, others who are used to being schedule-driven may find the freedom terrifying.
So if you are used to a structured world, you may benefit from setting up a flexible schedule. It will help you feel more organized and productive. It may also help to keep you from having withdrawals as your transition into a different pace. (Mom hack: I sometimes make lists after I have finished my day and write everything I did on the list. This helps me see that even though I may feel like I didn’t do everything I wanted, I still did a whole lot!)
3. Carve a Window of Time for Yourself
One of my friends recently transitioned from being an accountant to staying at home full-time with her three children. She said the best piece of advice she got was to find something of her own. Whether taking a run in the morning or walking the dogs after everyone goes to bed, find some time in your day or week where you can do something that feeds your soul. Being a mother is a job of outpouring. So to do it well, you must find something that pours into you. Otherwise, nothing is left.
4. Stay Social
Being a working mom kept us engaged with other adults and often adults that are similar in age. Staying at home may feel like a complete shock when you go from presenting data at conferences to conferencing over tiny tea tables to someone who can only say da-da. Therefore, connecting with other parents is a lifesaver in adjusting to staying at home. Try to connect through an organized class, chat with another parent at a park, or set up a formal playdate. Just having a chance to talk with another adult about life, even if only for 15 minutes, can be a sanity saver for any parent. So don’t forget to build that into your schedule. (Mom hack: Try picking up the phone and calling a family member—that’s right, I didn’t say text—for some easy adult conversation if you are stuck at home for a day with sick kids.)
5. Keep the Kids Engaged
Kids that are engaged tend to be productive and not destructive. It makes for a happier house. And by “engaged,” this doesn’t mean they need to keep a strict busy schedule. It just means that children often do better when you create space for both free play and organized play.
For example, after breakfast, get out playdough and ask your children to create their favorite character. Or before running to the grocery store, stop at the park for 30 minutes and let them run around. And, of course, a fun class of some sort doesn’t hurt! My son does a 45-minute sports class every Friday that allows him to burn some energy before we go run errands. A balance between fun and productivity seems to be the key to keeping the heart of the home happy and kind.
6. Enjoy the Perks that Come with the New Job
Just like your old job had some perks, this new job has some amazing perks of its own! In addition to getting to watch your DNA grow and mold before your very eyes, you can also stay in your pajamas until 11 and no one will notice. Don’t get so focused on all that is going on that you forget to enjoy the blessing in front of you. Such as the long days, but short years, of having littles that love and adore you. Because when you list out your greatest accomplishments one day, ahead of making all A’s or becoming a partner at your firm, their names will surely be at the top of your list.