6 Tips for Transitioning from Working Mom to a Stay-at-Home Mom
ou’ve always been the achieving type since high school—straight A honor roll, student council president, and captain of the tennis team—and looked forward to the day you could one-day work and earn a living. And you didn’t waste any time doing after snagging your dream job a few short months post college graduation.
And for the past five years you’ve worked your way up the corporate ladder even after having your first baby. But today, 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 away from both of your boys when they’re so little. So you think you’re ready to take some time off and apply your ambition at home. But you can’t help but worry if all your years owning it in the corporate world may leave you feeling owned by a tiny boss that drinks from a sippy cup.
If this is you, today I am here to offer some tips for helping your transition from work outside the home to work inside the home go as smoothly as possible!
1. Remember Your New Job IS a JOB
Step 1 in transitioning well is to validate the fact that your new role is in fact an important and powerful job! For some women, one of the hardest parts of transitioning to working in the home 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 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 the work world to the stay-at-home world was the lack of a pre-determined schedule because work seems to always keep an employee on schedule and on task. Staying at home is different because 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 ironically find the freedom stifling. So if you are used to a structured world, you may benefit in setting up a schedule (with room for flexibility of course) to keep your week organized. It will help in making you feel more organized and productive as well as 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 who recently transitioned from being an accountant to staying at home full-time with her three children said the best piece of advice she got for her transition 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 are able to do something that feeds your soul. Being a mother is a job of outpouring. So in order to do it well, you must find something that pours into you. Otherwise nothing is left.
4. Stay Social
Most jobs keep 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. Whether through an organized class, chatting up another parent at a park, or setting 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 actually 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, which makes for a happier house. And by engaged, this doesn’t mean they need to keep a schedule as busy as a high schooler (for example: tiny tot music at 9, gymnastics at 10 and library time at 11). It just means they children often do better when you create space for both free play and organized play. After breakfast, get out play dough 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 in 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 (namely, making money in exchange for all your hard work), 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 that is in front of you. And by that I mean 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 partner at your firm, their names will surely be at the top of your list.
Cheers to Enjoying Your New Job!