Did you know that roughly 1 in 5 mothers is a stay-at-home mom? Chances are, you probably know a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM). I have been a SAHM for the past five years, and although I absolutely love the opportunity to stay at home and be with my children, it does come with its fair share of processes and challenges.
The decision to transition from a working mom to a SAHM is not an easy one to make. I know from experience. The big reality check hit me during my seventh month of pregnancy.
I was in my third trimester (feeling like Violet from Willie Wonka after she turned into a blueberry), sitting in my cubicle and realizing that I was being quoted monthly day care rates that surpassed my mortgage. I could not believe it! It was so expensive. My paycheck would be largely for childcare. It was starting to become a little bit overwhelming. I needed to decide what I was going to do, what my future would be, and what was the best for my family.
All the “what if” questions started shortly after contemplating the possibility of a SAHM life. “Will I be good enough? Will I lose my identity? Can I put my career on hold? Can our growing family even live on one income? How will I make it through all of this? How will my job take my two-week notice?” All these questions kept going through my mind like a hamster running on it’s wheel. I started to contemplate life transitioning from working a full-time job I loved and worked so hard at, to staying at home with a newborn.
Important Questions to Consider
There are some questions you must answer before you take the leap and dive into the other side.
Will my family’s financial income allow me to stay at home?
This is obviously an essential question and one that you should really do your homework on before you make this important decision. Add up all your family expenses and see if one income can keep your family afloat. Do you need to revisit your budget and adjust some expenses? Can you overcome the challenge of one household income?
Can I see myself staying at home, caring for my child all day long?
Babies are intense and your lifestyle will change tremendously. Only you can decide if this is truly what you can handle. Are you uneasy or comfortable with staying home? Yes, Target trips and errands are in your future, but at the root of the stay-at-home mom life is just that. Staying at home. You may experience burnout, fatigue, isolation and loneliness.
Where am I at in my career and can I afford to take a break from it?
Another personal question, and one that you should really think about in-depth before deciding. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you professionally comfortable with taking a break from working?
- Would staying at home be a perfect time for you to focus on other goals?
- How will you be affected professionally by making this decision?
- If you decide to go back to the workforce in the future, how will you enter the workforce again?
Remember, just because you are staying at home, does not mean that you cannot generate some income. Google search and a little time is a great way to get some ideas! For example, if you have a hobby, are skilled at crafting, knitting, or painting, you can open an Etsy shop and monetize your talents.
I took the opportunity to further my education. I finished my bachelor’s degree, worked on a Project Management Certification and am now finishing up my MBA. I am also applying for PhD programs to continue my educational journey while raising my children at home!
Can you handle the potential criticism/judging from transitioning to staying at home?
Oh yes, the judging. This one took me by surprise. Everyone will have an opinion on your decision. Positive or negative, you will potentially hear it all from family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances and even strangers. Although most people were supportive, I did get some criticism about my decision.
Keep in mind the most important fact. Are they raising your children? Paying your bills or contributing in any significant way? If the answer is no, remember to do what is best for you and your family.
Can you handle the potential isolation/loneliness that comes from staying at home?
There are plenty of studies out there that show that SAHM life can potentially come with mental health challenges. A quick search online will show that it is common for women to go through a myriad of emotional challenges including feeling the loss of identity, stress, anxiety, and much more. Make sure you have an outlet. Journal, exercise, talking to a friend, family member or even a Facebook group can help process the new emotions that come with this lifestyle. I personally had one evening a week where I met up with girlfriends while my spouse took care of the kids.
Transitioning from a working mom to a stay-at-home mom is a life changing experience. At the root of it all, we are all trying to do what is best for ourselves, our children and our family. It is a very personal decision and comes with processes and challenges, but we got this. You got this. Whatever decision you make. You go, mama!