I’m an accidental stay-at-home mom, and I want to hear your success stories

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By: sweet as candy photo - CC BY 2.0
By: sweet as candy photoCC BY 2.0
I’m currently on maternity leave from my fabulously rewarding but ultra-demanding career that requires unpredictable hours and plenty of time on-call. Although I love my work, it was very hard juggling it with one child and a part-time employed spouse. Now that I have two children and my husband’s career has taken off like a rocket, it’s looking like it will be very hard to justify going back to work.

I think I’m going to be an accidental stay-at-home mom! I would really like to hear any tips from offbeat stay-at-home parents about making it through the day without losing your mind. Most of what I seem to be able to find online doesn’t resonate with me as full-time parenting isn’t necessarily my calling. I’m struggling with the monotony of cooking, cleaning, crafts, walks, library etc., and I’ve only been at it for four months!

So tell me: how did you gracefully transition to stay at home parenthood? — J

Comments on I’m an accidental stay-at-home mom, and I want to hear your success stories

  1. Funding for the summer portion of my job just got cut, and so I won’t be getting to teach the 2 days a week that I was promised, which will make me a summertime stay at home mom and I am nervous, too! I like working part time (right now it’s 4 days a week) to get out of the house and remember the other parts of me.

    I second what an above poster said about ‘justifying’ going back to work. If you love working, then why should you have to justify it? I guess I’m trying to justify sending my kid to daycare 2 days a week to continue his routine and friendships there AND to provide time for me to do non-mom things. That one’s hard for me because I won’t be making money and COULD stay at home with him every day, but think he has a good setup going already…

  2. I have found meetup.com works great for meeting other SAHMs (stay at home moms) and making friends who are in the same boat as you is often the first step to breaking the monotony. Go out, do things that are fun with your kid(s)… and you don’t have to spend money on things either, there are plenty of free things for kids… the library, parks, children’s concerts, etc.

  3. I’m a SAHM of a 3 year old. Not exactly accidentally, but I didn’t expect to be home this long. I found the baby time much easier than now – mine chatters non stop so it’s hard to get headspace.
    We live in a major city so luckily there is lots on offer. You don’t mention what scale of place you live in but trying to do something DIFFERENT definitely shakes things up, especially if it’s something you enjoy. I take my daughter to exhibitions I want to see – she can often offer interesting perspectives. Or even going to a different part of town for a kid activity can be interesting – “a change is as good as a break” they say. I appreiciate that that might be tougher with the little one in tow.
    But as many others here say, find other people to hang out, whether they’ve got kids or not. That saves my sanity.

  4. I make it through my day by throwing the youngest in a sling, packing the oldest and myself onto a bus, and doing what I want to. It’s not always all about the kids. Sometimes they’re just along for the ride so I can stay sane. Carve out stuff for you and make it work or you’ll have a hard time surviving. If possible, find another mom to swap babysitting with. Stay at home doesn’t mean you don’t still need adult time. Often it means you need it more.

  5. I was in a similar situation and what I did was start a little daycare in my home. It seems counter intuitive, but it really worked. It allowed me to hire a wonderful nanny to care for my children along with the other 3 kids we have. The typical tuition rates in our area easily cover the nanny’s salary. The person I hired is fabulous at being kid focused all day long – it is her passion. I got to spend as much time with my infant as I needed and wanted, but could leave her with a loving caretaker when I needed some time to do more adult things. It kept my older child happily engaged when I was busy with the baby. It has allowed the baby to transition slowly into a group setting, as she was interested and able. The kids and nanny we have bring a great energy into our house and give me a good reason to keep things tidy.

  6. i would suggest having a candid conversation with your partner regarding both of your expectations, especially regarding the authority of income … when i became a SAHM, i was surprised to notice a subtle and unintentional shift in our family dynamics due to the shift of the income burden. my wife and i regard one another as equals, but over a few months, as we started to see the financial impact of going from a 2-income to a 1-income family, something unconscious happened in our dynamic. it was unexpected (for me) to find that that the unspoken “authority” (for lack of a better word) of income could change us so dramatically. it took a bit for both of us to acknowledge and work through the money issue – she feels like the income burden is all on her and when she comes home, there was an implicit expectation that the homefront (homework, housework and meals) would be dealt with. i had a frustration meltdown when i let loose on her, reminding her that i’m not the housemaid but, i was also battling an internal struggle that pitted my career drive and personal frustration of being in a state of flux (i’m going to school for my teaching credentials after a 12-year career in higher ed and i’m substitute teaching but the jobs/income can be unpredictable) against my own internalized expectation that if i’m not out earning an income, the house should be picture-perfect. it took a bit – but giving voice to our concerns, confusions, frustrations and uncertainty of our power dynamics helped immensely in making the transition a bit smoother.

  7. People have pretty much said it all, but I’ll go ahead and put in my 2 cents. I was a stay at home mom for the first few years of my child’s life because in the end daycare wasn’t a good option for her when she was younger than 3. So, yeah, unplanned. Interestingly, I am also a single mom – the kind without any support, visitation, or nights off. I had to be extremely frugal and yet stay sane. My strong, strong advice is to PACE yourself in the day. Create a regular schedule and for all that is holy, STICK TO IT. Get up by 7a and get out the door by 8a. Or whatever works for you and your child, but for me, sanity and my playful quality as a mother depended greatly on how well I ran that timetable. Here is the one non-negotiable feature — JOIN A GYM WITH CHILDCARE. Just do it. Don’t worry about how much it costs. You have a place to work out, or meditate, or take a shower. I have used the hell out of my gym. Even if you’re not a fitness enthusiast – do it anyway. There were (many) days when my child refused her nap and screamed or broke things or hated me and then I lost it and then I felt guilty and wanted to die. I packed up the kiddy and plopped her in gym daycare, got a little sweat on and came back to this crazy childrearing project like a champ. You kind of said you didn’t like library times, but we did those on a regular. And not just libraries but local museums had free events — we went to the zoo, the children’s museum, the splash pad, the park — every day my child had her event, I had my event (workout), and the dog got a walk. I literally don’t know how I could have survived those years without that bargaining up of our time. The final thing — and who knows how advanced you are in your career — but I enrolled in a graduate program – nothing fancy just a two year MA program at the local university in a field that seemed relevant to my previous work. If you end up SAHM forever, it’ll just some grown-up, brain time. But if you ever feel differently (and once my child was 3 we were both ready for something different) you’ll have some more options and recent references. Good luck!

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