Goodbye Career, Hello Stay at Home Mom life!
I stood in front of a room of 20+ teens, many of whom had tears in their eyes as I told them about the upcoming change in my life. Teaching was a career that I loved. I felt like I was good at it, I was making an impact on people that would, hopefully, last a lifetime. But it wasn’t enough. One look down at my ever-expanding middle assured me that this was the right choice for me and for my family. I contemplated the benefits of being a stay at home mom.
I was pregnant with my first child, yet my heart ached for the teens I was talking to and had come to care for. Class after class, all day, I made the same announcement with the same effect. I would not be returning the following year to be their science teacher. I was leaving the classroom to begin a new chapter in my life as a stay at home mom.
What does it mean to be a stay at home Mom?
That afternoon, when I came home, I curled up in bed and cried. What had I done, I asked myself? I was past the point of no return now. I had chosen, and what I had chosen was to be a stay at home Mom. At that point, I had no idea what it really meant to be a stay at home mom. I didn’t realize that there would be so many struggles, but I didn’t realize the joy either. Given the chance to make my choice again, I would choose to be a stay at home mom again, 1000 time over.
The concept is a simple one: you stay at home and you tend to the kids and manage the household. Easy, right? Yes…. And no. The tasks that are required are easy to complete, however, they are continuous. The hardest part of being a stay at home mom is constantness. No other job in the world requires as much “on duty” time as a stay at home mom. You are on the job 24/7.
When you become a stay at home mom, there is an adjustment period. I held my newborn son in my arms. I was exhausted, but happy, yet as I looked at the calendar I felt a pang of sadness, knowing that school had started and I was not a part of it. My thoughts wandered back to the previous year, as I had greeted my students with enthusiasm excited and happy to begin the new school year.
Where were all my “kids” now, I wondered? I hoped they liked their new teacher and that she would be good to them. Somehow, I felt like I had lost part of my identity when I turned in the key to my classroom on the last day of school. I realized at that moment, how much of my identity had been wrapped up in my career. Would I ever be the same again? My newborn squirmed in my arms, interrupting my thoughts and for the 1000th time I looked down at that little sleepy face and wondered how on earth I could possibly love someone that much.
As much as I loved my son, part of me still longed for the career that I had left behind. I felt lonely and isolated. It seemed like my world had suddenly gotten much smaller. I felt like something was missing. I think that many stay-at-home moms feel this way. Beware of symptoms of depression, but the very best advice that I can give you to help combat it is:
- Find a hobby
- Build your tribe
- Go outside
- Get out of the house
- Plan Your Day
Also, hang in there, it gets better and babies get easier as they age.
Duties of a Stay at Home Mom
Childcare and cooking are not all that you are responsible for as a stay at home mom. You will find that there are all kinds of miscellaneous things that fall within your domain to tend to as well.
If your kids get sick, you are the one that is scheduling the doctor’s appointment, taking them to it, administering the medicine, and caring for them. In our family, we have found that this works very well. There is no bickering as to who has to use their vacation days in order to tend to the sick child. Additionally, I am not inclined to send them back to school too soon after an illness in order to save my hard earned vacation days.
Errands of All Sorts
There are always things that come up that need to be taken care of during the day when businesses are open. I am the one that renews the licenses and tags on our vehicles and takes them in to get their oil changes. I am the one that meal plans and grocery shops and makes sure that our house is stocked with the necessary things that we need. In short, I make sure the household runs as well and as smoothly as possible.
Another one of my “duties” is that I do the daily managing of the money. My husband and I talk about our big purchases. However, when it comes to daily budgeting and transactions, that is my domain. He trusts me to manage our finances well and to make what he brings home cover all the expenses that we need it too.
Head Chef, Meal Planner, and Nutritionist
While this partly falls under the “budgeting” category, as a stay at home mom, you are responsible for meal planning, shopping, and preparing the family’s meals. In my opinion, it is much healthier to prepare meals at home, as well as less expensive. The food budget varies, so sometimes stay at home moms (ok, ALL moms and anyone else that shops and cooks!) have to get creative when it comes to meal planning. You can reduce waste and still feed your family delicious healthy meals.
Education Interventionist and Advocate
A stay at home mom is a child’s first teacher. Do not underestimate the weight of this responsibility! Your kids learn SO much from you in those years that they are at home. Later, when they go to school, the stay at home mom that oversees homework is the first line of defense against educational delays.
If your kid is having trouble with something, you will likely be the first one to notice it, and to act on it. It is much easier for a stay at home mom to meet and coordinate with the school and with a child’s teacher. Children do so much better in school when they have an adult that advocates for them!
When there is a family emergency, the family stay at home mom is usually the first one called. She is available in case of an emergency, whether it be a big one or a minor one. If a child throws up and school, or breaks an arm, his/her stay at home mom can be there faster than anyone else. When a friend has an emergency and needs someone to watch the kids for an hour or two, again, the stay at home mom friend is usually the first one that comes to mind. Recently, in my own family, an elderly family member had to go to the emergency room. I was the only one available to sit with her in the ER. This availability helps not only your immediate family but also your extended family as well.
Benefits of Being a Stay at Home Mom
There are a lot of benefits to being a stay at home mom, many of which cannot be measured. You are blessed to be able to witness all of your child’s “firsts.” These include their first words, rolling over, crawling, first meal, first steps, pretty much everything! Getting to see those things was a major factor in my own decision to become a stay at home Mom. Someone once told me “You have your whole life to work, but your kids are only little once.”
1. You know what your child is being taught
A Mom is her child’s first and best teacher, and this is especially true when you stay home with them. You know what your child is learning because you are the one teaching it to them. This includes not only ABCs, shapes, colors, but also your values, ideals, and religious beliefs.
2. Creates a strong bond with your child and saves on daycare costs
All this time spent taking care of and interacting with your child creates a very strong bond with them. This bond lasts their whole life. Saving on daycare costs is another strong argument for staying home with your children. I was shocked when I first found out how much a quality daycare costs! When you stay home with your kids and cement that bond with them because you are the one that is there for them day in and day out, it has a positive impact on their behavior and their grades in school. When they are upset, they know that you are there to emotionally support them.
3. Allows the Family to Function better
As a joke, when my husband called I started answering the phone “Home Management, this is Jennifer speaking. How may I help you?” Much to my surprise, later I saw myself on his phone contacts and he had written “Home management” as the company that I worked for on his contacts list! As funny as that may seem, that really is a large part of what I do as a stay at home mom. Our family just seems to work better with me home. That availability and flexibility that I talked about above really helps our family to function better.
How Much is a Stay at Home Mom Worth?
I actually looked this up, and according to salary.com, a stay at home mom’s current worth is $112,962/year. They calculate that working an average of 94.7 hours a week. The base salary they calculated to be $37,022 and overtime $75,941. They classified the roles that a stay at home mom plays as:
- Facilities Manager: 10.7 hrs – $17735
- CEO: 3.2 hrs – $9,163
- Laundry Operator: 6.3 hrs – $3229
- Computer Operator I: 8.9 hrs – $7142
- Housekeeper: 14.8 hrs – $7511
- Cook: 13.9 hrs – $9487
- Day Care Teacher – 13.7 hrs – $9213
- Van Driver – 7.9 hrs – $5,688
- Janitor – 7.7 hrs – $3908
- Psychologist – 7.6 hrs – $14573
I thought it interesting that along with all the other mundane tasks, they included “CEO” and “Psychologist” That makes me feel a lot better about saying “I’m a Stay at Home Mom!”
There are benefits to staying home with your kids, whether it involves working from home or not. You know what your child is being taught because you teach them. For my family, it allows the household to run smoother. I am available for running errands, paying bills, and it saves on daycare costs. I cannot recall a single day that I have been bored as a stay at home mom. It is usually the other way around where it does not seem like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done that I would like to.
There is a transition period when you become a stay at home mom that everyone goes through. Let’s face it; having a child and staying home is a MAJOR life change! That being said, there are some things that you can do to try to ease the adjustment period such as finding a hobby, building your support network, exercising, and getting out of the house. Stay at home moms fulfill a variety of roles, such as facilities manager, CEO, laundry and computer operator, housekeeper, cook, daycare teacher, van driver, janitor, and (my favorite) psychologist. With all those different hats to wear, salary.com estimates that a stay at home mom’s current worth is $112,962. Do not underestimate your worth!
More than the money aspect, my favorite part of being a stay at home mom has to be getting to see all my kids “firsts.” I am blessed with the gift of being there for them day in and day out, which creates a strong bond with them. Becoming a stay at home mom is not for everyone, but for myself, it is a decision that I would make again 1000 times over.
Lastly, let me state something clearly. This article is not intended to be a bashing of working moms. Everyone has different financial situations, different personalities, and different circumstances. Deciding to be a working mom does not make you a bad Mom. All us Moms are in this together. Regardless of our decision to stay home, work outside the home, or work from home, we need to support each other. This raising kids business is not for the faint of heart!
Why did you decide to become a stay at home mom? What are your best tips? Let me know in the comments below!
Jennifer is a former teacher turned wife and stay at home mom. She blogs at contentmentquesting.com and has a library of free printables and inspirational backdrops that she would love to share with you. We all need a bit of encouragement every now and then, and Jennifer loves supporting people and encouraging them to enjoy all the little things in their lives. Happy Questing!