Whatever your reason for considering the transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom (SAHM), it's no easy decision. There are clear benefits and clear drawbacks to becoming a SAHM. However, if you feel it's the right decision for your family, it is possible to make the decision work.
Here are eight tips for becoming a SAHM and making the transition as seamless, easy and painless as possible.
Properly Weigh the Pros and Cons of Becoming a Stay at Home Mom
Before you make a final decision on whether or not being a SAHM is for you, you need to clearly look at the pros and cons and be honest with yourself and your partner about your family members' needs. Being a SAHM will require certain sacrifices from all of you, and this is not a time to be vague or unclear about your feelings.
There are many, many pros to becoming a SAHM, and that's probably why you're considering the lifestyle change.
Studies have shown that children with a parent at home, whether it be mom or dad, perform better at school, regardless of their age, all the way into high school. Similar studies show that having a stay-at-home parent decreases behavioral problems in children over the long run, compared to if those children were in a childcare facility.
Beyond the scholarly evidence, though, it's just a given that being a SAHM will give you more time to devote to your children's care, maintaining your home and other responsibilities that you may have outside of the standard workplace.
On the cons side, studies have found that, while many women do enjoy their SAHM life for a season, many also eventually want to go back to work. They, understandably, start wanting a colleague other than their three-year-old.
Many SAHMs also report increased levels of depression, sadness and anger. While these emotions can all be combatted through appropriate lifestyle choices, they're still worrying. If you already struggle with depression or anger, you may find that becoming a SAHM makes those emotions worse rather than better. In these instances, it's worth talking to a therapist or counselor about your decision, ahead of making a firm choice whether or not to leave the workforce.
On top of all this, the largest con of becoming a SAHM is the sudden lack of income. However, this is likely the easiest con to remedy with the right choices.
The Muddier Waters
There are some instances, though, where certain aspects of being a SAHM will differ according to your individual situation.
For example, community approval surrounding your decision to be a SAHM will differ wildly depending on your individual community. Some social communities applaud SAHMs for the sacrifice they're making and the personal investment they're pouring into their children's lives, while other social communities look down on SAHMs as not contributing to the workforce.
Prepare to Leave the Workforce the Right Way
Okay, so you've decided that becoming a SAHM is the right decision for your family. Now what?
Hold off before you run into your boss's office with your two weeks notice right after you get back from maternity leave with your first child and sail out those office doors. You'll need to properly prepare to ensure you're not financially crippling your family.
Budget, Budget, Budget
But, you say, my partner makes plenty of money! We'll be fine! No need for budgeting here! We'll do great as a one-income family.
While it may be the case that your partner makes plenty of money — more than enough to cover your costs — it's still an adjustment to lose a significant chunk of income. You likely rely on your personal income more than you think. Sit down with your partner and discuss your budget and how you'll reconfigure your expenses once you no longer are bringing in an income.
Make sure to take a look at their take-home pay, too, not just their salary. You may find that the loss of your income puts your family in a lower tax bracket, which will additionally change how much money your partner brings home every month or two weeks.
Also, consider that you'll no longer be paying for items necessary to do your job, which gives you a little more flexibility in your budget — things like commuting, lunch out every day or even work clothes. And if you were paying for childcare, too, that's another way to save money by becoming a SAHM, potentially thousands of dollars per month (and childcare costs are only going to keep rising).
One hindrance that could impact your budget in a big way when you leave the workforce, though? Health insurance. If your job is currently covering your family's health insurance, you'll want to closely look at what insurance your partner's job offers and whether or not it will meet your needs. If not, you'll need to look at private insurance providers, which will impact your budget further. Make sure to closely examine all insurance options and consider whether or not your current doctors will accept those insurances if you're committed to sticking with them.
Have a budget but still worried you can't really live (or at least comfortably live) off of it? Give it a trial run for a few months. Spend three months while you're still working, living off of just your partner's monthly income and then see what happens. See how comfortable or uncomfortable it really is.
Cut Back on Debt Ahead of Time
If you have a little extra time before you're leaving the workforce — say, if you're committed to covering for a colleague who's on maternity leave for the next few months — start whittling away on your debt, so that's one less expense you'll need to cover once your income is gone. It may be worth it to cut back significantly on spending if it means you can pay off all your car payments, student loans or all your credit card bills before you leave the workforce.
Leave a Good Impression
Lastly, don't burn bridges as you do leave your job. You never know when you might need a reference, or you simply just want to get back in the workforce.
Identify Your Priorities and Purpose From the Start
What are your real reasons for becoming a SAHM? Identify them and put them front and center. Maybe it's to spend more quality time with your kids. Maybe it's to create the welcoming home that you always dreamed of. Maybe it's to ensure a special-needs child receives the care they can't get in your local daycare facilities or schools. Maybe you want to homeschool.
Whatever the reason, put that reason at the center of your bigger decision and then consider it as you make all of the smaller decisions that will come with being a SAHM.
For example, maybe the whole reason you became a SAHM was to give your kids more dedicated attention and individualized care. With that in mind, you'll want to be careful not to get sucked into spending all your stay-at-home time mommy blogging or even just cleaning the house every day. You made this important, life-changing decision for your children, so keep the focus there. That's not to say you can't be a blogger or clean more than you have in the past, but don't lose sight of your stay-at-home goals.
Don't Neglect Your Self-Care
Do those studies about SAHMs being more depressed and angry make you a little nervous?
When you become a SAHM, it's all too easy to neglect your self-care, making it easier for negative emotions like these to creep in. After all, when you're working a traditional office job, you have at least a little bit of work-life balance thanks to the ability to physically get away from the office; when your work becomes your home, you literally can never leave. The work-life balance goes out the door, taking selfcare along with it.
As much as you love taking care of the kids, take care of yourself too, whether that means getting out of the house with a friend once a week, planning playdates with your fav mom friend or neglecting the dishes for a glass of wine and reality TV during nap time. Hire a babysitter every once in a while!
Find Some Like-Minded Friends
As mentioned above, some communities just aren't going to be supportive of your stay-at-home decision. Whatever the reason you may not be getting support from some of your friends or even your family (hello, in-laws), it's important to find a community that will support your decision. After all, being a SAHM is not exactly easy.
But don't make the mistake of thinking that all SAHMs will share your ideals. You'll find that some really are just chilling out every day, while some have gone in the entire other direction and are June Cleaver reincarnated. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, find your group of new mom friends that share similar opinions and purposes — or, at the very least, that are nice enough to support you regardless of your differing parenting styles.
Rely on Your Partner
Don't think that just because you're a SAHM now, you have to take over every single responsibility in the home. Your partner needs to continue to pull their weight. Sure, you may take on a little more of the chores, but if it's going to put undue stress on you to accomplish a certain amount of home and child care, don't hesitate to ask for help.
It may be wise to talk to your partner about how your roles in the home will change with this new transition, just to make sure everyone's clear and on the same page before you quit your job.
Look for Extra Income
Some families simply can't survive on a single income alone. However, if you do want to become a SAHM regardless, you can find ways to make up the money you need for your family to survive.
Maybe you ask your current workplace if you can go from full-time to part-time work for a while, and you ease yourself into the SAHM role. Maybe you ask them if you can start working from home. Many workplaces allow for more flexible positions to better meet employees' needs; however, you'll have to determine for yourself if you can balance staying at home with a work-at-home lifestyle.
If not, you may find that freelancing is a desirable option for making extra money. Freelancing allows you to work as much or little as you want, for a rate that you set, so it is possible to make more money with less time spent working. Most workplace skills can be turned into a freelance gig, whether you're acting as a marketing consultant or a virtual assistant. Look into the various gigs you could pick up, or even if you have a skill that you could turn into your own business.
Don’t forget to think outside of the box. After reevaluating their family needs, blogger Leah Buehler with Buttercream Parties discovered a way to combine something she loves with a way to bring in extra income. “I started decorating sugar cookies in 2019 so that I could always have cute cookies for my son's parties. Of course, with COVID, I wasn't able to host any parties for him. Instead, I branched out on the blog and started to share my cookie tutorials with the world. I have met so many wonderful cookiers and am really enjoying it.”
If cookies aren’t your thing, you may have another skill or talent that others might be ready to pay for.
Show Yourself Some Grace
Remember — no matter how hard you work and no matter how much you want this SAHM thing to work, it's not always going to go how you planned. Being a SAHM isn't a miracle, either. Being a SAHM won't turn your child into a genius or an angel, no matter how much attention you give them, and it won't turn a home you hate into one you love.
So, don't put too much pressure on yourself. The people who really and genuinely care about what's best for you and your family won't judge when things don't go as planned — so you shouldn't judge yourself too harshly in these instances either.
Show yourself a little grace. And if the SAHM lifestyle doesn't end up being for you, there's no shame in admitting that and returning to the workforce. This is not a decision that defines you for the rest of your life.
The SAHM Lifestyle is Possible — If You Take the Right Precautions
A rewarding and fulfilling SAHM lifestyle is possible, but it is a lot of hard work. If you follow our eight tips for becoming a stay-at-home mom, you can make the transition from working woman to working mom a breeze.
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