A few of my favorite bloggers have some awesome posts about “how to survive on one income” or, “how to stay at home if you can barely afford it.”
I love those posts because I think they spark hope and life into moms who could never imagine they’d have the means to stay home with their small children. But there is another category of moms who don’t know if they can stay home. And it’s not about money. It’s not about logistics.
It’s about contentment.
See, I know this. I was one of those moms.
My whole life I’d envisioned myself staying home with my (7-8!) children, and being perfectly content. Three months into the gig, however, I found myself in quite the opposite position. Sure, I was staying at home with my babe. But I was lonely. I felt like I didn’t have a mission in life (besides changing diapers and being a human cow). I was bored, yet somehow busier than I ever have been (?). And mostly, I was ashamed, and disappointed. I had only ever wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, yet somehow I was so bad at it.
I am happy to say that I have made leaps and bounds in this department. While I have difficult seasons, I am content in my role as stay-at-home mom.
Here are my six steps to being a happy stay-at-home mom:
- Realize that there are many things you could be doing that would make you happier. Wait – this sounds…completely opposite to the whole reason you clicked on this post! Alas, it does. The truth is, I first began to find joy in my role as a stay-at-home mom when I began to accept it. I do love being home. But the truth is, I am not doing it for myself. I am doing it because I believe it is the best decision for my children and my family. If I’m looking for a career with posh benefits, regular breaks, and lots of acclomation, I will be vastly disappointed. I get my hair pulled and my toes stepped on. I eat breakfast last. I can’t pee without someone banging down the door, and inevitably I will have to get up from my cozy chair to unstick someone’s Lego. Instead of letting these irritations be reasons for bitterness or comparison, I must choose to see them as gifts to my family.
- And that’s the next point. To really have a clear understanding of exactly how staying at home is benefitting your people. I mean not in the abstract, but in the real life. Does your husband appreciate how he worries less about the laundry, or grocery shopping? Is your daughter soaking in the extra time on your lap? Can you see how you can focus more clearly on discipling the Child With The Temper? And so on. When the going gets tough, stop and remind yourself exactly why you are needed in this role. It will vary from mom to mom, of course. But knowing YOURS will bring great satisfaction.
- Utilize continued education. Yes – continued education for Motherhood! And why not? In nearly all careers, there is on-the-job training – seminars, books, conferences.. Well, why in the world would being a stay-at-home mom be any different? For the past year I have felt like I was walking blindly in my role. Lonely, I guess. It dawned on me. I need to read more. These books I’m reading this year? Life-changing.
- Next, you find joy at home by being you. Do what you’re good at, what makes you happy. Do you love to cook? Do you love crafts? throwing parties and playdates? cutting coupons and streaming budgets? organizing pantries? cuddling in your PJs and snuggling? Well, find those “mommy niches” that you delight in, and do them. A lot.
- Get out, but don’t be always longing to get out. I am 100% in favor of girls’ weekends, date nights, mom’s mornings out, and the ever-so-heavenly evening run to Target. I love these things, and they rejuvenate me. I return to my children happier, and refreshed. At the same time – I have definitely walked through seasons where I was generally discontent with my role. And when you are an Unhappy Mom, it’s a problem that you can’t fix by escaping to Target or booking a weekend babysitter. When it reaches this point for me, two things need to happen.
- I need to confess to God that I’m unhappy in my role. And I ask him to show me the way.
- I need to get happy WITH my kids and WITH my home. Fleeing it all only does so much. So, this is where you might find me going on a massive Kon-Mari Decluttering Rampage, or packing up all the children for a very-spontaneous aquarium outing. Sometimes, I don’t need to get out. I need to get happy with my people. (And credit to Rachel Jankovic for this thought.)
- And finally, to be happy as a stay-at-home mom, you need to realize that this time does not last forever. The days are long, but the years are short. Perspective…that is what I was so lacking in those early days of motherhood. We will have our times again for perpetually-manicured nails and leisurely solo grocery store outings. It is a very brief time when young children are in the home. It will be gone in a blink!
Did you ever struggle in your role as a stay-at-home mom? What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think she could do it?
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