Ready to make the jump from working full time to staying home with the kids? While you and your little ones are probably all excited about getting to spend more time as a family, there may be a few details you want to iron out before waking up on your first day as a stay-at-home mom. Every change comes with its own rough spots; read on to find out how to ace those challenges and love your new role.
Have a Plan
You spent your last few days of work imagining all the blissfully uninterrupted time you’d get together – but by noon on your first day home, you were more than ready for something to distract the kids. That’s why you need a daily schedule. We’re not saying you have to be rigid about what you’ll be doing every single second, but you do need to start each day with some idea of what’s on the agenda and when you’ll fit it in. Are you doing that art project in the morning or after lunch? What time is the playdate? Do you need to run any errands? After a few days of being at home, you’ll get a better idea of what works best for your family, and see how giving your kids an idea of how the day will go can keep everyone happier and calmer.
Use Your Resources
And by resources we mean: other parents. You will have no greater allies than the moms in your neighborhood, the ones whose kids go to school with your kids, and the ones who were your high school classmates and now post constant social media updates. Find out which parks have the best slides, when the library offers a free science program, which days are half price at the amusement park, when the art supply store is having a sale. Stay-at-home parents are experts in finding fun ways to keep the kids occupied – and they’ll be glad to have your wisdom, too.
Leave the House
We cannot stress enough how important it will be for you and your kids to make a point of not staying at home once you’re a stay-at-home mom. Find a reason every day – or most days, at least – to leave your property. Go for a walk, run some errands, pick up groceries, visit Grandma. We aren’t talking big, expensive outings, either – try looking at the fish and birds at the pet store, getting a $1 coffee at your local drive-through, or checking out a new playground on the other side of town.
For most households, having a stay-at-home parent means the income takes a hit – so you may need to find other places to cut costs. Whether you choose extreme couponing, thrift store shopping, bulk grocery shopping, or selling off some of the toys and books your kids don’t use any more, you can find plenty of ways to save a little bit and bring in a little extra. Other stay-at-home parents are also a great resource for free or cheap activities you can do in the community with your kids, from making use of their library membership to getting a group together to split the cost of music lessons or sports clinics.
Becoming a stay-at-home parent will be a big adjustment for you – and for your partner. Be clear with each other about your individual expectations for how your roles will change: Will the at-home parent take on more of the chores? Will the working parent be in charge of cooking on the weekends? Can you agree on a budget that prioritizes your spending on one income? This isn’t a conversation to just have once, either – discuss any issues as they come up instead of letting problems get the best of you.