Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) is a rewarding and challenging experience. It can be a great opportunity to spend more time with your children and create a loving and nurturing home environment. However, it also comes with its own set of unique challenges. As a SAHM, you may find yourself struggling with feeling overwhelmed, your day gets away from you, and some it feels like kids are in charge.
In this article, we will share 20 things that we wish we knew about being a SAHM before we embarked on this journey. We hope that by sharing our experiences, we can help other SAHMs feel less alone in their struggles and provide practical advice for navigating the challenges of motherhood. Whether you are a new SAHM or have been doing it for years, we believe that these tips and insights can help you find more fulfillment and joy in your role as a stay-at-home mom.
1. Make the Decision
You may have already made the decision or you may have that baby in your arms and aren’t sure what to do. For me, it was a move across the country and I felt like I “should” go back to work. However, I finally taught for a school year starting in January only to realize that the cost of two kids in daycare and what I made wasn’t worth it.. But I had been afraid to say aloud that I wanted to stay home. If this is something you do want to do, declare it rather than feel like you fell into it.
2. Determine Your WHY
You might have heard this concept before and wondered what it really means? Well, it starts with asking yourself, “Why do I want to be a stay-at-home mom?” And so, you might answer to have a deeper connection with my kids. So then you ask why do I want that? And you really have to go through this process until you’ve asked yourself 6 or 7 times to get to your true why.
For me, at this point in my life I have used this to figure out why do I wanted to create Connecting Mamas. The fear of taking away from my family came up in this process, but it really came down to how much I’ve struggled to belong and feel comfortable in groups and with others. It is something I’ve wanted my whole life but felt unattainable. I love helping people, and I want to be able to model for my kids of what a fulfilled moms looks like. I will do that by creating connection for myself and others.
But it’s this why I hold onto during the rough days when I want to give up, when it feels like I’m working so hard for no reason, no one is paying attention. Yet, then I look and see my kids are paying attention learning seeing what I’m creating. You want to have that why to propel you forward because I’m not going to lie this job is one of the most frustrating yet rewarding jobs all at the same time. The mix of emotions will leave you confused, and this why will focus you back.
3. Choose how you start your day!
Babies, kids, little creatures will disrupt your sleep and get you to jump and run in their direction. So even when the baby cries in the middle of the night, take one deep breath to compose yourself before heading over. And as your kids get older, getting up before them even 5 minutes to take in the calm really helps because when they wake you up it changes your day.
Thus, it’s in your hands to make the choice ahead of time. I love getting up before them to meditate, sometimes read, do a self development course, journal, affirmations, or yoga. I don’t always get to do all but I will choose meditation first if that is all I have time for even 5 minutes which makes the biggest difference for me. It could even simply be going to the bathroom first, taking a pause in the mirror to say good morning to yourself first and give yourself a high five. It’s all about the intention.
4. Learn to let go of perfectionism by giving yourself grace
You might have told yourself at some point, “When I’m a mom, I won’t do….” And it could have been something your parents did or even a stranger you saw doing. But all of a sudden you will have a different knowing and understanding that a non parent simply can’t have. Yet you still have those ideas in your head, it’s time to start acknowledging what they were and see if they are still realistic with your new perspective. This is where grace comes in because until you are actually in the situation, it’s really hard to know what you will do. And we are all human. The question at the end of the situation to ask, “Did I learn something, and what can I do differently next time.” The grace in knowing that you are doing your best because MAMA YOU ARE!
5. Embracing the Mess
Embracing the mess and chaos of motherhood even Marie Kondo after having kids has changed her tune a bit. Marie Kondo has admitted she’s “kind of given up” on tidying up after welcoming three children. “The decluttering expert welcomed her third child, a son, in April 2021. Since becoming a family of five, Kondo has now put organization and decluttering on the back burner and started to embrace the mess.” It is up to you and your spouse to define how much you can handle not Facebook and Pinterest. There are routines for working to put things back after you use them, getting dishes right away, but also keep in mind when you have so many little hands everywhere it will take time to get these routines up. Really decide what aspects are important to you. I’ve given up on the kitchen counter where everyone puts everything but work to make sure the other half is clean and dishes picked up. Pick the battles that make sense to you and let go if it feels not worth it to you or something you can live with for now. After all, they won’t be little forever.
6. Remember that it’s a team effort with your partner.
It helps if you define things for each other to do. For instance, every night my husband does the dishes whether he’s cooked or not. But maybe twice in the last 10 years has he cleaned a bathroom or loaded a load of laundry. Decide what you do need help with because my husband has said sometimes he feels like his presence has hurt our routine. Even as I write this blog right now, my kids have a day off from school, and he went into the office. And work on not comparing what your spouse does or doesn’t do to your friends’ husband. Rather talk with your spouse about what you need and how you feel.
7. Time management skills are crucial
As a stay-at-home mom, you’ll be juggling multiple responsibilities throughout the day, and effective time management will be essential to stay on top of everything. Based on your planned activities, have a weekly ideal plan but also have a plan for when poop hits the fan because then you know the one or two things you need to get done will be enough for that day even if it’s just that you keep the kids alive and get yourself lunch. We all have those days.
8. It’s okay to ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, friends, or family members when you need it. It can be really hard to ask for help from others, but also know you have so many people wanting to help you but not sure how they can. As a SAHM can be overwhelming at times, and having a support system can make all the difference. Plan out times with your friends to have a day where you watch all the kids, and then switch so you each have time for yourselves, or time to do the errands you need child free.
9. Find a supportive community of other SAHMs
Connecting with other stay-at-home moms can provide a sense of camaraderie and support. Keep in mind that it’s a process and the first group you find might not be the right fit. Listen to “your gut” as it’s okay to try out different groups before you feel comfortable. Define what kind of group you are looking for. I found myself in groups where it seemed it turned into a complaining fest and everyone tried to top each other with the worst story. I never felt that great after the conversation. If you’re struggling to find what you are looking for and want to grow and find fulfillment come check out our course.
10. Take time for self-care and prioritize your mental health
It’s easy to put your own needs last when you’re busy taking care of your family, but taking care of yourself is crucial to your mental and emotional well-being. You might have already heard this as a society, we are finally coming to a place where we’ve realized being the martyr when it comes to motherhood does not help you or your family. When you do the things you enjoy, have your cup filled, then you have the ability to do that for those around you including your kids and spouse. It’s a win-win.
11. Create a daily routine that works for you and your family
Establishing a daily routine can help you stay on track and maintain a sense of structure in your day-to-day life. There are so many enrichment classes, playdate opportunities, mom’s groups, museums around, nature walks. Pick activities that help you get a weekly routine. I also use songs on Alexis to help with getting out of the house, cleaning up around the house, ones to indicate bed time, it’s great to set some daily timers that help you keep track of these things without having to pay attention.
12. Don’t compare yourself to other moms or societal expectations
Everyone’s parenting journey is different, and even the image you may have had in your mind before actually having kids. Each child and every situation is so different that we can’t compare the two. Even what works for you oldest may have no effect on your second child. Our goal is to work towards what is best for our own child no one else.
13. Keep a sense of humor and find joy in the little things
Parenting can be stressful, but finding joy in the little moments is crucial. Start looking to answer the question, what do I like doing with each of my kids. You don’t have to do the things you don’t like to do. For instance, I’m not that big at building Legos, I let them do it on their own or with my husband. But when my daughter wants to draw, I jump in. Let’s find more joy and then laugh when everything just goes upside down. Because kids are so unpredictable it’s going to happen, it’s how we respond to it. Responding with laughter is key.
14. Get creative with budgeting and saving money
Being a SAHM often means living on a single income, so finding creative ways to budget and save money can be important. Money management has been a big struggle of mine and I’ve been diving into the book Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach as we really can do it when we put intention behind our choices. Check out Financial benefits of being a SAHM blog. (link)
15. Find ways to maintain a sense of identity beyond motherhood
It’s important to have hobbies and interests outside of motherhood to maintain a sense of identity and fulfillment. This one I unconsciously let go of from the beginning throwing myself into the activities of what the family was doing. I didn’t realize what the implications have years later. I slowly made decisions to put myself last and before I knew it, I was in a fog wondering what I wanted to do and feeling so lost.
One of the ways to combat that is to keep up with your interests. However, at the same time, realize they might change or have different meaning for you and that is okay. It’s important to make those decisions consciously and decide what you want that is the key. I made many of mine by omission of making a decision and letting my subconscious making many of the decisions leaving me waking up feeling unsure of myself.
16. Take advantage of naptime or quiet time for yourself
Finding time for yourself can be challenging, but taking advantage of naptime or quiet time can give you some much-needed self-care time. This is a great time to use but it can leave pressure to get the kids down for naps and sometimes they fight it. As my kids got older, I used a timer in their room that had three colors. Green they had to lay in bed, Yellow they could play quietly, and Red they could come downstairs. It took a while to get this routine in place but the green allowed them to fall asleep on days they needed and the yellow gave me time to myself on many days making the days it didn’t work out better.
17. Don’t forget about your own personal and career goals
Being a SAHM doesn’t mean giving up your own personal and career goals. Finding ways to pursue your passions and interests can be fulfilling and rewarding. Your goals are different than before but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to do something fulfilling from home with a flexible schedule. Again, this is where it’s great to find moms who are already doing it that you can learn from. And it’s not something you have to do right away or ever if you don’t want to. Just know it is an option many are doing.
18. Foster independence in your children
Encouraging independence in your children can help them develop important life skills and make your job as a mom easier. Setting up activities that your child can start doing on their own at an early age. Homemade playdough is great for this because you can do it together but when it’s time to play if you walk away and they end up eating a little, it doesn’t matter. We got kids paint containers that allowed them to put a piece of paper on it and color away without getting the table a complete mess and then easy to put away. What do your kids like to do? My husband turned an old train table into a light table so the kids could draw and build with the magnetic blocks and have all kinds of color. Find the things they really like doing and make stations for that. We had bought a lego table that sat for years and almost threw away until one day they started playing. But the little kitchen, they still play with.
19. Stay connected with your friends and family
Maintaining relationships with friends and family members can provide a sense of connection and support. It is so easy to say I’m too tired, I have too much to do and each decision pushes people further away. Try instead, I’m tired, my house is a mess, but I would love your company. Or make the effort to get out of the house because you really do need that change in perspective and time away to enjoy it more. It’s easier at times to sit in front of the TV and some days we need that, but fostering your relationships the best way you can is so worth it. My one question for you when it come to television, “Am I looking forward and/or enjoying this show or am I watching because it’s on?”
20. Embrace the ever-changing nature of motherhood
Parenting is constantly evolving, and being open to change and growth can help you navigate the ups and downs. As your kids keep growing, the struggles and joys with change. Remember that you are making a difference in the lives of your children: At the end of the day, being a SAHM is a meaningful and important job. Remember that you are making a difference in the lives of your children and shaping them into the people they will become. Embrace the challenges, joys, and surprises of motherhood, and know that you are doing an incredible job and give yourself grace along the way. You will make mistakes, but it’s how you speak to yourself for making them, what you learn from them, and how you respond to your kids. Own your mistakes, take accountability, and model the behavior you want your kids to have.
In conclusion, being a stay-at-home mom is both a rewarding and challenging experience. We hope that the 20 things we’ve shared in this article will help you navigate the challenges of being a SAHM, and find more fulfillment and joy in your role as a parent. Remember, you are not alone in your struggles, and there is a supportive community of other SAHMs.
We encourage you to put some of these tips and insights into practice, and to prioritize your own self-care and well-being as a SAHM. Share in the comments your thoughts on what would help you. We also encourage you to reach out to other SAHMs for support and connection, whether it’s through local mom groups or online communities such as Connecting Mamas. Find one that feels right to you. The most important aspect is deciding what you want and how you want to do motherhood for your children. You are the best person, the best advocate for them, and the best role model. You want them to be happy and healthy little humans, and they need to see a happy, healthy adult to model after.
Above all, we want you to know that being a SAHM is a valuable and important role, and you are making a difference in the lives of your children and family. Thank you for all that you do, and keep up the amazing work!