By Maria T. Pepin
Once your maternity leave is over, you may find yourself debating whether to go back to work full time or stay home with your new baby. If you are leaning towards being a stay-at-home mom, here are some great tips to get you started on this rewarding journey.
Review Your Finances
Take a look at how much money your family will lose if you decide to stay home. You need to determine if working is a financial necessity. Grab your checkbook and write down all the expenses/bills your family has every month. Subtract from your income all your expenses related to your career. These expenses include transportation, clothes, dry cleaning, lunches out, daycare, taxes, etc. The money you have left is the amount your household will lose by you staying at home. See if you can compensate for the difference by either cutting back on unnecessary expenditures (i.e. fancy vacations) or finding out if your partner can make up the difference in income. Planning ahead is vital for success.
Get Your Partner on Board
You and your partner should have a discussion and come to a mutual agreement. Make sure you are both on board with this decision. If you would like to stay home to take care of the baby and it is feasible from a financial standpoint, your partner will likely support you 100%. You will also be able to fully support your husband in his work. With you at home full time, he will have the opportunity to work overtime and not have to worry about picking up the baby from daycare or rushing home because your work meeting ran late.
Women who decide to go back to work will often say they feel guilty and frustrated about the lack of time they have with their kids. It’s a constant balancing act. Similarly, stay-at-home moms feel frustrated as well. Loneliness is common and many struggle with a self-identity crisis, especially if they had a full-time career beforehand. If you are a sociable person, you will miss the companionship that you had in the office. Joining a parenting support group is a good idea. It may take a little effort to create a social network for you and your child, but it is definitely worth it.
Keep in Touch with Friends
Having close girlfriends to lean on is always nice, especially if they are stay-at-home moms too. You have an outlet for yourself and play dates for the kids at the same time! It might be more difficult to get together with your working girlfriends, but if you both put in the effort, you can make it happen. Try to schedule some “mommy time” once a week to get out of the house and be with other adults. Have your partner watch the baby so you can take an exercise class, get a massage, see a movie, etc. It’s important to actively carve out time for YOURSELF. Remember, a happy mom is a good mom.
Being a stay-at-home mom can inspire you to get creative. Enjoy your children and take the time to savor your adventures together. Enroll in a Mommy and Me class, get crafty for the holidays… the possibilities are endless. As your kids get older, many moms find hidden passions like working on a kid-friendly book, starting a parenting blog, or perfecting the art of cooking.
Returning to the Workplace
If you do have a career that you hope to return to in the future, make sure that taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom won’t count against you. Keep in touch with your colleagues and try to attend social mixers occasionally so that you can stay on their radar. An interesting side note: many moms who stayed home until their kids were older actually find new careers that fit their family lifestyle better and made them a lot happier in the long run!