Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide

We waited six years to have kids after we got married. Six years. That’s a long time to wait for someone like me who had dreamed of becoming a mom since I was a little girl. Included in that dream was being a stay-at-home mom for all the reasons one dreams of that–baby snuggles all day, being there for every first, baking cookies and making crafts out of random whatnots found around the house. Thanks to getting married just out of college and living in a high cost of living area, six years is what it took to be able to afford that dream and still live comfortably.

Guess what, though? I’m not crafty, I don’t care for baking and baby snuggles just aren’t the same when baby is screaming instead of snuggling back. When my first was six weeks old, I felt ready to go back to work. In fact, going back to work sounded like a vacation compared to dealing with my always-crying little one at home.

I do realize that working moms are not on vacation everyday, but that’s how I felt at the time as a struggled at home with my newborn. It’s just that I didn’t realize what a difficult transition it would be to go from career woman to stay-at-home mom.

I barely survived the first few months of my son’s life and there are a few things that helped me scrape along during that time that I hope will help some of you survive this time too.

Stay-at-home-mom SAHM Survival Guide

Meet other new moms

You need to see that everything you’re going through is normal. I went to my first new moms group when my son was 9 days old. I was deep in the baby blues and desperate to see how other new moms were holding up. At the group there were new moms who were handling everything quite well, which deepened my sadness for what I didn’t have, but there were also new moms similar to me, struggling to adjust to motherhood. Seeing the moms with older, 6-month-old babies who seemed so together gave me hope that it would get better. Most importantly, it became my lifeline, something to look forward to each week, and led to friendships that I still have four years later.

Moms and kids at Cars Land
Our kiddos are friends since birth thanks to meeting at our hospital’s new moms group

Create a village

You will need the support of others even if you think you can do it on your own. In fact, you probably can do it on your own, but you’ll make life a lot easier if you rely on others around you for help. Even if you don’t have friends and family nearby, you can create a village by meeting new moms in a group like the one I attended. Those friends I made in that group became part of my village and were essential, especially when my second was born. You’ll need the support of others and you’ll also need people who can watch the baby for a little while so you can have some time to yourself, whether it be to take a nap, run errands or get your hair done.

Join a gym with childcare

Preferably childcare that’s included in your membership so you’re not having to shell out a few bucks every time you want to workout. Four dollars a pop may not seem like much, but when you’re trying to workout regularly or you have multiple children, it adds up. Switching to the YMCA from 24-Hour Fitness when Reece was 15 months old was the best decision and I wish I had found out about their low-cost childcare sooner. It made the difference from going to the gym maybe twice a week to going pretty much everyday. It’s a great way to not only get some “me time,” but also do something healthy for yourself.

Get out of the house

Whether it be for a walk around the neighborhood or to run an errand, you need to get out of the house. Seeing other people doing normal everyday things is a good reminder that life goes on even though your life has been completely turned upside down. It will be challenging at first, but it’s worth it. Errands can be intimidating at first, so try for a coffee shop so you don’t have to do anything but get there.

Going for a walk with a newborn and dog in the Bumbleride
My first walk with Reece and Capri

Husband handoff

Even if they’re not the ones feeding the baby, husbands are capable of so much. To some, this may seem obvious and maybe even silly, but the rest of us will know what it’s like to feel like you’re attached to a nursing baby 24/7. As soon as that baby is done nursing, hand the baby off. With my first, I felt like it was all me and this was not any fault of my husband’s. It was just that Reece nursed so much, I felt like there was barely any time to hand him off. Make the time, there is a lot to do besides nursing. Hand that baby off so you can get the mini breaks you need.

Doug wearing Reece in the Beco Gemini

I directed these points towards moms of newborns, but now that my son is four and my daughter is one-and-a-half, they really are the same now as they were then. I may not have a new moms group to attend anymore, but I still need my mommy friends with kids the same age. The village is crucial at all stages, I go stir crazy if I don’t get out of the house, I need the gym to keep me sane and the kids get so excited to see daddy when he comes home, they run to meet him at the door.

Even though it hasn’t been quite what I imagined and I’m beginning to add some part-time work in, I’m still glad that this is the path we chose. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but with these tools, I’m managing to stay afloat.

Tell me your tips for surviving life as a stay-at-home mom!

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Comments 16

  • Laura, I can totally relate to your comment about how difficult it was to adjust to motherhood. I didn’t become a mother until I was 34, and by then, I’d been working for 10+ years! I was so used to it being all about me, me, me, that to lose that personal time in the evenings and on the weekends was truly difficult.

    I love all your tips – they are so true – especially the one about getting out of the house. I was blessed to live somewhere with fairly nice weather even in the winter time – and for the first six months of my son’s life, I would go out for a two hour trail hike every morning with my son. It was a lifesaver, being out in nature, with the fresh air, and I’d even chat up other hikers. That was the part of the day when I felt the most alive (and the least like I was going to crawl under a rock and die). Fortunately things got alot easier when my son turned one. But that first year was a tough one!

    • The mild CA winter was definitely helpful with my daughter, who was born in November. I feel for moms who are stuck inside during cold winters. And I so identify with wanting to crawl under a rock!

  • Thank you for this! I’ll be transitioning from a full-time working mom to a stay-at-home-mom in January and I am so incredibly nervous. You are right when you said that working feels like a vacation. Maybe not a ‘vacation’ but I don’t have to worry about what my daughter is getting into or have her testing my patience for 8 hours while I’m at work. This will all change soon and though I’m nervous to deal with two instead of one, but I will definitely do what I can to be prepared! Pray for me! 🙂

    • It’s so nice to hear from a working mom on this post! Maybe saying it feels like a break is better than using the word vacation? When you’re a SAHM, you have to make your own breaks because they’re so important for your sanity. Good luck!

  • Laura, I could have written that post! Thank you for sharing. I was shocked at how difficult the change was from full time work to full time SAHM. I wish someone had told me it was not going to be easy. Everyone just keeps saying you won’t get any sleep but never talk about the other aspects. I also developed a support network with some mummy friends on Facebook which was very helpful.

    • This is why I aim to be open and honest about my experience as a first-time mom. It hit me so hard and I felt I would have been better prepared knowing these things in advance. It’s good to see that thanks to the blogosphere, things like this and PPD are more out in the open.

  • Such good tips. Having “me time” as a mom is SO important and being a mother doesn’t mean having to sacrifice yourself. The entire reason I started blogging and devote the time I do to working out is so that I can keep my sanity.

  • Great post! I can totally relate. Getting out of the house is key and finding other moms to hang with. We have wonderful mommy groups and MOPS in our town. I also rely on the child watch at our local gym for an hour just to get some me time!

    • Moms groups are great! Mine was easy enough to find because it was run by the hospital I gave birth at, but there are so many other options for finding one.

  • i wish more than anything i could be a stay at home mom!

    • It definitely has its perks, but it’s not for everyone. Being a teacher gives you a pretty good schedule, though, so that’s nice.

  • There are all great tips! I think another important one is to make time for your spouse. The young children years can be tough on a marriage and I think it’s smart to be intentional and making time to stay connected outside of parenthood.

  • Love this post! My daughter is 2 months and I am adjusting to being at home vs going to work everyday. I’ve met so many other SAHM’s in my neighborhood and that has been wonderful…makes me feelike I’m not alone, lol!

    • It’s definitely an adjustment. I’m glad you have support from other moms! It’s so needed, especially in those first few crazy months.

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