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.
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.
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.
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.
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!