Stay at home mom

When Laundry is an Accomplishment: Life with a Toddler and a Newborn

It took me almost a year after having my first child to feel like I was getting anything done. Now that I have two I’m wondering if it will take two years this time. Having children necessitates having new and more realistic expectations of what you can accomplish in a day. I am one of those people who is always pushing myself to get more done in less time. My husband bought me Getting Things done for Christmas (at my request) but I haven’t had the time to read it yet. (How is that for irony?) My house in a perpetual mess and I haven’t even had to cook many meals yet, thanks to generous friends and family who have been bringing meals since our son was born on March 19. The idea of trying to return to regular every day life is an overwhelming one. Then I realized something. Regular every day life has changed, again.

It changed when my daughter was born and I became a Stay at Home Mom. It changed when she finally began sleeping consistently through the night at one year and I felt like I had my life back.  It changed again while I was pregnant (twice) and the lack of energy sapped my ability to get much done. Now I am the mother of a toddler and a newborn. What was once normal no longer applies. Slowly I am trying to add back in activities I once did regularly like exercise, writing and blogging. But for now I need to be happy with the things I do get done; whether it be finished laundry (including my cloth diapers) or a dinner ready on time. This is the new normal.

Categories: Family, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Confessions of a Real Mom

Sometimes I just want a vacation from being a mom. That is a sentence I never thought I would say just two years ago. I yearned for a child for the first five years of our marriage, and couldn’t wait to be a stay at home mom. While I found it somewhat isolating, I enjoyed most of the first year. I was breastfeeding around the clock and my daughter rarely slept, but at least I could meet her needs with relative ease. But when she began the road to toddlerdome I realized that I was in over my head.

Near constant whining, food and clothing preferences; some how I didn’t seem to have the emotional coping mechanisms to deal with these. Now, I could blame it on my pregnancy or the emotional turmoil of recovering from a miscarriage. But in usual form, I began to blame myself and think I was a “bad mommy.” You know that little voice we all have from time to time that tells us we are bad mommies because we (Fill in the blank). We feel guilty for letting our kids watch too much TV, not feeding them enough healthy foods, etc. We allow ourselves to feel inadequate when we read articles and blog posts about women who seem to be able to do it all; home school, organic meals, constant healthy mental stimulation.  There’s nothing wrong with moms who do these things, and also nothing wrong with wanting to provide these things for your own children. But sometimes you have to cut yourself some slack. It’s ok not to love every moment of mothering. There I said it. There are times when I wish that being a mom was a job I could take a day off from. But it’s not. There are always things to do and a little person demanding my attention.

I try to tell myself that perhaps it will get easier as she gets older but my guess is that parenting, particularly stay-at-home parenting, is always difficult. How it’s difficult simply changes. So for now I focus are getting through the tough days one hour at a time, knowing that tomorrow could be completely different (or more of the same). I try to remind myself of how grateful I am for my daughter and try to fully enjoy the wonderful moments.

Categories: Family, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Going from SAHM to WAHM: How I Accidentally Became a Work At Home Mom

I accidentally became a Work at Home Mom. No, you didn’t misread that. When I left my job as an administrative assistant for a small non-profit two years ago just weeks before the birth of my daughter I really thought I was walking away forever. That fall the assistant they hired to replace me quit, so they asked me to help out for a few days. Then I came to help with the biggest event of the year in January. That spring they were without a full time assistant again and asked if I would consider coming back to work part-time. My daughter was still not weaned and my husband didn’t really like the idea of me going back to work. To be honest, I didn’t either. But I still felt some sense of loyalty to the organization and the extra money would have been nice. But after talking and praying about it, I said no. I returned again last January to help out with the big event, satisfied that my involvement would be limited to once or twice a year. Then this past March I received a phone call. Would I come back to work just two days a week? I said no again. A few weeks later my boss offered me a compromise. Would I work from home and come into the office only as needed during major events until they could hire a new assistant? This was something I was willing to consider.

I will admit it felt kind of good to know that I was valued. I never thought the job was all that challenging, but three other assistants had quit or been fired in two years time. I worked from home for two months and while I enjoyed the extra money, I also found it hard to balance the part-time work with the full time plus job of being a wife, mother and household manager. I always thought working from home would be easy. It isn’t. At the end of May I helped produce a large event for a local business leader and supporter of our non-profit. After the event ended my boss asked if I would continue to work from home indefinitely. “When you decide you can’t or don’t want to do it anymore, let me know and I’ll hire someone,” she said. I wasn’t surprised, but I was a little unnerved. This would mean I was officially a working mom. Yes, I’d be working from home and mostly setting my own hours, but it would still mean one more thing to manage. Deadlines would have to take priority over household tasks as well as my own projects, my novel included.

So far it’s been doable. My mother has graciously watched my daughter on the few occasions where I needed to be in the office or coordinate an event. I’ve been able to make a couple of small extra student loan payments on my husband’s sizeable student loan debt and set aside money for future car repairs and Christmas presents. I don’t know how long it will last, but for the time being I have to stop referring to myself as a Stay at Home Mom.

How do those of you who work outside the home or from home manage to get it all done? Any organization tips?

Categories: Finance, SAHM, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

What We Can Learn from Pioneer Women

I had a conversation with a friend recently about the community mindedness of pioneer women. They were often miles from the nearest neighbor, yet they forged a sense of community that is so often lacking today. Women did their baking and sewing together, delivered each others babies and watched each others children. Harvest was done together and even turned into a social occasion. Neighbors provided support during crisis. The only sign I see of commitment on this level in this century is among the Amish, where even fire insurance is unnecessary. If someone’s barn burns down, the community pulls together and builds a new one. Pioneer women couldn’t run to the store when they ran out of supplies. Help was given knowing that the same support could be depended on from others in times of need.

I don’t know when this sense of community died. Maybe it was when one too many people abused it, making the generous afraid of being overwhelmed. Perhaps it was our overdependence on technology. We post our troubles on Facebook and receive sympathetic comments instead of the helping hand we really need. Worse still, have we allowed our lives to become so busy and egocentric that we no longer make the time to interact with others?

I expected more from Christians today, hoping that we could success in this area where the culture around us has failed, but at least in the United States, we are little better. We fear being judged if we ask for help or offending others if we offer it. Those of us who live on little are embarrassed to admit it and yet shy away from offering our budgeting skills to those struggling. Our society has cultivated an ideal of independence and an anathema of dependence. Worse yet, the philosophy of “love thy neighbor”, for many, has been replaced by “Isn’t that the government’s job?”

So can today’s women reintegrate many of those wonderful qualities found in the pioneer woman? I’m not suggesting we give up shopping at grocery stores and start having our babies at home (unless of course you want to.) But perhaps there is still room for that kind of community even in the 21st century. Cooking at home goes in and out of style, but teaching those skills is not always something every child is taught anymore. Even basic sewing skills have become a lost art. When I told my friends I had begun baking my own bread at home, they were shocked and begged me to teach them. Why not? Our sharing of skills doesn’t have to limited to the home. We can share our love of photography, Pilates, gardening or computers. As women we can learn to depend on each other again. Those who return to the workforce pay a high price for childcare when they might prefer that their children spend the day with a friend. Many couples of lower income rarely go out because they can’t afford a babysitter. Trading off babysitting fulfills this need. We all have something to offer and we each need something in return, even if it is only our time or our listening ears.

Categories: Simple Living, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Being a Stay-At-Home Parent is a Huge Sacrifice and I Did It Anyway

I recently read two articles that address the long term financial difficulties of being a stay at home parent. Katy Read’s Regrets of a Stay-at-Home Mom presents the view of a now divorced single mother without a full time job, lamenting her choice to stay home and/or work part time 14 years ago. She blames herself, society and pressure from family members for a choice that she now says has crippled her career and financial future, possibly permanently. Jonathan Liu of Geek Dad responded with his own take in Stay-at-Home Parenting Backlash: “Opting In” or “Opting Out?”.

This is a loaded issue for many parents, particularly women. But I think what it emphasizes most is that how you raise your children is not a decision to take lightly but it is still YOUR decision. I tend to lean more towards Geek Dad’s opinion that parenting is a huge sacrifice and only the seriously naïve and deceived among us fail to acknowledge that going in to it. We know it could theoretically cost us millions of dollars (assuming we have the kinds of jobs that would net those high wages anyway). But we are willing to lay all of that down for the sake of our children.

There is nothing wrong with continuing in your career path and sending your kids to daycare, if that is what you really want. I never sought to be a big time career woman. I went to college because I love to learn and I recognized the importance of a college education in both future job possibilities and becoming a well-rounded human being. But I didn’t go into deep debt to do it. I studied English not because I thought it would net me a high paying salary but because I love to read and write and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I knew that if I wasn’t willing to work in a major city and work the tough novice reporter hours I wasn’t going to climb the ladder. So I opted to work low paying jobs, many of them not in my field, in favor of supporting my husband while he went back to school. I could have commuted 2 hours of Philadelphia or 3 hours to New York City, but my quality of life mattered more to me. My work was just my work, it wasn’t my life. I always knew that if we were blessed with children, I would be a stay-at-home mom, if at all possible.

I left my best paying job to date to stay at home with my daughter after she was born. I actually had the opportunity to return to my old job part time when she was about 9 months old and I turned it down. Part of me regrets that now, not because I really wanted to go back to work outside the home, but because of the financial aspect. It would be nice to use my extra income to pay off my husband’s student loans. I’m still considering this a possible option, but my husband is very much against it. He thinks that the benefits of having a parent at home full-time far outweigh the financial sacrifices. For the most part, I agree with him. The only way we even could afford for me to work part-time outside the home is if my mother watched my daughter for free, because day care would wipe out any money I was making anyway. If it was necessary for survival we would do this, but I don’t want to burden my mother unnecessarily.

For some families a balance can be found, with one parent working from home some or all of the time. In other cases both parents working full time and full time daycare are the only option or the preferred option. But any decision needs to be made knowledgeably and consciously.

I wish I was still bringing home a regular paycheck, but I made a conscious sacrifice, one that I hope I don’t look back on in 14 years and regret. As a child of a stay-at-home mom, I have no regrets that my mom was at home with me and my sister. My dad had a good job, so we were lucky, but at the same time we didn’t drive new cars, have cell phones, or go to Disney World. My parents made very careful choices with their money so that we could have everything we needed, some of the things we wanted and still have my mom at home with us. I don’t regret the missed vacations, name brand clothes or expensive toys and gadgets. I will be forever grateful that my mom was there whenever I needed her. I only hope I can do the same for my children.

Categories: budget, Finance, Parenting, SAHM, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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