6 Tips for Transitioning to Stay-at-Home Motherhood

Congratulations! You’re becoming a stay-at-home parent. Whether the transition is one rooted in choice, sheer necessity, or is simply due to life circumstances, welcome to the club! Beyond the obvious need to switch from dry-clean-only to washable attire, here are six of my personal tips for those entering upon the task of stay-at-home parenting.

My littlest and me

My littlest and me

1) Identify. Find out whether your kid(s) and you do best when at home or when out and about. Figure out the right ratio for your brood: home in the morning then out in the afternoon, out all day until dinnertime, out then in for naps then back out until dinner prep, or out just one or two days each week. Like adults, some kids are homebodies whereas others flourish when out of the house. Similarly, some parents do better out of the house rather than in. It takes some trial and error to determine the appropriate balance, but it’s there. Once you’ve found it, set your plans and schedule accordingly.

2) Prepare. Being prepared is key to the stay-at-home parent’s survival. Set out clothes at least the night before, set out coats and shoes the night before, pack lunches and snacks the day before, prepare breakfast for quick serving the night before. If “hell hour” is real and daily, aim for dinners you can prep earlier in the day so that you’re not trying to cook and comfort at the same time. Meal plan (not only does this save money and impromptu grocery trips, but it makes evenings easier), schedule activities at a minimum one day ahead, consider yourself an administrative assistant… with a warlord of a boss. The better you plan, the smoother things will go.

3) Relax. Just because you don’t get paid doesn’t mean you don’t work, and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t need a break. Whether it’s an exercise class, coffee with a friend, a regular mind-clearing walk, a valued hobby, drinks with friends, or quiet alone time, make sure you replenish yourself. Being a stay-at-home parent is demanding and can easily lead to burnout. We cannot pour from an empty cup, so stay vigilant. Stay full.

4) Regiment. Most kids thrive on a routine. I have yet to encounter a routine-utilizing parent who finds the practice unfruitful. However, I know many routine-avoiding parents who often say they wish they had one. Find what works for you and stick to it. If naptime or quiet time is crucial (for your offspring or you), keep it sacred. If late morning starts are golden, don’t leave the house until close to lunchtime. If meltdowns are inevitable come 3:00, plan to be at home base no later than 2:59. Know your pitfalls as well as your needs and navigate accordingly.

5) Network Talk to local stay-at-home parents. Hit up story times, chat up fellow school parents, get to know neighbors, let fellow stay-at-home parents know you’re looking to expand your circle. Stay-at-home moms, in particular, more often than not love to help. From pediatricians to playdates, babysitters to preschools, swim lessons to date night spots, your network will prove invaluable. Want to know what heavy-hitter viruses are going around? Ask your network. Potty-training conundrum or seemingly unsurvivable kid phase? Hit up your network. Need a handyman or a new gynecologist? Call up your network. A network is a necessity.

6) Research  Google, fellow moms, local parenting bloggers, local activity listing sites, your county’s library webpage, your local mall and indoor playgrounds, nearby museums, community centers and nature centers… check them out for outing ideas. Hunt for free or cheap options. Do watch coupon sites as fine print and usage limitations can get tricky. Get out there and you’ll likely find your community has a slew of hidden gems.

Stay-at-home parenting is hard, under-appreciated, and unfunded. It’s 24/7. It’s unyielding. It’s gross and heavy and taxing. It’s the most rewarding, love-filled, unregrettable endeavor you can undertake. Your children have but one childhood, being there to experience it is priceless. Welcome!

Grateful to be a Stay-at-home Mom

It’s days like today when I am grateful to be a stay-at-home mom. It wasn’t an easy day or a particularly challenging day, it wasn’t monumentally memorable or undeniably notable in any way. It was a relatively standard day in my harried, scheduled, intentional life as a stay-at-home mom of three kids 5 and under. But I was there, and for that I am grateful.


Sure, being a stay-at-home parent is an ongoing gig with few breaks, no vacation or sick days, no pay, and little appreciation (heck, some even resent if not balk at the endeavor), but it is immensely rewarding. For me.

Others may find the undertaking simply torturous or overwhelmingly monotonous. It is truly all in how you approach the responsibility and how you are wired.

I treat my stay-at-home parenting as a job. Truly. Each day I am focused on maintaining a schedule and –hopefully — creating a socially enriching and physically healthy routine for my kids. I have a plan every day just as I did when I was a cubicle-dweller. Just now my colleagues wipe their noses on my clothes and all bathroom duties are communal.

Some people are destined to be moguls, intellectuals, healers, entrepreneurs, managers, artists, or organizers. Heck, some people have no desire to procreate at all. To them I say, “Bravo!” Knowing yourself and your goals, being true to yourself despite outside pressures — real and imagined — takes fortitude. Do you!

Then, there are the men and women like me whose main life goal is to nurture our own offspring. We don’t aspire to be rich in wealth or fame, just in love.

Unfortunately, sometimes life unfolds in such a way that this doesn’t or cannot occur. Instead of walking their dreamed journey, individuals are forcibly detoured to another life path without the comfort of celestial explanation.

Other times, the nurturing path is open. The life aspirations of 24/7 care duties ensue. It’s humbling and fulfilling, exhausting and invigorating, disgusting and beautiful all at once. Each day presents millions of individual moments that range greatly from sweet to stressful, comical to thought-provoking. Some days you feel as if you have hardly used your brain beyond basic feed-clean-protect duties. Then there are days you flop onto your bed in complete exhaustion not knowing how you survived — or how you’ll manage the strength to visit the bathroom to empty your hours-full bladder — but you’re certain that you’ll do it all again tomorrow. Because you’re a parent and that’s what you do.

Today though. Today, mingled among the mundane and trying moments, were brilliant flickers of beauty that reminded me why I am so grateful to be home with my children.

This morning I had the ability to spend a morning taking my littlest to a playground where he could run about with his pint-sized friend. I could take him to a children’s concert and witness his amusement. I could take my boys for a long walk in the afternoon sun and make a last-minute detour to a playground before school pick-up duties called. I could collect my kindergartener from school and hear her gush about her day. I could be here for the good, the bad, the goofy, and the downright obnoxious.

I once worked. I once wore heels and dangling earrings. I once had coffee with fellow adults and spoke in uninterrupted sentences. That’s a past me. A me that was unhappy and unfulfilled because I was playing a roll that didn’t suit me. Just as a natural career man or woman would feel if he or she was forced to be a stay-at-home parent.

There is no single path. There is no “right” or “wrong” journey. It is simply up to us to follow the road laid out before us, to seek our own happiness in accordance with our circumstances and selves.

This is my path. And I am grateful to be present.