For some, the decision to stay at home with their children is a foregone conclusion – they simply cannot imagine doing things any other way. For others, however, things are not quite so clear-cut, and many questions arise. Here are some of the more common questions asked of stay-at-home moms, and hopefully, some useful answers too.1. WHY stay at home?
There are no simple answers to this most basic of questions – the motivation seems to be different for everybody. Some mothers were raised by stay-at-home-moms, and it is just the way they know things. Others plan to return to work, but after meeting their new baby can’t bring themselves to leave them. Still others find that working is actually not a financially viable option. The cost of daycare, convenience foods, a working wardrobe and transportation can often eat so much into the extra paycheck that working is just no longer worth it. Whatever your reasons for wanting to stay at home, other mothers have been there and have made it work.
2. BUT what will I do all day?
Anyone who has spent 10 hours with a 2 year old probably won’t ask this question, but a new baby, if it is your first, can sometimes be a different story. If you have settled into a routine with your infant but he or she still sleeps a lot, you may find yourself with some extra time on your hands. If you’re used to being busy at a high-powered job, the quiet time can indeed be a bit unsettling at first. Remember, though, that this period will most likely end as soon as your baby is awake more often, and is definitely gone by the time he or she is mobile. Use the time to catch up on reading a book, do some light housework (remember you are still recovering from childbirth) or just to take a nap with your baby. If you’re feeling especially motivated and not too tired, a craft project or building a website for your new family could be a good creative outlet.
3. HOW will we afford it?
This is a tricky question, but with dedication and commitment, living on one income is possible in a great majority of cases. Take a look at your monthly bills and see if you can eliminate or reduce any of them. For example, if you don’t watch cable TV, stop paying for it. Look into cutting down on your food bill by buying in bulk, reducing luxury items and cooking meals from scratch rather than depending on expensive ready-prepared foods. Staying at home may require more budgeting, and possibly giving up certain lifestyle items, but can be worth it for the simple reward of staying with your child.
4. WHAT will I do for adult interaction?
This can be a big issue for some stay-at-home-moms. However rewarding staying at home can be, a nonverbal infant does not make for a stimulating conversation partner. Your child will also benefit from interaction with others, so get together with other moms you know for weekly playdates. If you’re a new parent and don’t know any other mothers, look into local playgroups, MOMS clubs, or, if you’re breastfeeding, La Leche League. All of these can get you out of the house and interacting with other adults while your child is having fun too.
5. WHAT about housework?
When chasing an active baby or toddler around, finding time for housework and cooking can sometimes be a little difficult, and when you do have time, sitting down and reading for 20 minutes can often seem very appealing. Trying to clean the whole house all at once is too daunting a task, so try to do little jobs as they come up. Doing the dishes from lunch as soon as you’re finished will prevent a whole sinkful later. Some mothers find that having one day a week for each big chore, like laundry, works well. Others find that it piles up too much that way and one load a day is the way to go. Experiment and find out what works for you. Remember, though, that a happy baby is more important than a clean house, and a few dustbunnies are not major in the grand scheme of things.
6. WHAT about working part-time?
If you need a little extra income and the possibility exists for you, working part time is a good option for a lot of mothers. Even if the income isn’t necessary, there are mothers who find that a part-time job gives some much needed “me” time. If your partner can be the one to watch the baby while you are working, this can provide bonding time for them and affording daycare isn’t an issue. This option isn’t available for everybody and may not work for everybody, but if you can and want to, there is no harm at all in giving it a try. If you had planned to stay at home full-time, but are offered a part-time position by your employer, try it if you’re tempted. You may decide that staying home full-time is indeed the right decision for you, but you haven’t lost anything by giving it a trial run.
7. WHAT about working at home?
Again, this is an option that can work well, but doesn’t work for everyone – experimentation is necessary. Some mothers have found that trying to fit in phone calls, meetings and time at a desk is too difficult with a baby underfoot. Others find that by organizing really well and getting down to work when the baby naps or plays with daddy, working at home is a great solution if bringing in extra income is necessary or desired. More information can be found in StorkNet’s Work At Home Parents cubby.
8. WHAT do I do to keep my toddler stimulated?
Keeping enquiring little minds busy every day can be one of the most challenging aspects of staying at home with them. It can be easy to get stuck into the same activities and routines all the time, occasionally resulting in boredom for both mother and child. However, it is important to remember that routines are often soothing to small children, they do have favourite activities, and even the most mundane things, such as a trip to the mailbox, can be made into an adventure with a little imagination. Coming up with a new activity to try every day is not only impossible, but could very likely result in an overstimulated and cranky toddler. Keep things interesting but simple, like drawing, fingerpainting, reading stories, building tents with a few chairs and an old bedsheet. What we view as basic and obvious is new and exciting to young children, just take inspiration from their natural curiosity and use your imagination. If the weather is nice, a walk and a change of scenery can often distract and recharge a toddler who has been climbing the walls inside. For days when the weather is horrible and going outside is just not an option, plan a special activity or craft to keep your little one from developing cabin fever. Baking cookies with a 2 year old is messy, but almost unmatched for enjoyment, learning experience, and reward.