After my first child was born, I realized that I want to be a stay at home mom. Unfortunately, at the time we could not afford for me to stop working.
Even though I had a great job that I had spent years working really hard to get, I struggled with returning to work. I was heartbroken leaving my newborn son.
You can read my entire story about how I finally became a stay at home mom here.
I know that I can’t be the only mom out there who has felt this way. I can’t be the only mom who has had to return to their job despite wanting to be home. Not the only mom who has cried everyday as they dropped their baby at daycare or while they pumped or during bathroom breaks.
Some moms rock the whole work life balance thing. They love their jobs and their kids and I wished that I could be like them. But my heart just wanted to be with my son.
When I was able to muster the courage to tell people how I was feeling and how much I wanted to be home with my son, I received very little support. I was told that it wasn’t reasonable for moms to stay home nowadays, that I had worked too hard to leave my career, that it would get easier, and that I would get over it.
To be fair, they weren’t completely wrong and there are lots of reasons not to be a stay at home mom particularly from a financial perspective. We literally could not afford it at the time. But it didn’t get easier and I didn’t get over it.
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I Want to Be a Stay At Home Mom, but we Can’t Afford it.
Finances are a huge reason many moms must continue to work even if they want to stay home.
I read all of the articles I could find about how to save money and live on one low income. While I did learn some money saving tricks, simply cutting cable and gym memberships was not going to be enough.
I read these articles and their well-intentioned “anyone can do it” approach and made me feel even worse. Apparently I just had to sacrifice more. I just didn’t want it badly enough. Well, I call BS.
We had built an entire life based on two incomes. That was not something that could easily be undone with a few cost saving measures. It required an entire overhaul of personal finances.
I also find it disingenuous to attribute our good fortune solely to our hard work. Sure, we worked at it, we budgeted, planned, and sacrificed, but we also had help and a couple of things that eventually fell into place.
It took 2 years of working, planning, and luck before I was able to become a stay at home mom.
You can read my step by step guide on how to become a stay at home mom here. I fully recognize that your financial circumstances are totally different from mine.
Even if quitting your job isn’t in the cards, you can still do things to make your life easier and be a happier mom right now.
I know there are other moms going through this right now. Some mom is out there thinking “I want to be a stay at home mom so bad” and I want to be the voice of encouragement and support for them. I would like to offer them the help and advice that I wish I had found.
So here are my tips to survive as a working mom when you want to stay at home:
Be Picky About Childcare
It is hard enough leaving your little one. It is even harder if you have any doubts or misgivings about your childcare.
For most of us, childcare options are limited by what is available and what we can afford, but you really need to trust whoever is caring for your baby. You need that piece of mind.
If you’re considering different childcare, here is a detailed post that goes into the pros and cons of the most common options like daycare centers, in-home daycare, nanny’s etc.
Some things to consider when choosing your childcare is whether you want it to be close to home where pick up and drop off may be easier for both parents or close to work where you may be able to visit.
I chose a daycare next to my office so I could check on my son easily and feed him on my lunch break. Though I felt he was well cared for, I often wonder if I would have been more comfortable with a family member watching him. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for us.
Don’t Neglect Yourself
I know that you are busy all the time and that you’re prioritizing your baby. I totally get that you don’t ever feel like you get enough time with them. It’s easy to forget that you need to be taken care of as well.
All of the cliches about how you can’t pour from an empty cup and you need to put on your own oxygen mask first are true.
I skipped out on pretty much everything after work that I had previously enjoyed to spend that time with my son. I neglected friendships, hobbies, and myself. It didn’t make me happier and it didn’t make me a better mom.
I know it is hard. Make sure you do something for yourself, even if it’s something small like a bubble bath, 15 minutes reading a book, or calling your bestie to catch up.
**If your unhappiness is overwhelming, causing physical symptoms, or keeping you from finding enjoyment in other areas of your life, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. Postpartum depression is very common and needs to be taken seriously. For more information on postpartum depression: NIH provides general info on their website or contact your healthcare provider.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Moms
It is all too easy to fall into the comparison mind games.
Your coworker might be kicking butt as a working mom and have it all together. Your neighbor might be the pinterest-perfect stay at home mom. STOP trying to compare yourself to them.
First of all, these types of comparisons will not make you feel happier with your own situation. You will inevitably feed your envy and self pity. Don’t go there.
Second, you never see the whole picture. No one’s life is perfect and you never know what is going on behind the scenes. This is especially true with social media where we only see what others want to show us, so don’t fall into this trap.
Finally, it is more difficult to practice gratitude and maintain perspective. By focusing on what we don’t have through these negative comparisons, we overlook the positives in our own life.
I know this can be a hard habit to break. I would scroll my Facebook and feel jealous of other moms. Their lives seemed so much better than mine.
Stopping these comparisons and recognizing the good things in my own life really helped me keep from slipping into a pity party.
Work with Your Employer
See what type of options your job may offer for more flexibility. You may not know what is available until you ask.
Lots of companies are offering part time, flex time, and telework options which can be great for parents who need to work but want to spend more time at home as well.
These options are totally dependent on your specific employer, but it doesn’t hurt to check with your boss or HR and see what they may be willing to do.
I wish more companies allowed part time work. I really feel that it might have been a perfect solution for me. Perhaps you’ll have better luck and be able to achieve a balance that truly does meet your needs.
Make A Plan
It is difficult to handle feeling helpless to your circumstances. One of the things that really helped me to feel better about having to continue working was making a plan for our future that would allow me to stay home.
I know that may not sound helpful, if it was that simple you would have already done it.
Our plan was not simple at all. It took two years, paying down debt, a new job for my husband, and moving across the state. It required a lot of preparation on our part, but also some luck.
This plan was not guaranteed to work out, but it did give me hope and a future to work towards which made the situation seem more bearable. I wasn’t helpless, I was doing everything that I could to change as much as I was capable.
So get creative, think outside the box, and don’t be afraid of big changes. Not everything can be totally planned out and that’s ok. Figure out what you can do right now to get yourself in a better position for the future or at least make things easier in the meantime.
Perhaps your plan involves finding a new job with more family friendly policies, part time options, or a shorter commute. Maybe it involves paying off your credit cards or downsizing your house. Your plan could be to find ways to make your current situation better through hiring a maid and getting a meal service to free up more of your time at home.
The whole point is to give yourself some control and feel like you are working toward a goal.
Any working moms who want to stay home out there? What do you do to cope? Share your ideas with us!