If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would ever become a stay at home mom, I would have laughed. I was raised to be a strong independent woman which, I thought, meant career focused and financially successful. Shortly after I found out that I was pregnant with my son, my perception changed drastically. My husband and I decided that I would leave my job and stay home. Transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom has been the greatest challenge of my life. I never realized how much my career defined my self-worth. I’d like to share with you how I was able to make this transition and still feel valued the way that I did at work.
Transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom: Redefining Your Self-Worth
Freedom and Autonomy
This was the easiest part of the transition. In my career, I had earned the respect of my boss and, in turn, was allowed a great deal of freedom and autonomy. I could plan my days however I liked as long as things got done. This is one of the greatest perks of transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom. Occasionally, my husband will get on my case about how I spent my day or why I didn’t get something done that he thought took priority over something I DID do, but overall he knows I will get everything necessary done and he leaves me to find my path.
This was a big one for me. I loved working, and I was good at it. On a daily basis people would compliment my work and thank me for what I did, my boss included. This is literally why I worked so hard. I love making people proud or helping make people’s lives easier. I strived to be the best because I craved approval.
After leaving, I’m realizing that this was not a good thing for me. Not to mention, I think it held me back a bit. My focus was on what my boss needed or what the company needed, not what I needed. Regardless, being a Stay at Home Mom is a thankless job. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a very appreciative and empathetic husband, there’s no way he can know how many things you have done each day that we’re undone before he got home. (i.e. pick up toys, clean the high chair, wipe down the counters, etc.)
When transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom, I had to stop relying on other people to tell me I did a good job. This has been extremely healthy for me to overcome. I now work hard to accomplish things because I want to, or I find value in them. When I’m done, I know I did a good job and that is enough – usually. Occasionally I will brag to my husband about something I’ve done and he is always quick to show praise where it is due, but for the most part, I am proud of myself. (note: This one took me a while. Don’t get discouraged if you feel unappreciated at first. Just be strong and know your worth!)
Some of you may not have this issue, as I know not everyone likes public recognition; however, I most certainly did. When I worked hard on a big project, my boss would share my successes with the executives who would often take the time to personally congratulate or thank me. Sometimes, a co-worker from a different department would share my accomplishments in a meeting or with their team, which always made me feel special, regardless of whether I received additional praise.
This is definitely not something you will get as a Stay at Home Mom, at least not in the traditional sense. For those of you that have this need, I recommend finding a hobby that will satisfy it. For me, blogging has been wonderful. My work is out in the world for all to see. All it takes is one comment from a satisfied reader to brighten my day. If you aren’t into blogging, maybe you could become a member of a community group – or start one yourself!
Because of my work ethic, and my desire to help others succeed, I always had good relationships with people at work. I tried to take everyone into account when working on new projects or processes. I didn’t just want my boss to be pleased, I wanted my co-workers (my friends) to be pleased as well. This meant that those around me appreciated my work and not only did they show it through verbal praise, but through reciprocation. I had a group of people who were willing to help me in any way they could at any time.
Losing this connection was one of the hardest things for me about transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom. I’ve never been great with friends outside of work so it was tough to lose the people I worked with, and bonded with, everyday. Again, this goes back to finding the right hobby. As a blogger, I am working to build relationships with fellow bloggers. The blogging community is all about helping each other out so it is the perfect way to fill this void. A community group or even helping out at your kid’s school could also be a good fit. It may seem like more work to add something like this to your already full plate, but it’s amazing how easily you can fit the things that you prioritize into your day if you put your mind to it. Remember, there are no deadlines now!
It bothers me to think about how much value I placed on my income when it came to my self-worth pre-motherhood. Getting a raise meant that I was better, and that’s just not true. At first, I felt a massive amount of guilt for staying home. I felt like I wasn’t contributing. That is complete nonsense. When I think back to my career I can’t believe how easy I had it. On a busy day I still got to go on a couple of 15 minute walks with my co-worker and good friend, take a lunch break, and listen to whatever music I wanted on my two hours of commute time (AKA alone time) each day. And when I got home I was done! I could do whatever I wanted or go somewhere without preparing.
Stay at Home Moms are never “off the clock” and the contribution is substantial. Between the cost of daycare and the money I save us couponing, I’m already “earning” a small income as it is. When you factor in the going rate of the services I provide (maid, handyman, chef, etc.) it’s crazy! Not to mention the things you can’t put a price tag on like the fact that our son is with me all day instead of a stranger at day care or the healthy meals make from scratch. These are things that my husband and I value more than money and I am grateful that I am able to provide them.
Though it wasn’t my official title, I became somewhat of a project manager in my most recent work position. In other words, I would plan a project, create it (or facilitate creating it), launch and implement it, and then complete it along with analysis of how everything went down. It would be a stretch to find this sense of completion as a Stay at Home Mom. Granted there are occasional “projects”, like weaning for example. There is a start and a finish, but everything in between is an unknown.
Of course there is also the fact that parenting is never truly complete. I’ve learned to take satisfaction in the milestones and to be optimistic about what’s coming next. There’s actually something kind of freeing about knowing that everything is ongoing and there are no real deadlines. You just wake up every day and do your best. On days where the world seems to be working against you, just take a break.
Speaking of taking a break, I hardly even remember what it was like to be on vacation. I am ashamed to say that I actually thought that transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom would be like a vacation. Boy, was I wrong. Of course, it is wonderful to be with my son all day – no complaints there – but it is not a vacation. When I was working, vacation meant a week to do nothing. I didn’t cook or do dishes (I didn’t do much of that during that time regardless). We slept in, stayed up late and drank with friends. We just got up and went wherever we wanted and, with two incomes, we pretty much bought whatever we wanted.
Now vacation is different. We will be visiting family for 10 days in December and you better believe I will be working almost the entire time. By work I mean making sure my husband and son are fed and preparing for every event before we go. On the off-chance that we have a night baby free, I will still be much more tame than I would have pre-motherhood. I’m sure vacation will be even more different as my son gets older and we likely have at least one more. Disneyland, anyone? Despite the no breaks lifestyle and sentiment for the “old days”, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I once thought that my self-worth was based on career success. My work defined me. Transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom changed more than my career. It changed me as a person for the better. I now have more freedom and autonomy than I ever could have had at work. Praise and recognition take the form of observing my son learning a new skill or laughing and playing happily. My peers are fellow moms and Stay at Home Mom bloggers. Making more money or gaining a higher status doesn’t even come close to the feeling of raising my son and the work projects that once seemed so important have been replaced by colossally more important milestones in my son’s development. Vacations have become family focused and I take pride in the responsibilities I have during these times.
If you are a career woman on the fence about transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom, I’m here to tell you that it was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but if you take away anything from this post, let it be this: Just because you are driven and career focused doesn’t mean you won’t be an awesome Stay at Home Mom – in fact it could mean just the opposite!
Are you thinking about transitioning to a Stay at Home mom? Check out my article on 10 Ways to be an Organized Stay at Home Mom (with FREE Printables!)
Stay at Home Moms – Did any of you have similar experiences? Let me know in the comments below!
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