Letter to a New Stay-at-Home Mom
Dear New Stay-at-Home Mom,
Welcome to the wonderful world of SAHMs. Whether you’re starting a new journey with a baby or leaving the workforce to be at home, you’re in for a crazy ride. When people find out that you are staying at home with your kids, you are going to get one of two reactions. There will be people that congratulate you and tell you what a great decision you’ve made. And the others will subtly belittle your decision or dismiss you.
Prepare yourself for both reactions because people will comment on your SAHM status long after the decision has already been made.
Being a SAHM is wonderful. You will get to watch every new step your child makes. You’ll see their first smile, hear their first laugh, and kiss their first bumps and bruises. You’ll be the one they cuddle with when they’re sick. You’ll get to listen to them talk about how much they love dinosaurs or tools or ballerinas or princesses.
You’re going to be there for so many wonderful things. But being a SAHM isn’t easy. You already knew that, of course, and you’re doing it anyway. That’s a pretty good sign that you’ll do well as a SAHM.
It won’t be long before you start talking to yourself. It’s normal. It starts when you talk to your baby. The next thing you know you are answering for them. Then it’s only a matter of time before you’re not talking for the baby anymore but carrying on an entire conversation with yourself. It’s not a whole lot better when you have toddlers. You have to start talking to yourself so that you can have at least one rational conversation during the day.
You have some hard days ahead. Days with no sleep, days when you’ll cry for no reason, days that your child will cry for no reason. Be ready for nights spent sleeping two feet from your baby because they’re sick and you’re worried you won’t hear them if they cry. There will be nights holding them while they throw up. The next day you’ll throw up and still have to take care of them. Those are the days that you will cry with good reason.
Be ready for some weird habits to develop. You’re going to start hiding when you eat food. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids. You just want to eat your juicy apple or favorite candy bar without having to share. Look at it as an opportunity for a little me time that will keep you from setting a bad example.
Taking care of your kids can be all consuming. Make your relationship with your spouse a priority. While he is at work, you will have a routine and do things a certain way. Remember that it’s okay for your spouse to do things a different way. Different doesn’t mean wrong.
Remember to take care of yourself. Give yourself the gift of a little ‘me’ time. You might have to take it at 5am when no one is up or at 9pm when kids are in bed, but it will be worth it. You’ll be better able to handle all that is required of you if you’ve had a little time to focus on yourself.
Get dressed and take a shower every day. You’ll feel better if you do. Even as I’m writing this, I know that you won’t because I’m writing in my pajamas, unshowered. But when you find yourself feeling down and frumpy, putting on real clothes will do wonders for your mental health.
Don’t compare yourself to other moms. You are making the best decisions that you can. They might not be the same decisions someone else would make, but that’s okay. Do what you think is right. If your kid’s birthday party isn’t Pinterest worthy, that’s okay. Make their birthday whatever you want it to be. If you feed your kids mac and cheese every night for a week, that’s okay.
Be kind. It can be easy to get caught up in parent judging. You don’t want to be judged for your parenting decisions, so give other parents the same respect. Different doesn’t mean bad. You’re going to run into people that shamelessly brag about how their kids are better than yours and will criticize your decisions. All I can say is be confident but kind.
You will know your child’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone. Unfortunately, that means they will know yours as well. They will be painfully honest about it. Even to go so far as to compare your forehead to a peanut butter cookie. They’re just keeping you humble. Learn to laugh about it. It will make you feel better.
Your kids will make you smarter, stronger, and better. Love them for it.
You can’t enjoy EVERY moment as much as everyone will tell you that you should. But you can learn to laugh at the ridiculousness of cleaning up milk off the floor for the third time in a day. You can learn to leave the dishes undone so you can cuddle on the couch with them to watch a movie. You can learn to see the world through your child’s eyes.
Love your children. Laugh often. Play hard and you’ll make it through alright.
An Experienced Stay-at-Home Mom