What I Learned in my First Year as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

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Over a year has flown by after putting my career down for a little nap and taking on a different adventure with my kids. I swapped out my work badge for burp cloths and the rest is history…

I have learned a great deal about myself and about this parenting gig over the past year. Although the learning is an on-going process as my kids grow and we are at the doorstep of new challenges and experiences, there have been valuable lessons on my journey so far.

Working Parent vs. Stay-At-Home-Parent. There’s no right answer. I have done it all by now: Travel to the office, work from home, part-time, and stay-at-home. Each one brings its own benefits and sets of challenges.

The fact is, we are all doing our best to provide for our families and there’s a constant evolution in goals, needs, and circumstances amongst us.  When the time is right, I’m sure I will enjoy diving back into my career. But right now, this is perfect. Not because being a SAHM is perfect, but because this is the best lifestyle for our family at this moment in time.

The truth is, we need both in the world.

We need a parents’ perspective out in the field whether she’s a teacher, doctor or politician. We need her role-modeling for our children that they too can be anything as long as they work hard. We need him to contribute to society while still wearing his parent hat, because let’s face it, our children are the future.

At the same time, we need the balance that stay-at-home parents provide. We need parent volunteers at schools, temples and churches that form a sense of community. We need someone to give our kids the attention and love they need to shape them into responsible and caring adults that will impact change in the world.

The way I see it, we are all a team. We are all contributing to our own families and to society in ways that we personally make the best impact, and there is no right or wrong way to do just that.

There is no tangible measure of success as a SAHM. When employed by a corporation or running a business, there are metrics that help us understand our performance. There is an annual review of goals and deliveries that provide a line in the sand to measure growth.

As a SAHM, nobody is giving me a “review”. There isn’t a nine-box, quarterly bonus or annual merit increase.

I struggled in the beginning because I didn’t know how to get the confirmation I needed that I was doing a “great job.” I wanted block one status.

Were my kids well-behaved enough? Were we eating home-cooked meals enough? Were the activities I was doing with my kids enough?

At first, these were the checklists I thought I was “suppose” to be following in order to feel successful. Turns out, these were not the measuring points of my success and it was almost petty to think that this is what my new “job” was supposed to be.

I eventually realized that it had nothing to do with making a list and seeing how quickly I could cross off the items.

Before I quit my job, a seasoned Stay-At-Home-Mom once said to me, “your home will be warmer.” At the time, I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but somehow those words stuck with me. And over a year into this adventure, I realized that is exactly it.

Our home feels warmer.

Our kids’ smiles are wide and my husband is happy and I can take credit by the little things I do for my family. And this joy is a reflection that comes right back to me. That right there is my “merit increase”.

A balanced life is a joyful one. Once it is achieved, there is no going back. The decision to stay at home with my children comes down to wanting balance in our family lifestyle.

With both my husband and I working outside of the home, every day felt like a mad dash. Although we were capable of the juggling act that it required, we decided we just didn’t want to do it anymore.

Life is too short to let it pass us by in routine and running off to the next thing.

We were able to hit all of our goals, so it wasn’t a matter of running out of fuel to accomplish everything we wanted for our family.

I was still breastfeeding and pumping like I wanted to be able to do for my baby. My kids were doing all the enrichment activities we sought out. We were traveling. We were eating healthy. Check, check, check.

But the thing is, we were spread so thin and there wasn’t room for more.

There wasn’t time to relish in small moments. Or have “left over time”, if there is such a thing, for personal growth and goals. We had a wonderful life, but we wanted more to take it to the next level.

After I quit my job, I started volunteering more at my son’s school. I started getting more involved in cultural activities with my kids. I began exploring my creative side that hadn’t gotten much love in a while. My husband and I were able to carve out more time to spend with each other. He was able to take on more challenging projects at work.

We were able to get the balance we wanted with one parent being at home. This allowed for our children to remain front and center and still be able to grow individually with a balanced lifestyle.

As our family grows and needs change, my husband and I will always make it a priority to achieve the balance we have now. It will probably look different than it does today at some point, but as life evolves, so will our formula.

Change can be scary, but regret is scarier. I am so grateful that I ripped the bandage off and just did it. Quitting my job was one of the most “off the beaten road” things I have ever done in my life. It was never part of the “plan”.

Over time, it became a desire in order to gain the lifestyle we wanted, and so we made it happen.

The biggest lesson has been to take the plunge without fear.  Change is good. Change provides us valuable lessons. Change is progress.

For me, it was about quitting a job to become a stay-at-home parent and create the family lifestyle I always wanted. For somebody else, it might be about taking a tough promotion. It could be about going back to school to get a new degree or starting a business. It could be moving across the country or maybe to the other side of the world.

Whatever it might be, desires are real.

We are here to achieve our dreams and only we are responsible and capable to make them a reality. From my experience, I would tell you to let go of your fears and just fly. Life is too short to always wonder about what might have been.

When heart, mind and spirit are one, success is only inevitable.

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