For the past five years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. Present for holiday shows, moving up ceremonies, class parent duties, all the doctor and dentist appointments, random days off, and everything in between.
With my youngest now in full-time school, I can return to the working force full-time. It’s certainly been quite a life transition from what I’m used to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
1. It is an adjustment for everyone, not just me.
My husband and I knew this change would probably shake things up. We wanted to prepare the kids in advance by setting the expectations for the new school routine. Laying out the new routine became part of our nightly dinner conversations, and my kids had the chance to ask questions about the new plan.
2. Divide and conquer.
For example, my husband makes everyone’s sandwiches for the next day before he leaves for work. When I come home in the afternoon, all I have to do is have the kids help me pick out their snacks for the next day, and lunches are quickly packed. The next morning, I get the lunch bags into everyone’s backpacks while my husband wakes up the boys. This shared system of responsibility keeps the burden off one person.
3. Preparation and organization are KEY.
Dinner prep now happens on the weekends,whereI could do it during the weekday when time allowed. I’ll make a large meal or two on the weekend to get at least three or four weekday dinners out of the way. Lunches are prepped the night before, so we aren’t scrambling in the morning. Clothes are picked out the night before so no one is scrambling for an outfit. I even put out the coffee mugs and fill the Keurig the night before.
4. Expect the unexpected.
As always, you can’t plan for things that pop up out of the blue. But you can be prepared by having a good backup plan. Trustworthy neighbors and grandparents are HUGE here! Know who is available in case you cannot take off from work.
5. Commit to a solid routine and lock that in!
What I loved about being a stay-at-home mom was the flexibility I had to exercise or even throw in a load of laundry. Now that my time is significantly more limited, I decided to make these things part of my daily routine UP FRONT so it becomes second nature. For example, a load of laundry gets thrown in during dinnertime. I do this EVERY DAY to avoid the massive pile-up. Is it annoying? Yes. Do I want to skip the load of laundry on some days? Also, yes. But so far, so good.
6. It’s okay to say NO.
Before a full-time job, there was more space on my plate. I was able to volunteer for things without a second thought. I am starting to feel overwhelmed with some of my responsibilities, which is normal. In the future, I must be more selective in what I say “yes” to. Saying “No” is difficult, but I know I will have to step back from some things I’d like to do to keep a good balance for my family, job, and myself.
7. Doctors and dental appointments will have to get moved around.
That 9:30 a.m. dentist appointment I made three months ago? Yeah, that will have to be changed. This wasn’t something on my radar until I realized I had a dentist visit coming up. I guess I am one of those “gets her teeth cleaned on vacation” people now.
8. Find some 1:1 time with each child.
This could mean 20 minutes with one child before bed to read a story or see how their day is going. Lately, it feels like the kids and I are in go-go-go mode, so I’m optimistic this will help me reconnect with my kids after a long day.
Now that some extra money is coming in, we’ve considered getting someone to come in and clean twice a month. This can take some of the pressure off, and it would be nice to come home to a tidy house occasionally! Think: landscaping, laundry, meals.
10. I am more tired at the end of the day but have more patience.
Getting out of the house all day has done wonders for my patience with the kiddos. I think that is because I know my time in the evening is precious with them. I have filled my grown-up cup with a productive day at work, and when I come home, I seem to have a higher tolerance for their shenanigans.