Last Updated June 24th, 2019

21 Steps To Make Being A Stay At Home Mom Or Dad Work Financially

21 Steps To Make Being A Stay At Home Mom Or Dad Work Financially

For some families, being a stay at home mom or dad just happens. It’s not always planned. There’s just the sudden realization that having mom or dad stay home makes sense. Maybe there’s a layoff while she’s pregnant or the kids are young, or the sudden realization that childcare costs more than one parent’s job brings in. If you aren’t prepared, going from two incomes to one can be quite a shock.

Others know from early on that they’re going to be a stay at home mom or dad. The income may not even be a part of the decision as such; it can be based more on the desire to have one parent at home. Still if the family doesn’t prepare financially for the changes, things can get difficult.

This is why it’s so important to plan before your family goes to a single income due to one parent staying at home if at all possible. You can avoid some nasty financial surprises if you know how these things may go.

1. Practice living on one income first.

If the decision to have one parent stay home with the kids is a deliberate one, not one caused by circumstance, try living as though your family only has a single income for a time while both parents continue to work. Not only will this show you how things are going to be, it allows you to save up the money from the second income. A little financial padding is always a good thing to have.

2. Review your finances.

You can do this even if staying at home wasn’t planned in advance. Calculate all your living expenses – rent, food, utilities, vehicles, taxes, insurance and so forth. Make sure the income of the parent who continues to work will be enough to pay all your regular expenses… ideally with some left over for savings.

Don’t be too discouraged if you don’t see right away how to make things work on a single income. It’s common to need to make sacrifices.

3. Cut down on monthly bills.

Rethink your monthly bills where possible. Are you on the right plan for your cable TV/internet? Do you really need it? Can you cut down on your cell phone plans (consider what early cancellation fees will do)? What other monthly expenses can you cut down?

stay at home parent budget

You can cut your electric bill by changing where your thermostat is set. Let your home get a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter. Don’t overdo it, but do remember that you can adapt to a greater temperature range than you may normally use.

You may even want to decide if going solar is right for you. If your bills are high enough, it can save money.

The great thing about cutting back on monthly bills is that once you’ve decreased a bill, it stays down unless your service provider increases the basic cost. You don’t have to change it every month – just review your needs occasionally and make sure it’s still right for you.

4. Plan for emergencies.

Life never keeps things simple for long. Cars break down. Kids get sick. Parents get sick. Something in the house needs to be repaired or replaced.

If you don’t plan ahead for emergencies, they can ruin all your financial planning. Have some money set aside for those times when things need to be repaired. Have insurance to help out with the things insurance can help with.

I like having a home warranty. It doesn’t save me the whole expense every year, but it ensures that I won’t spend a fortune on repairs. Check with the companies that offer home warranties in your area and make sure that they have a good reputation before signing up. It is NOT cheap, but can be very worthwhile if something goes wrong with a covered item.

5. Avoid credit card debt.

Credit can be a very tempting way to pay for things you can’t afford at the moment. I still have credit card debt to pay off, although things are steadily improving these days. If it weren’t for the debt (taken on for reasons that were generally good at the time, not so much frivolously), we’d easily be living within our income and have money left over to save.

6. Pay off debt.

Beyond credit card debts, there are other debts that can make having a stay at home parent more difficult. Pay off or pay down those student loans, car loans and pay down the mortgage if you have them. The lower you can make those bills, the more flexibility you will have financially.

There is, of course, a balance to be struck between paying off debt and making investments with your money. Choose wisely for your situation.

7. Pick your sacrifices.

Most single income families have to make sacrifices to keep mom or dad at home. Talk as a family about the things you’re willing to sacrifice, and which things you’d prefer to keep.

For example, you may have the habit of going to the movies as a family frequently. That may be fine on two incomes, but can you still afford to do so on one income? You may need to cut back.

8. Look at taxes withheld.

stay at home dad

Take a look at the taxes being withheld from your spouse’s paycheck once your family is down to a single income. The fact that your family is now living on one income means you can probably adjust the withholding so that you get more money now rather than a big tax refund. Big refunds feel like a windfall, but what they really mean is that you didn’t have that money earlier.

9. Talk about money.

Have a talk about your attitudes toward money, especially that only one person will be bringing it in for the family. A lot of tension can come from the bread winning parent feeling as though that money is his or hers, not both of yours. It’s just as important for the stay at home mom or dad to have spending money as it is for the working parent. Don’t let the “I earned it, it’s all mine” attitude ruin things.

There are many different ways to manage family finances, and you should choose the one that works for your family. Some want separate accounts, while others feel that there’s something wrong if you don’t keep all your money in a joint account. Find what works for your situation.

10. Consider or increase life insurance.

The expense of life insurance may seem like an unnecessary extra, but if your family is unfortunate enough to need it, you won’t regret the expense. Should one parent die, whether that’s the working parent or the stay at home one, the money from life insurance can help keep the family going.

11. Discuss how long you’ll stay at home.

What is your plan for being a stay at home parent? Is it just while the kids are babies? Until they go to kindergarten? Until they’re adults? Forever?

What you decide at the start may not be what you want forever. Some find that staying at home isn’t right for them. Some think they’ll only stay home for a while, but find it so good that they want to stick with it always. Some realize that while they love it, the financial aspects aren’t working out and that it’s necessary to go back to work.

However things seem to be going, talk about the stay at home decision occasionally to be sure everyone still considers it to be a good thing and to deal with problems as they come up. Don’t let issues fester.

12. Consider your retirement.

One major problem many long term stay at home parents don’t always take sufficiently into consideration is retirement. Not working for years will impact what you could get from Social Security. If you aren’t saving for your retirement even when you don’t have an income, it could become a problem in later years.

13. Consider part time work or work at home.

Not every family will be able to get by on a single income. My husband and I don’t. I earn pretty good money working at home – enough that it isn’t worthwhile for me to look for an outside the home job even though my kids are all school age and well able to handle most things without me.

make money by working at home

Working at home is a challenge, especially when it comes to getting started. Many jobs won’t work out if your kids are going to distract you. Think carefully when deciding what you want to do. Can your kids be quiet enough that you can do work at home customer service or would you be better off doing something else?

A home business is another good idea, if risky. Not every home business makes money. I like blogging and running my own websites because it’s fun and flexible. The money can vary quite a bit, of course.

Sometimes, a part time job when your spouse can be home is the best way to handle things. A part time job can also be nice for getting time with other adults. If a single income isn’t enough, make sure you find a way to bring in enough extra money so that your family doesn’t have trouble with debt.

14. Consider furthering your education.

Furthering your education can be very important when you’re a stay at home parent looking to return to work someday – or just because you want to learn more about something. If you take online classes, look carefully into the school to make sure it’s a good quality program – there are a lot of low quality schools out there.

An improved education may help you land a better job when you go back to work outside the home. It’s not a guarantee, even from a good school, as there’s still a gap in your paid work history, but it should help.

15. Keep up professional credentials.

Even if you don’t plan to go back to work soon, keep up any professional credentials you may have. If you need to go back to work, even part time, this can be a huge help in getting a better paying position.

16. Keep up professional contacts.

If you left a professional position to stay at home, keeping in contact with old coworkers and other professional contacts can be a huge help if you decide to go back to work. It’s not just about working outside the home – you may be able to use these contacts for freelance or work at home positions if you don’t want a regular position. Keeping your foot in the door can be a huge help if you need to increase your family’s income for any reason.

17. Learn to find bargains.

Knowing how to find bargains on the things you need can be a huge help when you’re a single income family. Seek out ways to save money on the things your family needs, but make sure you don’t buy things you don’t need just because the price was good.

stay at home mom

Clip coupons, go to thrift stores, pay attention to sales in local stores, buy in bulk when appropriate, find out what’s cheaper from programs such as Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. There are many ways to save money that won’t take up more time than you’re willing to give it.

I’m very fond of my local dollar store. It’s one of the few companies that regularly carries fresh produce in its stores. This allows me to keep a good supply of healthy, fresh foods in my home while spending less on them.

Not all dollar stores have produce, unfortunately, but they can have good bargains on other items. They may be worth adding to your shopping routine if you find a good store.

18. Cook more.

Eating home cooked meals is generally far more budget friendly than eating out. If this isn’t already a habit, make it one.

I love my crockpot and my Instant Pot. They’re each useful in their own ways on those busy days when it’s hard to figure out how to make meals at home.

I also buy meats in bulk at Costco, and then freeze them into meals. I don’t do the once a week cooking thing – instead, I prepare multiple meals all at once, including the one I’m cooking that evening. This way I have a number of meals at any time that I need only remember to defrost on time so I can cook it.

19. Learn to do basic home maintenance.

The more repairs you can handle around your home, the less you’ll have to spend on professionals. Painting is relatively easy, a project many people are comfortable with taking on, but you may find that you are capable of handling more than you think.

YouTube videos are great for do-it-yourselfers. If there’s a household repair that you’re willing to try, odds are that there’s a video to guide you through it.

That said, when professional help is called for, get it. A poorly done repair may cost more than the original problem would have if it had been fixed correctly the first time.

20. Don’t be too hard on yourself about mistakes.

It’s easy to be hard on yourself when you make financial mistakes when you stay at home. Maybe you overspend and have to take on some credit card debt. Maybe you didn’t prepare enough for unexpected bills, and ended up having a car repair ruin all your plans.

Whatever happens, take it as a lesson, and don’t be too hard on yourself. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re learning.

21. Adjust your plans.

Review your finances regularly. Make changes where things aren’t working or where they could work better. Not every money saving tip will work for every stay at home parent. There may still be times where convenience trumps money saved. On the other hand, you should also be able to find more ways to save money over time that will suit your lifestyle. Just because one thing isn’t working out doesn’t mean something different won’t work either.

Life can change pretty fast. You may be happy being a stay at home mom or dad, but then have to go back to work because your partner lost their job or was injured. Your plans now don’t have to be your plans forever. Be adaptable.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 6th, 2019

Romance And The Stay At Home Mom

Romance And The Stay At Home Mom

It can be difficult to feel romantic after spending all day with the kids. You’re often worn out by the time your husband gets home, and there are probably still the dinner dishes to be done and the kids to get ready for bed. It’s often no wonder romance falls by the wayside for stay at home moms.

We can’t all have the grand romance of a Disney princess or Gomez and Morticia Addams. What we can do is find ways to add bits of romance into our lives. It takes effort, of course, from both of you.

Why Are You Too Tired For Romance?

Many stay at home moms are simply exhausted by all of the things they have to get done every day. This is especially true when you’re chasing after babies and toddlers, although older kids can be exhausting too.

If sheer exhaustion is a part of the problem, make sure your husband understands that. And then tell him if you need more help when he’s at home. His job has definite hours. Yours does too if you consider 24/7/365 definite. Make sure these things are well balanced.

That doesn’t mean hand your husband a long list of chores the minute he walks in the door, of course. But things like doing the dishes together and putting the kids to bed together are quite reasonable to ask.

Make Time For Touch

holding hands

Take the time for touch in your relationship. It doesn’t all have to be overtly sexual – holding hands or just leaning on each other counts. It’s a little reminder of the closeness the two of you share.

But when you have the energy and the kids are in bed, haul out the massage oils and take turns massaging one another. Even if you’re too tired for more than massage, you will both feel better for it.

Of course, if you’re not up for touch because you’re all touched out, make sure you express that feeling too. There are times when the kids will leave you too tired of physical contact to really enjoy massage. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do things you really aren’t up for.

Try not to neglect the sexual aspect of your marriage too much. If you’re not interested in sex often, you need to have a talk with your spouse and possibly your doctor. Depression and hormone issues are real possibilities when your sex drive drops.

Remember The Everyday Romance

flowers

Romance in a relationship isn’t all about big dates nights. It’s in the little things too.

If you pack his lunch, leave little love notes in it. If he doesn’t, how about sneaking a note into his pocket or wallet. Just a little something to make him smile, nothing that would embarrass either of you should a coworker get a glance.

Don’t forget to kiss each other every day. Really kiss, not just a peck on the cheek. And tell each other “I love you” every time you think of it.

Don’t be embarrassed about showing your affection for each other in front of your kids – appropriately, of course. They should see that it’s normal and healthy to be physically affectionate with your spouse.

It can be tough keeping those romantic feelings going when you have children, rougher when you spend your entire day caring for them and just feel wiped out. But romance does not need to disappear from your marriage just because of that. Take the time and show your husband that a stay at home mom still knows her romance. You’re not only a mom, after all – you’re a wife too.

Romance Doesn’t Have To Mean Going Out

Date nights are tough to come by when the kids are little. You’re tired, the budget is tight, and it’s just hard to find the right time to do things together.

But you can make it easier if you take away the pressure to go OUT for date night. Staying in is a perfectly valid option.

cooking together

If you can get the kids out of the house, plan a special dinner for just the two of you. Haul out the good china you got for your wedding but rarely use. Make something special for dinner. Light candles. Dress for it. Try to have everything ready before he gets home. And try to have most of the cooking mess cleaned up. You don’t want dirty dishes to ruin the mood.

If you can’t get the kids out, make dessert special after they’re in bed. Make or buy something just for the two of you.

If you have a fireplace, take advantage of it. Light up a fire and cuddle up together in front of it. No TV, no interruptions. Chocolate covered strawberries are a nice touch for this one, and super easy to make so long as strawberries are in season.

On the other hand, the right movie makes for a great date night at home too. Find something you both really want to see. Depending on the streaming services you subscribe to, you may even be able to get this for free. If not, Amazon Prime has lots of movies available to rent or buy on their streaming service.

Love to dance? Put on some music and dance together at home. Enjoy each other’s company.

Going Out Can Be Cheap

picnic

Going out on a date night with your spouse can be quite affordable. You can get out without the kids for cheap if you know how.

Childcare is often the most expensive part of date night when the kids are little. Sitters don’t come cheap. If you have friends or family who are willing to trade date night babysitting, however, you can cut this cost right out.

Look for free and cheap things to do in your local area together. My town has a market night on Friday nights during the summer. There’s live music too. It’s pretty small, but it’s an excuse to get out for a little.

The free summer movies in the park are fun too. Yes, they’re geared mostly toward the kids, but we get there early, send the kids off to the playground and have some time together.

If you’re short of ideas, ebooks such as 300 Creative Dates can help you come up with fun and interesting ideas for dates.

Have Fun

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to have fun in your daily life when you have kids. Being fun is one of the ways stay at home moms can keep romance alive in their marriages.

Make jokes together. Tease each other – nicely, of course! Flirt.

walking together

This takes communication, to make sure that what is a joke to one person isn’t hurtful to the other. There’s nothing romantic about hurting your spouse’s feelings.

You can also have fun just talking. If you can’t think of what to talk about, 1000 Questions for Couples may be a help.

Talk Your Problems Out

When you have a problem with your spouse, talk it out! Don’t let the problems fester. Ignoring problems and letting them fester is a sure romance killer.

Sometimes this means asking for what you need. It’s not fun when you have to ask, but it can be necessary. Odds are that you did not marry a mind reader.

If you need more help around the house, ask for it. Household chores are not yours alone just because you’re a stay at home mom. It’s too easy to make being a SAHM a 24/7 job if you don’t plan out an appropriate division of household labor.

I don’t mean have a gripe fest of all the problems you’re having, or all the faults your spouse has. That’s not helpful to either of you.

Instead, work on having an adult conversation about the problems you see and what you would like done about them. You should both be able to acknowledge the hard work each of you puts into the family, as well as the weak points you may each have.

Ideally, of course, you don’t want one parent taking on all the mental and emotional labor of keeping your family running. If you’ve fallen into the habit of handling everything of that sort, it will take time to make a change, but nothing will ever change if you don’t point out the problem and work together on fixing it. Once again, figure out an appropriate division of labor.

You may find out that your spouse is dealing with things you weren’t aware of. Working outside the home has its own stresses, and while it doesn’t excuse anyone from helping out at home, there are times when work stress means you need to let them have a little more relaxation time for a while. Just make sure you don’t overstress yourself in the process.

Consider reading books such as 50 Secrets of Blissful Relationships to get more ideas on how to improve your marriage. It rarely hurts to get advice from someone who has a lot of ideas on how to keep a marriage happier.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 30th, 2019

Why Do Stay At Home Parents Need A Safety Net?

Why Do Stay At Home Parents Need A Safety Net?

There are good reasons to choose to be a stay at home parent, especially when the kids are little. Some choose to stay home with the kids until they’re all grown. It’s a good thing to do for your kids when your family’s situation allows it, but you should be aware of the risks. Life rarely goes as smoothly as we’d like, and that’s why every stay at home parent should have a safety net.

Your safety net isn’t just financial, although that should be a big part of it. You never know when or if a financial crisis will hit you.

Death, disability, divorce, unemployment… these are just some of the things that can devastate your finances. There’s no guarantee that you can avoid any of them. But you can plan for many of the problems that can come up while hoping they never happen.

Life Insurance

Having at least some life insurance on both parents is an important safety net for your family, regardless of who works or doesn’t. But if one parent has no income coming in, life insurance can be a way to ensure that in the event the working parent dies, the surviving parent will get some money, which gives them some time to get things going again.

Finding a job while grief stricken isn’t easy, after all.

Don’t buy a minimal policy if you can help it. Think about how much financial help your family would need if either parent dies while the children are still growing up. What is the financial value of each parent? How many years will you need that value to continue? What about medical bills and funeral costs?

Find a good insurance professional and talk about what kind of life insurance coverage your family should have. Be sure you understand the different kinds of life insurance. Get coverage on both parents, regardless of who earns an income. Stay at home moms and dads contribute significantly to the family in ways other than by earning an income. Money from an insurance policy can help the family deal with those issues after an at home parent dies.

Of course, life insurance only handles one of the potential problems that can arise for the family. It won’t help at all in many other situations. If divorce, disability or unemployment are causing financial issues, it won’t help at all.

Talk About What If Something Happens To You

big talk

Don’t just consider what happens if something happens to your spouse or significant other. What if something happens to you? I promise, it will be a significant impact to your family, and something you should plan for.

Go beyond the life insurance mentioned before. Stay at home parents can become disabled too… how would you handle that as a family? Is your health insurance good enough to cope with that, and what about long term disability? It may not hurt to look at the costs of long term care insurance for the stay at home mom or dad. If you aren’t earning an income, you may not be able to get disability insurance, which is meant to replace the income you earned by working. Long term care insurance will ensure that you receive care if you need it for a long time, so your family doesn’t have that strain.

If disability insurance is what you want, you have to have an income. If you’re working now, look into an independent disability insurance policy. Pay attention to the terms, especially how long you need to have worked before quitting for the insurance to be effective. Make sure your policy will continue as long as you pay the premiums – the coverage is based on your paycheck when you were working, even if you later quit. This will probably be more expensive than disability coverage provided by an employer, but coverage from an employer only helps while you have that job.

Several Months’ Savings

Saving up several months’ income is another way to be ready for those problems life loves to throw at you unexpectedly. Having enough money to live on while you get things figured out for a few months is a huge help.

mom money

Saving up a lot of money may not be easy, depending on how close your expenses are to your income, but if you can manage it, do so. Living off savings is far better than using credit cards and having to pay them off later, believe me!

Start small if you need to. It takes time for most families to create a respectable savings account. There may be setbacks as urgent needs come up, but that’s the way it goes. You can’t delay that car repair just because you want to save money, after all.

This should not be the same as your retirement fund if you can help it. By the way, you should have a retirement fund for yourself too, even if you have no other personal income.

Instead, the idea is to protect your family through any kind of financial crisis, from needing to replace a vehicle, to home repairs, to the loss of income. Having money saved up can make big problems easier to face.

Your Own Retirement Plan

Just because you’re a stay at home parent doesn’t mean you don’t need to contribute to a retirement plan for yourself. It’s a vital safety net for when you get older.

Whether you go back to work when the kids are older or not, contributing to a retirement plan for yourself is very important. A lack of income means you aren’t contributing to Social Security, and that effects the benefits you would get when you’re older. There are a variety of plans you or your spouse can contribute toward for your retirement. Talk to a professional to learn more.

Up To Date Professional Skills

If you had to work outside the home, what would you do? What kind of work have you done in the past?

Make sure that you keep up on any qualifications for work you’ve done in the past, or work on qualifications for work you’d like to do. If you have to go back into the workforce because that’s the only way you can support your family, do what you can to make it the job you’d like, not just the first one to come along when you’re in a crisis.

Be very careful when choosing an online college or vocational program. Many programs are not worth what they cost. Others are excellent. You want a program whose graduates find appropriate work after graduation. If too many graduates have trouble finding employment related to their training, that’s not a good sign.

learning

You can also read up on what’s happening in your industry. Read trade journals when you have the time. You can also consider joining a professional association. This can help you to keep in contact with people in your industry, which may become valuable if you go back to work, as well as help you be aware of changes in the industry.

Earn Income From Home

Of course, you can always do your best to earn income from home, as I and so many others do. There are many ways to do this, from working for an employer to working for yourself.

Don’t just look at how someone else is earning money from home, however. They’re doing what works for them. Look at what you can do. Other people can be an inspiration, but you’re more likely to succeed if you work things in your own way.

Do not expect earning an income from home to be easy. It rarely is. In fact, getting started is often the hardest part. You have to figure out how you’re going to earn money and make it happen while managing your at home life.

Working at home often requires sacrifices. It can involve using some kind of childcare if your work requires more focus than you can manage with your children around. Alternatively, it may involve early or late hours and less time for sleep.

Earning an income from home is my personal safety net because it doesn’t rely on how my husband is doing. If (god forbid) something happens to him, I’m still earning a living. My income has helped keep us afloat in the past.

I’m going to be blunt here. If your marriage fails and you end up divorced, or your spouse dies, working from home can save you from disaster. A lawyer friend of mine once told me how relieved he was that I worked at home because he had dealt with too many stay at home moms who had no idea how they were going to earn a living without their husband.

Being entirely focused on your kids as a stay at home mom or dad is a lovely ideal, but it’s smarter to have that safety net of your own income.

Build A Support Network

good friends

If all else fails, or even if all else is working pretty well, make sure to have a good personal and professional support network. Your support network can help you get through tough times and may even help you find what you need to improve things, whether that’s a new job, the right doctor or something else. They might be there as a shoulder to cry on or bring a meal over to help you out.

Maintain or build your professional network on LinkedIn. Connect with former employers and coworkers. Look for relevant professional groups to join. Participate.

Keep in contact with friends and family in person as well as online. Getting some time with your parents, siblings, friends and so forth is important. You need time to be yourself, not just a mom or dad 24/7. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so forth have their place and you should take advantage of your preferred social networks, but for most people there’s still nothing like getting together in person and having fun.

Also network with your fellow at home moms and dads. Many of them will have had professional careers too. You may be able to help each other keep up with your former careers, even if they were entirely different. You can always compare how you each keep up with things.

You don’t need to limit yourself to just one of these, of course. The more things you do to protect yourself, the better off you are if things go wrong.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated March 8th, 2019

Quit Playing “Perfect Mom.” Just Be Yourself

Quit Playing Perfect Mom. Just Be Yourself

The pressures on moms to be perfect is just amazing. It doesn’t matter what you do, someone will say you’re doing it disastrously wrong. Maybe that’s why it’s such a habit for many moms to gloss over the problems they deal with and try to show a public face of being a perfect mom who can calmly cope with anything life and her kids throw at her.

Even tantrums and finding time for a shower.

I’ll admit some days are easier than others to be a stay at home mom. Keeping my sanity the day after the baby had cut a tooth and was up all night back when my kids were little was challenging. Especially if my feet found the LEGOS on the floor too early in the morning.

Many things are easier now that my kids are older. They rarely get me up in the middle of the night, and we have a playroom in the garage where they can make a mess if they want.

On the other hand, their activities are more demanding. The older two do archery, and competitions take up much of the day when they happen. Most involve travel. The youngest does Destination Imagination, which can also be quite time consuming and requires travel.

And of course, the emotional drama can be significant at times.

I’ve often felt that parenting doesn’t really get easier as the kids get older. It’s more that the challenges change. There’s still that pressure to be a perfect mom, whether you’ve decided to continue being a stay at home mom as your kids get older or not.

That’s why you should remember these things when you feel as though you aren’t the mom you ought to be.

parenting love

There Are No Perfect Moms

It can be difficult to remember that there are no perfect moms sometimes. You may read all these blogs where moms show off these great ideas they have and the wonderful things they do with their families. And of course most people’s social media posts make their lives look pretty good too.

Odds are that things rarely work out so smoothly for you. Or them.

Real life is full of challenges. Some days are much more difficult than others. And most of it is things that no one is going to share online for the world to see.

Don’t compare your life with what you see others post. You don’t know what else they’re going through.

I’ve had plenty of good times and bad times that I haven’t said a word about online anywhere. I think that’s true of most people. Even people who post frequently throughout the day don’t post absolutely everything that happens in their lives.

You Don’t Need A Perfect House

Keeping a clean house with young children can range from difficult to impossible. Little kids are messy, exhausting, and time consuming.

Not exactly ideal conditions in which to keep a perfect house, although some parents can manage it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to keep up. There will be times that your house is a mess. Laundry piles up. Toys are everywhere. It’s just plain hard to keep up at times.

baby with toys

My own goal for keeping house has always been to keep it sanitary, safe, and comfortable.

Having older kids helps, of course. They’re generally less messy and more able to clean up the messes they do make, along with doing their shares of chores.

With younger kids, start them out helping you in age appropriate ways. Toddlers love to be helpful! They may slow down your work at first, but eventually kids become a real help around the house.

And of course, if you’re married or living with someone, expect them to help out. You both live there; you can both clean it up.

Don’t Stress About Different Parenting Styles

Have you ever talked to one of those parents who believes that their parenting style is the only way to go? It can be pretty annoying when they criticize all the things that you do differently.

The great thing about kids is that most of them will turn out just fine, so long as you don’t abuse them.

Breast or bottle doesn’t matter so much to babies as being well fed does. Occasional fast food isn’t going to make them fat. And there are advantages for your kids whether you stay at home or put them in daycare.

Remember to not sweat the small stuff. Lots of things can be called small stuff if you think far enough ahead.

Never, ever, feel bad for saying you need a break from your kids. You may have this goal of being the perfect stay at home mom who loves every minute, but you need your breaks. We all do. That’s why people who work outside the home get regular 15 minute breaks and a lunch break.

Breaks are a chance to clear your head and relax a little. They’re a bit harder to get for stay at home moms, but you can take breaks and you deserve them.

Get out a little in the evenings or weekends without the kids and without running errands. Read a book or play on your phone while your kids play with their toys. Do your own thing for just a little while.

Needing time for yourself doesn’t make you a bad mother. Taking time for yourself  can help you to be a better one, in fact.

Send The Kids Out To Play

As your kids get big enough, make sure you send them outside to play without you. There comes a time when it’s much better for them to play on their own without a parent watching them directly.

The right age depends on a variety of factors, such as where they’re going to play, the overall safety of your neighborhood, and your child’s personality.

If you have too many doubts about the safety of this, I suggest you start reading sites such as Let Grow. In most areas, your kids will not be in as much danger as you may fear. The evening news may make you feel differently, but when you look at the facts, you’ll learn how rarely most problems happen.

girl on tree

Other parents in your area may be surprised when you first start letting your kids play out front on their own. I remember one time when my son decided to go for a run around the block when he was about nine or so. I had a neighbor knocking on my door almost immediately. He wanted to be sure I knew and was quite happy when I told him that it was routine.

Over time, my kids found the few other kids in the neighborhood, and started playing with them more, all because they went out on their own. They had more fun with the other kids than they would have had with me, and I got some peace and quiet. At least until everyone came running in demanding snacks.

If at all possible, let your kids walk themselves to and from school as well. That’s the biggest thing I miss about my old house was that it was an easy walk to school for the kids, while the current one is much farther. They still walk home sometimes, but only when I need them to, as it’s a pretty long walk.

Don’t Stress About Your Mistakes

And if you make a mistake with your kids, don’t be afraid to admit to it. We all make mistakes. You’re a better example for your children if they see that you can not only make mistakes but admit to them.

Forget perfection. Stop trying to be the mom who follows all the rules in whatever parenting style you prefer. Just do the best you can, be yourself and enjoy the ride.

There may be times that you yell. You might forget to bring your kids to that special events or to get a treat for their class. You could even lose track of time and be late picking the kids up from school when it’s too far for them to walk.

You’re not perfect. Don’t teach your kids to expect otherwise.

When you make a mistake, of course, apologize to them and try to do better, just as you’d expect your kids to do. That’s how they learn to do these things.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 17th, 2019

How To Meet Other Stay At Home Moms

How To Meet Other Stay At Home Moms

Many stay at home moms feel isolated. They spend so much time with their kids that it’s easy to feel that way. And if you don’t already know some, it’s very hard to meet other stay at home moms.

Where are they? Besides at home, that is.

This is a problem I’ve dealt with repeatedly, due to moving a few times. It’s not easy to find a group of friends when you’re new in the area. Everyone already has friends and a routine with them

I’ve dealt with lots of loneliness as a stay at home mom. It’s not fun being so isolated. Stay at home mom depression is a real thing. When you feel alone, taken for granted and tired, depression is all too common. Boredom is also a problem.

Meeting other stay at home moms can help. Having friends who are also stay at home moms gives you a social life with someone who knows more of what yo’re going through.

You can even give each other breaks from the kids by trading off if the kids are friends. Everyone wins when the kids get to play together and the moms either get a break or socializes with a friend.

Now, where, oh, where do you meet other stay at home moms?

Where, oh, where could they be?

Try The Park

I’ve run into a lot of my fellow SAHMs by taking my kids to the park. The trick is in figuring out what time they are going to be there.

I kept missing the other moms for a long time at the park. There were just never there when I was. But I always tended to go at lunchtime or later in the afternoon.

When my oldest first started kindergarten, I started going to the park with my son after dropping my daughter off at school. Voila! There they were, also having their younger children play after dropping older children off at the school next door.

Sign Up For Activities

Yes, this costs money. But I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of other stay at home moms when I’ve been able to sign my kids up for activities. This especially works when the kids are younger and you have to stick around for the class. As a rule you’ll see other stay at home parents, the occasional part time employed parent, and grandparents having fun with their grandchildren.

When the kids are little, Mommy and Me classes can be a big help. They’re mostly during the day, so mostly stay at home moms, plus the kids will all be around the same age.

You can also do activities that you enjoy, such as a painting class, fitness class, book discussion group, or whatever you’re interested in. You won’t encounter as many stay at home moms at these classes, but you will meet people with common interests, and that’s pretty good.

Taking classes on your own also has the advantage of giving you a break from the kids. It’s good to get a break from mom duties regularly.

park friends

Join Online Groups

You won’t meet so many local moms as a rule, but there are plenty of forums and websites dedicated to stay at home moms. The Internet is full of resources and great people for you to meet. You can be very open about who you are or keep relatively anonymous.

There are lots of mom groups on Facebook too. While these are rarely local, some are. Even the worldwide groups, however, can help you find online friends. You can even find groups that focus on a particular interest of yours.

There are also websites that can help you to get matched up with local moms. Meetup has been around for years and has meetups for all kinds of interests, including for stay at home moms.

You can also consider apps such as Peanut, Hello Mamas, and MomLife.

Look In Local Magazines

Local magazines can be great resources for family activities. There’s one in my area that has some good articles as well as listings of family activities. You may even find some mom groups advertising in these.

Go To the Library

Most libraries have story times for children. While there may be age limitations that keep your child out in some cases, you may be able to find a story time that you and your child will enjoy.

Your library may have other interesting events as well. Check their calendar to see if there’s anything interesting to you.

coffee friends

Take A Walk

Take a walk at various times of the day in your neighborhood. It can be hard to find other moms out for a walk with their kids, but it can be done. If you find a fellow stay at home mom, try walking together regularly. It can be a chance to get to know each other even before trying out a play date.

Send The Kids Out To Play

When the kids get old enough, having them play outside, especially in the front yard, can help you meet the other families in the neighborhood.

How old is old enough? That’s for you to decide.

The backyard can work if you know the neighbors have kids. My kids played with a neighbor child for months through the fence before they started getting together at one house or the other.

Don’t Be Perfect

It’s easy to talk about all the great things you’re trying to do for your family. But if all you ever talk about is how great a mom you are, you will have difficulty finding friends.

Talk about the mistakes you make too. Ask for advice for the problems you’re having. Talk about things other than being a mom.

You don’t have to impress the other moms. They make mistakes too. It’s much easier to be friends with someone who understands how imperfect we all are, and can laugh along with the problems.

On the flip side, don’t be too hard on other moms for the mistakes they make, or when they make choices you wouldn’t make. There are lots of ways to be a great parent. So long as no one is abusive, the kids will probably be fine.

Remember It Doesn’t Have To Center On The Kids

It’s easy to focus everything you do on your kids when you’re a stay at home mom, especially when the kids are young. But you’re an interesting person in your own right, and you should spend some time looking for friends on that basis.

It’s easier to be friends with other people who are parents, that’s true. They’re more likely to understand what your life is like and why you can’t just drop everything to go have fun much of the time.

It’s also easier to be friends with other stay at home moms because that’s something you have in common.

But you are so much more than that.

Who are you when you aren’t “Mom?”

Go. Find time to pursue some of your own interests, online or in person. You’ll probably find interesting people to talk to. You might even find friends.

Pursuing your own interests can also help you deal with the loss of identity some moms feel. You get to be you again. That means something. And it can help tremendously with that sense of isolation.

lonely mom

It’s Okay To Have Trouble Finding Friends

No matter how many ways you try to make mom friends, sometimes it’s really difficult.

Where I live, it often seems as though all the other moms have known each other forever. Many grew up here. It makes it really difficult to find friends.

Worse, three of the best friends I’ve found in town have moved away to where visiting regularly isn’t practical.

There will be times like that. You think you’re developing a connection with another mom, only to have something go wrong. Maybe you realize that you don’t have anything in common.

It can take years to find mom friends when you don’t have any. It’s not an easy thing for a lot of people.

That’s not a fault in you. It’s just the way things go. Building the connection that is friendship takes time.

Once You’ve Found Some SAHM Friends… Now What?

You’ve found some other stay at home moms to be friends with. Now what are you going to do?

It’s time to make plans together.

Get The Kids Together

Getting the kids together is perhaps the easiest excuse to get together with other stay at home mom friends. The kids love it too.

You can get together with just one other stay at home mom or form a play group with many moms. Make sure you vary what you do together. You might get together at someone’s house one week, and at the park the next. You can even plan some bigger outings at age appropriate attractions for the kids.

Another fun thing to do is get together for dinner or a barbecue. A game night also works if both families enjoy games. You can even send the kids out to play together while the adults play a game and chat.

talking

Get Together Without The Kids

Even better than getting the kids together so you moms can chat is getting together without the kids. Get out there and do something as adults, with no children underfoot. It makes a great break.

Trade Childcare

When the kids are little, trading childcare makes a ton of sense if it works for both families. The kids get fun time together. The parents get time with the kids out of the house and with trusted adults.

The great part is that if things work out, you can go on dates with your spouse or do other things on your own without paying a fortune for a sitter.

Try To Have Fun

It can be stressful trying to meet other stay at home moms and make friends. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

The whole point, however, is to find people to have fun with, both for you and your kids. Hopefully, it becomes fun as you find them.

The great part is that many of these ways to meet other stay at home moms are free to do. Others may cost a small amount, but can be worth the expense if they’re fun for you and your child. As you get comfortable making the effort, you’ll realize how many potential friends you and your child have out there. And you won’t feel so isolated.

So, readers… how do you meet other stay at home moms, or make friends in general now that you have kids? Any tips?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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