Last Updated April 26th, 2016

How to Burn Out as a Stay at Home Mom

How to Burn Out as a Stay at Home Mom

Are you a stay at home mom who doesn’t have enough to complain about because things are going too smoothly? Not to worry, you too can burn yourself out on the whole stay at home mom thing with a little excessive effort. Are you on the path to complete and utter exhaustion, frustration and burnout?

1. Do everything for your kids.

Don’t worry about teaching your kids how to do things for themselves or how to help around the house. If it needs doing, you do it. It’s all out of love, right? Kids don’t need chores, don’t need to clean up after themselves, do laundry or even cut their own meat as they get older. You can do that for them. They need the free time more than you do.

2. Put your kids in tons of activities.

I mean tons. You have the time to run them all over town, don’t you? They need their activities. Let them explore every interest. Who knows, one of those activities might help them get into college or even lead to a career! What do your time and the expense matter?

3. Be the volunteer everyone can rely upon.

School needs a volunteer? You’re right there. Church needs a volunteer? You’re right there. Someone in your extended family needs help? You got it. If someone needs you to do something, you say yes, rarely no, even when it’s inconvenient or someone else would be more suited to the job.

4. Never make time for yourself.

Your quiet time is when you go to the bathroom… assuming the kids don’t come running through the door – again. Or maybe when you go grocery shopping without the kids. Doesn’t that feel wonderful sometimes?

Real time for yourself? Who has time for that when caring for a family?

5. Distance yourself from your friends.

Making time for your friends would mean making time for yourself, and that’s just not happening, is it? You have more important things to do, and your friends just need to understand that.

6. Skimp on sleep.

Late nights and early mornings are just routine when you’re a mom, aren’t they? You have so much to get done, and a lot of it is easier to do when everyone else is asleep. You’ll get caught up someday.

7. Spend as much time as possible on your electronic devices.

If you’re not doing stuff for your family, you’re on your smartphone. Those apps aren’t going to play themselves, and how better to keep in contact with friends than texting? It’s a mental break. Your smartphone is never far from you.

8. Never go on a date with your spouse/significant other.

Who has time to maintain your other relationships when you have kids? They always need something, and sitters are so expensive. You’ll make time for that someday, but now? How?

9. Focus on having a perfect home.

You’re home all day, so of course your home should be perfect. If the kids make a mess, it needs to be cleaned up fast. There are no excuses for a messy home.

10. Worry about things that are out of your control.

Are your kids eating enough? What if your spouse loses his or her job? Then there’s who will win the next election, wondering what will break next in the house… there’s so much you can worry about and so little to be done about some of it..

Seriously, moms, try not to overdo all the things people expect of stay at home moms. You deserve time for yourself. Doing things for your kids, putting them in activities, volunteering and so forth have their place, but put limits on these things and make sure to take time to take care of yourself. You really don’t want to burn out on what can be a generally good time of your life.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss how not to burn out as a stay at home mom. For now, can you think of more things that leave you feeling burned out as a SAHM?

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 May 19th, 2015

Stay at Home Parents – What’s Your Safety Net?

Stay at Home Parents - What's Your 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. Here are some options to consider.

Life Insurance

Having at least some life insurance on both parents is a generally good plan, 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, they’ll get some money, which gives them some time to get things going again.

Don’t just 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.

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.

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!

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.

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. Whether you go back to work when the kids are older or not, contributing 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.

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. You have to figure out how you’re going to earn money and make it happen, while managing your at home life. It can involve using some kind of child care 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.

Build a Support Network

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.

Talk About What If Something Happens To You

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.

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 September 10th, 2014

Will You Be Able to Get Back Into the Job Market After Being a Stay at Home Mom?

Will You Be Able to Get Back Into the Job Market After Being a Stay at Home Mom?

The time comes for most stay at home moms that they consider getting back into the job market. Maybe it’s because the kids have gotten older and can go to daycare or to school, or maybe the family’s situation has changed and you need the income. Or maybe you’ve decided the change is the right thing for you. Whatever your reason, you should have a plan for how you’ll get back into the job market after being a stay at home mom.

What Do You Want To Do?

Knowing what you’d like to do after being a stay at home mom will help you get there. You might want to go back to your old job or career, or you might want to build your skills to get into something new.

Having a goal allows you to focus on the important parts of getting back into the job market. A goal helps you know what you need to work on to improve your chances of finding a job after the gap caused by staying at home.

How Will You Get There?

What will it take to make you a good candidate for whatever job or career you’d like to have after staying at home? Do you need to update your skills? Are there entirely new skills you need to acquire?

The time you’ve spent at home can be used to build the skills you’ll need later. You can attend classes at a local community college or online – just make sure you make good choices with your education. Too many online colleges are a complete ripoff. It’s possible to find a good one, but you need to really do your research before you spend any money or time on it.

In some industries, freelancing is a viable way to keep working while staying at home. It also keeps you using your skills and makes it easier to keep your skills current. I’m not saying finding freelance work is easy – it may not be – but it can be worth the effort to keep up your skills.

Have You Really Looked at the Difficulties You’ll Face?

Sadly, it can be incredibly difficult for a stay at home mom to get back into the workforce. The gap in employment can be a huge deal, especially if the industry you’d like to be in has changed a lot in the intervening years.

Working from home or part time may help matters, but they may not be a complete solution. You probably won’t have the skills or history that people who continued to work full time will have, yet you’ll have too many skills for many entry level positions.

I’m decidedly not against working at home or finding part time work to keep your skills up. I believe it puts you in a better position overall for a variety of reasons. If nothing else, they’re a way to keep money coming in until you find the work you really want. Sometimes they even turn out to provide enough money for your needs. In my own situation, for example, I earn more working at home than my husband does outside of it. At this point in my life, there’s no thought of returning to work outside the home.

But that’s not true for many stay at home moms or dads. If you aren’t ready for the difficulties you’ll face, they can be overwhelming at a time you really need to focus on bringing in an income.

Build Your Network

No matter the job experience you have, networking is often the key to a successful job hunt. Keep in at least occasional contact with former employers and coworkers. Use LinkedIn. Talk to people about your job hunt when you’re looking. You never know where that perfect job lead will come from.

Be Ready to Earn Less

It’s a sad fact that many stay at home moms earn less after returning to work than they did before they left. It’s a result of not having recent experience, and of course you’ve missed out on all the raises you would have gotten throughout the years if you had continued to work. It’s one of the tough realities of being a stay at home mom that many people don’t prepare for.

Don’t be too ready to earn less, of course. You shouldn’t feel as though you will absolutely earn less. If you see an opportunity for better earnings, go for it!

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 21st, 2014

7 Ways to Exercise Without Paying For a Gym Membership

7 Ways to Exercise Without Paying For a Gym Membership

Spring is here and most places are warming up quite nicely. Too nicely here – we’ve had temperatures in the 90s some days. It’s too early for that! Of course, I’m in southern California, and we didn’t even have what we’d call a winter here, and even a wet winter here is mild by what other places get.

Spring is a great time to start working on your exercise routine. The weather is nice enough that you can work on it without a lot of excuses in the way. But a gym membership doesn’t fit into all budgets. Fortunately, you can get some great exercise without buying a membership.

1. Walking/running in your neighborhood.

My neighborhood is pretty nice for walking. We have sidewalks, and we’re surrounded by hills, so walking just about anywhere includes a lot of uphill and downhill, including some pretty tough hills, depending on which way you go.

All you need to walk for exercise is a good pair of shoes and a place to walk. Nice weather helps, but the determined can keep it up in less than ideal weather, so long as it’s not actually dangerous weather.

It can be kind of hard to keep motivated, which is why many people find a friend to walk with. You both get exercise, and it’s harder to come up with excuses to not do it. Push each other to keep going.

2. Bicycling.

Riding your bike is another good way to go for exercise. It’s also a nice way to run the occasional quick errand.

3. YouTube videos.

There are a lot of people who have put up exercise videos on YouTube for free. The challenge here is figuring out who’s putting up good quality instructions, and who has no idea what they’re doing. Take a look at the comments and number of subscribers for a first estimate of quality, but also look at how things progress on that channel. Is it easy to tell which are the more challenging workouts as you progress?

Remember, pretty much anyone can put up a video on YouTube. Not every exercise video will be a good choice to follow.

4. Workout DVDs and Blu-Ray.

Workout DVDs have quite a range in price, depending on how comprehensive a resource you’re looking for. You can pay a couple hundred dollars for some sets, or less than $10. It depends on the kind of workout you’re looking for. Once again, be careful and take your own physical limitations into consideration, and do your best to keep proper form so you don’t injure yourself.

5. Community/recreation center fitness classes.

Many community centers offer fitness classes at a reasonable price. Check in your area to see what’s available. Some even have pools and offer swimming classes or water exercise classes.

6. Join a community team.

Many communities have sports teams for adults. I know of soccer and baseball teams in my area for adults, although I’ve never joined them.

7. Home exercise equipment.

You can get all kinds of exercise equipment for your home if you like, from simple hand weights all the way to treadmills and elliptical machines for those who want something a little more like working out at the gym. Buying your own equipment can run from a few dollars into the thousands of dollars, and so may not save money over going to the gym for a very long time. But the nice part is that you don’t have to go anywhere to work out, and it’s all on your own schedule.

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 7th, 2014

The Sad Truth About Stay at Home Mom Regret

The Sad Truth About Stay at Home Mom Regret

Most stay at home moms start out staying at home for very good reasons. Sometimes it’s voluntary – you can afford to do so, and don’t mind the break from your career. You want to raise your kids yourself and not pay for childcare. Other times it’s the best financial move at the time – childcare runs more than you’d earn working outside the home at the time.

Good reasons don’t mean you can avoid regretting it over the long run, however. It’s not at all uncommon for stay at home moms to later find that they regret the decision. What was once a sensible, loving decision has a price in the long run, and paying that price can be painful. Finding a good job in your 40s and 50s, for example, can be very difficult. Dealing with the sudden need to work in the event of your spouse’s death or disability, or if you two should divorce, can be a very unpleasant reality.

What’s The Price?

The price you pay is in your earnings and savings. Staying at home for however many years puts a dent in your career, often a big one. Most stay at home moms eventually return to the workforce, but at a much lower level than where they started out.

If you had a solid professional level career before staying at home, you may have to start out almost fresh. You may have to get more education to catch up with your industry. All this means you won’t be earning as much, and you have less time for promotions and raises to increase your salary. It’s a financial hit well beyond the lost income of the years you weren’t working.

But even if you had a lower paying job you left because it wouldn’t even pay for childcare, your future earnings take a hit when you stay at home. It’s that loss of promotions and experience that can get you.

How Do You Avoid It?

You can avoid these problems with good planning and some good fortune.

My own favorite (I’ve said it before) is working at home. I do well enough at it that the past two years, my income has been higher than my husband’s income. It took some time to get there; I’m no overnight success. Still, running my own business from home and making a good income at it is wonderful, making all the time I’ve spent working up to it worthwhile. Stressful as can be at times – business doesn’t always go the way I’d like it to. But now I know I can do it.

Your solution doesn’t have to be your own business. It can be a work at home job, part time work, freelance work… whatever works for you. I really think the key is making sure you keep some sort of relevant work experience going for the kind of career you’d like when the kids are old enough that you want to go back to work. It may not put you as high on your career ladder as if you’d never stayed home at all, but it probably won’t be as low as if you’d left entirely.

Improving your education as the kids get older is another alternative. Going back to school as an older student has its advantages. Most older students are more serious about their studies, because you really know their value. You can study for the career you’d like to have, not necessarily the one you had before you had kids.

Improving your education also sets a great example for your kids when they’re in school. They’ll see you doing homework and studying, and getting good results for it. That can make an impression, plus you can set yourself on a better career path after.

None of this is easy for most families. I firmly believe, however, that you are a thousand times better off if you consider the problems you might face later in life, so you can prepare for them in advance. There’s no knowing where your life will take you, but you can take steps that may help smooth many troubles out at least some of the way.

Regretting the price you paid to be a stay at home mom doesn’t mean you regret the good parts, of course. Even if being a stay at home parent lands you in difficulty later, remember those good parts. Those memories won’t make future troubles go away, but they have their own value.

I’m not saying all stay at home moms eventually regret their decision. Plenty will be happy they did so for the rest of their lives, despite the price. You’re better off, however, if you know what the price is early on, so you can take control of how you pay it.

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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