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 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.

Last Updated October 19th, 2018

How Long Do Your Kids Need You As A Stay At Home Mom?

How Long Do Your Kids Need You As A Stay At Home Mom?

The choice to be a stay at home mom often occurs when your children are very young, or perhaps not even born yet. It’s a time you know that you’re needed by them as a mom. But what about as they get older? Will it then be time to head back into the workforce?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m not one to say all moms should be stay at home moms as long as kids are growing up. I’ll leave that to others. But I will encourage moms to really think about how long they should keep being at home.

There’s much to be said for continuing to be a stay at home mom even through the teen years, as I am. Kids don’t need you in the same way when they’re teens as they did as babies and young children, but they do need you.

Being at home with them means that you have the chance to get to know all their friends. You get to know what they enjoy doing. You get to continue guiding them in their choices.

It’s possible to do all of that as a working mom, of course. It takes more effort, especially if your schedule isn’t cooperating, but it can be done. The stay at home mom simply has the simpler way to manage all of that.

There are a lot of factors to consider. Some people find that they come to regret being a stay at home mom. Many feel isolated. There are ways to minimize some of the problems that may come of being a stay at home mom, but some problems are more difficult to manage than others.

baby play

What Do Studies Say?

Some studies show that having a stay at home parent longer is a benefit to children. Eric Bettinger, associate professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, found that there were educational benefits to having a parent stay at home even at the high school level.

It’s not all good, unfortunately. Studies also show that stay at home moms suffer from more depression, sadness, and anger. It found that 28% of stay at home moms suffer from depression, for example, in comparison to 17% of working moms.

The study also showed that stay at home moms tend to smile and laugh less.

It’s no surprise at all that these numbers are worse for low income stay at home moms. In some measures, middle and high income stay at home moms evaluate their lives at about the same level of enjoyment as working moms. But when you add in the stress of having a low income, those numbers drop sharply.

Of course, what matters to you is how well you’re doing. Are you thriving at home or is it time for a change?

mom child

How Do You Feel About Staying At Home Longer?

I’ve always said being a stay at home mom isn’t for everyone. Neither is being a long term stay at home mom. It’s a lot of work and despite how some feel, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do other things with your life as well.

A mom who is miserable staying at home may not be as good for her kids as one who is happy working outside the home. You don’t really want to be showing your kids that it’s okay for mom to be miserable in her lifestyle. I feel that you can still make your children a solid priority even if you aren’t a stay at home mom.

My own ideal is to keep doing interesting work while being at home with my kids. That’s why I have my own business, for example. I’m able to fulfill that ambitious part of me without giving up too much time with my family. How could I resist that?

My solution isn’t everyone’s solution, of course.

One of the wonderful things about kids getting older is that you can think about if you really need to be home all the time. When they’re in school, you certainly have the choice to do something other than wait for them to come home. It might be a hobby, it might be a part time job, it might be a business, it might be saying “wow, the house is quiet…” although you’ll probably get over that last one.

family together

How Are The Finances?

Most families make a big financial sacrifice when a parent decides to stay at home. It’s not cheap. As the kids get older it might be time to rethink the finances and decide if the sacrifices are really worth it.

You still have the choices of a stay at home job or a home business, but if you’re doing one or both and not bringing in enough money, you may be considering something outside the home. Or you may be saying “I can finally get enough hours in now that the kids are in school!”

You should be paying attention to your finances even if you aren’t struggling, of course. You don’t need to be bringing in enough money to pay for huge family vacations every year, but you should be doing well enough that you don’t struggle with debt.

What About Your Retirement?

I think about this one a lot, as my income isn’t such that I can readily save for retirement. Being a stay at home mom means you’re probably not contributing significantly to your own retirement plan. Not a problem now, but in the future?

It’s much harder to save for retirement when you’re a stay at home mom. When you have a job, you can have money taken out for retirement before it ever hits your bank account. Saving as a stay at home mom means planning for it.

If you don’t have a way to save for retirement, start thinking about one. It’s never too early to get a start. You may need to talk to a financial professional.

Remember that you’re the one who will be most affected by how much you save for retirement.

mothers love

How Will The Kids Feel About You Returning To Work?

You’ll naturally be concerned about how your kids feel about you returning to work. They’ll often be a little concerned, especially if you’ve always been there for them.

Sometimes you’ll have to return to work even if the kids don’t like the idea. If your family needs the money to get by, that’s the most important part. If you’re going back to work more for your own satisfaction, you can talk to your kids about that. Be honest with them. Kids love having happy parents.

Some children have more need of their parents than others. If there are genuine problems that mean you need to stay home, that’s a big factor to consider. There are times that it is necessary to sacrifice your personal goals. That’s not going to be true for many families, but if there’s more of a need for you to be home, don’t forget about it even as the kids get older.

Don’t be at all surprised if your feelings about whether you should continue on as a stay at home mom become mixed as your kids get older. That’s normal. There’s so much of an expectation that moms will go back to work that it’s hard to go another path. But if continuing to stay at home is right for you and your family, do it and be proud. If going back to work is the right choice, do it and be proud.

Keep doing what’s best for yourself and your family as a whole, and it’s probably going to be the right decision.

Would Working At Home Be The Right Solution?

The main reason I’m still a stay at home mom is that I also work from home. For me, this solves a lot of the problems that come from being a stay at home mom.

Working at home gives me a lot. An income, the satisfaction of working, and a way to avoid boredom. It also allows me to show my kids that moms can do more than raise children if they want.

Working at home adds challenges too. It is NOT always easy. Some days are frustrating. Balancing work and motherhood is difficult some days. It’s easier now that the kids are older, but some days their needs still make working difficult. Perhaps the greatest challenge for many is simply getting started working at home.

Overall, it’s my preferred way to balance motherhood and career. It works for me.

If you want to work at home, be realistic about what you expect from it.

You won’t be able to start a career you wouldn’t qualify for outside the home, for example. And if you start a home business, success may take a long time. Being at home doesn’t magically change these simple facts.

What you can expect from working at home is that it gives you a path to stay home with the kids for longer if you so choose. It helps you avoid the financial hazards of being a stay at home mom for too many years. It can help you avoid a crippling break in your career. And if you’re really lucky and work hard, you may find that you don’t have to return to working outside the home ever, unless you want to.

This can even be a time to improve your education and career training. Take the time to get that certification you need, a more advanced degree, or whatever it takes to bump your career up a notch. Then find that work at home job that gives you the work-life balance you need as a mom.

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 August 23rd, 2018

Can Your Family Live On A Single Income?

Can Your Family Live on a Single Income?

Many families dream of having one parent stay at home to raise the kids. The idyllic picture of having mom (or dad) home, taking care of the kids, cooking great meals, keeping a beautiful home, all on a single income, is hard to resist.

It’s also incredibly difficult financially.

If you really want to do it, it can be done. Single parent families have to get by on a single income, although there may be child support coming in as well. If you really want to have a parent home with the kids, you have to make it happen.

With practice, the sacrifices you make may not seem so bad. You will take fewer vacations, and they’ll be simpler. You will eat out less often. Shopping will be more carefully planned, and you will buy fewer things. If you and your family can live with that, you will probably be able to cope.

That’s assuming, of course, that you can make the remaining income stretch to cover your necessities. You need to look at this to make an informed decision.

Consider What Living On A Single Income Will Look Like

The first thing you need to do is figure out how practical it will be to live on a single income. That means looking at the income you expect to have and deciding if it will be enough.

1. Collect 3 months’ worth of pay stubs from the person whose income your family will be relying on. Use this to calculate your average monthly income.

2. Collect 3 months’ worth of bills. Make sure you include everything: rent/mortgage payments, water bills, electrical bills, cable, internet service, phone plans, insurance, and groceries, for example. You should also include some savings in your planning to prepare for emergencies. In any case, you need an average of what you are paying out every month.

3. Subtract your average monthly expenses from the average monthly single income. Will it work?

If not, don’t despair. There are often areas you can cut. When you have two incomes it is easy to spend more than you absolutely have to. You may need to look harder for solutions.

Don’t assume you can make on on a single income if you see that you can just barely make it. That’s asking for trouble. All it takes is one crisis to completely mess you up when you live paycheck to paycheck. It’s not ideal to live on a single income if you’re scraping by.

Consider The Expenses That Will Decrease

It’s not just your income that decreases when you go to a single income. A few of your expenses will also decrease.

Your taxes go down when you live on a single income. No more need for daycare. The parent staying at home will probably eat out less, have less need for dry cleaning and so forth.

They may drive less as well, depending on how close work was and how often the kids need to be driven anywhere. This can mean less money spent on gas and less maintenance on that car. If enough things are within walking distance, you may even be able to consider becoming a one car family.

It can also help to consider which bills you would be willing to cut in order to live on a single income. You can start with monthly bills.

Do you really need cable television? What about having both cell phones and landline phones? Perhaps your family could get by with just one or the other.

Now look at the other things you spend money on monthly, but don’t come in the form of bills. Can you eat out less? Do you tend to buy more clothing or new electronic gadgets you don’t need? What bad shopping habits do you have? Can you give up Starbucks?

dollar bills

Consider The Expenses That Will Increase

Some bills will go up when you have mom or dad stay home with the kids.

Electricity is an obvious one. There will be people home all day, turning on lights, needing air conditioning or heat, and so forth.

Having one parent at home may also mean that the kids get signed up for more activities, as there’s someone there to take them to everything.

You probably won’t have a lot of expenses increase when you go to a single income. You’re trying to cut expenses, after all.

Figure Out The Expected Single Income Budget

Try to work out a budget that will work with the money you would have as a single income family. Then, before you are actually a single income family, try living on it. Put the extra into savings. It makes a nice cushion for if things don’t work out and for when those extra bills that you really can’t plan for hit.

Even if you decide that you’re better off not becoming a single income family, living as though you are one can be a good financial habit. It gives you a lot more leeway when things go wrong. You’ll have savings built up and more money than you need coming in. That’s a good thing.

Track all your spending. You can create your own spreadsheet if you like or use one of the many apps or software out there that will help you track your spending. The more you know about where your money is going every month, the better. Here are some apps to consider:

How well is it working?

If your expected single income budget doesn’t work out, figure out what went wrong. Can it be fixed on that income or do you simply need a larger income?

Sometimes you can fix the problems. You can go as far as finding a cheaper place to live or as simple as figuring out what else can reasonably be cut.

Other times you may realize that living on a single income won’t work for your family. You don’t want to ruin your finances just to have one parent stay home with the kids. That’s not smart, and it won’t benefit your kids.

It takes time to learn to live on a single income. It is very possible for many families. You will need to plan, both in terms of finances and in terms of what is expected from each person, but it is highly doable. And having the ability to have one parent there for the kids can be amazing.

pie chart

Learn To Find Bargains

You might be surprised at the bargains you can find if you’re looking for them. I don’t just mean clipping coupons, although that doesn’t hurt. There’s a lot more you can do.

My favorite bargain source is a store called 99 Only. They’re in just a few states, but they’re a huge help when you’re on a tight budget. Fortune just listed them as a company that is helping to change the world, because they provide cheaper access to locally grown produce, often in areas that are considered food deserts. If you don’t need your produce to look quite perfect and you have a 99 Only near you, go there. I get almost all of my produce there.

Other dollar stores can have good deals as well, but most don’t have the produce selection I see at 99 Only. It’s the produce that keeps me coming back, even as I find other deals there.

Aldi is another good choice for finding grocery bargains.

If you can afford the membership and buying in bulk (challenging to impossible on some budgets), Costco is great too. The hot dogs and pizza also make for great cheap meals out when you need a treat for the kids.

I’ve shared a lot of other strategies to save money on groceries in other posts.

Saving money on children’s clothing helps a lot too. My favorite was handmedowns from family because for a long time we had clothes working their way through up to five kids. Not every piece lasted the whole time, but the chain we had going saved us a lot of money.

Be Ready For Sacrifices

Single income families usually sacrifice a lot of things to make it happen. You can still find a lot of ways to have fun as a family, but there are things you won’t be able to do.

If you like getting the latest and greatest technology, for example, you will probably have to stop that. Your current phone will need to last a lot longer.

So will your cars.

Most single income families don’t eat out a lot either. That can save a lot of money, depending on how often you eat out now. Just think how much you spend every time you take the family out to a meal. Unless you’re getting something super cheap, such as a $5 pizza, you’re probably spending quite a bit more than you would if you ate at home.

Holidays often get simplified as well. Most single income families keep holidays such as Christmas a lot simpler. That’s not a bad thing, really. Even with simplified Christmases, my kids often don’t use everything they’re given.

You may also want to cut down on your monthly bills. Many families have found that they can cut out cable television and use a few streaming subscriptions for far less.

I am also very fond of my cell phone service through Ting. I pay far less for my family’s cell phones than anyone else I know. We aren’t heavy users, but even when we use our phones more than normal, it has been a bargain.

Learn To Do It Yourself

Learning how to do basic home repairs yourself can help you save a lot of money. It’s amazing how easy some repairs are.

When we bought our house, for example, I painted the kids’ rooms myself. That includes putting stripes on my son’s wall because that was what he wanted.

I can also do basic plumbing. Clearing out basic clogs in a sink without dangerous chemicals is often not difficult. Messy, but not difficult.

You can also do your own yard work rather than pay a service. As the kids get older, they can help. I’ve discovered a fondness for irises and gladiolus in caring for my yard, as well as an enthusiasm for planting anything that attracts and feeds butterflies.

There will be a number of things that you should still hire a professional to handle for you, depending on your skills, experience and comfort level. If you’re willing to try a particular repair, however, there’s often a YouTube video showing you how.

Consider The Alternatives If Things Aren’t Working Out

Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan, going to a single income as a family just doesn’t work out.

You get hit with an unexpected bill, such as repairs on the car or medical bills.

The spouse who is working loses their job.

Death, divorce, and disability are real possibilities too. You can’t assume that your life will run exactly as you planned it. Shit happens, to put not too fine a point on it.

This is exactly why I work at home. My husband and I wanted one of us at home, and I had the best skills to earn a living at home, first as a medical transcriptionist, then running this site. We didn’t want to take the risks of living on a single income when we had a viable alternative.

This has worked out well. There have been times when my income was the only reason we didn’t go completely broke. Sometimes I earn more than my husband, sometimes less. But my income is a vital part of our family’s income, yet I’m still able to be there for the kids when they need me.

Working parents can do that too, but it’s much harder to manage when they need you in the middle of the workday.

There are lots of ways to work at home. Some options are more flexible than others. Some will require that you put your kids in daycare while you work because you can’t have the distractions. Others will let you have the kids directly underfoot.

It’s up to you to pick what will work best.

I strongly recommend any stay at home mom or dad have some sort of income coming in. It makes a difference when you have a financial crisis. It makes a difference when the time comes to return to working outside the home, should you choose to do that. And it helps when you reach retirement age.

Of course, if your family is running into financial problems, don’t limit yourself to considering only work at home options. Sometimes returning to work outside the home will be the smart choice. Don’t refuse to consider that just because you’d rather be home with your kids. The well-being of your family comes first, and sometimes that means both parents have to work outside the home.

You can do that and still be amazing parents.

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 July 26th, 2018

Coping With Boredom As A Stay At Home Mom

Coping with Boredom as a Stay at Home Mom

One of the biggest complaints stay at home moms have is boredom. Being a mom is rewarding in many ways for most moms, but it’s not always all that stimulating. Doing the same thing day after day with little interaction with other adults can wear you down. How can you cope with boredom as a stay at home mom?

You can’t just rely on that shower alone or that first cup of coffee to get you through the day. They’re important, but you deserve more.

Most moms don’t want to live the life of the perfect homemaker and mother, and there’s no reason why you should. Especially not at the cost of yourself.

How many of us really enjoy keeping an immaculate house while entertaining an infant or toddler, or even multiple children? It may be fun for a while, but eventually, most moms want more. Deserve more.

painting

Enjoy Your Hobbies

One of the most important things to do is not give up your old interests just because you’re a stay at home mom. Keep up with your old hobbies. You may have to figure out which ones can be done in short bursts rather than sitting and working for hours undisturbed, but some of your interests should still be possible.

If you don’t have a hobby, start one. Learn to paint. Work on crafts. Learn to solder. Build things. Get some books at the library and start reading.

Find something you enjoy doing, whether you’ve done it before or have to pick up a new skill. You’ll have fun, and the kids will see you as a more interesting person.

dragon-mom

Get Out With The Kids

Get out of the house, even if it’s only for a walk. This can be particularly difficult when you have an infant who always needs a nap, but it does get better as they get older. But remember that an infant will nap just about anywhere, and that includes the car seat and stroller. While those aren’t the best places for regular naps, there is nothing wrong with the occasional nap in them.

As kids get older, trips to libraries and museums make a nice switch from heading out to the park, especially if the weather is too warm or too cold. Many museums have kids free days regularly, so this doesn’t have to cost a lot.

If there’s a place that charges admission you like particularly well, see what a membership will cost versus paying for each time. A membership is often worth it, especially if it also gets you free parking in a place that charges for parking.

All these activities have one huge advantage when the kids are little – they’re likely to take a nap after. Hopefully, it’s more than just in the car, but tired kids nap longer. That means a better break for mom.

When the kids are older and past the napping stage, regular outings mean they’re happier about the fun things you’ve done as a family. You’re building memories together, and probably doing things that are more fun for you as well.

grocery store

To Take Kids On Errands Or Not?

As a stay at home mom, you may often take the kids with you on errands. It’s the easiest way to get things done most days, even though it can slow things down tremendously. But is it the best idea when you’re bored and maybe even frustrated with the stay at home mom routine?

That may depend on the errand.

When my kids were small, I would joke about how getting to grocery shop without the kids was almost a vacation, and how pathetic that was. You’re keeping pretty busy, after all, if running an errand with no kids feels like any kind of a break.

Some errands can be fun to run with the kids as they get old enough. My kids always love going on a Costco run with me because we usually get lunch out, and you never know what the free samples will be. Lunch there is cheap enough to be affordable on many budgets. Order a pizza before heading down, and there are even leftovers.

If you need a break – ANY break – from the kids, running an errand without them may be a great idea, at least until you can take a real break. It is a chance to catch your break and clear your mind for a little while.

date

Get Out Without The Kids

When I say to get out without the kids, I don’t just mean run errands. Doing that can feel like a break, but you deserve more.

Getting out without the kids should be about doing something you want to do.

Maybe you head out on your own. Maybe you go on a date with your spouse.

Whatever it is, the time is about you being you, or maybe you and your spouse. Try not to spend the entire time talking about the kids. Have fun just being you for a while. You’ll think about the kids some, and talk about them (I think we all do that), but do other things too.

It can be hard sometimes to figure out what to do when you’ve spent too much time being “Mom.” You’ll figure it out. You’re in there somewhere.

If you can’t afford a babysitter, get a family member or friend to agree to do babysitting trades. You watch their kids, they watch yours. Grandparents are also willing in many families. This can allow date nights with your husband or just time to get something done without interference.

mom friends

Make Friends With Other Parents

Take the time to meet up with other moms. Even if you only have an infant it’s good to get out and socialize. As your children get older this can get easier, especially if you get along with their friends’ parents.

My favorite parents to meet when my kids were younger were the ones whose kids’ age differences were similar to the age differences for my kids. It made getting the kids together so nice since each child had a friend their own age without having to make arrangements with a lot of parents.

Of course, having children of similar ages is not the only reason to make friends with other parents. It’s better yet if you have common interests. You’ll all have more fun then.

You do not have to be friends with every parent you meet, of course. There are some you simply will not get along with. The friendships your kids have may still make it worthwhile to be in contact, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be friends with that set of parents.

Your friendship with other parents doesn’t have to be just about the kids, of course. Get out together without them. Get coffee together, go to a paint and sip class together, exercise together, just do things together that aren’t all about the kids.

online friends

Make Friends Online

Get online! The internet makes it easy for even the most homebound stay at home mom to make friends.

Facebook has a lot of groups for parents to join, for just about any interest. You can be a nerdy mom, homeschooling mom, single mom, sports mom, or just about any other interest. Having something in common makes the groups more fun to be a part of.

Don’t feel bad about joining a group for a little while, then leaving if it’s not the group for you. No one will notice in most groups. It takes time to find the right group, and sometimes you’ll find that a group that sounded good from the outside is absolutely not a match for you once you’re in. No need to announce your departure in that case – just go.

Facebook isn’t the only place to meet other parents online, of course. You can find forums or use other social media sites. Just look around until you find the right group of parents to socialize with online.

exercise

Get Exercise

Taking time to exercise regularly is a great idea. You’ll be healthier. It gives your brain a break from focusing on the usual household stuff.

Join a gym or the local YMCA if you can and take classes. This can help you build a regular routine. It’s too easy to skip out on fitness if you don’t have a schedule.

If you can’t afford a gym membership, you can still exercise. There are lots of free exercise videos on YouTube, or you can walk or ride a bike around the neighborhood.

online learning

Improve Your Education

When you’re a stay at home mom, it’s a great time to update your education. Maybe you plan on being a SAHM until your kids are grown, maybe you plan on it for only a few years. Either way, make the most of this time to get a better education.

There are lots of legitimate online courses you can take. Many good schools now offer online degrees. You need to be careful, of course, to ensure that you are getting a quality education. There are too many schools that are essentially scams. Read up on any online schools you attend to ensure that you will get your money’s worth.

You don’t have to improve your education only in ways that will help your future career, of course. You can also learn things just because they’re interesting. Education can be fun. Try courses through sites such as Udemy. You can learn to do lots of things online.

wahm

Find A Way To Work At Home

You may have decided to become a stay at home mom so you’d always be there for your kids, 100%. It probably didn’t take that long to realize that you want more out of life.

I strongly encourage all stay at home moms to have some way to earn money from home, whether it’s a work at home job or a home business of your own. It’s a vital safety net, in my opinion.

Let’s start with the big reasons: divorce, death, disability, and unemployment. Any of these can impact your life when you least expect it. If you don’t have money of your own coming in, these reasons can spell disaster for your family. And they’re mostly out of your control.

But those aren’t the only reasons.

Working at home can be fun. I especially like working for myself on this site, but I started out as a medical transcriptionist at home. Working at home is a way to do something as an adult.

Succeeding as a work at home mom is an accomplishment. Being a mom is too, but it’s not the same.

Working at home can be especially important if you want to go back to your career someday. It removes that break in your resume due to being a stay at home mom. Given how difficult it can be for a stay at home mom to find work later, that’s pretty important.

If you want to start simple, start a blog. It’s not difficult or expensive to get started. Maybe you earn money from your blog, maybe it’s just a hobby. But it’s a good introduction to working at home if you set yourself a schedule and try to keep a good routine going.

depression

Be Aware Of Depression

Sometimes being bored as a stay at home mom is more than just boredom. Depression is a very real issue for people in all walks of life.

Depression in moms doesn’t always start with postpartum depression, although that should be considered if relevant. Sometimes it comes years later.

If you’re concerned that you’re becoming clinically depressed, get help. It’s not easy to ask for help, I know, but find a way to get help.

Clinical depression means you need more help than just getting out of the house. It’s best if you can talk to a psychiatrist about medications that might help, and a therapist to talk things out.

Your network of friends may be able to help to a degree, but not in the ways a professional can. Clinical depression is not something to mess with. Check sites such as psychiatry.org to find help if you need it.

Stay At Home Motherhood Isn’t Always Fun

You’re going to get bored occasionally as a stay at home mom. Sometimes you simply will not be able to do the things you would rather be doing. But that’s true even if you work outside the home.

Taking care of children is hard, repetitive work. Young children, in particular, have a love of repetition that can be very hard on a mother. But if you can look at how your children are growing and changing you may be able to appreciate even the parts of your life that are otherwise quite “boring.”

Find ways to keep on being you, not just “Mom.” It’s a great title, but it doesn’t have to come at the loss of the rest of yourself.

And don’t forget to complain sometimes. Babies and toddlers can be exhausting and boring to care for, no matter how much you love them. They aren’t great conversationalists. They’re messy. The fact that they’re also utterly adorable isn’t enough every day, and it doesn’t have to be.

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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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.