The number one reason I traded in my 9-5 career to be a stay home mom is all about the finances. Three kids in daycare would have been significantly more than my take-home income, even with a decent salary. When pregnant with my third child my company was downsizing and it worked out for the better. That said, I really had no interest in staying home with these little boogers. I constantly told other people, “I don’t think I could do it,” before “it” became a real possibility.
Two years into this gig, here are a few lessons I’ve learned about my house and life.
Cleaning: When it comes to cleaning, I like a clean home. There is something so refreshing about messes being put away and counters wiped down. When I first started to stay home, I had a cleaning schedule. Every week I switched floors of the house, grouping the main level and basement together. I kept this up for several months, and then it got harder as the baby turned into a mobile unit hell-bent on destruction. Schedule? HA! Today when I look at my house and think hmmm, my house is pretty gross, I then let it go a few more days. And when I say “I let it go” I mean I don’t have the time to get to it.
The last two years have lowered my expectations of what my house should look like. It’s a constant battle, and I am winning because I care less.
Social Life: Yes, I get out and about with the kids and even meet up with other families, but it’s not the same as being without the kids. When I drive alone my radio is off. It’s the only time I can hear the thoughts in my head. It’s the only time MOM isn’t thrown at me, or the dog isn’t barking to go out (and then in and then out and then in) the door. I schedule time for quiet; like in my office, Starbucks, the library, hiking, the screened in porch. Just me, alone. The kids are elsewhere.
I also need time to recharge and talk to adults. So at least once a week I make plans to go out with friends or family, sometimes with and sometimes without my husband (babysitting gets expensive). Dinner without kids is blissful. Wine without whining. Yes, please.
Food Prep: I make almost every meal in this house. I actually like to cook, but the toddler climbs on top of the counter and throws spice jars out of the cabinet, while my older two take all the cushions off the couch and have their own wrestle mania. I do not have time to cook! So my meals are not complicated, and we order out at least once a week. I also do online grocery shopping because it’s practically free and it makes my life so much easier.
Sex Life: Get it when you can. We would romance in the evening like any other boring couple. However, we are usually exhausted by the evening, and it was happening a lot less often. So, impromptu times have become the new norm for us. Kids are napping, watching a movie, next door playing at the neighbors? Time to get moving!
Challenging My Brain: This was the hardest and most important aspect to leaving my career. I don’t sit still well. I need to absorb new stuff and force myself out of my comfort zone in creative and entertaining ways. I took up writing because it had always appealed to me. It scratched that itch to learn something and push myself. I took a few online classes through the community college and have connected with a lot of groups online and in person. I am writing short stories, blogs, novels, doing research every day. I’m very grateful for this practice and how much purpose it gives me.
I find myself reaching for the past, wishing I could go back in time and relish in the freedom of my younger days. A better way of dealing with this is to find pockets where I can still have things that connect me to the Melisa before kiddos. They won’t be young forever. It may feel that way, but I know this time is going to pass quickly. My world might revolve around these tiny people and their crazy social life, but I’m figuring out how to adjust and still make time for all (or most) the pieces of the puzzle.