Making Stay-At-Home Mom Life Work For You

sahm life
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

I knew I wanted to be a mom from the moment I adopted my first Cabbage Patch Kid. (Her name was Eunice, then I changed it to Tabitha. I still have her).

After spending just a few months with DudeDad (calm down, we were actually together for three years before we did the whole starting-a-life-together-officially thing), I knew he was the guy I’d like to go half on a baby with. Just later—like after we had a house and a savings and a bunch of other stuff we didn’t have crammed into our one-bedroom apartment. But then, we discovered we’d be changing our names to Mom and Dad soon.

One year post college, we weren’t planning to be parents. (Clearly, we weren’t doing an awesome job of planning to NOT be parents either, but that’s neither here nor there!) 

But, as it turns out, we actually couldn’t have planned it better! 

{ MORE: Is Venting About Motherhood Actually Making You More Miserable? }

We timed our first baby with a cross-country move, and I found myself thrust (happily) into stay-at-home mom life where I’ve been (sort of ) ever since.

It might not work for everyone the way it did for us, but here are some ideas about how you can make it work for you!

couple talking
Image via iStock

Plan, plan, plan. 

Surprise pregnancies are generally not advisable if you are hoping to set your life up so that you can be home and financially comfortable enough to raise your children. When you and your spouse decide that you want to make parenthood a part of your future together, sit down and discuss timing. Everything from your age to significant career-related milestones you see coming, should be taken into account. If you plan well, you can more easily prepare for the future. Not that I could've predicted how awesome DudeMom life was gonna be, but you get the picture!

finance couple
Image via iStock

Rock your budget.

Everyone needs one. Whether you are planning to add to your family or already finished building it, having a realistic, working budget that you and your family can stick to is important. (And yes, having a shoe fund in your budget is 100% acceptable, and even encouraged!) When baby making is in your future, think about how your budget will change once you welcome your new human and give up your income if you plan to stay home. Take a 12-month practice run if possible to see what life would be like without another salary coming in. Even if you work out that SAHM life isn’t for you, think of the awesome shoe fund savings you will have amassed. 

{ MORE: How Much Does it Cost to Use Cloth Diapers Exclusively? }

erase debt
Image via Flickr/ Images_of_Money

Beat back your debt.


Many will argue that giving up your income when you have debt is fiscally irresponsible. But regardless of your feelings on that issue, eliminating as much of your debt as possible before adding to your family is a really great way to go. Even if times get tough, you will breathe easier knowing that you don’t have a bunch of creditors breathing down your neck.

Image via Amanda Rodriguez

Get creative. 

You've probably seen those extreme couponing shows where families are able to save thousands of dollars every month because they are insanely meticulous about their coupon clipping. No way could I pull that off, but I am all about creative ways to earn and save cash. For example, we sell tons of stuff on eBay—not like a major production from our basement where we work our kids sweat-shop style every day after school, but before we will donate a useable item, we will attempt to sell it on eBay. Or consign it. Or have a garage sale. Plus, we buy in bulk, we use discount cards, we shop deal sites, and we make every effort to save on the items we need. It may take some extra time to be frugal, but when it results in a payoff that allows me to stay home another year with The Dudes, it’s sorta worth it. 

{ MORE: Moms Don't Need Research to Prove Their Worth }

family travels
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

Fill up your life.

Many people are able to get past the financial element of being a one-income family. They adjust and live smart. But many women still feel like they are missing out on something by not having a career or contributing in some way. This is an issue I’ve never struggled with. I’ve found that filling up my life with things that bring me joy, helping others, and sometimes pursuing interests leading to an income are enough for me. When The Dudes were small, the thought of brushing my hair and going to work each day was enough to keep me from missing my job. Plus, I was contributing by raising awesome humans and keeping our home in order so that my husband could devote himself to his career. As they got older, we sought out more opportunities to enjoy life; we spend a lot of time with friends, we travel, and we engage in community activities. Eventually, I launched my own business and got involved in volunteering in my community. (I’m on the PTA and sports league committees, I volunteer in their classrooms, and help out at community organizations too).  I’ve never spent a moment feeling bored with my children or my life as an SAHM. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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How is SAHM life for you?

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What do you think?

Making Stay-At-Home Mom Life Work For You

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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  1. Austin says:

    I can relate with the advice to filling up your life. I have just never been one to be career driven. I liked my job, and of course it was an adjustment to not earn my own paycheck, but I never felt any fulfillment from it and it definitely didn’t define my life. When opportunities for promotion came up I actually kind of dreaded them. Now that I stay at home, I find that I’m busier than ever and feel like I have more direction in my life. Every week I make a to do list that’s a mile long and I actually enjoy getting it done (except cleaning the bathroom). Going to moms groups, the park, or even just the gym or grocery store gives us plenty to do. The only thing I miss is having non-mom friends. Since we’re relatively new to the area so far all my friends are ones I’ve met through breastfeeding or play groups.

  2. Sarah says:

    Great tips. Every mom and family has to def do what works for them. I love staying at home although it was tough at first for me. I was raised to be independent and make my own money. After getting married five years ago, my husband and I knew we would both work. Now after having 5 kids, 4 of them under 4. I do stay home. I also go to school 2 days out of the week. I really enjoy blessing my kids growth, meaning raising amazing people, my husband also loves being able to tailor his schedule around our kids as well, because he misses them as well. He make sure he is not on call, because he is a med professional. But I do plan on working at home after I finish school. I just know that I will work around my kids schedule, in whatever God leads me to do. As of right now its great doing a lot of things that can benefit all of us.

  3. Shamika says:

    I’m a stay at home mom of 3 also. I stopped working at a prestigious bank a few years back because I was tired of the micro managing, ridiculous daycare prices and I was missing out on important moments with my kids.
    Three children, 3 c sections, piling debt, 1 income household…. Something HAD to change to where I could be with the kids and still help out with our household income. I was recently introduced to It Works! Global. I tried the wraps to help with the post c-section loose skin and I LOVED it! I’m now a Distributor! There’s hope for us, mommies. Hang in there. And if ever you need help with your healthy lifestyle, toning up your tummy or just want to help supplement your income, just send me a message. I’ve been there 🙂

  4. mommy nhoj says:

    I am a SAHM now for about 6 months. I used to be a career-oriented, competitive and very driven. So staying at home is quite a challenge every now and then. I have to admit that much I enjoy taking care of the baby, there are times that I just find myself tired and exhausted. It could be hormonal too because it coincides during that period. I love being with my baby and husband. And believe me, I don’t want to put her in Daycare as much as possible. My husband is supportive if I go back to work. Now, I am left with finding another role not is not so mobile. My last job requires 85% travelling. It is very demanding and high level of stress. I plan to look for job later this year or earlier next year. Trying to have another baby is also on our mind. Just like my husband says, Cherish those moments. Time flies and the next thing you’ll know she won’t want you touch her. Yeah, our little one is turning 1 in two weeks time!

  5. Erin says:

    Great tips! I’m a SAHM now with my 5 month old daughter, and I love it. We go to playgroups, have coffee dates with other moms in the neighborhood, feed ducks in the park…I really enjoy it. My maternity leave pay just ended, but my husband and I made a plan for this eventuality. Paying off as much debt as possible before the baby was born was one of the best moves we made. We primarily use cloth diapers to cut down on costs, which is really helpful considering that we have to buy formula (long story there…I was devastated when breastfeeding didn’t work). We also stockpiled non-perishable foods before baby came to make sure that if we did hit a financial speed bump on one income, at least we wouldn’t have to worry too much about groceries.

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