Becoming a stay at home mom was a complicated decision for me. I’ve never regretted my choice to stay at home with my kids. But, almost every year, I cycle through periods of anxiety and doubt about my choice. I almost grieve the loss of that other life—that other person. And, year after year, I try to figure out if it’s time for this stay at home mom to go back to work.
If YOU are second guessing your choice to be a stay at home mom, or wonder if it’s your time to go back to work, then consider these steps before deciding what’s next.
Social Pressure for Stay At Home Moms to Go Back to Work
First, let me just say that a lot of moms who give up their careers are often treated with condescension by colleagues, family, and even friends. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do with your life.
That social pressure can add a lot of stress to your decision, and you can start second guessing yourself.
It truly feels like society automatically assumes that if you’re a woman with a successful career—you go back to work. If not, you stay at home. Boom. Done. But, as I found out the hard way—ummmm, not so much.
Try to see the “judgy-ness” of others simply as their conditioning. They may not quite “get” what you’re doing because our generation was trained to try and do it ALL. What they may have a hard time understanding is that some of us don’t want or need to do it all at ONCE.
Also, its okay to let go of things that you used to want so badly. It’s okay to become a new person. The word on the street is that kids sometimes have that effect.
You’ll Miss It
Making the choice to be a stay at home mom doesn’t mean the purpose, drive, love and passion about your career ever go away. Because of that, the stay at home mom life can often make you feel trapped.
The life you leave behind when you choose to stay at home with your kids can feel like a world that’s just beyond your reach. Like it’s taunting you.
Whether you were a corporate boss lady, advocate, lawyer, or tech guru—if you loved it, then you’ll miss it.
Slamming the breaks on years worth of training and practicing your craft doesn’t leave you overnight. In fact, it may never leave you.
And, that’s something that was never explained to me. Like many of your moms, my mom would’ve loved to stay at home with me every day. Being a working mom wasn’t something she WANTED to do—it was something she HAD to do.
Rest assured, that FOMO is totally normal–especially if you loved your old gig.
Last Man Standing
So, here’s reality: every single one (well almost everyone) of your stay at home mom friends will GO BACK TO WORK. Like I’ve said before, over 70% of moms go back to work. Maybe your mom friends waited till everyone was out of diapers, or old enough for kindergarten. But, the bulk go back to work.
We are a generation of working mothers. It’s that simple. So, there’s a good chance you’ll go back, too.
But, if you hang out long enough in stay at home mom world, then you’ll start to see them drop like flies. And, when your mom circle starts shrinking, you’ll start to wonder again, and again, if you’ve reached the end of the line, too.
Trouble In Paradise
The social pressure, missing your career, and having an ever shrinking circle of like minded camaraderie may start to take its toll. It may leave you feeling down, or even pissed.
And, this can totally make you feel frustrated. Then, that feeling can cause massive disruptions in your home.
As a stay at home mom, the schedules you keep, the friends you see, and the demands you have will constantly change (especially if you have more than one kid). This can be frustrating in and of itself. Especially if you’re a creature of habit.
On top of that, what you may have enjoyed about this SAHM life at the beginning, may be completely absent from your PRESENT circumstances.
All of the constantly changing circumstances may start to F*CK with your mind. And, you may NOT immediately connect the dots. You may just have a growing sense of angst and unhappiness.
You may unwittingly start taking your frustrations out on your kids and husband. And, you may not know where the anxiety or anger is coming from. This can be the tricky part. Putting a name to that frustration is critical.
Is it time for this stay at home mom to get back to work?
A word of warning: it can be HARD to decide when the stay at home mom gig has run its course. Obviously, some are in it for the long haul. Others won’t have a choice. Still others will plan a slow and painstaking departure (ahem, like me).
Stay at home moms deciding when to go back to work can be a real challenge.
One piece of advice that I’ve loved hearing lately is to “Meet yourself where you are.” Meaning, you’re not the same woman you were when you first chose to stay at home—not by a long shot. Much has changed, and you need to accept that.
Don’t compare yourself to the person you were. Meet yourself where you are today and see yourself for who you ARE RIGHT NOW. Stop trying to compare your present to your past self. Who you are today, and what you want right now is all that matters.
What Suits You Best Today?
If you’re bored, unchallenged, frustrated, or just unhappy, then maybe your time has come to start a new chapter in your life. Maybe that means trying on any number of different “hats” to see which one fits you TODAY.
Spoiler alert: it may be a completely different hat than you wore before you were a mom.
Maybe you were a corporate giant before, but you’re looking to be more of a small business owner today. Perhaps you’ve shelved a dream, and you’re now ready to pursue it. Or maybe, you just want to get back on that wagon and take it for a spin.
Either way, if you’re experiencing burnout, unhappiness, or anger about being a stay at home mom, then PLEASE don’t just sit and judge yourself. There are a million ways to do this whole motherhood thing!
Don’t suffer through today by holding yourself hostage to a decision you made before you went through the real mom world.
Take a breath. Be honest. Accept it, and move forward. You’ve got this!