I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom.
Really, I had NO idea how to afford to be a stay-at-home mom. Like, it didn’t even seem possible or within the realm of reason. I figured I’d keep working my day job, dropping the kids off at daycare in the morning and picking them up at night. We’d work to make ends meet, take a vacation once a year…You know, the usual.
Then my son was born and all I really wanted was to stay at home with him. Plus, we looked into childcare costs…and we couldn't believe the cost! I knew that even though my super-supportive husband had my back, making ends meet while staying at home was going to be TOUGH.
When I looked at our budget, I was scared. Even though we agreed that childcare was too expensive, we still had no idea how I'd be able to afford to be a stay-at-home mom.
I knew I needed a plan. I figured it would be hard work, but there had to be a way I could do it. Luckily, my husband and my family are super emotionally supportive.
The thing is, it was hard to find resources for stay-at-home moms. There’s no manual or training program like in the corporate world. The best tips for stay at home moms I found were online and in blogs. I learned how other moms were making it happen (and keeping their sanity in the process). I was inspired!
I started blogging because I realized other moms could benefit from my learning experiences (and let's be totally honest: some pretty spectacular failures). I had a lot to share. I am frugal to a fault and I have tons of stay-at-home mom budget ideas…I was living it, after all.
I started running a daycare from my home, monetizing my blog, and performing online jobs (like user testing and surveys) to make ends meet. Somehow, we were able to get by, and when my daughter was born, my decision to stay at home with my kids was even more solidified.
At about that time, I started ramping up my blog using one of the best resources for stay-at-home moms I’ve found: Elite Blog Academy. Suddenly, my blog became a full-time income, plus more! In fact, it’s grown beyond my wildest dreams.
Starting out was hard though and learning how to afford to be a stay-at-home mom was one of the biggest challenges.
Here are 8 resources every mom needs to get started:
1. A Budget
To figure out how to afford to be a stay-at-home mom, the number one thing you’ll need is a budget. If you’re just learning how to budget, don’t worry(!) there are plenty of budget tools out there. Even if you think you totally suck at budgeting, you can still start a budget.
You have to know where your family stands financially so you can figure out how to afford your lifestyle and where you can scrimp and save. You need to be able to pay your bills AND live within your means. Being a stay-at-home mom shouldn’t entail taking on epic debt. So sit down on your tush and write out that budget.
2. A Plan to Supplement Income (if Needed)
Depending on the income level of your spouse and the way the two of you handle finances, you may need a plan to supplement the income you’ll be moving away from when you stay at home with the kids. Blogging worked well for me, and as I mentioned, I also ran a daycare out of my home. You can too.
There are lots of other ways to make money from home and many of them offer the flexibility you need as a working mom. You could be a virtual assistant or a freelance writer (if writing is your strong suit!), both of which allow you to work from home on your own schedule. Really look at your plan realistically and make sure you can afford to take the plunge. If it doesn’t seem feasible, look at part-time work or other options until you know what you can bring in and afford.
Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. There are days when you might struggle or feel like you aren’t sure if you’re doing a good job. There might be times when you’ll wonder if it’s the best choice for your family. To make it through, you’ll need support. While your spouse will probably be your primary emotional support-giver, you’ll probably also want to be sure you have other sources of emotional support as well. (You’ll also want to have a backup financial plan, including life insurance in case the unthinkable happens to your spouse.)
Blogging has allowed me to meet so many other wonderful moms who TOTALLY get me, so if you're feeling alone or isolated, or if you feel like you don't have anyone to lean on, try joining a Facebook group with other moms or look for other real-life moms you can connect with and express your joys and frustrations with, perhaps over coffee or pull double-duty on that next playdate.
4. A Social Network
Speaking of, anyone who’s spent extended periods of time with three-year-olds knows you can only watch so much kids' programming, sing so many songs, and pretend so many things before you start to feel a little less-than-sane. Kids are amazing, fun and wonderful, but we also need grown-up time to help keep us balanced. Yes, sometimes we have to say no to certain invitations because schedules and budgets won’t allow, but keep your important connections up.
If you’re planning to be a stay-at-home mom, keep your social network strong, and be sure you get enough friend-time in. Say yes to yoga classes and neighborhood get-togethers. It’s important that you keep your friends IRL and not just online as well. While having a social media network is great, nothing beats coffee and the listening ear of a good friend.
5. Go-To Meals
Every stay-at-home mom needs some go-to meals in her pocket. (Not literally, guys.) You need to have meals you can pull together fast and whip up without a lot of effort or stress. While it’s totally fine to order pizza or takeout once in awhile, too much can add up and take a massive toll on your budget.
Instead, find some quick and easy recipe ideas that are just as good as takeout. Try wraps, sandwiches, and easy slow-cooker and make-ahead freezer meals to help you feed your family on a budget. You don’t have to make epic dinners every night (or ANY night) but you should have a few ideas you can throw together in a pinch.
6. Time to Yourself
Stay-at-home moms need time to themselves. You might feel worried that it’s selfish or that you don’t deserve me-time because your husband works and you stay home. Turn that nonsense off and realize that for YOUR mental health you need me-time!
Time to yourself helps make you a better, more patient mom. It gives you a chance to regroup, recharge your batteries, and feel more alert, happy and playful with your kids. It doesn’t mean spending hours at the salon or spending money shopping, but you can totally spend time doing something you enjoy—reading, playing a videogame, running, what-have-you. Make time for the activities that help you feel refreshed.
7. Outfits You Feel Great In
Let go of your pre-baby pants that haven’t fit for years. Who needs 'em!? Toss them out! Go to your local Goodwill and get yourself something you feel really great in. You don’t need to spend tons of money on clothes (or any money really—swap with a friend) but you should have a few go-to outfits you feel really good in.
Often when we’re not dressing up for work, we can start to fall into the yoga-pants-every-day mode. First of all, there's nothing wrong with yoga pants and I’ve definitely worn my share of them! BUT there is something confidence-boosting about walking out the door feeling like you look good. It’s good for your mental outlook and attitude. Get up, dress up, show up. Do your hair, put on a little swipe of makeup, and take some pride in your look. I swear, it can make all the difference, especially if you're feeling down.
8. Ambition & Creativity
You might think you left your ambition, creativity, and focus at the office…but there’s nothing that stay-at-home moms need more. Taking care of kids is hard work! It’s harder than people often realize. If you plan to also find ways to make money from home, as well as keep yourself positive and upbeat and rockin' it, it's time to reignite your ambition.
Stay-at-home moms can’t call in. If you feel crummy or your kids are irritating you, sometimes you can’t even get away at all. At best, you might be able to go to the bathroom for a minute. (I GET IT.) That's why, seriously, I want you to know: YOU ARE CREATIVE AND AWESOME AND YOU CAN DO THIS. Tell yourself you can do it often. Like, every day if you need to! You are an awesome and powerful mama and you can handle it all.
The good news is, almost all of these stay-at-home mom resources will cost you NOTHING. Many even come from within you. So fill out your budget, buff up your support network, and get ready to kick butt at affording to be a stay-at-home mom.