How to be a Stay at Home Mom (When You’re Not Sure if You Should)

5 Truth Telling Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking the Leap to be a SAHM

Author: Kari Lorz, Certified Financial Education Instructor

Author: Kari Lorz – Certified Financial Education Instructor

We are in a time where we as women get to choose what we want to do with our lives. (for the most part in 1st world countries in the year 2019) That’s my disclaimer. Yes, we as women are still discriminated against, repressed and demeaned.

YET, I am thankful that I live now and not 200 years ago, being a scullery maid from 6 am – 11 pm. With all of our (relatively) new found freedom, there are some hard choices we still need to make. Should I continue to work outside the home or be a Stay At Home Mom – SAHM?

There are sooooooo many factors that play into this question, and each deserves to be taken and examined to be sure we are setting ourselves, and our families up for success!

ask this is you want to be a successful stay at home mom

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A quick look at women in the workforce

Women have only just recently begun to step outside the confines of the home. Yes, back in the day you could have been in domestic service or such, but the Industrial Revolution kicked it into high gear (think the 1790’s). Women were cheap labor in factories, along with children.

Then in the US, after the Civil War, when over 600,000 men died in battle, women and children once again expanded their number in factories and the fields. (think 1865).

The latest rush of women into the workforce was from WWII, which would forever change the workforce landscape to the tune of 6 million women stepping out to help the nation by keeping life in the States turning (think 1941). (source)

Women rushing back into the homes to be SAHM’s

With the rise of the infamous Martha Stewart in the 1990’s women were looking at homemaking and at SAHM’s in a new light. Being a homemaker was chic! Ah, the word “chic”, makes me chuckle, I’m thinking Laura Ashley fabrics, telephones with long cords, souffle and the like (don’t get me wrong, a tasty goat cheese souffle is tops on my list, thanks Martha!)

Now you may think the above info rather thin and biased but according to Investopedia ” In fact, she became America’s first female self-made billionaire when her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, went public in 1999.”


Yes, women were headed back to the home and loving it! Of course, there are always pockets in society or geographical areas where things were different, or more “traditional” or less so. No one thing is ever 100% constant or even. I’m talking in terms of general trends. We cool? Cool.

Women were back in the homes and loving it! Or were we? Many women before you (and many more after) will go through the process of weighing the pros & cons, and looking at if they will be suited to be a working mom or a stay at home mom.

5 questions to consider when deciding on being a stay at home mom

Okay, so you work outside the home, maybe a regular 9-5 office job, or perhaps a 3 -11 retail job, maybe you love it, and maybe you hate it. You’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, even daydreaming about spending more time at home with your little ones. Let’s break down the main points to help you decide if you should jump into the yoga pant uniform of a stay at home mom!

1. Can we afford it?

Yup, you guessed it, this is probably the most significant and most heavily weighted factor when deciding if you could be a SAHM. I hate to say it, but math is math, the numbers don’t change just because you really want to be a stay at home mom.

My best tip is for you is to rework your budget to see if you can live off of the other spouse’s income. Take your pay and put it aside into a separate account. Try living this way for two months and see how it feels without your income. Don’t cheat and secretly pull money into the spending fund; this won’t do you any good in the long run.

If you’ve never really budgeted before because you had a great dual-income, don’t worry, budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. A great place to start is at the beginning, a sort of budgeting newbie’s guide.

Living off of one income means shifting your focus to saving money vs. making money. Here are some great ways to save money on groceries (before you set foot in a grocery store)! If you compound that with meal planning to help save money on your grocery budget then that’s a double win!

Also, it’s no joke that money problems are the number one stressor between adult relationships, and the #2 cause of divorce (behind infidelity). There are also a lot of secondary effects on children’s development to consider when money problems arise.

RELATED: Your Stong and Healthy Family Starts With Your Bottom Line

You’ll also want to have a good heart to heart with your partner. Will this stress them out a lot to have all the financial breadwinning pressure on them? If their job is in any way unstable, then you need to reconsider.

Also, consider that you may not be spending money in areas that you used to when you were working. You can save on…

  • child care costs
  • work wardrobe upkeep
  • cost of transportation to work
  • work lunches out & coffee breaks

2. How much adult interaction do you crave?

If you are a natural extrovert then being a stay at home mom and being just with your little ones all day may be a challenge for you. If you NEED adult interaction can you get it from other places? Say kiddo play parks or your neighbor? Do you’re best girlfriends live close by?

I have a friend who works part-time, and all of her wages basically go to pay for daycare. She is one of those people that NEEDS adult time, so three days a week she goes to work. This keeps her sane, and it makes her a better mom because she is happy and recharged by being around others. A win-win!

Also, consider the needs of your little one. If you are at home, then most likely they won’t be in daycare anymore. Interacting with others is one of the main ways for how kids learn. If they are an only child, and you live far away from other littles, then this lack of learning time may impact them in an unexpected, developmental way. They may have a harder time transitioning to full-time school when their time comes.

3. How much do you love or hate your job?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they wake up with dread in their heart because they have to go to work. I sympathize, I really do. It’s draining to have this hanging around your neck. But I want you to think if it’s the place that you work, the job that you do, or just working that you hate?

Be honest now. Can you switch job site locations? Can you take a lateral move to try a new role in your company? Start looking at your company website to see what kind of jobs are coming up. Do you have something else that you would 10,000 times rather be doing? Don’t spend your days dreading your eight-hour workday. Life is too short.

If you like your job, can you take an extended leave of absence for a few months to get yourself settled? Or if your company is very established can you leave on good terms and potentially return to work in a few years when your little ones are older?

Returning to work after a hiatus may be a good option, but it may not be the easiest; as work environments, technologies and skillsets needed to succeed can change quickly. See if there’s anyone in your company that has returned to work from a similar leave, invite them to coffee, and pick their brain!

Vicki Robin quote

4. How ambitious are you?

I thought that I would love being a SAHM for the short three months of maternity leave that I would be taking with the birth of my daughter. My experience was a bit more unconventional as I took five months off work due to my daughter coming ten weeks early. We spent the first two months in the NICU, me being there every day, and then the next three months at home doing the traditional maternity leave.

I think that when we were one month into our being home, I was climbing the walls a bit. It could have been due to all the stress from having an early delivery and the worries that come with it. I felt that I NEEDED to contribute.

Yes, taking care of our little one is undoubtedly and 100% contributing, but I needed more. I have always been working, making my own money and contributing financially, and it was hard not to be doing this. Some of you will get this, and others won’t. That’s fine, I “get me” and so does my husband, and honestly, those are the only opinions that I am worried about. I am ambitious, I’m not ashamed, and I’m not going to change.

Now you can certainly re-enter the workforce at a later time, so if you are ambitious, can it be on the back burner for a little while? Only you can honestly answer that.

A side note on ambition, when talking to moms about this very topic, many of them mentioned that they mourned the loss of their own individual identity. They were now “just Mom”; a chauffeur, cleaner, cook, emotional support worker, planner, etc. They weren’t “Chelsea, the amazing online marketing strategist” anymore. So if you’re a SAHM, what will your identity be? Do you know? How will you feel if you are no longer what you once were?

You don’t need to be a stay at home mom forever if the business bug does bite you there are lots of work at home options! I spoke with these amazing moms, who all make a great living working from home! You can focus on making a little extra money from small online jobs, or extra income as a way to supplement your spouse’s paycheck.

personal core value optin

5. How will you know if it’s just not working?

The best plans are the ones that have an exit strategy! Because this means that the people involved have thought of potential roadblocks and have most likely prepared for those. It’s best if you and your spouse sit down and not only talk about the above questions, but talk about how you will know if this new plan is a success or something that needs to go back to the drawing board.

Will the main element be your happiness or the bank account balance? Or will it be the condition of your home and children’s behavior? A combo of all of the above? Once you have your success framework, plan to meet a month into the change to evaluate, and tweak. This sounds so “official” I know, but you and your partner will both feel better knowing that there will be an opportunity to bring up issues and to be heard.

Benefits of being a stay at home mom

Just as there are benefits to working (more money, Mommy being an independent and kick-ass woman, etc.), there are also benefits for you and your family if you stay home.

More flexibility

This is a big one if you have young ones, along with grade school-age kids. There’s homework to help with, clubs to join, sports to play in. Just writing this out is a bit overwhelming. So a more flexible schedule can be hugely beneficial.

Less juggling responsibilities = less stress

How does the saying go “happy wife = happy life”. Now I am not going to say that this is wrong ? But everyone knows that when you are happier then you will be a better partner to your spouse and a better mother to your children. I know that on days where I am home (I work part-time) I am less exhausted and I enjoy cooking dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, being a SAHM can absolutely be stressful! It seems there’s always “something” that comes up. Now that I’m a work from home mom, my daily schedule is less hectic, so I can focus more on the things that matter, like being a better parent and partner.

Spending more time with your kiddos

Nuff said. This is the biggest perk. The just waking up from nap cuddles, the lunchtime hilarious spaghetti fiasco, the days just spent at the park swinging and exploring.

On days that we’re home together, my daughter loves to go shopping and be a good helper. She loves going to Target, where she’s in charge of putting things in the cart. Of course, she’s sitting in the cart, I hand her item, and she drops it behind her head down into the cart. We’re a good team 🙂

Don’t forget that when you don’t go into an office to work you’ll spend a lot less money on transportation, food while working and on clothes! I suggest you pare down your wardrobe to focus on comfort and ease, even maybe embracing a minimalist capsule wardrobe. I did this and it’s been so easy, and I don’t ever see myself going back to a traditional full wardrobe!

There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a great one.

Jill Churchill

Explore new hobbies or options to make money

Maybe you’ve always wanted to sew or grow your organic veggies. Perhaps you’ve wanted to flip bicycles or try freelance writing. This could be an excellent opportunity to develop these skills. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to have oodles and oodles of free time. But there will be opportunities to explore.

One of the things that I hear moms constantly talk about is the newfound freedom to focus more on their health & wellness! Putting this upfront & center is such a worthwhile investment, as you will reap the benefits now and more importantly as we age. I consider running, yoga, fruits & veggies to be an investment in ourselves, not a splurge!

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to make money working from home, doing just a few hours of work here and there when your schedule allows? Working from home can take many shapes; being a freelance writer, being a virtual assistant, crafting and selling it on eBay, or even blogging. There are many online entrepreneurs out there doing amazing things! I’ve talked with a few of them about their money goals as a work-from-home mom and it’s fascinating and encouraging all at the same time!

At the end of the day

Shifting to be a stay at home mom is a big decision, and it (and your partner) deserves a thoughtful process around this. Don’t jump into it, yet don’t drag your feet forever just because you’re scared. Be the smart Mama that I know you are and have a backup plan, and maybe even another backup plan just in case! Being a stay at home mom can be a fantastic adventure. If you do take the plunge, have fun and pack lots of crackers!

personal core value optin

What’s the number one reason you want to be a stay at home mom?

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  1. Great post!! I agree with you and love that balance of having a blog but also working. I think in a few years it would be interesting if I feel the same or I would consider the SAHM life full time! – Hope,

    1. The potential of a successful blog is huge! I hope you get to where you want to be with it so you have the choice of what you would LIKE to do! šŸ™‚

  2. You covered everything well in this post. As a mom who has been a SAHM for well over 9 years, I’m itching to get back into the workforce away from the home again. I got to do it for a while, and then I had health issues. Now I’m on the hunt for work again away from the house. However, I know if I make my blog a success as my last one, that I may come back home again. Who knows. Right now, I’m eager to bring in more income and spend time with other adults working on a common goal again. #rockyourpitch

    1. So glad that you had the time to be at home AND that you are getting back to what YOU need now! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your new site!

  3. I think posts like this are great because I went from full time to part time and am still unsure how I feel about it! Great post!

  4. I love that you pose this as a choice. I think too often we feel forced into these roles. And sometimes circumstances definitely push us towards one direction over others. But I believe in the power of women that makes it possible for us to find our own way without compromising ourselves.

  5. Had to share this on my Facebook. i loved your writing style, i like that you have a sense of humor and i like that you made me think. i have 2 toddlers, i am a stay at home mom now and sometimes i want to go back to work but then there are soooo many thoughts that come along with it. thanks for sharing this blog

  6. Working from home doing something you love whilst being a Mama – best of both worlds! Great blog thanks for sharing!

  7. Love these questions! It’s a big transition for sure, but if it feels right for your family, it’s totally do-able!

  8. I have been a mom who worked outside the home, a SAHM and now a mom who works from home. I will say I am so thankful for the time I was able to be home with my fellas. It was precious time.

  9. Such an informative post here and great questions!! I’ve been a SAHM for the last 3 years and I’ve decided to venture back out into the world ?

  10. These all hit close to home! I’m hoping once my blog is even more successful I can stay home full-time with my little one.

    1. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! But you don’t really need luck, you can do this all on your own! But a little bit of luck never hurt šŸ™‚

  11. Everything you discussed are all too familiar for me! I have been there, feeling like I lost my individuality after being a SAHM. But 2 years into it and I can say Iā€™m embracing this role!

  12. I think finding your success framework is super important! I’m new to the whole SAHM thing, so I haven’t really assessed how things are going yet. I used to be a full-time teacher, so once the school year starts, we’ll see how I feel!

    1. Congrats on your new role! Definitely give yourself some adjustment time (sounds like you are), and then circle back to some of these questions. I hope you have an amazing time and find an amazing way to be a new you!

  13. This is a perfect list of things to think through. I’ve been both a SAHM and a work outside the home mom, and SAHM is not for everyone. I was blessed to be able to do it and I loved a lot of it, but I needed to go back into the outside workforce. I’m a better mom for it. šŸ™‚

    1. I agree, I am a better mom for having time outside the home to be the ambitious “me”. Then I’m super excited to come home and be Mom and give cuddles and hugs… and to take away boogies, as that’s my new job apparently šŸ™‚

  14. Some great tips and food for thought here for want-to-be stay at home moms. Becoming a stay at home mom was a huge adjustment for me and I ended up starting a side hustle, then a business because I still needed to have that work outlet. It’s definitely worth looking into ways to make money online if you’re thinking of becoming a sahm, because there are just so many options.

    1. I too experienced a hard time of it (and it was only temporary), so thinking things through beforehand and finding other outlets is key to being happy in your new role.

  15. Deciding to be a stay at home parent can definitely be a complicated decisions with multiple concerns. It definitely should not be something to lightly jump into! Thanks for insight.

  16. WHat a great post! I am not a SAHM, but if I decide to be, I will have to circle back to your post.

    1. So glad you liked it! I found myself circling over these same few points in my head so I know that other Mamas must be out there doing the same. šŸ™‚

  17. I tried being a SAHM for 11 months but it was too overwhelming for me. I love my job as a nurse and it is something that I always miss when I was at home.

    I think i will be able to do it next time as long as I don’t have PPD and we can be more financially stable.

    1. Being a nurse is very rewarding (I imagine, as I’m not one so I don’t really know šŸ™‚ I could see that being really hard to give up.

  18. I feel like I have the best of both worlds-working from home and staying home with my daughter! I definitely agree that it’s not for everyone, but it works really well for us.

  19. This is an excellent post! Your questions to consider are great, and I think are helpful in deciding to be a stay at home mom. I definitely want to consider it myself.