After having my first child, I knew that my days in corporate America were numbered. Two years later, I decided to transition from working full-time to being a stay-at-home mom while on maternity leave with my second child.
This probably came as a surprise to many people in my circle. Mostly because I was a high-achieving employee who was on track for a C-suite position.
And although that’s great for those who want it, leaving my corporate career was the best decision that I’ve made as a mom.
I know many moms want to do that same but don’t know how it’s possible or what to expect. So in this post, I want to share some things that I’ve learned and the steps that I took to make the transition.
But before we dive into the steps that you can follow to make your own transition, let’s talk about why I think becoming a stay-at-home mom (if possible) is actually something to consider.
Stay-at-home mom benefits
There are some obvious trade-offs when you leave your career to be a full-time mom. But some benefits far outweigh what you may sacrifice.
Here are a few benefits that come with being a stay-at-home mom that being a working mom doesn’t always offer.
Quality time & bonding
As a stay a home mom, you get the opportunity to spend quality time bonding with your kids. Studies have shown that this is important for the emotional and psychological well-being of your children and their development.
Primary teacher during formative years
Another benefit of being home with your kids is that you can be their biggest influence during their early development and formative years. This assumes, of course, that your kids are younger when you come home.
This is important because, ultimately, you want to be the person who instills values and beliefs in your children as they are developing. You don’t want that left to chance or a predetermined system.
Present for important milestones
There’s nothing worse than getting a video of your child learning to walk or talk at daycare. I say this from experience.
There are many milestones that are missed when you have to primarily leave your child in someone else’s care while you work. Fortunately, as a stay-at-home mom, you’ll get to witness these precious moments in real-time.
Freedom and flexibility
It’s not all about the children. One of the other benefits is that you get the freedom and flexibility to manage your days like you want to. It isn’t dictated by a demanding and time-consuming work schedule. Instead, you can determine what your day looks like with your children included.
Having worked until my first child was two, these are some of the things that I missed out on as a mom. Fortunately, I have the opportunity, going forward, to enjoy them.
You can too. So here are the steps to transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom.
7 Steps To Transition From Working Mom to Stay-At-Home Mom
The transition from being a working mom to stay at home mom is much easier with a plan. So that’s what I want to help you do.
Below are the steps necessary for making a plan that will lead to a smooth transition into being a stay-at-home mom.
1. Determine why & how long you’re going to be a stay-at-home parent
The reality is that moms come home for many different reasons. Some for financial reasons, others for the benefits listed above. Ultimately, knowing your why is the first step in your transition.
Being clear on this will shape how you approach your new role of being a stay-at-home mom. Not only that, it’s what will keep you going when days get tough (because they do). Keep your “why” top of mind so that you stay encouraged.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be a permanent thing either. So decide how long you plan on staying at home with your kids full-time.
2. Give yourself a target date
Now that you know why you’re doing this, it’s time to actually set a date for your transition. In other words, you need to come up with your last day of work.
Whatever your determination factor is, write it down in big bold letters and put it somewhere that you can see it. This will keep you motivated to reach those milestones and make it happen.
3. Make a financial plan
I’ve already mentioned that finances are usually the big driver behind when you can actually transition to a stay-at-home mom. So it’s important that you make a financial plan.
I go much deeper into how to financially afford to be a stay-at-home mom in another article, but here are some things that you should do:
- Calculate your household expenses. This will determine how much income you’ll need to maintain your current expenses.
- Create a budget based on one income. From here you’ll be able to see areas of opportunity for you to cut back on your spending to stay within one income.
- Cut back on spending. The idea is to remove anything that you truly do not need from your budget. This will free up funds to go toward your necessities and make living on one income more feasible.
- Eliminate debt. As you reduce your expenses, a major goal should be to get out of debt. The best time to start paying off debt is when you have two incomes.
- Save for emergencies & future expenses. In addition to paying off your debt, you’ll want to also begin saving for emergencies and future expenses.
These are all things that you should be doing as you approach your target quit date. Ultimately, you want to be in a stable financial position before you decide to leave your job.
A good idea would be to either pick up a part-time job or side hustle to speed up your ability to reach your financial goals. This can be something that you also turn into a full-time business so that you can be a work-at-home mom and make money from home.
4. Arrange for part-time childcare
The assumption is always made that if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you don’t need child care. Well, the reality is that you’ll be spending a lot of time with your kids, and at some point, you’ll need alone time. Not only that, you’ll want to have a date night with your spouse and be able to do simple things like grocery shopping without the hassle of kids.
So as you’re creating your financial plan, make a note to include childcare costs—even if just for a few hours per week. This could mean that your kids are in daycare part-time for a few hours a week or having a family member come over while you take a small break.
One option that a stay-at-home mom of five even suggested to me finding a sitter on a site like Care.com to watch your kids for a little bit so that you can do household chores or other things uninterrupted. Another good idea is to look for free activities at your local library that will give you some free time to
5. Mentally prepare for the transition
The reality is that transitioning from a professional career to staying home is a big change—especially if you are very career-focused. I believe that the hardest thing for moms who transition from being a working parent is detaching their identity to their job.
Just think about it… Most times when you meet someone, they ask what you do. It’s likely that you’ve accomplished a lot and are proud of your career, but remember that your career doesn’t define who you actually are.
So although it may seem like a small thing, mentally prepare for this question and the unwarranted opinions that others may have.
6. Figure out your new routine
Although this will likely change, it’s important to go into your transition with a plan in mind. What exactly will your days look like?
It’ll be important for you and your children to have structure throughout the day. Even if it’s a set time for independent play, knowing what to expect and what’s going to happen next makes the days easier.
Prior to leaving my full-time job, I created a schedule that I wanted to follow once I came home. Although it has gone through many iterations, it was great to have an idea of how I wanted to spend my time.
As my kids have gotten older, more time is spent on outside activities and the occasional play date. Nonetheless, having an idea of how I would spend my time and what I wanted to do with the kids each day made the transition easier.
7. Put in your resignation
The final step in this transition is actually putting in your resignation. After all, that’s the point, right?
Surprisingly, you may actually find this a bit difficult and even emotional. It’s simply the fact that you’re ending one chapter and starting a new one and change can be hard.
You’re leaving everything that you’re familiar with and actually making the transition final. But, trust me, it’ll be worth it.
For my resignation, I informed my employer over the phone first and followed up with an official signed letter sent via email.
Here’s an example resignation letter when quitting to be a stay-at-home mom:
Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from [EMPLOYER]. My last day of work will be [DATE].
Thank you for the support over these last X years. I’ve valued my time here and the relationships that I’ve built—which I will definitely miss.
Again thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow at [EMPLOYER]. I appreciate your understanding as I prioritize my family’s needs. If I can help in any way to ease the transition, please let me know.
Of course, you can add your own spin to it. Nonetheless, it’s what I used to resign.
5 Tips for New Stay-at-Home Moms
Now that I’ve shared how to transition to being a stay-at-home mom, I think it’s also important that I share some tips once you’re doing it full-time.
These are all things that I’ve learned over time and wish that I knew going in.
1. Prioritize your self-care
If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
That’s the question that you should always ask yourself when you feel guilty about taking time or spending money on yourself.
Prioritizing your self-care is recognizing that you are a person who needs to be cared for just as much as your kids.
Now contrary to popular belief, self-care isn’t necessarily expensive massages or facials. These things are great and should be a part of your regular self-maintenance routine.
However, self-care can simply mean creating the space and time for you to decompress and relax.
It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re constantly caring for everyone else. That’s why you must be intentional about caring for yourself, first.
Some ways that you can prioritize your self-care are:
- Having a personal morning routine to start your day with peace & quiet
- Setting standing appointments for self-maintenance so that it gets done
- Including self-care activities in your budget
These things are just a start. So, I recommend reading our article on some budget-friendly self-care ideas for moms to get some more tips on things that you can do.
And, if you struggle with decompressing and relaxing, I also suggest reading our article on how to mentally detox.
2. Find support groups
Moms need community and, more importantly, support.
The old adage is true: It takes a village to raise a child.
I wholeheartedly believe that the village is necessary so moms can get a break!
If you want to start embracing motherhood without losing yourself, you’ll need the help of others. This is why finding a community– whether it be family or friends– is important.
Support can come in many forms.
It can mean babysitting so that you can get some time to yourself. Or, it can mean encouraging you to pursue something you’re passionate about with judgment or shame.
Whatever it is that you need, find the people who can provide it.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO FIND YOUR TRIBE:
- Join Facebook groups for moms in your area who share the same values
- Connect with other parents at your local community center, library, school, or place of worship
- Ask people in your network to introduce you to other families that they trust
There are more people willing to support you than you think. You just have to go out and find them or cultivate the relationships that you already have.
3. COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS
According to the 2023 State of Motherhood survey done by Motherly, moms take on the majority of duties around the home.
This survey supports an earlier report released by Gallup showing that even in households where both parents worked outside the home, the mom still takes on the majority of household and childcare responsibilities.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that if don’t want to lose yourself and, simply, have time for yourself, you need help. And getting help starts by, first, communicating your needs.
It’s so easy to suffer in silence. But, you don’t have to.
Tell your spouse or partner where you need help. This may mean that they pick up that responsibility or that you agree to outsource it to someone else.
Remember that community I mentioned early? Let them know what your needs are as well. The only way that people can help you is if you let them know that you need help.
4. Make time for your hobbies
If you don’t want to lose yourself, you need to actually do the things that make you, you!
What are your hobbies? What things interest you? Explore them.
And, if you don’t have a hobby, I suggest finding one that doesn’t involve your kids.
The goal here is to not tie your identity into solely being a mother. Remember, you had a life before kids and eventually they’ll leave your home to pursue their own life. So who are you apart from them being there?
So, perhaps, while your kids are in swim lessons, you’re enjoying crocheting. Or maybe it’s a Saturday morning mile with the local running club.
Whatever your “thing” is, make time for it.
5. Set boundaries with your kids
Yes, it sounds a bit harsh, but you have to set boundaries with your kids.
They need to understand that, like them, you’ll need time and space for yourself.
Fortunately, I’ve seen some really great examples of boundaries from other moms that I’ve used with my own kids.
A major one was having them sleep in their own room from the moment they were able to roll over and sleep through the night.
Although this wasn’t the most convenient thing for a breastfeeding mom, it established a boundary for sleeping in their own beds. Now, I can get a full night’s rest without waking up to a tiny foot in my face.
A FEW OTHER WAYS THAT YOU CAN SET BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR KIDS INCLUDE:
- Establishing a time when they can enter your room in the morning so that you can sleep in and get rest
- Teaching them to engage in independent play or quiet time for 5-10 mins when you just need a quick moment to yourself
Obviously, these may not be a boundary that you want to set.
Nonetheless, I encourage you to create some boundaries that will allow you to get whatever time and space that’s appropriate for you.
How to transition from working full-time to stay-at-home mom
Now that you have a plan, the biggest thing is ensuring that you have realistic expectations. Hopefully, this post gave you insight into transitioning to a stay-at-home.
Every single day will look different. There will be good days and not-so-good days, but it’s all worth it for the little beings you created.