Inside: Becoming a stay at home mom doesn’t have to be impossible! In fact your dream of staying home with your kids may be more attainable than you think. You can totally do this! Read how our family made the switch, and be inspired for your family as well!
My family has been on a roller coaster. We’ve gone from a two-income and debt laden family, to a one-income and debt free family! I transitioned from a full-time teacher to a full-time mom and homemaker.
I became a stay at home mom!
Why did we change our course? How did we do it?
I’ll tell you.
But first… Let’s go back to the beginning. I took a leave of absence from teaching when my son was born, but went back to work as a teacher when he was 8 months old. This was so hard for me, but I thought it was necessary.
Honestly, we were horrible stewards of our money back in those days. I picked up fast food at least 2-3 times per week. We went shopping with credit cards, and made major purchasing decisions on a whim. So, with our financial picture looking grim as it was, I headed back to the classroom to help lessen the load on my husband.
Here’s the thing working moms, and especially working teacher moms know. Unless you’re like some of the superwomen I know, you just can’t do both jobs well. I am, albeit a fan of capes, no superwoman.
As the school year plodded on, I found myself lacking severely in my ability to give loving kindness and care to my family. My husband was on the back burner, and I became impatient with my son. I was not a pretty picture!
The future of our family changed on a Tuesday night in December. My husband and I were folding laundry, when out of nowhere, he announced, “Let’s plan for you to be a stay at home mom after this school year.”
Instantly, my heart flooded with relief and gratitude. We knew that this was God’s plan for OUR family. We knew that it was going to be a lesson in sacrifice and trust.
But I couldn’t just quit my job the next day. We needed a plan. How did we get there? These are the steps we took to make it happen.
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Moms with Three Simple Habits
- 7 Surprising Ways Being a Stay at Home Mom Saves Money (almost $17,000 a Year!)
- My Simple Daily Toddler Schedule to Calm the Chaos
Five Simple Steps to Become a Stay at Home Mom
1. Find Your Motivation
If you’re going to succeed at anything, you need a little motivation to get you through those zero-willpower moments. For me it was the desire to stay at home with my son, read with him on rainy mornings, and watch as he explores the world.
He stayed with his amazing grandma while I taught school for that year.
I remember feeling an ache every time she sent a picture of him swinging, investigating a bug, or jumping in puddles.
“That should be me,” I would declare to myself. So that’s my motivation. I am certainly not a perfect mama, but I am the best mama for my children.
Right now, as I watch him nap and snuggle with his blanket, it gives me the extra push I need to make those frugal sacrifices. Forget what your friends might think, don’t worry about the Joneses either. You’re not going to be normal anymore. But the benefits are so worth it!
Update: We now have a baby girl added to the family! I’m loving these sweet moments at home with her as well. Being a stay at home mom just keeps getting better. Stick with it, mama!
2. Stop Spending
The first thing we did once we decided that I would stay home was lock up our credit cards. Some people I know put theirs in the freezer or cut them up. For us, it was enough to leave them in the safe at home.
At first it was scary! What if we have an emergency? (Never happened.)
What if I don’t have enough cash to buy my groceries? (Happened once, and I put stuff back! No biggie.)
After a while though, we got used to it. If you don’t have cash or a designated amount available in your debit account you just don’t buy it. The feeling of victory I get when I stick to my budget far surpasses the sinking, guilt-burdened sensation of living in debt. No contest.
Read more about how I save money on groceries!
3. Rethink Necessities
Once you stop spending, you might find that you actually have a little excess money at the end of the month. But think of it this way, if you want to stay home and cut your income in half, you need to cut your expenses in half as well.
Here’s what we tried to make our monthly budget manageable.
- Cut the cable. We lived with Netflix and Hulu for the better part of a year. The only thing we missed were college football games, but we just watched them at family’s house anyway!
- Wash your dishes by hand. Our electric bill was ridiculous, since we ran a dishwasher load at least once a day. I haven’t touched the dishwasher in months now, and I don’t miss it at all. It’s my therapy.
- Trade in for a lower car payment. My hubby, God bless his soul, traded in his nice new truck for a smaller used pickup. That pickup is now paid for! Now’s the time to remember your motivation, folks.
- Cook at home. We spent WAY too much on convenience foods and fast foods. What made this change easier for me was that I started visiting a local farmer’s market on Saturdays. Fresh produce just looks and smells so inviting, it turned me into an official southern cook!
- Entertain at home. Basically everything you used to go out and do (and come home with an empty wallet) you can do at home!
- Shop around for insurance. Check out Dave Ramsey’s provider recommendations!
4. Pay Off Your Debt
As I mentioned before, our two-income family was burdened with debt. It’s actually painful to admit it now, but we had close to $14,000 in debt. We used Dave Ramsey’s snowball method with great success.
Start with the smallest debt first. Once you pay that off you’ll have motivation to keep going! Did you know that the average American household has $15,863 in credit card debt? Be the minority. Once you’re debt free you’ll never want to live with debt again!
5. Give Your First-fruits!
When you’re watching your back account it’s tempting to make excuses not to tithe. Give anyway! For us, this season of of frugal living and sacrifice has also been a season of generosity. God has enabled us to give in abundance.
And you know what? We somehow always end right-side-up on our bills, even when the numbers say we should be behind. Don’t ask me to explain it. Job 5:8-9 says it best, “But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”
So that’s my story.
If you’re wondering if you can afford to be a stay at home mom, I want to encourage you. You can! It’s not easy, but nothing worth having ever is.
Share your story below! Are you dreaming of becoming a stay at home mom? Or are you a SAHM already? Share your experience, tips, and advice on how you make it work.
Love these ideas! We have done a lot of the same things, but I have probably slacked off in some of these areas. It’s a good reminder to stay focused on the goal of being debt-free, as well as being able to stay at home.
Thanks! You’re so right. It’s all about keeping that goal in mind to stay motivated 🙂
Aw, Julie… I had tears in my eyes reading your beautiful post. Thanks for sharing from the heart. I am also so grateful we found a way for me to stay home with my son. Witnessing his firsts… delighting in his daily discoveries.. laughing at his antics… we’ve had a ball!
Thanks for your encouragement Laura! It’s such a blessing to stay home isn’t it? I try every day to not take it for granted 🙂
A blessing indeed!