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3 Tips for a Stay at Home Mom

Smart advice on how to make a smooth transition into your newest job.

3 Tips for a Stay at Home Mom

Given the abundance of opinions about working – or not – once a woman becomes a mother, it’s no surprise that I began wrestling with this decision long before I became pregnant. As is often the case when we think about topics we’ve yet to experience ourselves, I had plenty of opinions about what a woman “should” do.

I had a near-constant monologue running in my head that went something like this: “Your mom has always worked in a ‘big job’, so you should, too. Carry on the family legacy! Remember that neighbor who got divorced? Well, that wouldn’t have happened if she had a job. Look at Sheryl Sandberg – keep leaning in, Elizabeth!!”

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Of course I would return to work once I had a baby, whenever that day arrived.

And then one morning, everything changed. Every single thing. My husband was still asleep when I nudged him gently to say “the test is positive.”

Once there was an actual baby to consider, the to-work-or-not-to-work debate both escalated and ceased in my head. On the one hand, I was now actually pregnant and considering actual, not imagined, circumstances. On the other hand, I had a growing sense that this new life would change me in unimaginable ways, and would satisfy and challenge me in ways that no job could.

I resigned from my job a few days before Ava was born. In the months since, friends have connected me with job opportunities which could be interesting, but something has stopped me from pursuing them. I’ve spent hours half-heartedly browsing job postings and even landed a few interviews, only to find myself longing for uninterrupted stretches of time at home with my baby. Sometimes I see women rushing to work in their tailored suits and heels, and feel pangs of envy about the lives I imagine them leading.

It has taken me almost one year to make peace with the fact that I’m now a stay-at-home-mom. If I’m honest, some days that peace is still elusive. And yet, as we celebrate my daughter’s first birthday, I truly would not change a thing. My journey has been nothing like I imagined, and the pros and cons of being a full-time mom certainly aren’t as black and white as I imagined so many years ago. In fact, it has been better, richer and more rewarding than I could’ve ever dreamed or hoped.

As you consider what your own life might look like once your little one arrives, I encourage you to be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be gentle. Offer grace. Think about the facts, consider your preferences and goals, seek wisdom from those around you, and be brave in making the decision that’s best for you, whatever that might look like. Whatever you decide, and however your journey unfolds, I salute you!

If you do decide to make the leap to life as a stay-at-home mom, here are few tips to ease the transition:

1. Build your mom network and make it diverse. As a new mom -- or as a mom who is new to being at home full-time -- you need other women who are in the same season of life as you. This will come in handy at 3 am when you are trying to rock your baby to sleep and are in need of some sympathy via text message, when you want to discuss the best ways to get your pre-baby body back, and when you want to discuss brands of diapers that don’t leak overnight. You also need women in your life who have been down this road before -- women who will encourage you to savor the newborn moments, even when they feel so very hard; women who will share their experiences with pediatricians, preschools, and babysitters; and women whose own lives have settled down enough that they can breathe some energy and peace into yours. Finally, you need to hold onto those friends who don't have children. Staying connected to your former self not only nourishes your soul but it can keep you from settling into a routine that is totally dominated by motherhood and parenting. These friends will encourage you to get your nails done, meet for a glass of wine, and ditch the ponytail for a night -- all little ways of reminding yourself that you are a dynamic, energetic, interesting woman.

2. Decide what three things you need to do to feel good at the end of the day. That is, make a short list of "must do" items that, when completed, will help you to breathe easy at the end of the day, even if a lot of other aspects of your life are chaotic. For me, it's reading the newspaper, exercising, and spending good chunks of time fully focused on playing with my daughter. The transition to being at home full-time can be challenging as the hours blend together, home-related tasks become your primary "work," and no boss is telling you what to do. This can mean the day may end before you’re aware that it even started, and what is true in the office is true at home: articulating your goals and priorities makes them much easier to achieve.

3. Get out. Get out with your child, get out as a family, get out with your husband. Just GO. Take a class, go to Starbucks, hop on the bus or subway to see an exhibit, try a new bakery or visit a friend. The tendency to stay inside -- especially in the blur of the early days -- can leave new moms feeling isolated and alone. This compounds the feelings of "who am I now that I don't work/have a baby/am a mom?" Getting out of the house is the best way to remind yourself that there is a world out there, beyond nap schedules and burp cloths and late-night feedings. Be brave and try to plan a mix of small and more ambitious outings each week to keep your life -- and yourself -- fresh.

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In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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