How Stay-at-Home Moms Go Back to Work and Balance It All

Updated January 17, 2022
working mom holding daughter's hand

So you've traded your yoga pants and sweatshirts in for dress pants and heels eh? Transitioning from a stay-at-home mom to a working mother can be an anxious move for many parents, but it can also be exciting and full of possibilities. These tips will help and create a balance between your two worlds and ensure you rock it out at home and at the office.

How Stay-at-Home Moms Go Back to Work Without Losing Their Minds

You are about to take on TWO demanding, full-time jobs, both of which expect the very best from you all of the time. How will you juggle both flawlessly without losing your marbles? The answer is simple: balance. Working parents have to aim for balance in all that they do, and when you break down what that looks like, it is definitely achievable.

Be on Point With Childcare

If you have been home with the kids for some time, ensuring childcare coverage was likely not ever anything that you had to concern yourself with. You were the childcare! If you are returning to work outside of the home, you need to make sure that consistent childcare is lined up. When shoring up childcare, remember to:

  • Find a daycare center, family member, or nanny who you trust and who falls in line with your child-rearing beliefs.
  • Look at the amount of money you will spend on childcare and the amount of money you will be making from your new job. Can you afford the childcare that you desire?
  • Be sure that your childcare provider knows what time to begin watching the kids and what time they can expect you back. Discuss possible travel and extra hours before making final childcare decisions.
  • Have a backup option if your babysitter must cancel or leave the job.

Review the Change With Your Family

Returning to work is a significant change for you, but also a significant change for your family. The kids will probably have their own sets of questions and anxieties regarding your new chapter. Make time well before heading back to work to discuss how your working changes how your family runs. Consider holding a family meeting prior to your return to the workplace. Allow kids to share ideas and thoughts about your new job and reassure them that while this change feels worrisome, it is exciting too.

Write Down New Schedules

Mother making schedule for kids

When you stay home with the kids, you are their constant schedule reminder and the family secretary. Even when schedules are written down, moms are masters at telling everyone what they need to be doing and where they need to be going. With you out of the house, everyone will have to learn and review their own schedules. Write all schedules down for family members. Consider making several daily schedules for different parts of the day. You might need:

  • A morning routine schedule
  • An after school schedule
  • A sports schedule-checklist as to what they need for after-school activities and when to be ready for activities
  • An evening routine and bedtime checklist--make sure your family is prepared to hit the ground running tomorrow

Make Household Expectations Crystal Clear

Stay-at-home moms do the work of 10,000 people. Often the childcare, laundry, household chores, grocery shopping, and meal making falls within their domestic domain. A return to work can shift many of these duties onto the shoulders of others. Before heading back to the office, discuss these shifts in household expectations with your partner. Will you divide and conquer? Are you both working demanding jobs and long hours now, and will you require outside help to make your ship run more smoothly?

Separate Home From Work

This is a tough one, but very essential. Leaving home issues at the door of your office and work issues in the driveway of your house are essential for sanity and balance. Both your new career and your family deserve your full attention, so be aware of separating the two. When you are at work, try to put home woes out of your mind. When you are at home, everything work-related can wait until tomorrow. Your family needs your physical and emotional presence after the business day ends.

Make Memories With Your Kids

Now that you are working, you are likely finding fewer moments to devote to the kids. You cannot create more time, but man, imagine if you could. So, make the most of the precious hours spent in your children's presence. Memory making doesn't mean taking ostentatious vacations or embarking on epic crafts and projects during every spare minute. It simply means being present and finding pockets of space where you can work in meaningful moments of family time. Take evening bike rides to an ice cream shop, hike the trails near your home, and connect with the kids and with nature. Try a couple of science experiments with items you already have at home, or play a few easy outdoor family games to get the whole gang laughing.

Whatever you do, do it with intent and with love, and the memories will make themselves.

Be a Time-Saving Wizard

Time. Parents never seem to have enough of it. Working mothers have to transform themselves into time-saving wizards, using every imaginable time hack in the books that they can think of.

  • Reduce the number of hours you wander the grocery aisles by having groceries delivered to your home.
  • Consider using a meal delivery service program a few times each week.
  • Get the kids into workable morning routines so that you can beat the rush hour madness and make those morning meetings.
  • Prep and cook meals for the week on a Sunday.
  • Join a banging carpool to help with kids' activities

Look Into Flexible Work Options

mom working at home with family in background

These days, employers offer working parents several options to help balance kids and careers. Ask your employers if you can meet your work requirements virtually. Can you work a few days, or all days, from home? Many mothers find that while working from home does pose challenges, it also allows them to spend more time with the kids, attend to the pets, and throw a few loads of laundry in the washer in between meetings.

If your company offers remote work options, take a look at them and see if these will help create balance in your life. It doesn't work for everyone, but for some working mothers, remote flexibility is a lifesaver.

Accept That at Some Point, This Will Feel Like a Hot Mess

Once returning to work, the inevitable will occur: the wheels will come right off, the kids will be in full meltdown modes, you'll start to feel exhausted and wonder if returning to work was truly the best option for your family. Know that this is normal. Every mom who decides to work again goes through a "hot mess" phase. Remind yourself that work or no work, families have ups and downs, good days and bad days. Take deep breaths and focus on what you can control. You'll move through this hot mess phase and get back on track in no time!

Learn to Ask for Help

Asking for help can be uncomfortable for adults who want to do everything themselves. When returning to work, be prepared to call upon your crew for assistance. There may be times that family or friends can pick your kids up from school, drive to soccer practice, or stay with your children if you have to be away on business. Seek these people out before you return to work. Discuss times that you might need their help and feel comfortable in the fact that they love and support you and your family and are happy to lend a hand whenever.

Setting Boundaries: Learn the Art of Saying No

It is tempting to just say yes to everything.

Sure, you'll take on another massive work project (you can sleep when you're dead.)

Of course you will be the classroom mom. You can whip up some Pinterest projects in the dead of night, no prob.

You want everyone in your universe to know that no matter what is asked of you, you can, and will, rise to the occasion. You will shine at everything, no matter the cost. You are woman, hear you roar.

This is not realistic. You have to learn boundaries and learn to just say no. Nope. You can not drive the neighbor's kid to school every single day and no, you cannot lead Girl Scouts this year. Sorry, can't make meetings after five p.m., and you really can't work on weekends because weekends are for family. It might feel defeating to say no at first, especially if you are a Type A overachiever, but give it time and practice it. You will soon discover that saying no to some things means having the ability to say yes to more that you love and want to do.

Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself

You can't create a balance between home life and work-life if you are falling apart. When moms are crumbling under the demands of life, they are hanging on by a thread, going through motions, and living in survival mode. You don't want this for yourself! Remember to take care of yourself! Sure, the kids and work are massively important and deserve your attention, but you have to nourish your mind, body, and soul in order to give your best self to your loved ones and your work.

  • Make me time! Think about what you love, what makes you smile, what you are passionate about, and make it a point to do it.
  • Manage your stress. Working and parenting will create stress in your life, so since you can not avoid it, manage it. Exercise, get enough sleep and nutrients, meditate, do yoga, learn to breathe, or take a Sunday soak in the tub.
  • Find a support system of other working mothers and lean on them. Seventy percent of SAHMs return to work at some point, so you KNOW those women are out there ready to help you, support you, and remind you that this is all doable.

Life Changes Can Be Made to Suit Your Family's Needs

Some moms decide that returning to work is the best thing for them and their families, only to discover that the change isn't all that they hoped it would be. If you have taken on a job, given it some time, and found that the fit simply isn't right for you and your kin, these choices can always be undone. Take time to assess your new job frequently, and if ever you feel that home is where you truly belong, remember that being a stay-at-home mom is an incredibly important job, too.

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How Stay-at-Home Moms Go Back to Work and Balance It All